Goldring GR1.2 review: Goldring GR1.2

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The Good Two-speed, belt-drive turntable; all-manual operation; high-quality tone arm; includes premounted phono cartridge.

The Bad You have to remove the platter to change speed from 33.3 to 45rpm; assembly can be confusing for turntable neophytes.

The Bottom Line If you want to see why audiophiles are still in love with LPs, take a Goldring GR1.2 out for a spin.

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7.3 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 8
  • Performance 7

While the company is primarily known for stellar phono cartridges, Goldring's GR1.2 turntable is definitely a contender for the audiophile-grade turntable. The form-follows-form elegance of the design doesn't seduce the eye with fancy finishes or a gleaming metal platter, but the turntable sounds better than most CD players. The GR1.2 retails for $430, but online prices run closer to $300.

The Goldring GR1.2 is made in England and is fitted with a precision 12-pole synchronous motor for accurate 33.3rpm and 45rpm playback. With its high-quality plastic dustcover in place, the whole assembly measures 17.5 inches wide, 14.25 deep, and 4.5 high; it weighs 14 pounds. The MDF (medium-density fiberboard) platter feels a little crude next to higher-end models' metal or glass platters, but it gets the job done. The record is cushioned by a loose-fitting felt mat, which tends to cling to the LP when you lift it off the platter. We had no complaints with the Goldring tone arm--to us, it looks like a clone of that of audiophile favorite Rega RB250. It features a close-tolerance, double ball-race bearing assembly and a one-piece, cast-aluminum arm tube. The phono cartridge, a Goldring Elektra, is premounted to the tone arm, but the arm is good enough to be used with all sorts of high-end cartridges.

Setup for the Goldring GR1.2 is simple enough: thread the drive belt over the exposed motor pulley and the small diameter subplatter, then place the main platter on the subplatter. The final step involves placing the counterweight on the rear of the tone arm. The problem is that you'll need to repeat the process whenever you change from LPs to 45s and back again--you'll have to remove the platter and then move the belt to a different section of the pulley. If you've ever assembled a turntable before, you'll find getting the GR1.2 up and running totally straightforward, but the sketchy instructions in the one-page owner's manual might leave turntable novices dazed and confused. If you're unsure, enlist your dealer or a knowledgeable friend's assistance. And a final setup note: Like most enthusiast turntables, the GR1.2 does not have line-level outputs. Make sure the receiver to which it's connected has dedicated phono-level inputs, or opt for an outboard phono preamp instead.

Once the turntable was assembled and connected, it was time to spin some records. The sound from Nirvana's Nevermind LP on the Goldring GR1.2 was a wake-up call to the glories of analog. You feel the power blasting out of the speakers with a visceral intensity that CDs never quite muster. Switching gears, we moved onto a Crosby Stills, Nash, and Young album, and their rich harmonies and acoustic guitars' sound was to die for. The soundstage was huge, with a wonderful sense of depth. A brief comparison to the same music on CD demonstrated the superiority of analog sound: In comparison to the LP, the CD's balance was smaller, the blend of the voices seemed more generic, and the music felt canned. Returning to the GR1.2, CSN&Y's songs sprang back to life.

We next compared the Goldring GR1.2 to the Music Hall MMF-5 turntable and were surprised by what we heard. The GR1.2 sounded richer and warmer, which we liked, but it was also more muddled than the MMF-5. There was a lot more bass coming off the GR1.2, but it wasn't better bass. The sound was very good but nowhere near the vivid quality heard from the MMF-5, and the differences weren't the slightest bit subtle. The clarity of the MMF-5 was awe inspiring, so if you can afford the extra freight, it's the way to go. That said, if you've never heard the comparison, the Goldring GR1.2 will definitely get the job done--it will trounce any CD/DVD player you've ever heard.

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