Elac is famed among the general public and audiophiles for its High-Fidelity loudspeakers. Before venturing into acoustics in the late 90's, the German firm was a turntable specialist. In fact, the first turntables were produced in 1946! The first Miracord models were marketed in the mid 50's!
To celebrate its 90th anniversary, though 90 years ago the brand worked on radar and sonar waves rather than audio, Elac has developed an anniversary turntable: the Miracord 90. We couldn't wait to receive and unpack this already iconic vinyl turntable!
The packaging is quite impressive! Its design and efficiency are legendary. The turntable has a soft Plexiglas cover that only seems used to protect it in its box. It could probably be used as a dust cover! When you lift the turntable out of its packaging, you'll be amazed by its build quality and finish, irrespective of the finish option you opt for. Elac markets it as standard in 3 colours: oily walnut with black base, glossy black with silver base, glossy white with black base. You can also order it in the finish of your choice (RAL colour reference) for an extra 20%.
The MDF plinth has an acrylic top plate or a walnut plating with an aluminium strip. It weighs 5.5 kg and rests on four silicone pads, specifically developed to fully isolate the vinyl turntable from the surface on which it rests. The platter is milled in a 6.2 kg aluminium block. It rests on a hub with a tempered steel spindle and a bronze housing. The spindle rests on an 8 mm ruby ball bearing that minimises noise and friction. Four TPE spikes are lodged inside the hub to ward off any unwanted resonance.
The motor is housed in the front left-hand side of the turntable. It is fully isolated from the chassis by a spider and rubber seal, similar to what is found in speakers… which is actually not surprising for an Elac! The motor is powered by a regulation and control board. It runs on 18V via an external DC power supply. The platter is driven by a rubber belt. A switch selects the rotation speed to 33 and 45 operation and adjusts it to plus or minus 5%.
Elac has developed a straight 9-inch carbon fibre tonearm. Underneath the understated design lies great efficiency. The tracking force, height (VTA) and azimuth are naturally adjustable (with a gauge). The anti-skate is applied using a traditional small weight suspended to a nylon thread. The tonearm is factory-fitted with a moving magnet cartridge produced in Japan by Audio Technica for Elac. As far as we can tell (to be confirmed?!), this MM cartridge is very similar to Audio Technica's VM 540 cartridge. Though its tracking force is slightly inferior, it has the same generator and MicroLine stylus. This phono cartridge is definitely not a low-end product. Though this turntable deserves better, and certainly an MC cartridge (like the Hana's SL MC cartridge or Ortofon's Quintet Black S MC cartridge), the cartridge that comes with it yields great results. The Elac Miracord 90 comes with a good (rare) non captive phono cable terminated with RCA connectors and a ground cable with spades.
Let's not beat about the bush: this Elac Miracord 90 turntable ranks among the 2 or 3 gems we came across earlier this year! And these gems tend to come from Germany…
From the first few minutes, you know what you're in for! Reproduction is punchy and physical. The Miracord 90 has extremely short transient cues, without any over-exaggeration. It is very swift and subtle when necessary. With string sections, we were amazed by the level of detail and subtleness this turntable can produce, even with the small factory-fitted MM cartridge. We were tempted to replace it with a mid-level MC cartridge… And the first few bars speak books! It has the weight in the notes with greater subtleness and mighty precision. In terms of dynamics and timing, it beats its competitors by a mile. The perfectly timed tempo is amazingly authentic with percussions. It also has this distinctive feature in the bottom of the spectrum and particularly on double bass sections and pipe organ foot pedals. It also exhibits a great and very analogue timbre in the noble sense of the word.
We are still wondering how they managed to market such a package at this price. The extensive industrial resources invested by Elac are certainly an explanation, but competitors should brace themselves…
An undeniable success! Our top pick!
Stereoplay – Highlight - 2017 Franck
Power supply: external DC
Spindle/bearing: brass with ruby ball bearing
Plinth: MDF 5.5 kg
Platter: damped 6.2 kg aluminium
Platter mat: felt
Speeds: 33 and 45 rpm
Pitch: +/- 5%
Tonearm: 9 inches, carbon fibre
Cable: phono with RCA connectors
Motor: DC dual isolation
Finish options: black on white, white on black, wood on black
Special finish upon request
Dimensions: 170 x 470 x 360 mm
Weight: 17.1 kg
Audio Technica MM cartridge
Output: 2.2 - 4.9 mV
Frequency response: 20 to 25 000 Hz.
Tracking force: 1.4 g (+/- 0.4 g)