MoFi UltraDeck+M Turntable Package

hfnoutstandingMobile Fidelity, champion of audiophile vinyl, has succumbed to the lure of producing its own turntables, like record labels of the past: enter the MoFi UltraDeck

Back in the early days of audio, numerous record labels had electronics divisions, or vice versa. You would see the logos of EMI, Philips, RCA, Decca, JVC and others on both LPs sleeves and hardware. The logic was that they originated the material and could also control the entire chain, from artist to listener. So, who better to introduce its own turntables than Mobile Fidelity, for decades the most prolific source of audiophile LPs? Now you can spin its platters on, well, its platters.

Enter the new range of MoFi turntables, two models offered with or without cartridges, though all come with tonearms. It starts with the base version of the StudioDeck at £1199 without cartridge, up to the UltraDeck+M with pre-mounted MasterTracker moving-magnet cartridge at £2499. The dearer model features a heavier platter, a more substantial plinth and isolating feet, and that's what we're reviewing here.

Pass The Puck
In the box is a hinged dustcover and a stylus brush, but the review sample also arrived with the optional, 3in diameter, 367g Super Heavyweight 'Noise Dissipation' Record Weight. This puck adds £199 to the price, but I would consider it a mandatory purchase. Yes, it really is that much of an improvement, but read on...

As the UltraDeck without cartridge costs £1999, the main object of this review is the turntable itself, sans cartridge and any extras, such as the optional weight. However, it must be stressed that buying any of the Mo-Fi decks with cartridges earns a substantial saving. The MasterTracker fitted to the review deck – the top of the three-model MoFi cartridge range – costs £799 on its own, so that's a £300 discount. That also happens to be the price of the less expensive of the two MoFi phono stages (to be reviewed soon).


With or without cartridge or record weight, the choices do raise a question. I do get the appeal of 'turnkey' turntables, ready to use with minimal fuss, especially if aimed at newcomers who may have no experience with LPs. However, I admit to having no idea what the ratio is of complete turntable-with-cartridge packages sold versus decks on their own.

Hmmm… this warrants a call to MoFi, Clearaudio, Pro-Ject and others, because I suspect audiophiles rather than beginners would prefer to choose their own pick-ups, arms, etc. Trust me, however convenient, complete and easy-to-use it certainly is, the UltraDeck is not a beginners-only turntable but one worthy of finding space in a system owned by an experienced enthusiast, upgrading to the £1500-£2500 sector. Whichever level of equipment is purchased, this and its sibling are tweaking-friendly, and not just because they beg the purchase of the added record weight. The Delrin platter, for example, has a rock-hard top surface, and even using MoFi's own superlative record brush finds the LP slipping on the platter if you don't have the weight or some other clamp locking down the record.

Cable News
Further proof of tweakability? Take a look at the back. As is now the trend, the unit does not feature a captive audio lead. Instead there are sockets into which you insert the high-quality 1m cable supplied with the UltraDeck, an RCA-plugged phono-to-phono lead with earthing wire, made by Cardas. Those sockets enable cable obsessives to play with other wires with ease, even hooking it up with leads costing more than the deck itself!


In the manner of certain Pro-Jects, Regas and other decks without fully-sprung suspensions, initial set-up requires nothing more than a solid, flat surface and a spirit level as the feet are height-adjustable. This is, however, a deck with a larger-than-usual footprint, so allow space for a substantial 500x362mm (wd) plinth plus cable egress from the back and free air above it for the opening of a dust cover. Weight is a chunky 10.5kg, so this will please the tyre-kickers.

With the cartridge pre-mounted in the review deck, all I had to do was ease the platter over the vertical bearing, balance the arm, apply tracking force and fit the hanging-weight-on-a-thread for anti-skating. While this may seem daunting to novices, the instructions are thorough. For you lot, it will be instinctive. The belt is fitted around the pulley and platter, with speed change from 33.33rpm to 45rpm accomplished by moving the belt to the larger, lower section of the pulley.

On/off is a square press-button on the top of the plinth, lower right, and it lights up yellow/orange – to match the belt. The overall look is sleek, with the contrasting finishes on the deck's upper surface, and those hints of citrous breaking up the Spinal Tappishness of it. And when I fitted the lime-green Jo No5 MC cartridge [HFN Dec '18]… wow! What a look!

Which brings me to the tonearm and cartridge. As editor PM points out, the specification is unusual in that the arm is high-mass and requires medium-to-low compliance cartridges, with MoFi's own MMs defying the high-compliance norm. I tried the Jo No5 not to confuse myself but to confirm my belief that the arm will survive many a cartridge upgrade. The arm's ease of set-up is exemplary, and the deck comes with the tools for setting height and azimuth.

sqnote All Hands On Deck
Running concurrently with my other reviews in this issue, listening commenced with Silverhead's 16 And Savaged [Purple Records TPSA7511], notable for its punch and attack, crystalline guitar sounds and powerful lower octaves – fronted by a vocalist who ticks every box in the big-hair/whippet-thin/wish-I-was-Robert-Plant specs list. The UltraDeck+M conveyed the sheer force of this glam/metal mix, the title track leaping from the speakers with the militaristic drumming nearly as crisp and forceful as one could hope for from a deck this minimalist.

MoFi Electronics
Chicago, USA
Supplied by: Karma-AV Ltd, York
01423 358846