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Music Direct's 2022 Catalog Preview: Five Great Analog Products
By Bes Nievera

Just as we have done in previous years, the staff at Music Direct has packed the 2022 edition of its iconic catalog with a diverse array of turntables. Customers can choose from an enormous selection of 'tables to fit a wide variety of budgets — and the print catalog only contains a small percentage of what we carry. Our website showcases dozens and dozens of turntables, from entry-level models to the finest rigs on the planet.

Below we spotlight five models that not only sound fantastic, but also offer stellar craftsmanship and an excellent price-to-performance profile.

On the inside front cover and on page 7 of the new catalog, customers will see that we kick things off with a bang: the all-new, limited edition Fender x Mobile Fidelity PrecisionDeck Turntable. I am simply stunned by the look, sound, and pedigree of this 'table, and I marvel at its backstory: Before the first full-production electric guitar ever left his factory, Leo Fender dreamed of designing a different instrument: a high-quality turntable that would fill people's homes with the sounds of pure, detailed, lively music. He even drew up blueprints, received a patent, and, in 1945, sold the rights for $5,000 in advance royalties.

Fast forward some 75 years, and his idea finally bore fruit when a Fender VP visited an audio dealer and learned about the meticulously engineered turntables from Mobile Fidelity Electronics. The executive soon contacted the Fender Custom Shop's Yuriy Shishkov, one of Fender's most prominent luthiers, who worked tirelessly into the evenings crafting slabs of swamp ash wood — the same wood used in the construction of Fender Precision Bass guitars. Shishkov carved the wood into the gorgeous shape that became the foundation of the PrecisionDeck turntable. The crowning touch is the iconic sunburst pattern on the wood, mirroring the enduring look of Fender guitars.

This collectible analog spinner, strictly limited to 1,000 units worldwide, stays true to MoFi's "Original Master Recording" spirit with a custom-developed Ultra tonearm with Cardas Audio wiring to maintain signal purity from the headshell leads all the way through the RCA connectors. A 1.3-inch, 6.8-pound Delrin platter delivers deep-black backgrounds and a fantastically low noise floor. The superb build quality is exemplified by a 300RPM isolated AC synchronous motor, constrained layer dampening, and anti-vibration feet co-developed with the engineering team at Harmonic Resolution Systems.

Equally exciting was news of MoFi's next-generation phono cartridge, the UltraGold MC. Engineered and voiced by Allen Perkins, this nimble tracker does more than yield the subtleties of vinyl reproduction: It redefines what's possible from a moving-coil cartridge at this price point. Featuring a nude Shibata stylus, boron cantilever, and a hybrid aluminum extrusion and brass housing, the UltraGold MC delivers sound that will make you feel like you're in the studio with the musicians. As a MoFi product true to the company's core principles, UltraGold MC provides exceptionally wide frequency response, clear high-frequency transients, stunning dynamics, tonal richness, and incredible detail.

In the category of affordable turntables, I was thrilled to learn that Music Hall had joined this year's lineup with its all-new Stealth Turntable. Roy Hall is perpetually on the quest to devise superb turntables with reasonable prices, and the Stealth gloriously meets that goal. With direct-drive 'tables making a comeback, the Stealth offers three-speed operation, a sturdy platter in a 24-pound damped, multi-layer chassis, and a detachable headshell. The VTA-adjustable, S-shaped tonearm is a great benefit for fans looking to easily adjust arm height and rake angles on demand, and the factory-mounted Ortofon 2M Blue MM phono cartridge is well-suited to the Stealth's easy setup.

Years ago, Sumiko was the brand to watch as music fans around the globe fell in love with the company's affordable, high-output, moving-coil gem, the Blue Point. As 2021 approached, the team responsible for a newly expanded model lineup was aware that a change was needed to its highly respected but aging cartridge. Thus, Sumiko's Blue Point No. 3 was born. The resulting performance improvements to this mighty workhorse are above and beyond our expectations. If you're aiming for a warm-sounding, fully-textured sonic bottom end, as well as mids that border on perfection, and a top end that is reminiscent of cartridges costing thousands more, I encourage you to invest in this gem. The low-output model is also an impressive dazzler.

Finally, our friends at TEAC have brought us another "big sound in a little package" component with the PE-505 MM/MC Phono Preamplifier. What's so appealing about this elegant, 11.4-inch wide, 10-pound chassis is the precision engineering that enables it to excel with a wide array of cartridges. One of its biggest benefits is the user's ability to select load resistance at the push of a button: With the Measure feature, the total load-resistance value (including cable resistance) is displayed on a gauge, giving you a rich, nuanced listening experience.

Of course, you don't have to take my word for it: Why not order these products with the confidence that comes with our industry-leading, 60-day guarantee! Click the links, or give our sales team a call.

Follow @besnieverajr for more great audio and music news on Twitter and Instagram.

December 6, 2021

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