Tom Fletcher’s decks have often been used with unipivots. In part, because Tom’s own arm designs are unipivots, but also because Tom’s decks do sound especially good with a unipivot arm in tow. The Analog Works project currently doesn’t do tonearms; instead it comes with two options supplied pre-installed; the Origin Live Alliance (for an additional £295) or The Wand, for an extra £795. We went with The Wand, a unique carbon fibre unipivot from New Zealand-based DIY’ers Design Build Listen.
The Wand is essentially a straight, relatively large tube of carbon fibre, cut at the cartridge end at a fairly acute angle, and the cart attaches to a fixed metal block, which limits adjustment at the cartridge end to overhang. Away from the business end, the pivot itself (it’s identical to Rega geometry) and counterweight arrangement is different from the norm. The arm uses a series of balance plates and a large bolt at the rear of the arm for fine-tuning. This means setting up a cartridge involves look-up tables alongside stylus gauges and Baerwald alignment protractors. The bearing itself is a ‘defined contact’ design, where the pivot point rests in the midst of three ball bearings inside the arm tube, rather than the more common point and cup. The anti-skate is a line-and-weight affair, but cleverly, the weight stays in the arm-rest position as the arm tracks a groove, rather than an outrigger. The arm cable is Cardas. Deck and arm came supplied complete and the arm came pre-fitted with a Goldring Legacy moving coil cartridge, which proved to be a fine match.
Arguably, a reviewer should divorce himself or herself from price throughout a review, adding the cost context at the end. That way, the device under test gets to stand or fall in absolute terms, and doesn’t get pigeonholed into a price parameter. It’s hard to ‘unlearn’ a price however, especially if it’s very low or very high. But it’s possible, in part because of the Tom Fletcher giant-killer DNA running through the Turntable One. You quickly forget that you are listening to a £800 turntable, and just enjoy listening to a turntable.
I found my own way of changing records managed to include a thumb just near enough to one of the rubber rings to catch and slow the deck down slightly. Most people won’t have this kind of problem, but it is a fair indicator of how good the Analogue Works Turntable One is, if a major criticism is your personal style of record playing. My extraneous thumb aside, the turntable behaved itself perfectly at all times.