With the addition of those little dashpots it seems, the deck now has some pep in its step. What I find majorly attractive about the Mk VI is just how easy music flows now. The Delos is an honest but big cartridge, which could become ‘twitchy’ in too free a system, but sings like dream here. It’s tamed perfectly here though; the richness of the Oracle presentation is no longer ‘soft’ but ‘creamy’. Transients are tight and precise, but the sound seduces and draws you in.
The presentation is kind of like listening to Orb records, and the U.F.Orb album did get an airing through this player. Music is portrayed sumptuously, with a big soundstage and effortless dynamic range. Those who love the Well-Tempered sound, but would like something a bit more ‘full-fat’ will love what Oracle does to the music. It still has the temporal precision and focus of the likes of W-T, but the Oracle adds some meat to the bones in the process.
What the Oracle brings to the party is an absence of noise floor. It’s a little like your records have been cleaned that bit deeper, but I could have sworn my already-quiet Mo-Fi version of Beck’s Sea Change got even quieter, and those albums that sound like frying bacon, seemed to let the surface noise ‘float’ over a quieter underpinning. It sounds like navel gazing of the first water, but when you listen to the Oracle, you realise there is a subtle, but important, difference between ‘silence’ and ‘absence of noise’. And, the Oracle trades in silence, the rarer of the two.
OK, let’s put the Oracle into some perspective. This is a ‘spendy’ deck; not in the Kuzma XL4/Continuum field of expenditure, but it’s up there with mid-spec Linn LP12s, Brinkmanns, Clearaudios, SMEs, Avid and VPI models. And it sits comfortably in among such vaulted company on both sonic and build-quality standing. It doesn’t wipe out the competition, but nor does the opposition crush the Canadian deck. You pays your money, and takes your choice… and if your choice is a sound that is rich and enveloping but one stays just the right side of ‘lush’, that choice is likely the Oracle Delphi VI.
In fact, the manual is the deck’s biggest stumbling block now. It reminds me of a line from a classic slice of 1970s British comedy – “I’m playing all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order” – because all the information needed to get a superb sound from the Delphi VI is in the instruction manual, you just need to throw the pages up in the air a few times and hope they end up reassembling themselves the right way round. Given that an increasing number of turntables today will be set-up and installed by the end user, the manual needs a re-shuffle, or even a re-write.
We live in a world of planned obsolescence, of product life cycles measured in months. A typical computer part might stay on the shelves as long as a pot of yoghurt these days. Which makes a deck with staying power like the Oracle all the more exciting. It’s been around for decades. It will be around for decades more. But the changes made to bring it to Mark VI show its not simply preserved in aspic. The deck is just as viable in 2012 as it was in 1979 thanks to a series of upgrades and improvements that keep it sounding as good as it looks.
Speeds: 33/45rpm (controlled from stalks on subchassis), fine tune speed control on separate power supply, or optional Turbo power supply
Suspension: Tripedal mounting, each tower featuring seven mechanical filters
Motor drive electronics and drive belt: AC synchronous motor, dual current drive circuitry. Molded belt.
Record / Platter mass: 4kg
Record surface: hard acrylic Subchassis: brushed aluminum with a clear lacquer-coat.
Plinth: Clear Acrylic. An optional Black Granite plinth is available for an extra charge.
Dimensions (WxDxH): 47.5x36.3x15cm
Weight: 16kg (acrylic base, as tested)
Price (as tested): £8,595-£10,895 (excl. tonearm and cartridge)
Manufactured by: Oracle Audio
Distributed by: Coherent Systems
Tel: 0845 5191833 (UK only)