If you’ve never heard a vinyl-loving audiophile explain at length how much better vinyl sounds compared to well, anything, then you’ve never spoken to a vinyl-loving audiophile. Sure, many of the same people will also tell you how much they enjoy the retro simplicity of pulling a record from its sleeve, gently placing it on the turntable, and then dissolving into a lounger while they contemplate the musician’s liner notes. But really, it’s all about the sound.
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That being the case, why would any self-respecting vinyl owner ever want a Bluetooth turntable? Yes, they’re convenient, which is no doubt why there are several models on the market including this one from respected audio brand, Audio-Technica. But if you really valued convenience, you would be listening to Spotify, not the authentically scratchy A side of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon, right? Right.
But for all of Bluetooth’s wonderful wireless conveniences, most of its history is a tale of underwhelming audio quality, thanks to the heavy compression of its standard SBC codec. This has meant that a turntable can sound great, or be convenient, but not both. Or maybe there’s a third choice?
That’s the idea behind Cambridge Audio’s new Alva TT turntable, which debuted at CES 2019. As the very first wireless turntable equipped with Qualcomm’s aptX HD Bluetooth codec, it drops the needle on an entirely new level of wireless audio performance. AptX, is already a step above Bluetooth’s base SBC codec, but aptX HD, with its 24-bit/48kHz LPCM signal transport, is “indistinguishable from wired high-resolution audio,” according to Cambridge Audio’s site. The when it goes on sale in April, can stream to any Bluetooth-capable receiver, including headphones, or amplifiers, but for a truly hi-resolution experience, those devices need to be compatible with aptX HD as well.
It takes more than a fancy version of Bluetooth to justify spending $1,700 on a turntable, however, and it’s clear that the Alva TT is no slouch when it comes to its other components. Among the highlights are:
- single-piece, low-friction tonearm
- bespoke high output Moving Coil (MC) cartridge with 2g of tracking force
- built-in phono stage allows you to connect directly to active powered speakers or a non-phono enabled amplifier
- 1.6 kg/cm medium torque Direct Drive motor
- rigid and dense Polyoxymethylene (POM) platter
The Alva TT has a clean, understated appearance, and it’s a good match visually with the company’s Edge A or Edge NQ amps, which — you guessed it — are also aptX HD compatible. So if you’re all about the analog revival, but also need to fulfill your high-tech desire for wireless convenience, we believe we found your next turntable.
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