Don’t confuse the Plus Record Player with a turntable. Turntables and record players are different things. Turntables must be plugged into separate amplifiers and speakers to make music while record players are single, self-contained units with a turntable, amplifier and speakers built in. One power cord, no connections, easy.

05 Plus Record Player b

The problem with record players is that they mostly sound awful. Clustered at the bottom end of the vinyl market they have cheap speakers, cheap tonearms, and cartridges that audiophiles describe as vinyl chewers. People buy them for their kids and then complain about the music they play.

05 Plus Record Player cThe Plus is different. It’s beautifully designed and built. It has a Pro-Ject turntable assembly carrying an Ortofon OM10 cartridge, atop a cabinet containing generous amplification driving two woofers and two tweeters, and yet the turntable remains reasonably isolated from it. It’s a serious device that’s easy as pi and sounds terrific.

Okay, it’s almost two grand. Okay, the sound is more mono than stereo (it’s better in ‘wide’ mode). But put it against any turntable/amp/speaker combo at the same price and it puts up an awfully good fight.

I wrote about the Plus a year ago when it released in the USA (it hails from England) and so many readers asked about it that I emailed a likely local importer and suggested he take a look. Nothing happened there but a new import business has started with the Plus as its cornerstone.

Being one box that does the lot it’s ideal for anyone who wants to get into analogue music, and it sounds good enough to instil a love of music into anyone who’s even halfway interested. But here’s the big plus; it can be built on. The internal speakers and amp can be bypassed should you decide to start adding separate speakers, more power, or a few more sources like streamers or CD players. As a starter system it’s therefore brilliant, but it works so well that there’s every chance you’ll never get around to adding stuff.

Gil Evans is an obvious test for a device like this. His music is full of nuance and subtlety, but with 15 musicians there’s a lot going on. Elvin Jones and Charlie Persip handle percussion and handle it so gently (the cymbals shimmer rather than clap) that on indifferent equipment they’re almost reduced to white noise. Here, despite being unequivocally in the background they’re defined, complementary and readily discernible. Is there anyone who can get a lower note out of a trombone than Tony Studd? Faithfully reproduced here. There are more trombones, bass, four saxophones, a tuba, trumpet and flutes, and Gil Evans bringing it all together on piano. It may sound like a dog’s breakfast but it’s actually music that gentles you into another place.

So does a reflective George Winston on unaccompanied piano, an ideal artist for a machine that struggles to separate left and right channels. The record cost me two bucks at a church fete. You gotta love vinyl.

05 Plus Record Player d

You can plug in audio from the telly and it has Bluetooth, but Bluetooth sounds nowhere near as good as records, the very lows can get a bit muddy and indecisive. Forget Bluetooth, play records on the Plus, it’s best at that.

I liked the idea of the Plus a year ago and now I’ve used it I’m delighted. It’s a very good thing for $1899. And there’s a special edition with an Ortofon 2M Red cartridge and a carbon fibre arm at $2199.

Allow 20 to 30 minutes for the assembly required, it’s not challenging.

First published by February 2019.


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