Ever bold in aesthetic terms, Paul Rigby reviews this Italian midrange turntable
Yes, Gold Note never shirks from its design responsibilities. Especially when that pertains to adding a certain chic effect to its turntables. As we saw, in my review of the company’s high-end Mediterraneo design, Gold Note is not scared to tread its own artistic path. That goes double for the technical design. So I was looking forward to tackling the Valore 425 Plus and seeing if this design maintained Gold Note’s high standards.
In my case I received a turntable based upon a 23mm thick transparent acrylic plinth, supported by three slim, aluminium, triangular feet. The feet you see in the images are a bit like a Hollywood facade, there’s nothing behind them, they’re just bent pieces of plate. I wasn’t a fan for two reasons. Firstly, there’s no levelling option and, in a turntable of this price, that’s unforgivable. Even budget designs offer that facility. Secondly, there’s no sound absorbing material included. Again, for the price, I want to see efforts here. No matter what the final sound in the conclusion below, no matter what the isolating properties of the pointy foot shape and no matter what the possible build budget restrictions, the sound could and should have been further improved with carefully designed sound absorption. It was a lost opportunity.
[NOTE: Gold Note contacted me after the review was initially published to say, “…at no extra cost we also offer adjustable traditional large aluminium spikes.” These spikes can assist in levelling the turntable.]
Apparently, you can order black and walnut plinths but the transparent acrylic option is scruffy and agricultural because you can see the connecting bolts for the feet within the plinth which ruins the effect of the transparent acrylic purity (the above images give you a small sense of this issue, it’s worse in real life). The corners could and should have been masked to hide this abberation. Why this particular plinth was given clearance is anyone’s guess. I would have failed it right there and then, at the designer’s desk. The transparent acrylic plinth – labelled Special Edition – isn’t special at all because it lacks finesse and reduces the aesthetic quality of the entire turntable.
That said, I might be having a moan but it’s not the end of the world and it won’t affect the review rating. There are other finishes available – in fact there are two images posted below here for you to peruse. They are much more professional and look far superior in overall aesthetic terms. I would advise plumping for one of those instead.
Spanning 425 x170 x 360mm, the rest of the featured technology is more worthy of the design and price. The electronically controlled twin-speed turntable is speed controlled and powered by an external box, along with a fine tune adjustment. It takes AC from the mains and converts that to DC. Then back to AC to power the motor. The sequence, says the company, improves sound quality in the end. It’s not really up to scratch, in terms of the design and looks a little lost when attached to the Valore 425.
Belt-driven, the turntable weighs a healthy 9kg which bodes well for the lower frequency support. The 60mm long platter bearing and spindle system is a trickle-down design from the company’s higher-end turntables.
The platter – which is also 23mm thick oddly enough – is made from acrylic while the arm is a B-5 spanning 9”, derived but slightly simplified from the B-5.1. The former reduces the tolerances a tad but the B-5.1 can be yours for extra cash as an upgrade. The B-5 can be adjusted easily, azimuth is changed via a quickly accessed grub screw, for example, while the counterweight should be able to handle any cartridge you want to throw at it. A 4mm dust cover is included.
I began with a slice of prog and a reissue of Camel’s 1976 LP Moonmadness via Music on Vinyl reissued in 2013. I played the track, Aristillus followed by Song Within A Song.
Aristillus features a high frequency synth run across most of the track which can, on more strident-leaning turntables, be rather aggressive. The Valore 425 Plus was never that. Instead, it tracked the high frequency run without fuss, allowing the upper mid and treble-based sounds to soar with admirable dynamic reach. The rest of the soundstage was disciplined. That is, there were no frequencies encroaching on each other’s territory. Bass remained where it should and never bloomed into midrange space to warm up the vocals, midrange never smeared into treble to produce a fuzzy high end tone and treble never pinched.
All of this meant that the music was in its place and properly positioned across the soundstage. This sense of order also meant that each instrument drew space around it to allow it to move freely and without bumping into its neighbour.
The result of that lot meant that the ear relaxed. If the above is not behaving itself then the musical timing is off and each note sounds like its colliding with the next, instruments sound jumbled the brain stresses out. You feel yourself unconsciously narrowing your eyes as you try to concentrate upon the chaos.
What the Valore Plus offered instead was a sense of clarity across the soundstage and a transparency that allowed, in Song Within A Song, the cymbal hits to offer a superbly open and brassy reverb response when hit. This meant that this instrument had a natural character. It sounded more like the real thing rather than a rough approximation.
Also when complex double tracking was encountered, such as within the lead guitar, the degree of focus and precision allowed you to hear the two guitars if you really wanted to. You could kick back and let the sonic effect wash over you if you wanted to, of course, but the more you listened, the more you could hear two guitars.
This complexity never dominated other areas of the mix. Hence, the bass guitar was easily separated from the general hubbub and tracked by the ear without difficulty.
The focus and precision from the Valore Plus was a major part of the design’s character. Guitar strings were definite and considered events. Drum hits were exact and accurate while the bass offered both bounce and the presentation as a whole sounded well structured and formed. The soundstage resembled a well built house. Nothing wobbled, nothing fell off, everything was in its place and sounded solid, drawing confidence the longer you listened.
Next was jazz vocal and Ethel Ennis who sang in front of a full orchestra while singing He Loves Me on This is Ethel Ennis (RCA).
The sense of space was accentuated in and around the orchestra space with a notable feature being the sense of attack from the trumpet outbursts along, as a contrast, the bass notes from the saxophones and the trombones that provided an effective, ready resonance that gave the music a firm footing and a great balance in the mix.
Ennis’ vocal approach was enjoyable, mixing an admirable diction with a smooth approach that flowed easily.
This turntable offers a lively performance but never forgets to pick out essential detail. Hence, because veiling noise is relatively low, even subtle nuances are noted by the turntable. Well proportioned and balanced across the soundstage, the Valore 425 Plus is an accomplished performer.
GOLD NOTE VALORE 425 PLUS Acrylic/Italian Walnut - £1,445 Black Lacquer - £1,264 Tel: 01420 544140 Website: www.goldnote.it & www.audiopinnacle.co.uk
GOOD: easy set up, focus, precision, structured soundstage
BAD: plinth, feet
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