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  Dual CS-455-1M Automatic Turntable - A True “Turnkey Turntable”

      Date posted: September 30, 2010

North American Distributor: AudioScape Canada,
65 Kingswood Drive,
King City ON
L7B 1K8
audioscapecanada.ca

Dual CS-455, cherry
The audiophile turntable has always been a kind of cult object for true vinylphiles. You have your cartridge and tonearm, and the table itself, and the cost can run into the many thousands of dollars. My current reference rig, a Heybrook/SAEC/Ortofon setup, when you add up the cost of the individual parts, comes out around $5000. The cartridge alone, an Ortofon Kontrapunkt B, sells for half again as much as this complete Dual turntable system. And it’s a fairly inexpensive cartridge, well down in the extensive Ortofon range in price.

But I won’t go on about this, but the point has to be made that there is a place for a reasonably priced, high quality record player in this day and age of digital media, especially if you are transferring vinyl to recordable CD or computer media. The Dual CS-455-1M is just that, easy to make operational out of the box, with a high quality moving magnet cartridge in a low-mass arm, and automatic record play at the flick of a switch. The arm lifts and settles into the lead-in groove and plays the side, and then lifts off and goes back to its rest position. All you have to do is put the LP on the quite thick felt mat that covers the turntable platter.

Now, Dual has been making turntables longer than just about anybody else in the world, (since 1928), so they must have got it right by now. If you opt for a special additional phono stylus, it will even play 78 rpm discs. The other speeds are 33 1/3 and 45 rpm. The unit has an internal suspension that isolates it quite well, and no problems with feedback were encountered during the testing process. It comes in 5 versions, our review sample in piano black, the most luxurious of the range.

Here’s how distributor Allan Feldstein describes the various versions of the CS-455-1:

1) CS 455-1- is the basic version, matt vinyl covered plinth…..same motor, platter, arm, cartridge as the more expensive CS-455-1-M versions, but has an MSRP of $729.95; overall weight 5.8 kg.

2) CS-455-1-M (M for “massive” plinth), matte black finish, silver platter…..MSRP of $829.95; overall weight 7.8 kg.

3) CS-455-1-M Gloss Black plinth, Silver platter/arm….MSRP of $999.95; overall weight 7.8 kg

4) CS-455-1-M Gloss Black plinth, Gold platter/arm…..MSRP of $999.95; overall weight 7.8 kg (This is the one you have for review)

5) CS-455-1-M Walnut plinth with Gold platter/arm….MSRP of $1049.95; overall weight 7.8 kg”

Dual also offers the CC1 “USB audio capture karte”, or kit, which is a small box that interfaces with a computer to allow recording from the turntable to a computer. It has line and phono inputs, as well as analog RCA and USB outputs. It works with included Audacity software to achieve the computer interface. We didn’t test the unit because I’m not set up for computer/vinyl interface, but I’m sure it’s a very useful product for those wanting to digitize their vinyl, and works with both PC and Mac computers. A USB 2.0 capable computer is recommended.

Getting back to the CS-455-1M, I found it quite easy to set up, using a tracking weight of 2 grams. The turntable is a belt drive that comes with the belt installed, so all you have to do is put the platter on. The motor is a DC servo type, and the power cable has a wall-wart AC plug. Then you put the record on and flick the switch. The arm action is very smooth, and it gently finds the lead-in groove. And one never has to worry about “playing the label”, as it were, because the arm gently lifts off at side end and returns to its rest position. I found it fun just to watch the smoothness of operation, this turntable very much in the long and great Dual tradition.

I plugged the turntable into my professional Bryston BP-1 phono preamp, into which it had excellent output levels. The Bryston has served me well since my broadcast days, and while there may be better out there, for the current situation, it was more than ideal, with no step-up devices necessary. I listened to quite a lot of vinyl over a couple of weeks, and I’ll provide some highlights that helped define the sound of this LP reproduction device.
Dual CS-455, piano black
I started listening with a couple of my favourite LPs, Duke Ellington’s soundtrack for the Otto Preminger film, Anatomy Of A Murder in its most recent MFSL edition, and a very fine disc of Miles Davis’s Kind Of Blue that I bought at Rose Records in Chicago many years ago. The Ellington band sounded very dynamic and alive, the brass bright and clean, while Kind Of Blue had that magic that has made it the best-selling jazz record of all time. Sure, in both cases there was a little less detail and air than with my reference system, but it was still very good and true sound, with very little apparent surface noise. If you want to transfer LPs to CD (the latter being a lower resolution medium than vinyl, anyway), this turntable is a good choice.

I also put on a side of Will The Circle Be Unbroken, a wonderful country and folk music anthology, and definitely heard the authenticity of the performances of some great country songs. Trying to be eclectic, I next auditioned a Supraphon recording of the Martinu 2nd Cello Concerto, which also sounded very good. It’s a wonderful piece of music. Another standout classical recording of the many auditioned was Keith O. Johnson’s Rutter Requiem on the Reference label. Here the choral ensemble’s depth was palpable, though the organ pedal bass was a little less authoritative than what I usually hear from this disc.

Sound quality was excellent overall, quite a bit better than I expected at the price. The Ortofon MM cartridge was very quiet in the groove, and there was a total absence of rumble or other mechanical noise. I heard lots of clarity and detail, with excellent stereo separation. It was a turntable that made me want to play LPs: musical, effortless, and dynamic.

This a very well engineered product that can capture the essence of vinyl, and transmit if to the listener. I doubt that its quality could be otherwise duplicated at anywhere near this price. And the convenience and operational smoothness also have to be factored in as well. In the CS-455-1M, Dual has put together a record-playing package that is easy to set up and use that delivers exceptional sound. It’s a great record player for a grand, or less.

Andrew Marshall

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5 Responses to “Dual CS-455-1M Automatic Turntable - A True “Turnkey Turntable””

  1. Buck Batard c-unknown Says:

    Will it play 78 rpm records? Or will any other in the series. There aren’t many of us but I’ve got a whole trove of classical 78 rpm records that are as old as King Tut, or at least old enough to be out of copyright. I’d like to put them up partially on youtube and then sell the disks after I get and learn a program to cut out the scratches and the like. And also offer on CD the same as well as the original non modified sound plus an MP3 version of the record, all on a CD. Many people want to hear what a number of the great orchestras were like in the early 1900s and this could fit the bill if the model worked well enough to pay for itself. It would be a $2.00 an hour job but I’m sure there would be people who would want to hear how orchestral music was played in the past, or at least during the earliest days of mono recording.

  2. Andrew Marshall c-unknown Says:

    As noted in the review, it does offer the 78 rpm speed. However, a separate stylus is required to track the larger grooves of the older format. There are lots of computer de-clicker/de-noiser programs available, many for free download.

  3. Kristian c-unknown Says:

    Mr. Marshall,
    Thanks for a fine review, but, surely you mean red-book CD is the higher resolution medium. The physics and math prove it irrevocably. Then, there’s the insurmountable problem of the 3-7% distortion added to all vinyl playback even by the best turntable/arm/cartridge combinations from tonearm tracing error and appr. 3-5% cartridge distortion. But, vinyl is certainly capable of sounding great regardless; and therein the mystery lies.

  4. Andrew Marshall c-unknown Says:

    Hi Kristian,

    As the saying goes, figures may not lie, but liars can figure. Those old trumped-up cartridge measurements with V-15s and other relatively low-resolution LP reproducers are still occasionally trotted out by digital freaks who don’t actually listen, and who use these spurious and dubious measurements as weapons.

    In fact, the digital phase distortions inherent in 44.1 record and play are much more audibly noxious than any analog effects caused by LP playback, and recent MC cartridges have very low distortion in the groove. The effects of tracing error are barely audible even at the inner grooves of a well set up arm/turntable system, and are much less apparent than the warp-wow induced by most linear-tracking arms, especially the shorter ones, which required completely flat LPs.

    The only mystery is the emotional need of some deaf engineers to use erroneous and irrelevant numbers to smear analog audio. They should all be required to listen to an excellent turntable, or, especially, some great original recordings made on a Nagra IV-S with really good microphones, both of which I have and have done. It is also true, of course, that even this level of reproduction is surpassed by 96 kHz digital from the same sources (in which the aliasing effects are well out of the audio band), something I have proven and demonstrated many times in my own recording work. The trick, after all that, is to get as much of this analog or digital fidelity through the bottleneck of CD to the listener. The failure of high resolution audio formats in the marketplace has not helped in this quest.

  5. Kristian c-unknown Says:

    Andrew,
    You should check the very large recent database of test data from Miller Audio Research’s (yes, THAT Paul Miller) tests of cartridge, tonearm, and turntable data, available via free registration at milleraudioresearch.com. These tests were performed for Hi-Fi News. High to very high distortion figures in all areas, especially damaging IM distortion, and poor channel balance figures, too. Interestingly, some of the best measuring cartridges, and thus some of the most carefully engineered, seem to come from Audio Technica. See also the inherently high resonances, shockingly so with regard to the $$$ Spiral Groove they recently tested. I am very familiar with the charms of vinyl; I have 550 LPs, and just sold an Origin Live table/arm combo with Cartridgeman Music Maker. But, this doesn’t make untrue the statement that it is a high-distortion medium, and that even simple digital recording equipment can easily capture the entire sound of the best analog rigs. For this point, see the outstanding 2007 audioasylum.com thread involving John Elison and Mike Lavigne, who owns a $400+K system including a Rockport Sirius. John bet Mike that his humble Alesis Masterlink digital HDD recorder running 16/44.1 could make a copy of the output from Mike’s Rockport that was indistinguishable from actual analog playback. John won the bet. Finally, noone has shown “digital phase distortion” (jitter-induced distortion?), below a certain level easily achieved by even cheap digital equipment, to be a factor in digital playback. The one fact is simply that even cheap digital accomplishes overall distortion figures 110+ dB down, sometimes much better. That puts us back to some unknown, unmeasurable characteristic that supposedly makes digital sound bad. I don’t think so; either the signal is distorted, or it isn’t. Rather, vinyl sounds good because of it. And if that’s so, so be it!

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