MoFi UltraDeck+M Turntable Package Page 2

Of course, it was unfair to listen to this after hearing it on the TechDAS Air Force III Premium [HFN Jun '19], but I'm a big boy and I can spell the word 'context.' What transformed it was the addition of, yes, the Noise Dissipation Record Weight. It was the same again with far less aggressive, audibly gentler material, such as Dusty Springfield's 'The Look Of Love' via Classic Records' 12in single version [CR-5005-12].

Again, I listened with and without the weight (or, perhaps, any 'universal' clamp or puck), which hands the listener two benefits. The first is practical: it mates the LP to the inherently slippery platter, a pain in the derriere when using a dust brush and you're trying to get those wee carbon fibres down into the groove. The second is the overall improvement in sound, most notable in the lower registers' control, an audible reduction in groove whoosh and slightly more incisive upper registers.

Without it, the sound is fine, but mainly tilted toward the 'trebly'. With it, there's an undeniable gain in overall refinement, especially a reduction in sibilants – and often that's in the recording rather than the playback chain, as in lots of 1970s Left Coast recordings. Crucial to 'The Look Of Love', however, are the subtle characteristics – OK, not-so-subtle – of Dusty's voice, especially the huskiness, and for soundstage addicts, the sense of air.

Believe me, this performance hasn't had a permanent spot in the Audiophile Top 10 for five decades because it's substandard. This track reveals so much about a system, thanks to its near-perfect sound, that it can – for seasoned listeners – tell them everything they need to know with a single playing. The UltraDeck, with fitted cartridge, was not embarrassed by this toughest of challenges.

Sounding Glorious
Confession time. I didn't bother feeding this with a slew of Mobile Fidelity pressings for a number of reasons, especially because they make most systems sound better than they might, and because there's every reason to believe that the UltraDeck and the MasterTracker cartridge were voiced with Mobile Fidelity albums. That said, The Band's eponymous second LP [MFSL 1-419] sounded glorious, especially Levon Helm's drumming, while Garth Hudson's massive-sounding Lowrey organ was imbued with enough scale to dispel any thoughts of this being a 'budget' deck.


Instead, I was reminded repeatedly that this is – newbie appeal notwithstanding – an 'enthusiast's' deck. That's because I couldn't stay in turnkey mode and just use the deck as is. I kept returning to use the Noise Dissipation Record Weight, despite £199 being a serious chunk of change for a metal disc. If you happen to have another puck or clamp lying around, try it first. MoFi might consider adding another combo offer to the catalogue, that of the supplying the decks with the record weight as well, for further savings. As for mats…

This is an area I didn't want to deal with, as they are as varied as stands and cables, and range in price from a few quid to a small fortune. Glass, felt, cork, rubber, ad infinitum – suffice it to say, I don't have an issue with the sound of hard-surface platters, so much as the way an LP mates to it. For cost-effective experimentation, should this bother you, visit and buy a felt one for under a fiver, just to hear if there's a difference. At worst, you can use it as a hot pad in the kitchen.

I tried it with a generic felt mat and the puck, and it was a trade-off. The bass became less forward – 'lively' is the term that best describes the overall character of the UltraDeck – but there was a slight loss of impact in the midband. With The Living Presence Stereo Sampler [Fontana SFXL52], Baroque Brass's 'A Taste Of Honey' was less incisive, the edges of the soundstage not quite as specifically demarcated. As with every tweak, there are plusses and minuses.

Opening Belter
But back to the UltraDeck au naturel. The same LP is filled with glossy big band extravaganzas, designed to convey stage width as much as anything else, and the UltraDeck+M combination spread the sound across the room with both the chorale tracks and the powerful Band Of The Scots Guards. Again, I kept hearing the word 'lively,' which is another way of saying that the deck was more simpatico with KEF LS50s [HFN Jul '12] than LS3/5as, but the latter exploited the front-end's warm midband.

Here was a chance to listen to a much younger Rod Stewart, when fronting the Jeff Beck Group on Beck-Ola [Epic/Sundazed LPS311]. Detractors speak only of his rasp, but the UltraDeck+M cut revealed the more mellow/melodic vocals underneath, even in the opening belter, 'All Shook Up'. Better still was its handling of 'Spanish Boots', with Ron Wood playing bass as if trying to match Beck's guitar note-for-note.

Here the UltraDeck+M again belied its price/heft category, like a boxer knocking out a contender in the next weight class. This track can sound muddled on lesser systems, but the MasterTracker kept the panning guitars on course, Wood's fretwork had distinct form, mass and richness separate from the muscular percussion. And Stewart? His vocals sat in the midst of this almost-frantic melee, but in perfect focus.

There's something else, an intangible quality, perhaps, that must be attributed to the UltraDeck. While the performance is, for most audiophiles, the be-all and end-all of a product's worth, and it remains arguably the primary determinant (after price) as to whether or not one wishes to purchase a given product, the MoFi UltraDeck+M is blessed with that most precious of values: credibility.

How so? It comes from a manufacturer that has few rivals in its understanding of LP playback, while it was designed by a hugely-respected industry veteran of impeccable credentials. What the puck: respect has been earned.

Hi-Fi News Verdict
Having followed this deck's growth over a number of shows, I'd say MoFi has addressed brilliantly the needs of both audiophiles and newcomers. Its potential to keep at bay any nagging urge to upgrade is due to its accommodation of affordable accessories and an arm that accepts high-end moving-coils. The UltraDeck is a dream choice for those who want components that can evolve along with them.

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