MoFi or Mobile Fidelity as they started out have a long history of making audiophile quality pressings of popular albums. They were surfing the crest of the vinyl wave back in the late seventies and continue to do so today. A few years ago some bright spark at MoFi’s Chicago HQ must have noticed that the turntable market had been growing along with the revival of the black discs they played, and so suggested that the company take advantage of its transcription expertise and build a turntable. Acting on this epiphany they started an electronics division and with a bit of help from Allen Perkins at Spiral Groove and Mike Latvis at HRS, MoFi Electronics developed two turntables. These are not just rebadged OEM models but ground up designs with an emphasis on fine detail, not least in the provision of a dust lid to keep our increasingly precious vinyl clean.
The MoFi StudioDeck and UltraDeck, launched two years ago, are wider than average, but just about fit on a regular 52cm width stand. They’re built on a plinth that’s made of aluminium and MDF to create constrained layer damping in order to keep vibration under control. The UltraDeck has a thicker plinth and heavier platter, the latter being 33mm thick and made of Delrin, which is an engineering plastic often used in higher end turntables (Clearaudio for instance). Delrin has a similar impedance to vinyl, producing excellent damping properties when the two are in contact, eliminating the need for a record mat. The UltraDeck is driven via an O section belt by a synchronous AC motor that’s decoupled from the plinth. The motor itself sits outside the platter and has Delrin drive pulleys which offer the usual speeds with manual switch over. The plinth sits on four anti vibration feet made by equipment support specialist HRS.
The UltraDeck is equipped with a 10 inch Ultra tonearm comprising an aluminium armtube and headshell; ball bearings allow for both planes of movement and it’s wired with Cardas internal cable that terminates in RCA connectors on the back of the plinth. It’s adjustable for VTA and azimuth, but the UltraDeck+M, complete with cartridge, is supplied with these two settings in the correct position. There is a marking on the back of the arm to show where to position the counterweight. However this is quite a wide indicator and merely moving the weight to the back of the mark does not place downforce within the 1.8 to 2.2 gram recommended range. Rather, it takes it over, so you need a downforce gauge to get close to the desired 2g. That apart it’s an easy arm to set up until you get to the thread and weight bias system, which involves a tiny grommet and a post that’s very close to the counterweight. The trick here is to fit the anti-skate device to the arm prior to fitting the counterweight, then it’s all pretty straightforward.
The main bearing is inverted and is larger in diameter than usual. It’s designed, says MoFi, using a combination of hardened steel, bronze, and sapphire, aided presumably by a little lube (there was none in the box), because the platter appears to spin perfectly. Unusually this turntable has the power supply onboard and an IEC mains inlet, making it a little tidier round the back.
The +M derivative indicates the presence of MoFi’s top cartridge. The Mastertracker is a moving magnet type (as are all MoFi cartridges) with an aluminium body. It has a micro-line tip on a tapered aluminium cantilever connected to what MoFi calls a V-twin dual magnet generator and Japanese OCC coils.