Turntable Consonance Isolde/T8 (Part 3)

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5/24/2014 9:55:04 PM

Isolde’s comfort zone

In order to push things along a little further, I popped Disclosure’s Settle on to the platter and cued up the track ‘Help Me Lose My Mind’, which features London Grammar on support duties. Hannah Reid’s vocals were well rendered and the backing drum machine sounded crisp and vivid, but when the bass line kicked in properly I found myself feeling just a little short-changed.

Consonance Isolde Remote

Consonance Isolde Remote

The notes were deep and taut but the Isolde’s polite manner that had proved so beneficial with Melody Gardot now started to work against it. While the music bumped along nicely enough, I found myself wishing for a little more impact and punch, as the Consonance never really set my foot tapping – not a problem I usually have with this particular track.

In an attempt to move back to the Isolde’s comfort zone, I stayed with the sound of London Grammar but this time with their own LP, If You Waitwhich, unfortunately, involved another session with the strobe disc and that infernal pitch knob! With 45rpm dialled in and the track ‘Night Call’, the Isolde’s true colours once again showed through.

Hannah Reid’s vocals are much more vivid on this pressing and they stretched out of the loudspeakers very well. Even better, the backing piano was detailed, atmospheric and – above all – pleasingly pitch stable, which is not something that can be said of all belt drive designs.

I have also found this particular aspect to be a slight concern on some previous Consonance turntables, so was very pleased to hear that it is no longer an issue: the Isolde was as stable as could be wished for. As a result of this, the track was most enjoyable. Later on, a drum machine kicks in and this is quite a strange beast as it does not have any great punch or bass impact – it just does its thing behind the main action.

As a result it can exhibit a tendency to become enmeshed with the subsequent vocals but the Consonance Isolde/T8 dealt with this well, also making sure it did not overpower proceedings.

Hi-fi news verdict

The Consonance Isolde turntable and T8 arm are an endearing combination. Although they require a little fettling to perform at their best, the end result is a highly enjoyable one, especially if your taste in music extends to more atmospheric performances. The quality of its engineering is good and it is easy to setup and use – speed change notwithstanding. All in all, a welcome addition to the market.

Sound quality: 75%

T8 Tonearm Tracking error

T8 Tonearm Tracking error

Lab report

As the Isolde’s acrylic platter lacks a recess for the LP label, the deck was tested with the (stiff) foam mat in place. Fine adjustment of the DC motor is possible [see picture, opposite] but there remains some very low-rate drift in absolute speed of approximately ±0.25% over the duration of an LP side, so it’s worth keeping an eye on this. Fortunately Consonance supplies a very nice strobe disc for the purpose! Peak-weighted wow and flutter are usefully low, particularly the former at just 0.03% although the ‘sharpness’ of the main spectral peak is affected by a low-rate ±1Hz component [see Graph 1, below] which is also revealed on both through-groove and through-bearing rumble measurements (–69.5dB, DIN B-wtd). This is probably an (imperceptible) rocking mode of the turntable plinth balancing on what appears to be four squash balls...

Transcendent T8, frequency response at (from top to bottom at 10kHz): 1W into 8 ohms, 2W into 4 ohms, and 2.83V into simulated speaker load (0.5dB/vertical div.)

Transcendent T8, frequency response at (from top to bottom at 10kHz): 1W into 8 ohms, 2W into 4 ohms, and 2.83V into simulated speaker load (0.5dB/vertical div.)

The partnering T8 tonearm is a low effective mass design (9g) with a straight carbon-fibre tube and adjustable headshell/ cartridge mounting block. The lightweight main tube is also sufficiently rigid to offer a relatively high 194Hz main bending mode but there are also strong harmonic/torsional modes at 290Hz and 440Hz. The gimbal bearing itself is not especially substantial and this, in addition to the small outrigger appendages, is probably responsible for the higher rate modes at 1kHz and above [see Graph 2, below]. Some play was also detected in the bearing mount, although this may be a deliberate attempt at decoupling. Readers are invited to view full QC Suite reports for Consonance’s Isolde turntable and T8 tonearm.

Hi-fi news specifications

·         Turntable speed error at 33.33rpm: 33.41rpm (+0.24%)

·         Time to audible stabilization: 5sec

·         Peak Wow/Flutter: 0.03% / 0.04%

·         Rumble(silent groove, DIN B wtd): –68.9dB

·         Rumble (through bearing, DIN B wtd): –69.5dB

·         Hum & Noise (unwtd, rel. to 5cm/sec): –57.9dB

·         Power Consumption: 3-4W

·         Dimensions(WHD) / Weight: 380x180x480mm / 14kg