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Cambridge Audio Alva TT V2: One Minute Review
The Cambridge Audio Alva TT V2 is the updated version of a turntable that caused a stir when it was launched; finally, here is a high-end turntable that wanted to offer more comfort than normal. Specifically, wireless streaming, and high-resolution wireless streaming. The acclaim was immediate and more or less universal.
So Cambridge is back with a new, more expensive and slightly updated Alva TT: the V2. Its integrated phono stage is now switchable. It has a new arm and a new cartridge. The price has gone up a bit. But the V2 retains the quality of construction of the chest-fort of the bank of origin, the intelligence of diffusion sans fil haute résolution aptX HD et l'air général d'une solidité profonde qui en ont fait l'une des meilleures platines of the moment.
It also retains much of the sound accents of the original. The Alva TT V2 is a deft, smooth and insightful listen, a bit short on dynamic range but very long on detail recovery, tonal balance and generously engaging sound.
Yes, that kind of money can buy a tighter sonic attitude and more dynamic headroom at the same time. What you won't buy is better build quality, more mid-range fidelity, as much comfort, or the ability to listen directly to the best wireless headphones. So, even more than usual in these pages, you have to make a value judgment.
- Cambridge Audio Alva TT v2 on World Wide Stereo for €1999 (opens in a new tab)
Cambridge Audio Alva TT V2: price and release date
- €1,999 / €1,699 / AU$3,699
- Released in May 2022
The Cambridge Audio Alva TT V2 turntable was released in Spring 2022 and is officially priced at €1,999 / £1,699 / AU$3,699. Do not expect to find it with many discounts either.
That's a lot of money for a turntable, and it's the kind of money that highlights a number of high-profile alternatives. Anyone from Clearaudio and Rega in Europe, Technics in Japan, and VPI in the US will be happy to sell you a turntable for that kind of money with high-end audio credentials, though not as widely specified, of course. Actually, let's take a look at the features now.
Naturally, you can use the Cambridge Audio Alva TT V2 with or without a dust cover. (Image credit: Future)
Cambridge Audio Alva TT V2: Design and Features
- aptX HD 24-bit/48 kHz wireless transmission
- Integrated switchable phono stage
- Direct drive operation
When it comes to actual 'design', nothing about the Cambridge Audio Alva TT v2 will shock or surprise you. This record player is designed to look like a record player, although it is well built and finished, and as such will never be an interior designer's favorite item.
However, that's not to say that it doesn't look good, or that it doesn't look a lot like the outgoing Alva TT. A heavyweight chassis with a smooth finish is topped with a touch-sensitive aluminum plinth with a perforated 'Cambridge' logo in one corner and three buttons ('on/off', '33.3' and '45') neatly recessed into the back. other. Everything is covered with a hinged, smoked plastic dust cover.
Above the plinth is an extremely heavy polyoxymethylene platter and, on one side, a completely new tonearm design. For this V2 model, the tonearm now features anti-skate adjustment, as well as counterweight adjustment and a removable pickup head for easy cartridge replacement. Of course, it's pre-installed with a cartridge - a high-performance Cambridge Audio moving-coil option with a replacement cost (according to the brand's website) of €499.
Inside, the Alva TT v2 uses a direct drive mechanism to spin that big platter, but it's not a DJ-focused turntable to hook up to a mixer. Cambridge Audio says that the best way to ensure rotational stability is to specify a mid-torque direct drive motor along with a high-density platter. That's the thing about this turntable, and while it takes a spin or two longer than expected to get up to speed, once it's there, it's unflinching.
At the rear of the chassis there are a number of interesting elements. There's a power input and a pair of stereo RCA analog outputs for connection to an amplifier, which are par for the course.
There's also a switch for the built-in phono stage - this circuit is based heavily on the well-received Alva Duo stand-alone phono stage that Cambridge Audio introduced some time ago and, unlike the original Alva TT, is optional. Turn it on and the V2 outputs at a line level any amp can drive; turn it off and the signal should be amplified by an amplifier's onboard preamp circuit or by an external phono stage.
So if the owner's system already includes enough amplification, it's possible to compare the V2's built-in amplification to that of the system you're playing on and make a decision based on perceived sound quality. This is an improvement over the original Alva TT, whose "always on" phono setting seemed a bit unnecessary.
There's also a switch to enable or disable Bluetooth connectivity, as well as a button to start Bluetooth pairing. Unlike most Bluetooth-equipped turntables, which are typically entry-level devices that prioritize convenience above all else, the Alva TT V2 is dead serious when it comes to wireless streaming. Therefore, it is specified to support the aptX HD Bluetooth codec and can stream at genuine 24-bit/48kHz resolution.
Which means if you want a turntable that can be placed where you want, rather than where you insist on being, and deliver audio products wirelessly, well… Cambridge Audio is still the only game in town.
You get a very high quality (and expensive) cartridge included in the box with the Cambridge Audio Alva TT V2. (Image credit: Future)
Cambridge Audio Alva TT V2: Audio Performance
- Articulate and impressive wireless performance
- Built-in high-performance phono stage
- It lacks a bit of dynamism and positivity.
Unlike most turntables, there are three ways to listen to the Alva TT V2: connected to an amplifier with phono boost enabled; the same but with the phono stage off; and wirelessly via Bluetooth.
And while there are some pretty obvious differences in the way Cambridge presents its vinyl, its fundamental attitude doesn't change no matter which way you decide to listen to it. In all circumstances, it's a calm, insightful, and captivating listen, and as long as you (and your music) aren't permanently in "party mode." the mode is satisfactory listening.
That it sounds better wired than when streaming wirelessly shouldn't surprise anyone. However, what is quite surprising is how good the Alva TT V2 sounds when streaming via Bluetooth.
Featuring a heavy reissue of Miles Davis' Kind of Blue rotation and streaming from the turntable to a Naim Uniti Star transmitter/amplifier while physically connected to power only, the Cambridge sounds full, detailed and quite eloquent. More than enough detail is preserved to make the nuances of the musicians' techniques apparent, and enough control over the entire frequency range to make the recording sound like a performance. Bass is deep and snappy, highs are acceptably crisp, and mids communicate unambiguously.
The soundstage is reasonably well organized and fairly spacious, and there's never a chance that one element of the recording will intrude into another's space. Low-level dynamic perception is also good: a recording like this is alive with minor harmonic variations, and the Alva TT V2 is very alert to them.
It's not quite as successful when it comes to the wider dynamic peaks and valleys of a recording - it's not as if the Cambridge sounds flat or works on a single level, but the dynamic ebbs and flows of a recording aren't as fully expressed as They can be.
Our Naim has no phono amplification, so the Cambridge is connected first with its internal amplification turned on, then via a separate Chord Huei phono stage with the Alva TT V2's amplification turned off. The performance differences, it must be said, are quite predictable.
Using its own built-in amplification, Cambridge gains a degree of positivity over its wireless sound. It's still a smooth and detailed listen, but the bass gains a bit of snap when it comes to attack and decay, while the treble is also a bit more assertive. It's just a more professional way of listening, even if the TT V2's overall sound signature is very similar. When connected, it's a bit faster.
In fact, the internal amplification is comparable to the Alva Duo phono stage on which it is heavily based, which is unequivocally a good thing. Unsurprisingly, though, it's no match for the more expensive Chord Huei phono stage, and while Chord is disproportionately expensive in the context of the rest of this system, it allows Cambridge to fully demonstrate as much of what it's capable of as it does. of its limits. are. .
The low-frequency formation is intensified again when listening in this way. Rhythmic expression becomes more confident, retrieval of transient details and unity improves, the unity of the individual elements of a recording seems more natural and instinctive than before. Even an over-specced phono stage can't help the Alva TT V2's slight lack of dynamic power, nor gain greater directionality from its overall performance.
The Cambridge Audio Alva TT V2 connection label is backwards, by the time you lean over the top, see? (Image credit: Future)
Should I buy the Cambridge Audio Alva TT V2?
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