Elipson Omega 100 Turntable Review
Is the affordable turntable market due a French revolution?
What is the Elipson Omega 100?The Elipson Omega 100 is an unsuspended belt drive turntable that represents Elipson's arrival into the turntable market. Even allowing for the recent explosion of interest in the category though, the Elipson is genuinely unusual. While the number of turntables available at affordable price points has increased dramatically in recent years, they have generally appeared from existing manufacturers. If a 'new' brand enters the fray, it is usually possible to see where their turntable comes from.
The Elipson on the other hand is all new. Other than the cartridge, it shares nothing in common with any other turntable on sale today. Elipson has taken the decision in entering the market, to go and build their own turntable from the ground up. This is an outstandingly ambitious thing to do. Turntables don't have much in common with anything else Elipson produces and this has meant that the Omega 100 also features technology and design decisions that are different to any other affordable player.
So not to overplay this, but the outcomes of this are going to be interesting for the industry as a whole. At all the 'sane' price points (that is to say up to £2,000 or so), the growth in the market has come from existing brands and existing components. Can Elipson show that a company can come in fresh and compete with the established players?
SpecificationsThe Omega 100 is the simplest of three Omega models. Other models in the range are effectively identical in terms of their basic specification but add an internal phono stage and then the ability to transmit a signal to a Bluetooth receiver – a function sufficiently intriguing that we will likely revisit this in due course. As well as the Omega models, Elipson also makes the Alpha range which features the same trio of models (plus a simplified budget option) but lacking the carbon fibre arm and high gloss finish of the Omega range
In keeping with most competitive models at this price point, the Omega 100 is a belt driven design with no form of suspension. While this is hardly radical stuff, the Omega 100 includes a series of design decisions the ensure it is subtly different to both the key competition, and indeed in certain regards, every other turntable on the market. The good news from the perspective of potentially owning an Omega 100 is that none of these design decisions make it significantly different to operate.
Perhaps the most noticeable area where the Elipson has gone its own way is with the tonearm. Called the Orbital Torsion Tonearm, this is still a twin bearing device with a fixed point of movement in the vertical and horizontal axis but the bearings have been combined into a knuckle arrangement that is visible at the centre of the circular housing on the arm. The reason for this is that the Omega 100 uses a unique antiskate system. This is a rubber torsion beam that acts upon the two bearings on the same axis. The amount of force it exerts is adjusted by a small, knurled knob on the top of the circular housing. This system promises to be more visually elegant than the threaded weight system that is commonly applied and more mechanically consistent than spring loaded mechanisms. Possibly as a result of this antiskate system, the Elipson has no armlift which means that the needle must be manually dropped into the groove. This might be momentarily alarming but the arm is easy to line up and cue so in practise I haven't found it to be too much of an issue.
The motor arrangements for the Omega 100 are not as unusual as the arm but different nonetheless. The motor is isolated and electronically controlled via a system called DDS (Direct Digital Synthesis). This provides regulation and control of the speed of the motor and this is noticeable in a few ways in general operation. If you flick the switch to start the player, there is a second's pause while it works out what it is going to do and once you stop it again, if you place a hand on the platter to slow it down, you can see the belt flutter as the motor is clearly slowing down at its own pre programmed rate.
There are some advantages to this electronic nanny though. The Omega 100 promises high levels of speed stabilty and additionally, can automatically switch between 33 and 45 rpm which is something that most belt drive rivals at this price cannot do (although something that the Audio Technica LP5 can do without breaking a sweat). The other benefit of the system is that the Omega 100 is able to operate on any mains voltage going which is potentially useful.
The platter that the motor operates on is steel and rather unusually is fixed to the spindle and the Omega 100 ships with it in place. The belt operates on the outside of the platter which makes fitment slightly more complex than it would be if there was a sub platter but still far from difficult to do and Elipson puts a neat little video on the website showing you the best process for doing so. A very neat touch is that the 45rpm single adapter (which is a lovely steel dome) can be used as a weight to sit on the spindle while a record is playing for a small but worthwhile sound quality boost.
As well as the electronic speed control, Elipson has ensured that the Omega 100 is competitively specced at the price. You get a lid supplied for the asking price, reasonable isolating feet and a respectable Ortofon OM10 cartridge fitted as standard. The model with the phono stage built in will add £50 to the price which seems like sound value although at the time of writing, it is unclear whether this can be bypassed so there is still some worth to my mind in choosing this version, thus letting you choose your own phono stage.
DesignAs has already been noted, the Elipson makes use of design decisions that aren't commonly seen elsewhere. The good news is that this has resulted in a turntable that also manages to look subtly different to the competition too. If we accept that the relatively terrestrial budget of the Elipson precludes taking some truly bold styling decisions, Elipson has done a fine job of making the Omega 100 look good.
First up, the tonearm looks fantastic. The circular housing and slender armtube combine to make something that is altogether more elegant than most rivals. This then combines with a turntable that manages to look clean and attractive and – and I do mean this in a positive way – rather French. This is a superbly well thought out piece of industrial design that is peppered with nice touches. The Elipson logo on the lid is double sided and the one on the inside of the lid is inverted so that it appears the right way up when the lid is lifted. The carbon fibre armtube and high gloss finish combine to excellent effect and mean it feels a little more expensive than the asking price. The build quality is extremely good too with everything feeling solid and well thought out.
Elipson has done a fine job of making the Omega 100 look good
How was the Elipson Omega 100 tested?The Elipson was connected to a Cyrus Phono Signature phono stage and largely tested connected to a visiting system of Devaliet 200 amplifer and Spendor SP100R2 speakers. Additional testing was carried out with my resident Naim Supernait 2 integrated amp and a Cambridge Audio 651P phono stage as well as a pair of Neat IOTA speakers. The Elipson and all other electronics have been connected to an IsoTek Evo 3 Sigmas mains conditioner. The test material has been vinyl.
Sound QualityAll initial listening to the Elipson was done via the Cyrus Phono Signature. It might sound a little curious to connect a £300 turntable to a £1,200 phono stage but it does serve to show what the Elipson can do in an absolute sense. And what it does is demonstrate that the Omega 100 does an awful lot right. This is a turntable that manages to sound impressively even handed for a relatively affordable model. During my initial listening, the thing that stuck out was – ironically enough – how little of the Elipson's frequency response suffers from any sense of unevenness.
This means that listening to the impressive debut from Låpsley, Long Way Home, the Elipson is a very capable partner indeed. The strong single Hurt Me is handled with a real assurance and a wonderfully even frequency response from top to bottom. Vocals are rich and very real and partner the instruments extremely well. Inside a few minutes, you stop examining the device doing the playback and start listening to the music it is making. The quality of the ancillaries will clearly play a part in this but nonetheless, this is quite something for a budget turntable.
What is also immediately apparent is that the Elipson manages to extract excellent performance out of the Ortofon OM10 that it ships with. The OM10 is a useful step up from the identical looking OM5 which is fitted to the Pro-Ject Essential that we have looked at in the past and the Omega manages to make it sound more even and full bodied than I have heard it in some other turntables. The top end in particular is lively and has excellent detail retrieval but manages to avoid tipping over into harshness or aggression.
Taking the Cyrus and Devialet out of the system and switching to the Naim Supernait 2 and a more affordable Cambridge Audio 651P phono stage does see an increase in the noise floor (although this is the case for almost every phono stage I've ever tested versus the Cyrus) but the Elipson's basic behaviour stays impressively consistent. The Omega 100 is able to take a wide variety of material and give it all a fair crack of the whip. It also seems to be impressively forgiving of poor pressings as well and that clever antiskate system, once set correctly works extremely well.
As it is so closely priced to the excellent Audio Technica LP-5, it is only logical that some comparisons are drawn between the two decks. The LP5 is fractionally more expensive and rather less elegant than the Omega 100 but it does come with a good quality, switchable phono stage included and the ability to encode vinyl to digital included in the price. The Elipson hits back with a more elegant appearance, a lid supplied included in the price (Audio Technica wants £24 for theirs) and a higher quality finish.
In sound terms, comparing the two is fascinating. The OM10 cartridge fitted to the Elipson helps give it superior treble refinement than the AT95X fitted to the LP5. By the same token, the Audio Technica has more bass and with powerful, driving bits of music it simply sounds and feels more potent than the Omega 100 does. The Elipson never sounds slow but going head to head with the Audio Technica can result in it feeling a little languid by comparison. The LP5 is much easier to upgrade and stretch in performance terms than the Elipson, so if you have the means to spend a little more on it after a while.
This shouldn't distract from the considerable virtues of the Omega 100 though. If you already have a phono stage in your amp, it nullifies the advantages of rivals fitted with them. The electronic speed control is really handy and its consistent ability to open records up into an involving and immersive soundstage makes it extremely easy to listen to for long periods of time.
The Omega 100 is able to take a wide variety of material and give it all a fair crack of the whip
- Accuarate refined and lively sound
- Excellent build and aesthetics
- Useful features
- No armlift
- Slightly light bass
- Stiff competition
Elipson Omega 100 Turntable ReviewEven allowing for the ongoing boom in analogue, building a turntable from scratch is a serious undertaking. It is a measure of the confidence in their ability to carry out engineering projects of this nature that Elipson attempted it in the first place. What is even more impressive is that the Omega 100 is seriously accomplished. It manages to look, feel and, on occasions, sound a little different from its rivals while being slick and easy to use. It is a breeze to setup and operate and manages to make using vinyl as a day to day format very rewarding. Like many Elipson products, as a design and technical exercise, the Omega 100 is genuinely impressive but in keeping with the rest of its family, it is also deeply satisfying to use day-to-day as well.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £300.00
Ease of Use8
Value for Money9
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