Origin Live Calypso mk4 with Multi-Layer Platter, Illustrious arm and Silver Hybrid cable – part 2
I’ve really only touched the surface of the many facets of this turntable’s construction but, if interested, do have a look at the Origin Live website where all this and much more is outlined in great detail. It’s also worth checking for the many advisory sections, for instance containing articles regarding common misconceptions, guides for turntable calibration, and a very complete section on cartridge selection.
Above: initial setup on one end of the room and using Kroma Audio Carmen loudspeakers
Above and below: later setup on the other end of the room and using both Kroma Audio Carmen as well as Martin Logan ESL15A loudspeakers
For this review, I used two different cartridges and two different phono stages. First, the Denon DL-304 MC cartridge was fitted. This is a cartridge that I know very well and have a long history with. I still have one of these myself and so do two of my audio buddies who kindly loaned theirs to me to enable a comfortable direct comparison. One of these DL-304’s has seen very little use and that’s the one that went into the Origin Live player, but not before I had compared it to the others and confirmed that they all sound good. The other turntables were the Thorens TD160-Super and the TD125-II. After completing these comparisons, out went the Denon DL-304 and in came the ViRa Aidas Rainbow MC cartridge. This one has previously done service in a Thorens TD160B with Origin Live Onyx arm and so it also made for good comparison material.
Above and below: Calypso with Anthem STR pre/power amps. The turntable sounded great both on the Artesania Exoteryc rack as well as on the Artesania Modular rack but different. The former allowed it to sound most transparent and precise while the latter maximized the bass slam and the tonal richness in the midrange.
The initial phono stage was the Benz Lukaschek PP-1 which was later replaced with the CH Precision P1, in both cases via the Ayon Stealth preamp. Besides my resident electronics, I also used the Calypso with various other components that happened to be on review, such as the Anthem STR preamp and power amp and a complete Zesto tube system.
The speed is spot-on accurate at 33.3 as well as super-stable: never did I hear any low-level or high-level speed variations, not even with absolute torture tracks. Further, the player does not have any perceptible character of its own, rather, sounding precisely as the record dictates. The one area, really, where the player’s character can be tweaked is in the choice of cartridge.
That unassuming tiny horizontally-inserted hex screw is actually a valuable tweaking tool!
This nut should be well-tightened but only by hand – no tools allowed!
There is very little to adjust but what’s there should be taken very seriously if one is to extract from it the best balance of virtues. Besides the usual adjustments such as VTA, VTF, overhang, anti-skating, and azymuth, there is another adjustment that ties in with the VTA, which is the balance between the tension with which the hex nut on the side and the ring on the underside are tightened.
As the company describes it in the manuals, too much force is never a good thing and the recommended force for the underside nut is the maximum force which can be achieved with a bare hand and no tools. But, of course, some people are stronger than others. I have quite a firm grip and as it would turn out, this resulted in an overly controlled sound: very detailed and spectacularly well-articulated but with the life and musical flow strangled out of it. A little looser certainly got rid of the iron grip that was on the music but along with it went the tightness in the bass. For a while I could not find the ideal balance until I realized that I had also tightened the hex screw on the side quite firmly. After unscrewing it and tightening it again until the point that it just started to grip the shaft I noticed that the sound had mellowed in a similar fashion as with a loosened nut underneath. After some trial and error, I found that the best combination was to tighten the underside nut almost as much as I can with my thumb and index finger and have the hex screw on the side gripping the shaft fairly loosely. This can be done easily and without fear of losing the carefully set VTA because the upper ring will keep the arm’s height to the set position. This combination made for tight and articulate bass as well as an organic, rich, and free-flowing midrange. As always, there are many more factors and every system is different meaning that different amounts of these adjustments may be required but it remains important to realize the potential of the tuning possibilities with these seemingly irrelevant fixation points.
Above and below: comparisons with the Thorens TD160B