A phone call to Origin Live resulted in a revised motor unit being sent. With this in place, the Calypso sounded far more stable. The new motor made a big difference, and reduced the problem by a significant degree. There was still the odd ‘twinge’ now and then, but overall things sounded noticeably more secure. Analogue LP is never going to be as pitch-perfect as digital CD, and you have to accept that. But, with a good deck, it can be extremely good. Incidentally, my wife (who used to be a professional musician and has a good ear) could not detect any speed variation, and halfsuggested I was imagining it!
She did, however, notice the various strengths of the Calypso, and pointed out (more than once) how much better it sounded than CD – and even SACD come to that. I have to agree. Using Transfiguration’s Temper W cartridge, I was consistently entranced by the combination of crisp fine detail, and smooth relaxed ease. The bass sounded very full yet clear, and bass lines have weight and power, while retaining plenty of articulation. A good source component always gives the impression that instruments and voices are separate and individual – able to do their own thing, without being affected by other voices and instruments.
The Calypso sounded very cohesive and ‘together’. Voices and instruments were kept well separated and retained their individuality, but it always sounded like everyone was playing together. It wasn’t like the music was being pulled apart and split into different unrelated sections. Surface noise is very low, and the Calypso gives quiet inky-black backgrounds.
Sound quality is a relative (rather than an absolute) thing. It’s all about having your expectations fulfilled, rather than achieving an arbitrary standard. Certainly, while listening to the Origin Live at its best I thought, “It doesn’t get much better than this.” But that’s a dangerous thing to say, given that the Calypso isn’t even OL’s top model.
Indeed, I’d actually be slightly worried about having a turntable that did sound significantly better than this. It might mean I no longer wanted to listen to CD or SACD ever again. And that would never do…