Sliced bread has been with us for decades, yet more and more of us seem to be buying uncut loaves. Similarly, single speed bikes are increasingly de rigueur, despite all manner of technologically advanced, geared equivalents. And so it seems with turntables and all things analogue, with a full-on mini renaissance apparently in full swing.
Some manufacturers’ (Project spring to mind) offer a comprehensive range of decks, all majoring on a minimalist, simplistic appeal, some models incorporating ‘plug and play’ functionality, appealing to a new generation of purchasers. The high end continues to see continued turntable R&D and no shortage of innovation, while there cant be a skip in all of Christendom that hasn’t had been opportunistically eyed up by passers-by eager to chance upon a discarded Garrard or Technics SL-1200 series turntable to have rebuilt to better than original specification and performance.
So unsurprisingly, given the buoyancy and innovation in the turntable marketplace, the market for turntable accessories is similarly healthy, with the marketplace chock-full of numerous original accessories and modification services, offering everything from tonearm rewiring and modification through to after-market motor, power supply and plinth upgrades.
One of the newest entrants into the fray is UK-based RJC Audio, who offer an impressive range of equipment racks, platforms, and turntable plinths, utilising an innovative suspension system designed to isolate equipment from the effects of vibration.
I had a play with their turntable isolation platform, using it to support a Funk Firm SL-1210, sporting Funk’s FX-1200 arm and a Miyabi cartridge.
Just manhandling the support’s box into my listening room confirmed that this would be no lightweight, delicate affair. It’s big. Measuring 51.5 x 41.5 x 10cm (WxDxH) this is a purposeful looking item, beautifully finished in oak, about the size of one of the larger Voyd turntables of yesteryear, but reminiscent of the ash veneered Systemdek I once coveted or the rare maple-finished Linn LP12. It’s not unlike an outsized turntable plinth, only missing an arm and platter – and far prettier. The level of fit and finish on the Hush turntable platform is exemplary.
The top plate is made of ’valchromat’- a high tech, coloured MDF and features an odd, rectangular central recess – designed to allow users to mass load the support, using the supplied brass weights (essentially future–proofing purchasers, should they decide to move onto a lighter turntable). Given that RJC produce the Hush turntable support in 3 versions – to suit turntables ranging from 6kg – 17kg, I can’t think of a circumstance where they don’t have your needs covered. Oh, you have a bespoke 50kg all steel and granite affair? RJC also happily make custom versions to order…
If, like me, you’re the inquisitive type, determined to uncover the hidden workings of everything that crosses your path, you’ll find that the Hush turntable support leaves your curiosity unfulfilled, as try (and prise) as I might, I just couldn’t get this engineering mini-marvel to reveal its secrets. All RJC Audio are prepared to divulge is that the innards contain a precision acoustic suspension system, tuned to 8 Hz, which (perhaps uniquely) isolates equipment from low frequency excitation in not just the vertical plane, but the horizontal and rotational planes too.
Set up is a breeze. Step one: Plonk the Hush support between your equipment rack and turntable. Step two: Enjoy. That’s it. If you’ve future-proofed yourself by buying a model designed for turntables heavier than your own, pop in the brass weights, adjusting their position (and if necessary, the 3 metal cone feet) to ensure the top plate is level, but from then on (catastrophic stumbles into your hi-fi rack aside) it really is ‘fit and forget’.
I’m a fundamentally cruel man, so I decided to give the support the torture test of trying to strut its stuff while sitting on an Ikea ‘Lack’ coffee table, on my carpeted, suspended floor. If it could produce a sound that was better (rather than just ‘different’) under these conditions, RJC Audio’s engineering team would have earned my respect.
At this point, I should make a confession. I didn’t undertake my assessment ‘blind’. In fact, having used several turntable supports over the years, I have to admit, I kinda knew what to expect. Accordingly, my mental checklist was pre-populated with phrases like ‘improved bass articulation’ ‘greater separation’ and so on. This listening session wouldn’t take long. How wrong I was. You see, it’s not that the Hush turntable support doesn’t provide better bass articulation. It does. It’s not that instrumental separation isn’t enhanced. It is. It’s just that all of those genuine improvements in intelligibility are dwarfed by a far more incredible and unexpected effect – simply placing a turntable on this support results in a magnificent soundstage being thrown. With the Hush turntable support in place, the sound was open, spacious and almost ethereal. Bass notes were fleet of foot, the midrange was all-enveloping and treble from the Miyabi cartridge was revealed as wonderfully delicate. In fact, the difference was so striking that A-B comparisons rapidly became a chore. In particular, bass notes which had previously seemed authoritative and sonorous were revealed to be leaden and box bound.
After-market accessories tend to be firstly, just that – accessories and secondly, a visual afterthought. By contrast, the Hush turntable support should really be thought of as essential equipment for those who don’t just want to listen to the sound of their cartridge, but to immersed in it, in the most wonderful aural 3D. While the £465 price tag will rule it out as a purchase for some, those who proudly use vinyl as their primary source owe it to themselves to arrange an audition. If you’re struggling to decide whether to upgrade your turntable, arm or cartridge, the Hush turntable support may be the best way to upgrade them all at once.
Author – Rod Alexander