Fluance RT85 turntable review: A great-sounding turntable for the vinyl enthusiast on a budget

Fluance RT85 turntable review: A great-sounding turntable for the vinyl enthusiast on a budget

Canadian Hi-Fi manufacturer Fluance has launched a new line of turntables, targeting the budget-conscious vinyl enthusiast who has an eye on high performance. Fluance’s $499 RT85, the subject of this review, sits at the top of the company’s turntable lineup and gets our high marks for its price/performance ratio.

Build quality and Features

On paper, the RT85 reads like a turntable that should be priced close to four-figure territory.The turntable’s plinth is made of MDF (medium-density fiberboard), and it comes in your choice of traditional piano black or a real walnut veneer. Up close, the piano-black, high-gloss finish on my review model was beautiful. There are three vibration-dampening, adjustable feet that help balance the turntable.

Detail view of the tonearm and anti-skate dial. Theo Nicolakis

A detail view of the tonearm and anti-skate dial.

The RT85 comes with an acrylic platter instead of the typical metal platter on most entry-level and midrange turntables. Acrylic platters are coveted for their higher density and dampening properties compared to metal platters. An acrylic platter is typically a ± $120 upgrade. 

Fluance pairs the RT85’s S-shaped tonearm with an Ortofon 2M Blue phono cartridge. Appealing to the purist, Fluance says there are no electronics between the signal path from the stylus tip to the gold-plated RCA outputs. You typically don’t find this more-expensive cartridge paired with a turntable at this price point. The step-down Ortofon 2M Red is more typical for sub-$500 tables. The Ortofon 2M Blue phono cartridge alone costs about $235, further adding to the RT85’s value proposition. In fact, if purchased separately, the acrylic platter and Ortofon 2M Blue cartridge alone cost about $350 at retail.

An acrylic platter is standard on the RT85. Theo Nicolakis

An acrylic platter is standard on the Fluance RT85.

The RT85 comes with a belt-driven, servo-controlled DC motor with 33- or 45 RPM selections. Fluance says the servo-controlled motor features a speed-regulating optical sensor that suppresses motor vibration and noise from reaching the stylus. Generally speaking, belt-driven designs are more popular with audiophiles than direct-drive motors because they tend to have less vibration

The RT85 is a semi-automatic turntable. The platter will start spinning at the designated speed once you move the tonearm over the record. Once the tonearm reaches the end of the record, it will automatically stop the motor after about 20 to 30 seconds. This feature is certainly convenient if you’re playing your vinyl in the background. If you don’t like the auto-stop function, you can turn it off via a switch on the turntable’s back panel.

The turntable’s semi-automatic function can be turned on or off from the rear panel. Theo Nicolakis

The turntable’s semi-automatic function can be turned on or off from the rear panel.

Like most audiophile-grade turntables, the RT85 lacks an onboard phono preamp. Without exception, I’ve always found a high-quality outboard preamp to be superior to included phono stages. Sans phono stage, any turntable’s signal output is far too low to work by simply plugging into a receiver or pair of powered speakers. Therefore, you’ll need to pair the RT85 with a phono preamp or an A/V receiver with a built-in phono pre-amp, which will apply the right amount of gain required.

Fluance sells its own PA10 phono preamp for about $80. I did not have the PA10 as part of my review setup and therefore cannot comment on its performance. My simple suggestion is that you complement the Fluance with the best-quality preamp you can afford. Fluance does offer a generous 30-day, in-home trial policy with free returns if you want to try the PA10 with the RT85.

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link : https://www.techhive.com/article/3482977/fluance-rt85-turntable-review.html#tk.rss_all
December 3, 2019 at 01:39PM

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