Releasing a new midrange turntable, toting its established Nima arm, Paul Rigby reviews the Roksan Radius 7
I first saw the Roksan Radius 7, in its rather glass-like flesh, at the last Sound & Vision show in Bristol in February of this year. Speaking to UK distributor, Henley Design’s Ralph Ward at the show, he explained that the deck, “Is a replacement for the Radius 5. There have been improvements over the previous turntable in a number of areas, principally including improved motor decoupling. The designers have also managed to source an acrylic for the chassis which has a glass effect. The price has increased a bit too. The arm is the Nima, which was originally on the Radius 5.”
Set-up of the turntable was relatively painless. Features of note include that motor assembly that utilises an electronic speed selection that has been sourced from the high-end RPM speed control from the Xerxes. A connected LED light shines blue for 33rpm or red for 45rpm which is more effective as a light show because of that high density, glass-like plinth.
I do have a couple of design quibbles. More irritations than major factors. Firstly, I would have liked to have seen the option to replace the mains cable for something rather more audiophile in the future. You’re stuck with a basic black example. Same story with the phono cables. Upgrading both would help this turntable a lot in sonic terms.
Next? Both the power button and the speed button are uncomfortably close to the belt. I can just see myself catching the belt as my finger leaves the button and pulling the belt off the outside of the pulley/platter. It’s frustrating enough to get the belt on in the first place without ‘enjoying’ a re-run every time you turn the turntable on and off.
The second issue is the arm. I used a Benz Glider as my reference cartridge of choice. The cantilever of the Glider sticks out rather too much which just begs to be accidentally flicked or buried in a finger (an occurrence that has happened to me once before). Hence, caution is paramount. Yet the Roksan arm has no protective arm clip to keep the arm tube in place. This arm is waiting for accidents to happen, therefore. A stray hand here, a wayward moving finger there…
These are simple issues to fix but that fact that they are all crammed onto one turntable is like operating an unexploded bomb at times.
I began the sound test with psyche rock action from a group that used to be The Action, actually, but transformed themselves into Mighty Baby, combining a West Coast vibe with beat origins to form a psyche rock of sorts. This self-titled, 1968 LP was a touch compressed so offered the Roksan a challenging edge.
And that compression was there, the Roksan didn’t waste time trying to hide the fact, so there was no attempt to colour the sound or bathe it in warmth to hide it, the Roksan provided an honest playback. On a more proactive basis, though, I was very impressed with the vocal delivery on the track, House With No Windows. The lead vocal was joined by a backing voice to form an effective harmony but both offered a superbly moulded and formed delivery. There was a real and impressive degree of personality to both.
Similarly, bass, while not blooming or providing a false ‘massy’ output, was precise yet punchy while secondary percussion from tambourine offered a detailed and treble-infused ringing feedback that added a welcome extension to the arrangement. I was also happy to hear the output of the Hammond organ which I found pleasantly meticulous for a turntable at this price point.
For a contrast and a rather lushy orchestrated soundtrack, I turned to Ennio Morricone and Metti, Una Sera A Cena with some appealing gentle scatting from Edda Dell’Orso. The title track was beautifully clear and clean in its aspect and so airy and light, I thought that the strings were about to take off above the wide and expansive soundstage.
More specifically, I was pleased to hear a touch of metallic reverb on every strike of the glockenspiel, later in the LP, while the excellent transient response added a rounded and immediate strike/reaction to this sunny and cheerful instrumental interlude while piano was both expressive yet restrained.
There was no indication of any blooming in the upper mids or any smearing to mask detail, the Roksan allowed each instrument the freedom to express itself.
Turning to classical and Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata via the magical fingers of Arthur Rubinstein, surely one of the greatest classical pianists of the 20th century. Here, as our tests showed, the Radius 7 attempted to ruin the maestro’s peerless reputation with, on more sustained piano notes towards the end of the first movement, slight but ‘visible’ wavering that resulted from speed stability issues.
Moving to Bruce Hornsby & The Range and the album, Scenes From The Southside from 1988 and the first track, Look Out Any Window, this track highlighted the Hornsby piano which was big, bold and richly formed with a swathe of detail that the Roksan found easy to highlight and present in an ordered and focused manner. The soundstage was also notable for being layered and positioned to draw you into the musicality of the rolling rhythms. While the track provided a ‘period’ eighties production sound, the Roksan added a welcome polish and a sense of clarity that laid bare the busy soundstage.
Although arriving with a few design quirks, the bottom line of this or any turntable is the sound quality and, in that category, the Roksan Radius 7 doesn’t fail. Far from it, the Radius 7 is an impressive performer that gives space and air for detail to fall from it in bucket loads. Offering a balanced performance, the Radius 7 is a strong contender at this price point.
ROKSAN RADIUS 7
Tel: 01235 511 166
To see the turntable specifications, click HERE.
Good: midrange insight, open presentation, focus, clarity
Bad: control button placement, no arm tube clip, speed variation
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