Review: Townshend Audio Rock Elite Turntable
I will preface this review by saying that I am yet to face this deck off against my Amazon Model One.
I will also add that this is a personal review, and does not hold itself out in the same 'objective' sense of professional reviews that are written by the pros who have not purchased the product or are limited to their own system.
This is perhaps more of a short personal journey.
When I was about 16 or 17 I always recall reading a review about a Townshend turntable, and the theory that went into designing that deck and thought - 'that makes sense'. I was of course referring to the trough.
When in 2003 - when I now had my own flat and the space to have my own system - I was able to buy a nice turntable. Regrettably Townshend made no turntable at that moment in time, and I wanted to buy brad new.
After listening to host of very good decks I bought an Amazon Model One. I slightly regret that I did not get the DPS Model 2, but the UK importer at the time having said at a show that the deck would cost me £2500 arbitrarily decided he'd add an extra £500 without giving any explanation for this. He lost a sale. Amongst the decks I heard were the Avid Volvere Sequel, the SME 10, Nottingham Hyperspace, Rega P9, Clearlight Recovery BAsic, Linn LP12, and Michell Orbe.
Anyway, I moved home about 3 years ago, and my lovely Amazon was placed in a rather precarious spot which regularly risked being knocked by passers by at the patio door, and when the curtains were being closed. So it 'justified' me buying a small deck.
I therefore ended up fulfilling a childhood wish and sourced the Townhend Elite Rock.
Before I go on I listen to a misture of Jazz - Nat Adderley, Soul, Funk, Rock, Techno, Trip Hop, Classical and Indian Classical. I do not have a set pattern of records that I use, but they did include NAt Adderley, Massive Attack, Chopin, the Police, Chitty Babu, the Gorillaz, Groove Collective, and Soul to Soul.
As to important aspects of sound to me - where do I start - I guess I want everything, so neutrality is about the most important thing.
If a system does not convey music, then however seemigly spectacular it is then I won't listen to it.
I've only had this for about a month in my system, and it does not replace anything yet.
I am not gonna say my sound changed as yet, because I need to do more back to back tests.
If money were no object I would get a Townshend Rock Reference - but they are as rare as hens teeth, so I am gonna improve this ones drive system to the fullest extent possible, and put on the best arm possible as well.
Technically I like the fact that it does not use the 'cheap' Rega bearing and uses one to Townshends own design. It is very compact and tidy. The motor is rather lousy compared to the sooth powerful and quiet motor that I have on my Amazon Model One and is something I am intending to modify either with a better power supply that gives two phase sine waves and or a better motor (desperately hoping to source the same Berger Motor as on the DPS2)
Everything one has heard about the trough is true. It is more subtle than most reviewer say, but it cleans the background and focuses everything up considerably. The bass is very deep tight and detailed - it is CD like but more musical. I reckon a a more powerful motor and better power supply will make this even better, because complex passages leading to stylus drag will be more easily overcome than by the weak motor that is currently on the deck..
treble is very clean and hash free without the sort of sibilance than can trick us into thinking that the treble is extraordinarily extended.
I am, at this stage, wondering if the Amazon Model One is gonna be more to my liking than the Townshend. I can use the same cartridge on either deck, but I cannot switch arms as i do not have a moerch armboard for the Townshend, nor a Jelco armboard for the Amazon. I understand that the Townshend, by reason of the trough is less arm dependent than decks without a trough.
Mission 774LC (like Jelco 250st)
Pickering XSV 4000
Nordost Tyr Arm Cable
Whest 0.2 phono stage
Lavardin IT Amplifier
Seismic Stand (the second air version)
DNM speaker cables
Amazon Model One
Shelter 501 mark2