This characteristic makes for highly detailed soundscapes but not always relaxed or exceptionally fine ones. Spatial relationships are well defined in terms of the outlines but are not as fleshed out as they would be with a warmer sounding turntable. I am inclined to point my finger at the ‘hard damping’ along with the fact that the arm base can only be tightened by hand – there are no flats for a spanner. There is little in the way of real damping so perhaps a slightly looser arm coupling is to be preferred.
Moving over to a Linn Adikt MM cartridge seemed to ameliorate this quality a little even though the cartridge has a stiffer (less compliant) suspension. This set-up proved surprisingly subtle and revealing with solid highs and reasonable if not spectacular timing. It certainly encouraged me to force more LPs over the beefy centre pin and only a few of these revealed slight fluctuations in speed, those with sustained notes from piano for instance. Next to CD the Droplet adds a shine to piano and the usual ‘air’ of the vinyl medium as well as the groove powered fun factor that makes record players so enjoyable.
With the more luxuriant records it is apparent that some of the depth and body of the sound is missing. Rickie Lee Jones’ Flying Cowboys usually sounds as if the plush filter has been applied in the studio, but here all that expensive hardware seems to have little effect. You can hear right into the mix however, which makes up for a lot and is certainly on par with the asking price.
The Droplet does appreciate a well-isolated support. Moving it to a Townshend Seismic Stand brought about a dramatic tightening of the bass and the delivery of a far more complete sonic picture. The extra height of this stand also let me see the belt gradually ride up the platter edge and then drop down every ten seconds or so, something I couldn’t see a reason for unless the motor doesn’t sit quite upright on its padded feet. The Consonance Droplet LP3.1 sounds remarkably good and offers excellent material quality for the asking price. There is a tendency to emphasise detail that doesn’t help worn vinyl, but with a smooth enough cartridge this could easily be balanced out. While we had a couple of glitches with the ST 100 arm, these were readily sorted out. It is remarkably well finished and nice to use, which in many ways sums up the turntable as a whole. The Droplet LP3.1 is a good value addition to the growing ranks of affordable turntables.