Roksan Xerxes 20 Plus Turntable Review & Comments

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi Stereo Systems & Separates' started by Ed Selley, Dec 19, 2017.


    1. Ed Selley

      Ed Selley
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    2. boabis

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      Lovely stuff, turntables and amplifiers are where I happily tolerate a reviewer getting worked up to a full froth of superlatives.

      Out of interest, what else kicks around this sort of price/quality bracket?
       
    3. dannnielll

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      Hello this is a bit of kit whose function is to rotate at exactly 33.333 rpm and do so without allowing variation in this speed, or to allow vibration from the room getting in , or to stop rumble from the bearings or wow and flutter from variation in the motor speed . So how is this musical ?, Where are the figures for speed variation, rumble, vibration transmission , wow and flutter? How does it compare in the only things that matter with the much cheaper alternatives.
       
    4. mainaman

      mainaman
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      I will pitch in with some owner experience musings,bereft of any flowery prose...

      Mine is in maple,with the lowly XPS7 power supply,but with a SME309 arm.
      1)Rivals-the usual suspects like Michell Orbe,Nottingham Analogue Hyperspace,Project Xtension 10 Evo,Linn LP12 Majik,Rega RP10,Clearaudio Performance DC,VPI Prime,Funk Firm Saffirre III,Origin Live Resolution 3-1 and some others are more or less similarly priced and i doubt that you can go wrong with any of them.
      2)Ease of use-the manual is clear,but daunting("written for engineers") for the novice,and it is not hard to assemble it,but the scope for adjustment can be overwhelming.Not as easy as a Nottingham Analogue,but probably easier than the spring suspended decks.
      3)Value for money-as all things in audio when you cross the one thousand pounds barrier the law of diminishing returns kicks in and a 10 percent upgrade can cost a 100 percent increase in price.The Xerxes has the platter and the bearing from the statement TMS3 and a fully kitted front end with their best arm,cart and power supply/phono stage is much cheaper than the full on Klimax LP12.The price is not high for the engineering on offer,the fit and finish,in the context of the market and the more than two decades refinement and evolution of the basic design.

      The biggest question for the novice or somebody who upgrades from a starter deck for less than 500 pounds is what do you get for all this money?Well,more of everything.The noise floor drops a lot,you can hear more of what is in the grooves and the music loses any strain,mechanical sheen or the somewhat warm and fuzzy sound of some cheaper decks with MM carts.
      4)Design-it may look compact,simple and old fashioned externally,but it is a complex affair inside,a veritable Matryoshka doll deck with three plinths,springs,lots of grommets,platter over platter,vast adjustment range,etc
      5)Fit and finish and build quality-the veneers look a million bucks and the whole thing is very well screwed together,if not to SME(more expensive) standards.It is compact,but hefty at 12 kilos without a power supply.
      6)Aftersales support-no worries here.Touraj has left and his partner has recently sold the business,but it should be fine as part of Monitor Audio's portfolio.
      7)Residual values-better than any digital front end,the decks in that price range usually bottom out at 50 percent of their purchase price and there are models that last more than a decade(like this one!) or two(the Orbe) before a successor arrives,their going rate not much lower than the initial sticker price!
      8)Sound quality-neutral,highly resolving and rhytmically assured.Dependant on the arm,cart,supply and phono stage,all decks do.I reckon that the Nima is selling it short and it can sound quite open,vast,smooth and full bodied with my magnesium tubed SME arm.The combo had lush mids,a rock'n roll spring and lovely dark tonality when paired with a Zu cart and a high-res and precise signature when paired with Audio Technica ART9.Even pricier carts captured the vintage of the recordings to a tee.May expand later on...
      9)Digital front end rivals-i consider it more musical and natural sounding than any digital source i have heard,incl. a top MSB front end.The presence and soundstaging of vinyl can be appreciated even with cheaper decks too.
      10)Drawbacks-poor recordings are not flattered and digitally sourced vinyl is ruthlessly exposed(and usually grates).
      11)Upgrades-there is an upgrade plinth(that the deck sits on).I havent tried Stillpoints feet yet,but it sounded worse on (cheaper)Finite feet.The design removes the temptation for pricey platter mats and record weights.
      12)Measurements-if you are bothered about that stuff,stick to digital and solid state.
       
      Last edited: Apr 3, 2018
    5. Abacus

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      Record you vinyl player and burn to a CD, them compare the 2 and you will find absolutely no difference in sound quality using the same ancillary equipment. (Digital is better than anything that vinyl can achieve IF they are mastered correctly, (Unfortunately most are mastered to sound good ripped to an mp3 player) when they sound subline)

      As to the Roksan deck itself, while good, I would still go with the Mitchell Gyrodeck and SME series 4 Tonearm for best quality sound.

      Bill
       
    6. martimu

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    7. dannnielll

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      I object to the use of the word crapping. On the other hand the article you have provided is a fairly balanced essay on the differences. In one of my earlier contributions I referred to Vinyl in the same context as say flyfishing , perhaps a better and more respectful analogy might be calligraphy.
       
    8. Diagnosticz

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      I love Roksan they are pure class i have owned most of their current amplifiers last one being the M2 Integrated and power amp. This is another quality turntable From them and not surprised about the full marks on sound quality as that is what it is all about in the end and that is what Roksan is about. As always with all Roksan gear they look beautiful and always have a small footprint which is always a bonus.

      The beauty with vinyl is you can pick up a reasonable priced turntable like a project with midrange speakers and you will get a lovely sound quality unlike cd where its little more harsh and have to really spend a lot more to get the quality you need.

      Obviously with a higher end turntable like this Roksan and paired with higher end speakers and gear you will be rewarded with pure natural sound. Nice review
       
      Last edited: Dec 20, 2017
    9. SonOfSJ

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      @Ed Selley Mr Selley, if I were to win the lottery, I would buy a new turntable to replace my rarely-used, splendid but 35-year-old Thorens TD160S, and I would choose either this Roksan or the Michell Orbe, based on reviews and looks alone, never having operated or listened to either.

      However, I am puzzled about two things about this Roksan, namely the year and the price. First the year - the first picture that you have used in the review mentions the year, but that year is 2011, not 2017. Second, the price. You mention several times that the Roksan is more expensive that the VPI Prime turntable. Yet the price of the VPI is shown (when I click on the link) as £3750, but the price of the Roksan is shown under the headline picture as £3199, which is less!. I can't seem to find anywhere in your review a cold statement of what the Roksan itself costs, you quote only its price in relation to the VPI Prime. Maybe you are including the cost of power supply or cartridge in your figure for the Roksan's price?


      upload_2017-12-20_17-49-1.jpeg upload_2017-12-20_17-49-36.jpeg
       
    10. Ed Selley

      Ed Selley
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      Yes- sorry, the basic turntable, less arm and the VSC is £3,200 in the finish here. The VSC is another £3,200 with the Nima adding £600 and taking it to a nice, round £7,000.
       
    11. SonOfSJ

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      @Ed Selley Ah, thank you, seven grand it is. Definitely a lottery win purchase!
       
    12. mainaman

      mainaman
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      You can buy a capable phono stage for less than a grand,but after buying a Roksan power supply(say,the cheaper one),a good arm(the Artemiz II-R is little over two grand,the SME is still less than two) and a cart(say,another grand or the 300 pounds 103R for a start),seven grand it is.A mint used buy is half that.Still lots of money,for sure,but you will not think of upgrading for a very long time.

      I have been trying to make a case for digital and go back to its relative convenience and low risk,but to no avail.The AAA records before the 80s,the DAA records from the 80s and contemporary AAA ones-all of them sound phony on digital.Even the modern digital stuff sounds slightly better as it is not as compressed to hell as the CD or even the high-res files.
       
    13. dannnielll

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      I don't want to start a trolling contest here, but the interesting phrase in your posting is " sound phony" when refering to digital. My observation is that that may be due to prior conditioning rather than any defect in the digital sound reproduction process. I was listening the other night to Deezer HQ .. near cd quality, via chromecast and after a long time i remarked to myself how warm and fuller the sound appeared to be and then noted that my Marantz had got switched to "hall effect " mode. Less hi fi than the correct mode but more pleasant...
       
    14. mainaman

      mainaman
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      No prior conditioning here,i bought my first deck just two years ago.My current DAC sounds warmer than the turntable,but guess which one gets praised by friends,who get to listen to some music when visiting.There is one,who doesnt give a damn and listens to music via his phone.Most people outside sites like this do.And on the other end of the scale we have audiophiles,who cant listen to anything else other than horns,flea powered tubes and LP12 decks.So whatever floats your boat and if you find something like tone controls and acoustic effects pleasant,its your choice.

      I will just say that some people dismiss vinyl without hearing a well setup deck.If you have got limited funds buy a Systemdeck with Ortofon Red cart and Rega RB300 arm and give it a go.If you dont like what you hear you can always sell it for the same money and write vinyl off.
       
    15. Khazul

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      You are of course aware that the vinyl you are listening to probably went through a 16bit/44.1Khz ADC->delay->DAC during cutting (so probably isn't the 'pristine' analog end to end you thought it was)? Its also not unusual for vinyl to be rolled off below 40Hz and above 16Khz as well as having the low end forced to mono? The band limiting on the high end in in particular will make the result smoother sounding but not generally enough to make it dull sounding. Or than that it was probably produced for the same digital master anyway - of course a lot of this depends on the cutting process being used at the time the record was cut and duplicated.

      I like my vinyl playback for various reasons - part as an ex DJ I just like the physical nature of it - sometimes I just plonk a record on and sit back and listen, sometimes I fire up both decks and hands on mix. I like the sound character of the cartridges I use (far from being flat and accurate, but the result is pleasing).
      However I am under no illusions about the 'quality' of it verses end to end digital into a high quality DAC with good inter-sample peak handling and proper gain staging and headroom through the analog realm. With digital you instead have to be concerned about the quality of any DSP that occurs - the ideal is of course none, but then again, high quality algorithms can be better (more transparent) than similar processing with even high end analog gear.

      The problem is a lot of consumer hi-fi gear (even high end) fails somewhere between the raw digital data and the analog signal fed to the power amp stage. Often this can be fixed with inline attenuators of 3dB or more between CD player and pre-amp, but often its already too late to fix if the problem is related to the DAC stage rather than simply a case of CD player analog outs being too hot for the pre-amp.

      If you regularly encounter harshness in CD player, then try reducing the output level of your CD player if that is possible (on most it isnt) or try adding decent quality inline attenuators between CD player and pre-amp - it may help.

      The same applies to stereo receivers and net radio / streamers. With some AVRs they have an input trim that operates in the digital realm - reducing this by 3dB can often help.
       
    16. mainaman

      mainaman
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      You are assuming the worst,there are plenty of AAA records and that's practically all albums before the middle of the 80s and lots more after that.Some of the later releases may have went through DDL.Digitising analogue is not that bad(for vinyl albums,recorded on tape,not ProTools) too,there are plenty of Devialet owners,who prefer to listen to vinyl via their amps,which means AD-DA.A friend of mine had two Texas Instruments chip amps and you couldnt tell the vinyl was digitised.I had a high-end Marantz SACD player,whose analogue output was digitised by a S-master amp,yet the player's signature was undiminished.

      The harshness is not inherent in any competent CD player or DAC,it is from the awful compression at the mastering stage of the modern albums.One of the limitations of vinyl is that it cant be mastered for such a loudness,so the vinyl version is not as unlistenable via decent hi-fi.

      Cheap turntables may be coloured and DJ decks are hardly hi-fi,but most modern high-end carts are flat and accurate,you can see the measurements.That doesnt mean they dont have a character and that they sound alike,but different loudspeakers rarely sound alike too,even if they have flat anechoic frequency response and the same crossover slopes.Same goes for solid state amps,DACs,etc.Even cables and racks!

      Anyway,one can listen to "uncompressed" digital(there are plenty of jazz and classical on SACD,DSD,CD,flac and high-res as well as CDs before 2000 and most modern audiophile releases),but spin a good record on a well setup deck and you will find out that the mono bass is extending below 40hz and the highs are not rolled off.

      In fact right now my vinyl front end may sound slightly edgier than my DAC(i suspect the phono stage has too much gain for my latest cart),but it is not a deal breaker.The Xerxes is not cheap,but look at the latest and greatest digital like the Chord Dave,8500 pounds and doesnt sound too good(yes,i have heard it),connected to a laptop.This means another (at least)3 grand for an Aurender and 8500 for the matching Blu scaler.
       
    17. Khazul

      Khazul
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      There are a lot of people who have some version of the Technics SL 12x0 that have upgraded them into perfectly respectable hi-fi turntables and arguably even adiophile grade, or just simply replaced the cartridge and maybe headshell with an audiophile cartridge, or perhaps upgrade/modified the tonearm damping etc (ie the usual issues).

      I have heard of enough people who have ditched their LP12 setups for an SL12x0 TT (with perhaps some enhancements) and not regretted it, so I don't think 'DJ decks are hardly hi-fi' is a reasonable statement. It may well be true of the numarks, stantons etc (which I must admit I wouldnt touch with a barge pole, even as a DJ - there that's my bit of snobbery that I openly admit to and it probably extends to any TT that has a built in USB interface as well).

      I used to have the use of an LP12 in the distant past (into a Quad 44 pre, 404 amp and ESL 63 speakers). Wonderful sounding system for certain kinds of music, especially classical, but I cant say I miss it.

      I also admit that a lot most of the music I listen to on a turntable is house/trance from the 1990's to early 2000s and TBH while 'wrong', a lot of it actually sounds nicer to me with a high-end ortofon DJ cartridge than a regular hifi/audiophile cartridge. I also admit some of that is perhaps nostalgia too. Now I have no doubt you will dismiss such music as trash - (your bit of snobbery ;)), but there are also a lot of well produced and mastered electronic and dance records around as well.

      To within +/- 1-3 dB often. That's more enough to impart a noticeable sonic character that you may like or even dislike. The tilt range of amps is usually less than +/- 0.5dB and yet that's often enough to contribute to people's personal preference when comparing amps. It's the same with mics - its part of why I may choose one mic over another for recording a vocalist (especially male vs female).

      Compression is generally fine for vinyl. Heavy brick-wall limiting OTOH is not. Its also limiting in combination with normalizing too close to 0dbFS in combination with the behavior of the consumer's DAC that can result in harshness (due to non-ideal analog waveform reconstruction behavior around consecutive peaks at or near to 0dBfs) - as I said, sometimes it it is fixable to be audibly acceptable for most people. Sometime harshness may be there whatever you do (due to way to excessive limiting), but often it isn't. The industry didn't really realise this in the earlier days of digital, but thankfully at the same time, limiter abuse didn't really exist then either. So yes - older recording on vinyl tend to be better (especially as the alternative was usually cassette). The same is also true of many CDs true due to lack of limiter abuse in those days. Back in my days at the BBC in the 80s, all we worried about was keeping peaks well away from 0dbFS on the ADAT recorders. Subsequent processing with compressors etc was very mild by todays standards and limiters tended to be soft (ie a just a fast compressor, perhaps with a soft clip) and almost all processing was a round trip back into the analog domain.

      When mastering recently in digital I have often had material that sounded absolutely fine on my workstation (decent DACs, plenty of headroom in the following analog signal chain etc) but sounds awful when dumped to CD and played through some (even high end and reputable) CD systems. Same with mp3 as well. The end result is usually a discussion with the client to back down a bit on their loudness demands and thus limiter abuse - sometimes its just easier to let them hear for themselves the result of what they ask for than fight it beforehand :)
       
      Last edited: Dec 21, 2017
    18. mainaman

      mainaman
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      The Technics 12x0 are fine decks,even better upgraded,and the last one is not a DJ deck at all,but most others are not well regarded in the hi-fi circles with the exception of the Pioneer PLX-1000.

      There are some advancements in analogue replay and there are some ancient,but worthy designs that are still soldiering on like the DL-103 and the basic LP12 tech.

      I own many EDM records,old and new,and many of them sound great.

      Brickwall filtering
      +clipping=bad combo.

      We even got a R2R resurgence and a push for avoiding ProTools,but for some reason lots of engineers dismiss tape not only as inconvenient but inferior sounding too.Maybe they havent heard an AAA lp on a statement level turntable or maybe analogue enthusiasts are just hearing things.In any case driven by hipsters or not the vinyl market is recovering and expanding.
       
    19. dannnielll

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      Look if anyone wants to spend their time and their money on vinyl and expensive record decks , well its a free country ... More or less and long may they enjoy it.
      There are also people interested in basket weaving, patchwork quilt making, painting, pottery, and black and white silver based photography and any number of other obsolete crafts which give them outlets for their creative selves.
      Now this thread started with a glowing account, of a machine whose only function in life is to rotate a disc at 33.333 rpm and maybe at 45 rpm... Thats all!. It doesn't make music, it just rotates.

      In my opinion, and shared by many others it is solving a problem which no longer exists.

      It is very much akin to getting the square roots of numbers from first principles every time we wanted to work out the area of a circle, rather than using the log tables or heaven help us , a calculator.
      We have methods of storing audio files , without any added noise, at any desired level of accuracy, for as long as we want. We have methods of reproducing them with very little added noise or distortion...

      So why would you want to go back to recreating the sound at the mechanical power levels of the original microphone signal, and then go through the effort of trying to minimise the noise and distortions each and every time you want to play it?.
      We have Redbook CD, we have DVD, we have FLAC, SACD, and a variety of streaming formats, with enormous data rates and resolutions. How many people could distinguish the differences in blind testing between the best of the DACs at 10K and those in a Chromecast audio?. How many people would notice the difference between a properly set up vinyl system, a well set up tape and a reasonable digital system?.. I suspect not a lot but with careful listening , the noise floor, the intermittent clicks will give the vinyl system away... The constant hiss of the tape might be less obstrusive, but will count against the tape and the quiteness of the digital.
      In reading around I came across a question " why have classical music listeners abandoned vinyl and never came back at the revival". ? It is noticeable that jazz and rock music fans have. The responses were very interesting and you can check them yourself...

      In looking up Martimus well sourced essay on subjectivity, I noticed the same website also issues a challenge regarding blind testing between different formats, ...
       
      Last edited: Dec 22, 2017
    20. Khazul

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      Well in my case I never really left it, but then I find mixing on good old decks a nice way to relax.

      I also have the option of best of both worlds - vinyl with timecode on it that just controls a digital player on my laptop and actually plays an mp3 or flac off my NAS - Ill probably get burned at the stake for that :)

      Yes an interesting test - probably worthy of its own thread ;)
       
      Last edited: Dec 22, 2017
    21. Ed Selley

      Ed Selley
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      I note your live and let live attitude isn't so much '"good for them" as "I can't believe you'd bother"- truly, a triumph of classical liberalism. Now, you have asked about the measurements for the Xerxes. A set of these exists here. I will not be copying and pasting them as the owner of that site is unlikely to appreciate me doing so- you can register (for free) and view them at leisure. The short synopsis is that- even with an older PSU attached, the Xerxes puts in a seriously impressive performance. In the context of a contact replay format, every one of those measured increments matters.

      Ignoring any arguments about the satisfaction of owning or using it- I am aware that as I can't measure joy, it probably doesn't exist for you- the answer is for two reasons. The first is that even after several decades, a significant clutch of material exists in almost no other format. I have a small but appreciable subset of records that have never found their way onto any digital format. I could stop listening to them because they're inferior but that seems a little absolutist.

      There is then the issue of mastering. If you solely listen to classical music, there is no reason (beyond the aformentioned joy) to use vinyl- I have no issue with this. The quality of mastering has never declined allowing all the benefits of digital to be realised. For those of us who listen to and enjoy other genres, this is nowhere near as clear cut. The very technical limitations of vinyl have led to a peculiar phenomenon where the analogue copy of some albums, exhibits far better performance than the digital one. If the analogue master had been cut that hot, it simply won't play. For those of us who have the temerity to listen to more mainstream genres, vinyl represents our best shot at dynamic range- even though the format itself is measurably inferior in that regard. All of a sudden, efforts to maximise that advantage- given that as you yourself point out, it's a medium that needs effort- might not be so whimsical.

      As noted, where the material is up to the job such as with classical music, I have no issue with ignoring vinyl altogether. The limitation remains that the data rates available are rarely used well or indeed at all. Much of this argument rests on the foundation that we are comparing like with like- an optimised piece of analogue versus optimised digital and we aren't.

      And then we wind up at the wearisome business of blind testing. I have been involved in them for well over a decade. I have carried them out- blind and double blind- and I have been on dozens (not an exaggeration) of listening panels. Not only do differences occur between equipment of extremely similar measured performance, even with no opportunity to confer, the pattern of these differences can be observed in different listener's notes. Having spent decades insisting they are the arbiter of all that is real, I have watched the same proponents get sniffy about them when differences appear that they are less happy to countenance. For example, in answer to your posed question- a competently arranged level matched blind test between a Chromecast and a Hugo 2 for example would likely achieve a near perfect result in favour of the Chord with any reasonably engaged participant (it's almost like I might have done such a test with the original Hugo).

      I had held off from responding to some of the stuff being raised in what is ostensibly a product comment thread. I have seen the same tropes recited time and time again (and I always find myself wondering how it is that proponents of puritanical objectivity have always spent just enough on their equipment to achieve 'transparency' but know that anything more expensive is 'a waste') but, it's Christmas so in the spirit of peace and goodwill, I hope you can achieve peace by going and starting your own thread on things that don't pertain in any way to the Roksan Xerxes and significantly improve my goodwill by doing so.
       
    22. mainaman

      mainaman
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      The Xerxes rotates records and doesnt make music by itself.An Esoteric SACD player spins discs,a cheap CD player does the same job for much less.Why spend more?Why spend 50 to 130 pounds on a single album,imported from USA?Yes,thats how much the audiophile vinyl releases from the likes of Mobile Fidelity and Analogue Productions cost.
       
    23. dannnielll

      dannnielll
      Well-known Member

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      The distinction is \ was that the SACD player, when fed with a disc produces music at a level where it can either be heard directly by headphones or fed without much voltage amplification perhaps only 10 to 20 fold into a current stage and drive speakers. Ditto with the cheaper CD player. The Xerexes needs a tone arm, introducing tracking errors and a cartridge, which even the best of, are a litany of mechanical engineering compromises before it even makes anything electrical, it then has to be amplified a thousand fold, before it can be even heard by headphones .
      I would hope and expect that the DAC in the Mojo and other such devices would be audibly better than the Chromecast audio standard.and decidedly better than the unit as fitted in the cheap cd player. I would also expect the differences to be measurable . Anyway not wishing to destroy anyone's bon- homie , I shall wish you all the peace of the season
       
    24. mainaman

      mainaman
      Member

      Joined:
      Jul 27, 2005
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      Better engineering and less cost cutting usually means better sound,from a CD player,a turntable or a sports car exhaust.Merry Christmas to all and dont discount vinyl before hearing a deck like the Xerxes.
       
    25. daytona600

      daytona600
      Active Member

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      started out with Roksan 20+ with Nima arm & Corus MM cartridge
      then upgraded to Audio Technica ART9 cartridge , Vertere SG-1TA Tonearm & Vertere Xerxes 20+ Motor PSU
      started with a great turntable with excellent upgrade path & turned it into a " giant killer " eats a VPI prime for breakfast
       

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