Elipson Alpha 100 RIAA BT turntable review
Elipson launched a range of turntables last year. Recently we’ve been living with the Elipson Alpha 100 RIAA BT turntable.
Up until recently I only really knew Elipson for their rather funky speakers. Then, in February last year, news came by way of our audio partners over at Hifi Pig, that they were unleashing some record players.
The lovely French folk over at Elipson have been kind enough to send over one of their Alpha 100 RIAA BT deck. This not only promises to spin your vinyl but brings things right up to date thanks to the inclusion of a phono preamp, Bluetooth transmitter and a USB port for digitising your analogue tunes.
Elipson Alpha 100 design
The Elipson Alpha 100 does look really nice.
The overall impression is one of understated coolness.
Dressed in black there are minimalist chic flashes of silver: on the tonearm and the rather natty speed selector switch.
The tonearm is an in-house designed OTT (Orbital Torsion Tonearm) type. It is comprised of a brushed aluminium tube and PVC headshell. These two components are fused together.
It is equipped with an antiskating system created by the torque of an internal cable. A wheel, located on top of the antiskating system, can be used to make adjustments when changing the cartridge.
The cutely undersized platter is constructed from pressed steel with a sub-chassis made of PVC. This is driven by an MSD motor. The motor is separated from the rest of the sub-chassis by a mechanical suspension system and is regulated by an ASC (Auto Speed Control) card. The card generates a precise frequency in order to maintain a consistent rotation speed.
You select 33 and 45 rpm via the rather satisfyingly tactile switch. It is also possible to play 78 rpm records.
To do this you have to start the turntable at 45 rpm, and stop the rotation for few seconds before starting playback in 45 rpm mode once again. It is also necessary to change the cartridge.
The turntable comes loaded with an Ortofon OM10 cartridge. The cartridge is pre-installed and set-up at the factory.
All you have to do to start spinning your discs is strap on the drive belt.
Elipson Alpha 100 performance
As just mentioned, the Alpha 100 is pretty much ready to go out of the box. Anti-skating, bias weight, tracking, the whole lot is pre-set for you.
Your main decision is how you are going to connect it to your system.
You see, you have a few options of how to integrate the turntable in to your Hi-Fi rig. You could take the RCA cables from the deck and plug it in to your amplifier.
Remember, there’s no need for a phono stage. In fact, expect a highly overdriven noise-fest if you shove it in to your amp’s phono input. Pretty standard stuff, really.
Or, you can flick on your Bluetooth receiver (in my case the Musical Fidelity V90 Blu) and pair it with the Alpha 100. Yup – you are playing records wirelessly through your Hi-Fi!
If you are just starting out then you can, of course, link the turntable with any Bluetooth speaker. I had it running in to the Allocacoc audioCube as well as the Monitor Audio Airstream (gold version review to follow soon foks!).
It is nice to have a switch to select the speed instead of having to lift the platter off and alter the belt (as on my Pro-ject 1 Xpression).
The trade-off though is that there is no lowering lever. This did, however, take me back to my first record players that were part of 80s and 90s Midi systems.
Just in case you wanted to know, this is what the Elipson Alpha 100 was connected to for this review.
Alpha 100 –> Musical Fidelity V90 Blu –> Chord C-series RCA cable –> Arcam irDAC –> Chord Shawline RCA –> Musical Fidelity M6si –> Chord Epic Twin speaker cable –> Tannoy Mercury V1i speakers
Alpha 100 –> supplied phono cable –> Musical Fidelity M6si –> Chord Epic Twin speaker cable –> Tannoy Mercury V1i speakers
I kicked things off with Metallica’s latest offering, ‘Hardwired to Self-Destruct’. This has all the hallmark traits of what has kept me a fan even through their less… impressive moments.
Lars’ kicks power through and the percussion has depth. Guitars cut through convincingly and the vocals are clear and edgy. There is no hint at the sound being over-clinical, even when streaming via Bluetooth. In fact, the only major difference is that Bluetooth comes through a little louder when A/B-ing between channels on the M6si.
Moving on to Marillion’s ‘Season’s End’ displayed how clean and open the sound is. Details from the synthesisers, and clean guitars weave around in their own space allowing the bass line to work its magic.
Steve Hogarth’s vocals come through with plenty of expression. The instruments are nicely textured with a liveliness I was not expecting from this TT.
I enjoyed the overall transparency that the Alpha presented. Even through Bluetooth there was no noticeable attempt to fake the characteristics associated with classic decks with this modern turntable. I am sure it must have been tempting to use modelling software to mimic, say, Thorens, Rega or even Michell.
The mids and bass range are handled nicely and even the top-end comes through clearly without any harshness. It is not analytical or clinical but a rather pleasantly warm sound.
I was receiving a nicely balanced performance with most of my records. I did notice that some sparkle was lost from singer/songwriter performances such as Joe Gideon’s ‘Vice Versa’. Saying that, I am comparing this with how I heard the album played on my Pro-ject loaded with an Ortofon higher up the ladder.
An added bonus that the Alpha 100 RIAA BT has is its ability to digitise your records.
Simply by connecting my laptop to the turntable via USB I was able to record albums straight to MP3. The quality is good, but will ultimately depend on what software you use and rate you copy at.
I really do like having this option to archive records, especially the ones I’ve owned for a while. Most new LPs will come with download codes.
Elipson Alpha 100 review conclusion
The Elipson Alpha 100 has a clean and elegant design. Let’s face it, the French do have a penchant for stylishness.
There is a little volume bump going from analogue connection to Bluetooth, but that might be down to the boxes in my chain.
It was that sense of timing and dynamics that set the AT-LP5 apart when first we heard it, and which shows up the slight weakness in the Elipson Alpha 100 RIAA.
Yes, there are cheaper Bluetooth turntables as well as those with USB ports. But I dare say that the Elipson performs better than many as a stand-alone deck.
Add in to the mix that all you really need to get started is the Alpha and a Bluetooth speaker, that has to be a bonus for some!
I was amazed by the detailed and honest sound. The Alpha 100 looks great, is ready to use out of the box and I am sure will please anyone that buys one. I am happy to recommend the Elipson Alpha 100 RIAA BT to everyone, especially those looking to get (back) in to vinyl.
Elipson Alpha 100 price and availability
There are a range of Alpha 100 turntables. The one reviewed here is the Alpha 100 RIAA BT which comes in at £399 from Amazon and Hi-Fi retailers.