Roksan Radius 7 Review – Focus and Clarity
This midrange turntable arrives complete with the company’s own Nima arm… Paul Rigby wonders whether it’s time to put on the red light with the Roksan…
Turntable with electronic speed switching
Essentially, the Radius 7 is a replacement for the Radius 5 from London’s own Roksan. As such, you’d expect a host of improvements, and there are just such things within the 7 – principally including improved motor decoupling. The designers have also managed to source an acrylic for the chassis that has a glass effect.
Turntable setup on midrange units can be a bit of a pain, but the Radius 7 is pretty straightforward in this respect. As you put this one together, you’ll notice the motor assembly, which uses an electronic speed selection. This has been sourced from the high-end rpm speed control from the company’s expensive Xerxes turntable, while a connected LED light shines blue for 33rpm or red for 45rpm, which is more effective as a light show because of that high-density, glass-like plinth.
There are irritations with the Radius 7, though. There’s no option to replace the mains cable or the phono cables for something more audiophile in the future, which could improve sonics. Also, the power button and the speed button are uncomfortably close to the belt. It’s easy to see yourself accidentally catching and unhooking the belt during operation. Plus, the Roksan arm has no protective arm clip to keep the arm tube in place, which raises the risk of an accident involving that relatively expensive cartridge (none is included).
None of these points are major problems in themselves, but the accumulation of quibbles is something you’ll need to be aware of.
I began the sound tests with a smattering of Bruce Hornsby And The Range, and the track Look Out Any Window from the 1988 album Scenes From The Southside. Hornsby is known for his big piano sound, which is rich and swathed in detail. The Roksan found this potentially sonically chaotic instrument easy to highlight and presented it in an ordered and focused manner. The soundstage exhibited an admirable layering that was also able to draw the ear inwards into the musicality of the track’s rolling rhythms. The ‘period’ 80s production was also suitably polished by the Roksan, which added clarity to the busy soundstage.
For a contrast, I turned to Ennio Morricone and the lushly orchestrated Metti, Una Sera A Cena, with its gentle scatting from vocalist Edda Dell’Orso. The title track was open, sparkling and lucid, possessing a light, weightless aspect to the sweeping strings over the expansive soundstage.
There was also an almost detachable metallic reverb from the glockenspiel. The impressive transient response added a rounded and immediate strike and reaction to this sunny and cheerful instrumental interlude.
Turning to classical, and Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata via Arthur Rubinstein, surely one of the greatest classical pianists of the 20th century. Here, the Radius 7 had a less positive effect on the maestro’s peerless reputation – on the more sustained piano notes towards the end of the first movement – with slight but ‘visible’ wavering, which resulted from speed stability issues.
I didn’t detect these speed issues in other musical genres, I have to add – piano sustains can be vicious during speed tests.
Finally, to a satisfying slice of rock psyche from Mighty Baby. Their self-titled 1969 LP was a touch compressed – a fact that the Roksan doesn’t try to hide, which ultimately bodes well for the turntable’s tonal balance, transparency and basic honesty.
The vocals were impressive. On the track House Without Windows, the lead vocal is joined by a backing voice to form an effective harmony, and there was an impressive degree of personality to both. Bass, meanwhile, is punchy, never blooming or ‘mass-y’ in a false way, while secondary percussion from the tambourine offered a detailed and treble-infused ringing feedback.
The overall sound quality of the Roksan Radius 7 is excellent, which makes the niggling design issues all the more frustrating. If you can look past these comparatively minor points (despite there being a lot of them, in relative terms), then you have yourself an impressive performer, which will infuse your music with clarity and detail.