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March 2008

Superior Audio Equipment Review

Oracle Delphi MK V Turntable Review
With Van den Hul's Grasshopper MC Phono Cartridge
Fun with analog audio!
Review By Steven R. Rochlin

 

Oracle Delphi MK V Turntable Review

 

  The Led Zeppelin phrase "Does anyone remember laughter" comes to mind, as have been through what may be the normal evolution within high-end audio. For me, first came the revelation of how great music can sound within the home. Blame it on my dad, as he loved the stuff! This was when your local camera shop had a small audio store in the back. Call it the early 1960s, or so he tells me, and between loving Leica cameras and tube audio dad was an early day photography geek. He also loved music.

Fast forward to my personal explorations in my late teens, where mixing and matching brought about gains in my enjoyment of music. Sure there were setbacks, equipment would sometimes break, and my dwindling bank account would suffer accordingly. Discoveries in tweaks, room tuning devices, and help from my local dealer further improved my music reproduction system. Alas, after about a decade came burnout.

i was getting more skeptical of reviews, gains within my system were less apparent, and the costs were rising. Some gains were better than others, though sometimes two steps forward in one dimension brought about a step backward in others. Damn! Then human burnout set in and i just called it quits, thereby allowing my system to basically remain the same for a year. Enough was enough!

 

Then Came Vinyl
What is it with vinyl that seems to draw me into the music? While we could argue about the sound of what we remember growing up, though others might say it is the tics and pops or any number of other things that harks back to childhood memories. If you have not truly listened to a well set up analog rig, then you also do not realize how few tics and pops (if any) come through. Add to that, a great analog system has a very low noise floor. Let the ABX crowd, digiphiles, and measurement junkies talk down analog. What matters to me is the enjoyment of music. Those of you who want to enhance your enjoyment of music should read on.

Having just spent over a week at mom and dad's place, sure enough the love dad showed for music even after nearly five decades brightly shined through. Long story short, i brought with me a hard drive with music for his listening pleasure from my private collection. His emotional contact with certain songs, from big classical pieces to old 1950's vocalists, was akin to my own experience. There is more to music than simply a collection of sounds. It is the sheer emotion that moves me, and my father, to an extent that is probably much higher than most others in the world. From 'helping' conduct the symphony to shedding some tears... to laughter (Does anyone remember laughter?). It is a welcomed revelation of how music can bring about such joyous experiences in life. As such, i'd like to revisit a combination that has brought much joy into my home. Perhaps it is the perfect solution in curing audionervosa and/or the audiophile blues. 

 

Van den Hul The Frog

 

Forget Today's Fashion
Oh yes, and what a glorious sound it was coming back home! Violins soared, bluesmen cried their tales of woe, Funkadelic boogied, and Led Zeppelin jammed on for hours. As this is a review revisit, there is probably no need to repeat the technicals of the Oracle Delphi MK V system (you can read that here) or the VDH Grasshopper cartridge (as reviewed here). This revisit is to delve deeper into how this setup still brings much joy within my home time and time again.

Oracle has been manufacturing turntable for decades. A.J. Van den Hul has personally been assembling cartridges for nearly equally as long. These are not today's new toys or flavors of the month. They are evolutions of tried and true products that have sold well within the marketplace. Audiophiles around the world have spoken! So what it is about this combination that deserves a revisit, especially since i have virtually never done so with other components in the past nearly decade of reviewing?

 

The Joys Of Music
Yes, it is the music! Emotionally, there is something that deeply makes contact to my soul. It is a revelation akin to those who, for the first time, gets the opportunity to hear great single-ended 8-Watt system using Western Electric 300B. Music sings, emotions dance, and a deep-rooted connection is made. It is not the 'thinking man's' type of system. It is far from the measurement perfect 'Yang' Wilson Watt/Puppy and Goldmund crowd system i heard in the early 1990s. Instead, it is the 'damn the measurements' Ying of musical glories from the single-ended tube and hornspeaker crowd. Perhaps that is also why vintage tube audio and horns are highly prized in Asia, while the 1990's within the USA we had solid-state and... So what does this have to do with the Oracle Delphi MK V system with VDH's Grasshopper cartridge?

Everything! For hundreds of hours this system has successfully brought about music within my home. From classical to small jazz to hard rock, the message within the music or should i say the musical message comes through fully intact. Ok, so perhaps the uppermost frequencies are a touch down in volume level. Perhaps the lowermost frequencies are not the tightest ever to grace my ears. If that were the goal, a simple switch to the Clearaudio Stradivari or Insider Gold wood body will fill the bill. Think of it like changing from a WE300B to a mesh plate 300B variant. It is great that the Oracle can handle both easily and make their character easily apparent.

While there are times i may find myself changing the cartridge to suit the whims of the day, or of the moment. Perhaps i should seek out a turntable that can handle two tonearms? However, would it be as great as the Oracle Delphi MK V? Sorry and all, am not willing to risk another change (remember the two steps forward and one step back from my earlier days). One of the rules learned from decades of being an audiophile. If it aint broke, don't 'fix' it!

Why fix it when the noise floor is extremely quiet and she can indeed boogie. PRAT lovers (pace, rhythm, and timing) will grin from ear to ear. You want imaging; this system throws an enveloping soundscape. Excellent midrange and overall harmonic structures top to bottom are well rendered. As i said before, it is only that very last bit of extension on the very far ends of the frequency spectrum that is reduced. Ok, and perhaps some details. Perhaps an upper line VDH cartridge would solve this? No, if it aint broke don't 'fix' it.

On that note, i shall use exactly the same conclusion within my original Oracle Delphi MK V with Oracle/SME 345 review. It says exactly what i felt back then and exactly what i feel right now after many months and hundreds of hours in use. In my humble opinion, there is no higher recommendation than a reviewer, make that music lover, not wanting to make any changes to a front-end setup after hundreds of hours of use. It is also why, for the first time, i have revisited products and written a follow-up review.

 

 

So In Conclusion...
If you are one of those ease of use guys or have not tried your hand at vinyl replay, once set up the Oracle Delphi MK V needs nothing more. You can then feel free to con every family member out of their vinyl collection. i remember my first love of vinyl and how it had me scouring all corners for the next musical high. This turntable re-ignites my thirst and makes me grateful for the over 8000 albums that reside in my home. It also causes me to remind everyone "It's the music, stupid!" As always, in the end what really matters is that you...

 

Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin

 

 

NOTE: Enjoy the Music.com has an excellent follow-up review of this turntable:

Oracle Audio Delphi MK VI Turntable With SME V Tonearm Review

Oracle Audio Delphi MK VI Turntable
A first-class turntable with incredibly advanced power supplies.
Review By Tom Lyle

 

 

 

Specifications
Delphi MKV Turntable
Type: 33.3 / 45 rpm vinyl record playback system
Drive system: Single belt

Motor Type & Control Method: A.C. synchronous motor, electronically controlled with adjustable speed of +/-5 percent
Turntable Plinth Material: Acrylic
Platter Material:  Aluminum with specially designed top
Wow & Flutter: 0.010% DIN Weighted
Suspension: Floating using springs with a resonant frequency of 3.5Hz
Dimension: 14.5 x 19 x 6 (WxDxH in inches)
Weight: 35 pounds 
Warranty: 2 years against manufacturer's defects

 

 

Oracle 345 Tonearm
Type: Static type
Effective Length: 232.2 mm with sliding base. Center to turntable center of 213.4mm
Effective Mass: 9.5 grams
Cartridge Balance Range: 6 to 17 grams
Output Terminal: 240 (D.I.N.5-Pole)

Weight: 717 grams
Price: Delphi MK V Turntable, Clear acrylic plinth, pre-cut tone arm board, turbo power supply $4500

 

 

Van den Hul The Frog
Type: Moving coil (MC) phono cartridge
Frequency Range 5Hz to 55kHz
Stylus Shape: VDH - IS
Stylus Radii: 2 x 85 Micron
Tracking Force: 1.2 to 1.6 grams
Static Compliance: 35 Micron / mN 
Tracking Ability: at 15 mN at 315 Hz 70 - 80 Micron 
Output Voltage: at 1 kHz at 5.7 cm/s eff. 0.65 mV RMS 
Channel Unbalance: < 0.3 dB 
Channel Separation: at 1 kHz/10 kHz >35 / >30 dB 
Equivalent Stylus Tip Mass: 0.32 Milligram 
Vertical Tracking Angle: 22 Degrees 
Optimum Load Capacitance:  non-critical 
Recommended Load Impedance: 500 (> 200) Ohm 
Recommended Eff. Tone arm Mass: 6 - 10 Gram 
Moving Coil Resistance (per channel): 21 Ohm
System Weight: 8.2 Grams
Price: $2895

 

 

Company Information
Oracle Audio Technologies
6136 Blvd. Bertrand Fabi, Suite 101
Sherbrooke, Quebec J1N 2P3
Canada

Voice: (819) 864-0480
Fax: (819) 864-9641
E-mail: info@oracle-audio.com
Website: www.oracle-audio.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     
 

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