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Fluance’s new RT81+ flagship turntable is $300 worth of versatility

Canadian hi-fi audio makers Fluance today launched a new addition to its flagship Elite lineup of turntables, the RT81+ Elite High Fidelity Vinyl Turntable, an upgraded version of its popular entry-level record player, the RT81. Known for their hefty build quality and stable, anti-resonant performance, the $300 RT81+ pushes things further with a new Audio-Technica cartridge that is fully upgradeable, a redesigned anti-resonant aluminum platter, and new sound-isolating feet.

The Fluance RT81+ Elite turntable with speakers on a table.
Fluance / Fluance

At the $300 price range, the belt-driven Fluance RT81+ Elite straddles the fine line between entry-level and mid-range, making an intriguing option for those just getting into vinyl records and those who either have a little more money to spend or want to take the next step. Like many of Fluance’s other turntables, like the higher-end RT85N Reference turntable, what helps make these next steps possible is upgradeability.

Out of the box, the RT81+ has already done some of this heavy lifting with the addition of the new Audio-Technica VM95E moving magnet cartridge (a step up from the RT81’s workhorse AT95E cartridge), which offers a better frequency response and slightly better signal output (it’s a bit louder). The stylus is fully replaceable should it break or wear out, and (here’s where the upgrade part comes in) should you opt to spend some extra cheddar on a higher-end cartridge, the RT81+’s headshell is completely removable making it easy to swap in something better.

Next on the docket for upgrades is the RT81+’s platter, and while it is still made of aluminum like its predecessor’s, it’s made from a new “dampened aluminum” and is slightly heavier, helping to add some additional anti-resonance to the turntable, Fluance says, but we’ll let you know in our forthcoming review. Also contributing to the RT81+’s vibration-fighting components is a new set of rubberized, conical isolation feet that appear to have been lifted from the more premium RT85N, which is a good thing. They’re also height adjustable and the turntable comes with a small spirit level for balancing the turntable out on less-than-level surfaces.

The Fluance RT81+’s hefty MDF wood plinth weighs in at 14 pounds making it one stable turntable. The RT81+’s combination of aluminum S-style tonearm that is adjustable with counterweight and anti-skate features, as well as its built-in and switchable phono preamp that can be easily connected to either a receiver/amp or a set of powered speakers, offers versatility to a wide range of users for $300.

“This turntable is designed to stand out and last for decades to come. It incorporates a number of unique features that reflect Fluance’s commitment to superior sound quality, upgradeability, and customer accessibility,” said Justin Koetsier, Product Manager at Fluance. “​​In essence, the RT81+ aims to deliver an accessible, yet sophisticated and upgradeable, high-fidelity audio experience, embodying our vision of inclusivity. Even as products become more expensive, we remain focused on enabling customers to start with a base model and build it up into a high-end model over time, as they desire and as their resources allow. This is more than a product; it’s an enduring commitment to our customers’ evolving audio lifestyle.”

The Fluance RT81+ Elite is available today in Piano White, Piano Black, and Natural Walnut finishes at the Fluance website and on Amazon.

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Derek Malcolm
Derek Malcolm is a Toronto-based technology journalist, editor, and content specialist whose work has appeared in…
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