MoFi UltraDeck Turntable. Reference at an Entry Cost

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MoFi (Mobile Fidelity) UltraDeck Turntable. Reference at an Entry Cost.

Now at True Audiophile

"We have been searching for years to find less expensive TT's that fit into budgets easier, yet provide enormous sonic benefits. Subliminally, maybe we were just waiting on Mofi. Mofi has been known worldwide for the master pressing and limited releases. They knew if they were going to present the world with a TT/cart they had to get it right. Luckily for all audiophiles out there they did" -- TA

The Absolute Sound July 2018 on the COVER: Julie Mullins reviews the Mobile Fidelity UltraDeck+ and deems it an "instant classic."

"Right from the start I was struck by the sense of presence and immediacy in the MoFi’s playback." "The UltraDeck is a smartly conceived and finely honed design that’s already earning its place as an instant classic." "These customized tables embody what Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab is known for: faithfully reproduced music for listeners at home."

Stereophile 2018 Recommended Component: MoFi Electronics UltraDeck: $1799 with tonearm
"Decades after the first Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab record comes the first MoFi record player—the UltraDeck turntable with Ultra tonearm, both made in the US and created with design input from Spiral Groove's Allen Perkins. The UltraDeck's sturdy plinth comprises three aluminum plates bonded to the top of an MDF core, and its belt-driven platter—machined from Delrin and weighing 6.8 lbs—rides on an inverted bearing. Four height-adjustable feet, designed in collaboration with Harmonic Resolution Systems (HRS), support the plinth. The Ultra tonearm has a 10" aluminum armtube, Cardas wiring, and a gimbaled bearing. According to HR, the UltraDeck, when used with MoFi's top-of-the-line moving-magnet cartridge, the MasterTracker (a $2198 package; the MasterTracker is sold separately for $699), didn't provide the "deep 'black' backgrounds or enormous sound spaces" of the considerably more expensive AMG Giro G9 player, "but it did present me with an infectious, easy-flowing, liquid vitality." According to Herb, the MoFi combo "had stronger energy, achieved bigger dynamic swings, and was more detailed than comparatively priced 'tables from VPI and Rega."

"The arm has an effective length of 10 inches. Most models on this price range are 9 inches. The extra inch is important. All pivoting arms have tracking error. The longer the arm, the more gentle the arc as the arm travels the playing surface. The more gentle the arc, the lower the tracking error. The arm height is easily adjustable as is the azumith, or left/right tilt of the cartridge when viewed from the front. The appropriate Allen keys are supplied. Additionally, the arm has bespoke wiring from Cardas from the cartridge clips to the output jacks... One last detail that probably won’t be spotted in pictures: there’s an O ring between the arm tube and the headshell to assist in isolating the stylus from unwanted vibration.

Antiskate is set by the common “weight on a string” arrangement. What is different here is that the setting isn’t determined by the tracking force, but by the weight of the cartridge being used. This actually makes perfect sense, as the weight of the cartridge combined with the “pull” of the groove will give it momentum as the stylus tracks the groove. The anti skate system provides resistance to this momentum so that the stylus tracks the record with equal force on both groove walls. It makes sense to me that the weight of the cartridge would have a larger effect than tracking force in regards to properly setting antiskate.

The square power button is a nod to Mofi’s heritage. It’s fashioned after the buttons on the big Studer professional open reel decks in their California studio...

Read more reviews in the Pro Reviews Tab

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When it comes to audiophilia, great sound starts with the source. And of all the audiophile gear out there, it’s the turntable that stands—or spins—alone as an enduring symbol for high fidelity. From the earliest turn-of-the-20th-century Victrolas and vintage portable Crosleys, to the Linn Sondeks of the hobby’s heydey, DJs’ beloved Technics SL-1200s, and today’s Acoustic Signature Invictus behemoth, in its basic design fundamentals the turntable represents high-end audio culture par excellence. I went to see a Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra performance with my audiophile dad a few weeks ago and asked for a closer look at his cufflinks. They were little chrome turntables with tiny tonearms.

My earliest musical memories mostly came from my father’s hi-fi system. Even as a wide-eyed innocent, I knew that those majestically glowing tubes on the McIntosh had plenty to do with the gorgeous and thrilling sounds coming through the speakers, and this intrigued me. Spinning records was where the magic began.

On my own kiddie record player, which might have been a Fischer-Price something or other, I remember listening to Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, along with some Disney soundtracks. When I was ten years old, my father put together a little system of my own for Christmas: a basic Audio-Technica table, a pair of little Infinity bookshelf speakers, and an Advent 300 receiver. In time, my dad taught me how to power up his hi-fi system and let me play back records on it. I handled each step, each flip of a preamp switch, each turn of an amplifier knob, with reverence. But most of all, I took care placing the needle on the record—it was that final moment of precise handling that always made me a little nervous. I’d steady my hand and hold my breath as the tonearm with mounted cartridge made its slow smooth descent, the stylus gently dropping into the groove just before silence gave way to glorious sound.

As any analog lover knows, vinyl records, both vintage and new, are back in high demand today. And with its nearly forty years of history in the record-mastering-and-pressing biz, Mobile Fidelity is certainly a star in the record business. What is new is the company’s decision to produce its own turntables to play those records back on. Since there is no shortage of well-priced offerings from the likes of Rega, Audio-Technica, Pro-Ject, etc., why make and market another one?

It turns out the idea was the brainchild of Music Direct—the parent company that owns Mobile Fidelity and a number of other hi-fi brands—and its Vice President Josh Bizar, for whom developing a turntable had been a longtime goal, as well as a logical extension of the vinyl-focused MoFi brand. (See sidebar interview with Josh.) Since its founding in 1977 (by audiophiles), Mobile Fidelity has been committed to high-fidelity recordings and to improving upon industry standards by pioneering new technologies. As an established and trusted brand, it has a lot to live up to.

Its website states, “Mobile Fidelity believes that mastering systems should be neutral and transparent. The essential idea is to unveil all the detailed musical information on the original recording without adding deterioration, coloration, or other sonic artifacts.” What better way to achieve this—and offer more to one’s customers—than to develop an analog front end that drives home this same approach?

And so a new “hardware” division of the company was born: MoFi Electronics. It was a bold move not only to venture into selling hardware but also to build a manufacturing facility to produce it in the U.S. Since a MoFi-branded turntable needed to be more than just another pretty plinth and platter, Josh Bizar and his team brought in some heavy hitters: John Schaffer, former owner of Wadia and current President of MoFi Electronics, and Allen Perkins, the illustrious turntable and tonearm designer behind the Spiral Groove brand (his $36,000 SG 1.2 turntable, reviewed in Issue 276, was named a TAS Product of the Year in 2017). Like so many inaugural projects this one was a long time coming—it has been nearly two years since the first models were announced—but it was worth the wait.

The Absolute Sound July 2018 on the COVER above: Julie Mullins reviews the Mobile Fidelity UltraDeck+ and deems it an "instant classic."

"Right from the start I was struck by the sense of presence and immediacy in the MoFi’s playback." "The UltraDeck is a smartly conceived and finely honed design that’s already earning its place as an instant classic." "These customized tables embody what Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab is known for: faithfully reproduced music for listeners at home."

Taking into account the high level of performance and engineering MoFi has achieved with the Ultradeck, I suspect they’ve got a hit on their hands. Compared to it’s likely competition, the Technics SL-1200G, Rega P6 as well as various models from Pro-Ject and Music Hall, the Ultradeck is as different as those models are from each other. Whether or not the Ultradeck is right for you will come down to what you value in a turntable.  I can assure you that the Ultradeck is here to stay." -- Vinyl Me, Please. Nels Ferre

"Coming from a musical family, I was no stranger to various reel-to-reel decks since I was very little. I know very well the sound of a 1/4" tape. So when I experienced my first needle drop with the UltraDeck and UltraTracker, what I heard was the sound that I knew too well. I won't get into surgical details of what it sounded like, but I'll mention that there was this "togetherness" that drew me into the listening. No over-exaggerated treble (and bass for that matter), plenty of detail but not over-analytical at the same time, smooth and involving, this was the sound of a well recorded master reel that I rarely experienced with a turntable before. Don't get me wrong, I know what an SME table can do, however the consistency of the UltraDeck and UltraTracker in its performance across many music genres that I have in my vinyl collection made me decide that this is my last turntable. I felt at home with this deck, and in the last several days I only turned it off overnight...Few more day in -- no more issues. Spinning nonstop and it works and sounds fantastic...The sound is getting even more enjoyable. I forgot to mention another great thing about the UltraDeck/UitraTracker combo -- it is very forgiving. The inner groves on all records sound terrific. The scratched records are very listenable. And even the bad pressings sound somewhat okay, definitely more enjoyable that with my past setups, where some cartridges cost more than my new MoFi table." -- Andrew L., Hoffman forums (a real user)

"...the UltraDeck’s lucidity and tonal addictiveness...these command the centre of the soundstage, guitars to the right and a clarinet enter and exit on cue flawlessly if your vinyl spinner’s pitch and timing are spot on...I used the UltraDeck long after I stopped taking review notes. Record after record was played on its Delrin platter totally for enjoyment, not enlightenment. I suspect fortunate buyers astute to this model’s sonic prowess will do the same and I can’t fathom a better reason to own an UltraDeck.--Stereonet/Outstanding Performance Award

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Drawing on five decades of making the world’s best-sounding records at Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab studios, focused on improving the sonic integrity of home-audio reproduction. Each product is the result of collaboration with some of the industry’s finest engineers and stems from years of studio experience. Our turntables, cartridges, and phono preamplifiers are designed to spotlight what Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab continues to do with its famous Original Master Recordings: Getting you closer to what the original artist intended.

Designed in collaboration with one of the world's foremost turntable and tonearm designers, Allen Perkins of Spiral Groove, Mobile Fidelity turntables provide uncompromising playback of your vinyl collection and maintain the high standards of Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab.

Advanced technology, user-friendly features, and unflappable design elements ensure phenomenal playback—ultimately bringing the sound of Mobile Fidelity’s famous studio into your home.

This is for the UltraTracker which is MoFi Reference. Lets look at the parts that set these Turntables apart.

PLATTER:

The intent is for the LP to have maximum content with the platter. MoFi actually listened to over 30 formulations of the DuPont Delrin to find the one that sounded the best. Yes, they found that really it does make a difference. The material we chose has a nearly identical mechanical impedance with vinyl. This means that any surface noise tends to literally get drained away through the LP and then the platter.

UltraDeck features a massive 1.3-inch Delrin® platter. The increased mass creates blacker sonic backgrounds and a lower noise floor. Delrin® is a next-generation polymer developed by Dupont. In the world of audio, Delrin's® highly crystalline structure presents a wonderful impedance match to vinyl records, effectively grounding unwanted noise and keeping it away from the stylus.The UltraDeck Platter is 6.8 lbs.

CUSTOM-DEVELOPED TONEARMS:

Custom-developed and manufactured in the USA, the 10-inch Ultra tonearm uses smooth, high-quality ball bearings for low friction in the vertical and horizontal plane so all you hear is what is in the grooves. Cardas Audio wiring maintains signal purity from the headshell leads all the way through to the high-quality, gold-plated RCA connectors. These are not your Daddy's 9" arms. These are 10" arms for better tracking.

STEEL AND TEFLON INVERTED BEARING:

MoFi steel inverted bearing system is designed for smooth, quiet rotational stability. The extremely low tolerance combination of steel, bronze, and teflon—found in much more expensive turntables—will provide you many years of high-performance playback. 

ISOLATED MOTOR: 

MoFi 300 RPM stepped-pulley AC motor provides excellent speed stability for pitch accuracy and rhythmic drive. The Delrin® pulley has two positions for 33 1/3 and 45 RPM speed selection. Motor vibrations are kept away from the platter and stylus by using advanced dampening materials that decouple the motor from the rest of the turntable.

CONSTRAINED LAYER DAMPENING

UltraDeck features an aluminum plate carefully bonded to an MDF body to add mass and eliminate tonal coloration, maintaining the true sound found on the record.

ANTI-VIBRATION FEET BY HRS

Any vibration of the stylus that is not created by the grooves in the record is a distortion that will mask musical detail. Developed in conjunction with the engineering team at Harmonic Resolution Systems, the world leader in vibration isolation for audio equipment, the included MoFi anti-vibration feet isolate your turntable from bad vibrations.

Here's a quick guide to what the UltraDeck has over the StudioDeck:

  • The tonearms look identical but there are some differences:
    • The Ultra has better bearings for less friction in both the horizontal and the vertical planes. Less friction equals better tracking.
    • Cardas wiring is used internally in the Ultra arm.
    • The Ultra arm has a special internal damping material to make it even less resonant.
  • The platter is much beefier on the Ultra. This is important in the design since the material chosen (a unique formulation of Delrin) has the same mechanical impedance as the vinyl that LP’s are made from. You'll see mentioned in most any review of either table how quiet they are. Surface noise is much less apparent than on competing designs. The reason is that the platter literally drains away surface noise. The larger platter on the Ultra does so even more effectively. More mass also equals a more stable rotation.
  • The Ultra also makes more comprehensive use of what we call Constrained Layer Damping. This is the combination of the aluminum top plates mated to the wood (MDF) base. It makes the Ultra a more stable and inert chassis for the entire unit to rest on.
  • The cartridge is a significant upgrade (a $300 retail difference). While the Studio cartridge is extremely good for it’s price range, upgrading to the Ultra represents a clearly audible benefit.
  • The Ultra has gold-plated output connections.
  • The headshell is aluminum.

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SPECIFICATIONS

Motor
300 RPM AC Synchronous

Speeds
33 1/3 RPM, 45.0 RPM

Platter
6.8 lb Delrin®

Wow & Flutter
0.017% – 0.025%

Signal-To-Noise Ratio
74dB

Power Supply Requirements
120V 60Hz, 220-230V 50Hz, 100V 50Hz

Power Consumption
< 5W

Dimensions
19.69" x 6" x 14.25"

Weight
23.1 lb

TONEARM SPECIFICATIONS

Type
10" straight aluminum, gimbaled bearing

Overhang
0.71" (18mm)

Offset Angle
22.8˚ (+/- 2˚ adjustable)

Cartridge Weight Range
5g – 10g

FEATURES

• 33-1/3 / 45.0 RPM belt drive turntable

• Custom design and manufactured in the USA

• 10-inch MoFi Ultra Tonearm

• 1.3-inch Delrin® platter

• Isolated 300 RPM AC synchronous motor

• Anti-Vibration feet designed by HRS

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Optional Cartridge

UltraTracker Cartridge

  • V-Twin dual-magnet generator
  • Nude Elliptical stylus
  • Well-damped billet aluminum body
  • 3.5mV output

MoFi cartridges are designed by looking at where a record starts: On a cutting lathe like the model used at Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab. UltraTracker features a V-Twin dual-magnet generator that mirrors the layout of the cutting head that originally makes a record’s grooves. Employing two low-mass, powerful magnets aligned in a V formation parallel with the record grooves, UltraTracker features excellent tracking ability.

WELL-DAMPED BILLET ALUMINUM BODY

The well-damped billet aluminum body controls resonances for tight, accurate bass reproduction. UltraTracker delivers finely tuned wide-bandwidth audio, with extension at both frequency extremes and no smearing of detail.

NUDE-ELLIPTICAL DIAMOND STYLUS

By using a nude-elliptical diamond stylus, UltraTracker easily tracks complex dynamic passages. You’ll hear superb detail and experience musical emotionalism that will send shivers down your spine.

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MoFi UltraDeck Turntable with Included Dust Cover. At True Audiophile.

Products Reviews

5/5
Written by Alex Ganum on 11th Mar 2018

Downright stunning

The new MoFi Ultradeck is incredible. I was immediately impressed with the unit, from the proper packaging and quality materials to the sound, which was killer out of the box. After a short break-in period it has developed into a such a wonderful turntable that I can't stop listening to records, pulling out old albums and experiencing them in ways I never imagined. My taste, like most people, runs a large range - folk, jazz, afro/latin, orchestral, modern, and everything I've been playing is blowing my mind. I can't recommend the Ultradeck enough, if anything the only drawback is that if you have other turntables you'll want to replace them too! Also, the experience with True Audiophile has been top notch; they're now my go-to for all audio needs.

Width: 35.00
Height: 20.00
Depth: 35.00