Weekend listening impressions. And some digression. Bear with me.While I think it might be a bit premature to go with a definite judgement for the RPM5 [do turntables and cartridges really undergo break-in?], I still feel I could share some initial listening impressions gathered via a couple listening sessions this past weekend. There are also some additional thoughts in here - this post turned out to be quite longer than I intended it to be, so bear with me.
The equipment is listed in my signature, but for continuity sake, I will add it here. I spend most of the listening time with my speaker setup with the signal path in the following order: RPM5 + K4/K6 : Tube Box MKII : RC-03 : RB-03 : B&W 602 S3 + 2 x B&W ASW650. Cables used are mostly AudioQuest : 2 x Quartz, 2 x Ruby, and Type 6.2.
In addition to this, there is a second RC-03 preamp, used in conjuction with an E-MU 1212m as balanced source [as well as balanced input transformer] to drive my balanced HD-650, as well as a DT990 Pro [on load].
My collection is not exactly overwhelming [I did just start with vinyl a couple of months ago] but I tried to diversify the type of music I was listening to during the initial listening sessions. I am also adding the [approximate] year of production for my older records [which might need some more cleaning in the future - I am waiting on a vinyl care package]. That said [in alphabetical order]:
Air, Moon Safari, Astralwerks 6644 
Air, Talkie Walkie, Astralwerks 96600 
Al Di Meola, Elegant Gypsy, Columbia 34461 
Carl Orff, Carmina Burana, Telefunken 9455A 
Dire Straits, Dire Straits, Warner Bros 3266 
Fischerspooner, Odyssey, Capitol 94896 
Kraftwerk, Minimum-Maximum, EMI 60611 
Mount Sims, Ultra Sex, Emperor Norton 7059 
Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon, Capitol SEAX-11902 
Pink Floyd, Echoes : The Best of Pink Floyd, Capitol 36111 
Pink Floyd, The Wall, Columbia H2C-46183 
Various Artists, Flashdance OST, Polygram 811-492 
Various Artists, Hair OST, RCA 75093 
Various Artists, Living Chicago Blues #1, Alligator 7701 
...and quite possibly some more, but this is as much as I remember.
Let me first say that I started off with virtually no previous experience and very faint expectations [after all - how in the world could 30 year old records sonically compare to a CD?]. I now stand corrected.
You see, I've found out that I prefer a warm and involving system and am at times willing to sacrifice some detail for that. I've tried hard to develop a habit of listening to the music and not the equipment and complete a reasonably priced system dedicated for pure music enjoyment [I do admit that my equipment is worth slightly more than my music collection, but ad least that gap is now rapidly closing - I've come to my senses]. My components [E-MU, B&W] have often been dubbed anything from 'laid-back' to downright 'boring'. Alas, as I had already stated earlier on these boards - I seem to prefer this sound.
As it naturally comes to pass, at some point I decided that adding a vinyl rig would be a worthwhile [and most enjoyable, as it turns out] experience. I had planned on starting with the RPM5 right away, but had to settle with a lowly Debut II due to a miscommunication between my dealer and Pro-Ject. I am now glad I did start with the Debut - this way I can now fully appreciate the improvement that is the RPM5. I must say I liked the Debut, seeing it was my first deck, and I thought it sounded quite decent [for what I paid for it] although there were some issues [hiss and hum] when paired with some cartridges [Grado]. And then the RPM5 arrived.
I now also had a fancy cartridge alignment tool [a special gift from Pro-Ject for making me wait so long for the RPM5], so I installed the K6 and proceeded to tinker with the adjustment routines. Several hours later [yeah, I know] I was ready to start listening - but I really wasn't prepared for what I heard [or rather, what I did not hear].
This time, the RPM5 was connected to my system via Pro-Ject's Tube Box MKII, a tube phono stage [12AX7] with an active subsonic filter to one of the line inputs on the RC-03. Once I switched everything on [oh, the tube glow!] I had to get up and make sure that I had everything connected OK, as I struggled to hear background noise from the RPM5/Tube Box. I was greeted with a smooth blackground and was enjoying myself already - I figured the new phono stage must be a much better match for the K6 cartridge than the Rotel.
We started off [most of the listening done with my father, my sister and a couple of friends] with Living Chicago Blues. Halfway though side A, I was greeted with the appearance of Jimmy Johnson in front of my listening seat and I could almost touch him! I will not go on as to stating I have been hearing detail I had never heard before - but I will say I felt that Gibson in Jimmy's hands simply vibrating as he went through the strings.
Next up were Moon Safari and Talkie Walkie. These electronic masterpieces from Air feature everything from synthesized voices to acoustic guitars. These records also gave me an idea of how the RPM5 handles female voices [Cherry Blossom Girl sounded heavenly], very involving and at some point, almost painfully emotional - must have conveyed some subsonic messages, as we were all deep in thought before we realized that the record had ended.
What followed was Mount Sims, then Fischerspooner, then Al Di Meola [one of my reference recordings, Mediterranean Sundance with Paco De Lucia] and Pink Floyd. The RPM5 did not dissapoint. Music flows effortlessly and everything seems to be in its right place. See, I've always had issues with the low end in my listening room - it tend to 'bloom' and make it's presence overly noted, disturbing the listening. I worked hard on taming it - but realized that I had not needed to with the RPM5 - the bass was just right! Tight and cohesive, well defined and properly extended.
We also threw in some Kraftwerk for good measure - excerpts from their live performances. Wonderfully mixed and mastered new releases. The RPM5 more than held its ground. I am now perfectly prepared to sell off my CDP assuming I can get all the music I want on vinyl.
I love it! And what's not to love - I got a solid vinyl playback system that should tie me over for years to come. Upcoming upgrades [ordered Shure M97xE, Ortofon Rondo Red, Ortofon Kontrapunkt A and an AQVOX Phono 2 CI] should improve this even more [way more, I hope - considering the cash these upgrades cost]. I should also note that I was able to get a fairly low price for the deck - even with VAT, I paid nearly two thirds of the current US going price - I guess living here can have some advantages.
I guess I'd better be turning in. I might post some more impressions [short and clear next time] as time goes by, should there be interest. Also, I should say I would love to see some more local reviews of turntables [there currently is only one in the featured reviews section]. That said, any quesions - I would be happy to answer.