Hi-Fi Pig Review of Resolution MK4 Turntable
I’ve been a long-time fan of origin Live tonearms having used their Silver tonearm on a fully modded Technics 1210 and on my previous vinyl spinner from Analogue Works, the logical next step for our vinyl front end was to upgrade the arm and to buy one of OLs turntables. We have and here are our thoughts on the British company’s Resolution turntable with upgraded PSU and triple layer Acrylic platter, partnered with their Zephyr tonearm. The total price of the turntable as tested here is £5550.
The Resolution turntable falls bang in the middle of this UK company’s range and costs £3300 for the turntable with the upgraded, and I think vital, transformer power supply adding a further £340. The upgraded platter on the our turntable, which adds two further layers to the Acrylic platter, adds a further £960. We didn’t have the opportunity to compare with the standard platter, but Origin Live reckon this to make a more significant improvement to performance than the upgraded PSU. The Zephyr tonearm is the top of the fully gimballed range from the company and comes in at £950. For the purposes of this review I used our reference Goldnote Tuscany Red cartridge retailing at €5799.
Origin Live have got their packaging right and first thoughts are that this is an outfit that make sure they have all bases covered, which immediately inspires confidence in the product, not something that can be said of every manufacturer.
Putting the turntable together is a simple affair with little more than pouring the required amount of bearing oil into the housing, placing the platter on the deck, getting the separate motor housing in the right position and attaching the belt. In total the job takes a little over half an hour, including fitting the arm, which in itself is a doddle due to the open nature of the Resolution. On the rack the turntable certainly looks the part and more than one non-audiophile visitor has commented on its styling with him declaring, “I don’t know what it is, but I want one!”
The armboard is designed to resist rotational and vertical modes of vibration, whilst the sub-chassis helps to decouple the main bearing, the pics in this review will give you a better idea of construction. Levelling is achieved by a trio of feet which is so much easier to get right than systems using four feet.
The platter itself is, as mentione the three layer Acrylic option and is three centimetres thick and is then topped off by Origin Live’s very thin rubber-like composite mat.
All in all, and I’m no engineer in any shape or form, the Resolution turntable looks to be well put together, well thought out and sensibly engineered.
Light Speed Control
This is the fourth incarnation of the Resolution turntable and one of the big developments is the motor unit which has a nifty speed stabilisation system built in. The motor is called the Light Speed Control and it’s a clever solution for belt drive turntable that suffer speed drift for a number of reasons, mainly based around belt tension. What the LSC hopes to achieve is the accuracy of a direct drive system with a claimed accuracy of drift of below 0.0001%. The motor itself is a high quality, low noise design but the nifty thing here is the platter speed is constantly measured and adjusted. Look under the platter and there is a small reflective strip that passes over a sensor in the motor unit itself and then a feedback loop makes instant corrections. It is a very impressive bit of engineering and the Origin Live team must be applauded in what they have achieved with it.
I’m very familiar with this arm and cartridge set up’s characteristics having used the combo as our reference for well over a year; the sound is dynamic, clear and without either bloat at the bottom end or harshness at the top end. Pop these two onto the Origin Live deck and sonically what I have in front of me is a huge step up, with the music just seeming to become more cohesive and more of a whole rather than individual parts that go to make the whole, if that makes sense. Of course, if you listen for individual parts such as bass-lines then you can clearly hear where they are in the mix, both in a dynamic sense as well as a spatial sense, it’s just that with the Resolution coming into play I got a sense of really connecting with the music much more. Indeed, Mark who heads up the company phoned me to chase me and ask if I was going to do a review at all, I’d already bought this deck, and my response was along the lines of “I’ve barely played anything but vinyl since I installed the deck and I’ve just been enjoying going through tunes and albums that I’ve not pulled off the shelves in ages.” We had a friend in the industry come to visit a few weeks prior to me actually sitting down to listen and actively take notes about this turntable. He’s a huge fan of The Jam and I have great respect for his opinions on sound, but really wasn’t looking for them in this case. However, I put on a copy of the band’s All Mod Cons onto the platter and he declared it the very best he has ever heard it on any system – anywhere, which I took as being very high praise indeed.
It’s often difficult in written reviews, to say what you are hearing from a particular piece of equipment without sounding like you are simply describing portions of your record collection, but many people will be familiar with certain tunes I use as test tracks and so this methodology, though flawed in some way, serves as a good way of describing what something brings to the aural party.
VCMG’s Lowly from the album SSSS has an authority to the bass kick drum and the analogue synth bass-lines, the album is made using a huge collection of classic synths, just bounce along and sit perfectly in the soundstage/mix. What really comes across here is that there is a texture to the sounds that I’d not heard in our previous set up and that the experience was more akin to listening to real synths playing live. Spatially the track just seems to have opened up to become more three dimensional than it had before with sounds in some cases just seeming to hang in the air in front of me. If you are reading this and thinking to yourself, but that’s electronic sounds and not real instruments, then I maintain that these instruments are equally relevant to the review process as any orchestral piece.
However, John Martyn’s classic Solid Air has to be dug out (I’ve said this before, but the Abbey Road half speed master is one of the very best recordings anywhere and on any format) and again when listening closely to the record I’m left somewhat gobsmacked with what this vinyl spinner brings to the table. Detail is there in bucketsful with all the tonal texture of Martyn’s vocal being a standout. Musicians are laid out before me in the stereo mix beautifully and whilst I previously said the music just seems to come together with this turntable, audiophiles will be cock-a-hoop in the way it is so easy to pull out individual instruments. Never once does this record become anything more than pristine in the way it is presented here. What is more important though, again as I mention a lot, the connection I have today with this piece is as great an aural/emotional connection as I have had using any piece of equipment at any price. What also springs to my mind is the lack of surface noise I’m hearing… not something I’d really noticed before but when you look for something you do notice its absence. Further through the album something else that strikes me are the clarity of small details in the music – the way the strings are slapped on Don’t Want To Know being a case in point. This is a studio recording, of course, but there is the sense that the musicians are laid out before me in the room in a way I’d not previously experienced to the same degree.
Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Pronounced album is an album I played endlessly in my mid-teens and I bought it again a few months ago. Tuesday’s Gone is a tune that I must have played several hundreds of times over the years and today and on this record player I am once again reminded why I got into Hifi in the first place. What we have here is the record being played with as high a fidelity as I could ever imagine. The little orchestral parts, the pianos all sound…well just better, and again, there is that connection to the music and it really speaking to me. Little flourishes on the drums that may have been missed before are clearly heard and the slightly dragging snare at times just sounds perfect, a sign to me that this turntable’s timing itself is rock solid. There are times when this records soaring multiple guitar lines can become confused and a bit of a mush but there is none of that here and whilst again, there is a coherency to the song, it’s still easy to pick the mix apart.
Culture’s Vital Selection has the bass lines bouncing along with a solidity and reality that just want to make you get out the chair and dance. And that’s something we’ve done a lot of since this turntable arrived. Yes, we sit and listen to music a lot in a critical way, of course, but when a piece of equipment also gives you the urge to move your ass, you know it is doing something right.
OK, so I think this record player is something rather special, but there is a lot of things I will not even claim to understand in any way. First of all, to my mind the perfect record player will spin the record at the right speed, have anything that can feedback to the stylus as isolated as possible and that’s about it. However, turntables do sound very different with this one being as technically close to what is in the grooves coming out the speakers as I have heard. So, why then when I plug in the upgraded power supply do things get more focussed with more energy with bass-lines in particular feeling more solid? The motor is spinning the same as it was before, but things improve across the board. I don’t understand but the improvement is undeniably clearly audible and why at the opening parts of this review I said I reckoned it vital part of the package.
Do I have any niggles with this turntable? Yep, nothing is perfect, and whilst sonically I genuinely feel this to be pretty much as good as it gets, there is no dust cover included which I would like to see. I’ve looked at having one made but the way my Audio Suspension wall shelf is designed doesn’t really allow for a standard cube one to be bought and the design I put in to a manufacturer that followed the shape of the Resolution was very expensive. My second niggle is the front right “arm” is the perfect place to rest your hand whilst putting the needle on the record resulting in the whole of the turntable tilting forward. To be fair you only make this mistake a handful of times before you learn.
We have had a handful of products come into Hifi Pig towers in the last year that have really blown us away with what they bring to the party and the way our system has evolved as a result has taken it to what I consider to be a truly world class system. One of these products is of course this turntable and arm combination, and whilst there are much more expensive packages out there I can’t see me feeling the urge to upgrade any time soon, though I probably see a top of the range tonearm from Origin Live in my Hifi life in the future.
What you have here is a relatively affordable, I know it’s a lot of money but in sonic terms and given there are much more expensive options out there, I reckon it to be a bit of a sonic bargain that has the ability to really connect you to your record collection in a meaningful and emotional way. I’ve bought more vinyl since it arrived than I have in a long time and I’ve played records that haven’t seen the light of day in ages, which should be recommendation enough.
If you are in the market for a record player in this price range then the Origin Live Resolution should certainly be on your “must hear” list.
At a Glance
Build Quality: Solid build quality, with a well thought out format for the turntable itself. Feels like a product that easily justifies its asking price. Easy to put together and mount the arm.
Sound Quality: Difficult to quibble in any way with regards to the sound quality of this product. It is revealing and dynamic with detail and insight into the recording aplenty. Add the upgraded power supply and it is even more engaging. The speed stability, given this is a belt drive is astounding.
Value For Money: Again, very hard to quibble with the price. There are more expensive, much more expensive, turntables out there that perform nowhere near this level
Pros: Sonically engaging, hugely dynamic and revealing, well-built and the Light Speed Control takes all the guess work out of whether the turntable is running at the correct speed.
Cons: Would have liked a dust-cover to be included and the temptation to rest your cueing finger on the outrigger causing the deck to fall forward.
Price: Turntable: £3300
Upgraded Power Supply: £340
Three Layer Platter Option: £960
Review Equipment: GoldNote Tuscany Red MC cartridge, Music First step up transformer, Music First phono-stage, Music First Baby Reference II preamplifier, Merrill Audio Thor monoblocks, Avantgarde Duo XD loudspeakers, Tellurium Q Silver Diamond speaker cables and interconnects and power cables by Vermouth Audio and Atlas. Power distribution by Atlas Cables. Balanced mains unit by D. Worth.
Having nominated the Resolution for Outstanding Product Award, Linette will now say a few words about what she thinks of the product to decide whether it achieves the award or not.
One thing that I have noticed about the arrival of a new turntable at Hifi Pig Towers, is it is usually a pre-cursor to shouting…and quite a lot of it, so I generally leave Stuart to get on with the fiddly task of set-up it on his own, and retreat to a safe distance, unless I am required to ‘hold that bit there and don’t drop it’. After the unboxing of the Resolution I was surprised that I heard none of the aforementioned shouting and came back in to find everything set up as it should be. That was a result to start with. Secondly, it looks the business, with a stylish, open design that looks a hell of a lot more expensive than it is. Turntables are one of those components that really can express a beautiful ‘form follows function’ design, and the open design seems to really help with things like set up and maintenance.
The Light Speed Control is an incredibly clever thing indeed in a ‘why has nobody thought of this before’ way…and I think this assurance of accuracy translates into the sound. There is a real sense of improvement in the connection to the music when using this Turntable that I was not really expecting, giving that we were already using a pretty high-end cartridge and arm. But putting the same arm and cartridge onto the new turntable showed just how much difference it could make. I’m not going to pretend to understand why but there is something clever in the engineering that gets every bit out of the music…it’s more alive and musical, if that makes sense.
I have generally found vinyl to be a format that I have embraced more over the years. My go-to format always used to be CD over vinyl (which I still prefer to streaming) but the ease of use of the Origin Live along with the sound quality has had us buying and playing more records than we have in years. Yes, you can spend much, much more on a turntable but I think with the Resolution, Origin Live have made that high-end exclusivity a lot more achievable for people without a bottomless budget.
I love it and I never thought I would be quite so charmed by a turntable. It gets an Outstanding Award for sure.