For the aspiring vinyl folks out there, we have plenty of choices today – thanks to the revival of the vinyl music industry. Although it seems kind of hyped up, it’s a fact that more turntables are available today and they are being made from the brands not from the old companies that we are familiar with. In other words, many other companies are cashing in on this new trend and Fluance is one of the newest kid to the block. Fluance is however not new to the audio scene. It is a reputable brand that specializes in home theatre audio systems and speakers.
Did this RT81 pass my expectations?
Today I will share my personal experience on this RT81 high fidelity turntable. I have never gotten a Fluance turntable before actually, so this is my first on this brand. This TT has been priding itself with being fitted by high premium grade parts and components. Does it really produce great analog sound experience? Does it bring you ‘live’ to the concerts just like you expect it to? Well, for me, I must say that I am quite impressed by this TT. In the sense that it does pass my internal tests for quality standards. I am not an expert audiophile, but the way this RT81 works, I can feel the artist’s delicate sound performance right from the comfort of my home.
Upgrades in the Fluance high fidelity RT81
Firstly, we need to note that this high fidelity RT81 is a direct upgrade from the RT80. So what are the main important upgrades? There are 2 main upgrades done. This is what I consider one of the most important components: the cartridge and stylus. In the Fluance RT81, you will get the premium AT95e cartridge from AT and this makes quite a whole lot of difference. Next, the RT81 also aims to reduce vibrations and possible hums and echos, perhaps due to feedback on the RT80 sibling. You will see that the body of the RT81 has been strengthened and beefed up using a wooden body that has full solid wood component.
The first thing that captured my attention really, is the appearance of this high fidelity turntable. With its beautiful kind of brownish-reddish walnut finish which exudes classiness, I cant help but adore it from my living room. Also the strong wooden body is heavier than its sibling the RT80 and this gives me confidence in reducing unnecessary hums and vibrations. When my little boy runs around the living room, near my TT, it doesn’t affect the sound quality. In order to make the TT firm and stabilise, the RT81 is firmly rested on rubber feet. To enhance the aesthetics (which I must say it’s a good job done), the rubber feet is attached direct with the chassis, sleek and clean job. Thumbs up.
Setting up RT81 was a breeze
As I am not quite the expert, I thought I might struggle setting up this RT81, to my surprise, it was a walk in the park… Just watch the short video tutorial from Fluance (below) and you will be ready playing your vinyl in minutes. Because this Fluance TT is equipped with AV cables and power cable and ground cord, I was worried I might not be able to handle – turns out my worries were unfounded. For those of you who might be asking if the cables are stuck with the TT, nope it is not. This means when wear and tear happens, replacing these cables will be an easy task. I think such newer TTs are designed with consumers convenience preferences in it, compared to those in the past. Yes, you have the rubber slip mat and a clear plastic dust cover.
When it comes to sound quality, how does RT81 fare?
This RT81 gives your ears a very warm yet rich kind of balance, where I really enjoyed the warmth quality. Not many TTs at this price range has the similar effect. Well, not all is perfect, I did notice that when I switched different records, there seemed to be some issues in speed consistency. If I am anal, I will pick on it but to be honest, it wasn’t much of an issue for me. The bass performance is deep enough for me, ultimately warm, smooth, clear. To sum it up, I am rather picky on sound clarity and this RT81 completely satisfies my criteria.
Cons about RT81
Despite having good sound quality, what else are you looking for? Do you mind not having an auto-return function for the tonearm, where you have to do the manual work after your music has stopped? Nope, no repeat function and no you cannot fine tune the speed of the platter or even adjust the pitch. Yes, you can probably find these features elsewhere in other more expensive TTs. You have to be okay with not having these features. To be honest, sometimes I wish they had it. But on the other hand, the act of doing the ‘work’ yourself really completes the entire analog experience.
Your preference: belt-driven or direct drive TT?
What’s your preference? Are you ok with a belt-driven TT or do you prefer a direct drive TT? As with pros and cons, with direct drive TT, you get platter speed to be more stable while belt-driven TT has higher probability to have pitch variance. From the manufacturer’s point of view, perhaps belt-driven was chosen over the direct drive TT in order to keep costs affordable for this segment of buyers.
In a nutshell
Which areas does it actually score points from my scoreboard? I rate it one of the highest in terms of sound clarity – its fantastic. Also, the stylus is not your usual stylus but its carefully made in the way that it has proven that it can track the record grooves with better accuracy and precision when it comes to vinyl audio playback. At this price point, I am very happy with my RT81 and if you are similar to me, do give it a try. Anyway its very budget friendly for beginners and those who just want to take one step at a time. For those of you who also have this TT, let me know your thoughts.