Origin Live Sovereign turntable with Enterprise-C tonearm

Origin Live Enterprise-C,
Origin Live Sovereign

The Enterprise (actually the Enterprise-C, which as every Trekker will tell you was captained by Rachel Garrett and destroyed in 2344 at the battle of Narendra III) is a hybrid design, using six different materials in the armtube itself, a dual pivot bearing (that mimics the stability of a gimballed bearing with the freedom of a unipivot), which is both extremely low friction and fully decoupled from the yoke assembly. It has both VTA and azimuth adjustment, and features silver wiring throughout. The arm is the top model in the Origin Live range, and the only one that can be supplied in the 12” form we tested.

My go-to turntable is a VPI Prime, with its 3D printed version of the JMW tonearm. I was so impressed, I bought the review sample. It’s currently featuring a Lyra Dorian moving coil cartridge and this combination just sings. However, the Origin Live turntable and arm combination improve on that VPI performance markedly, and also work beautifully with a Lyra design.

The Sovereign is one of the most speed stable turntables I’ve heard at or near the price. Solo female voice and records with tape wobbles cut to disc are perfect indicators of this at work. Listen to ‘Mining for Gold’ by the Cowboy Junkies on the legendary Trinity Sessions LP [RCA]; Margo Timmins almost fragile voice requires complete pitch stability to keep it in the moment and keep the lyrics powerful. Doubly so, if you listen to this first through digital replay, where you get the pitch precision and none of the ambience. Here, you get both, and perfectly so.

It’s easy to point out highlights on the Sovereign’s performance, because they are pretty much all highlights. But, speed stability aside, the big highlight has to be the sense of scale it brings to the bass. Bass notes are textured, deep, powerful, and dynamic. This is the sort of turntable Lyra should use to quiet the ‘it’s sounds a bit lean’ arguments set against the firm’s cartridges. The Origin Live combination shows it isn’t lean, just others decks and arms aren’t this resolving in the bass to show what Lyra can do. I pulled out the classic ‘Two Tribes (Annihilation Mix)’ 12” single by Frankie Goes To Hollywood [ZTT]  to show just what this table and arm can do. The Lyras track beautifully, but the amount of modulation in those grooves is intense and any limitations in the replay system are brutally exposed. Instead, I was sent back to the early 1980s, with all the nuclear paranoia and heavy-handed production values that go with it. In most cases, this is an impressive recording, but occasionally, when the turntable is outstanding, the sound takes on a kind of enveloping energy that makes it impossible to turn off until the very end. It also has the kind of complexity and depth of soundstage that only someone like Trevor Horn could pull out of the faders.

It’s pointless to break up the band here. The deck is excellent, the arm is excellent, and the combination of the two seems to be greater than the sum of the parts. I was a little concerned that a 12” arm ends up adding instability, mass and wayward geometry to an excellent 9.5” design (as is often the case), but in the case of the Enterprise-C what notional sacrifices made in extending the arm are more than balanced by the added accuracy across the whole album side. There is a ‘just cut’ fluidity and openness to the sound that makes it seem like albums you know through repeated plays are fresh from the stamper. The sign of a good turntable and arm combination is one where the idea of splitting the two up into their component parts seems alien and wrong. The aforementioned VPI Prime (along with Kuzma and Brinkmann) has that integrated approach to design. So does Origin Live.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Featured Articles