|Music Hall MMF-2.2 LE Turntable Review|
|Home Theater Audio Sources Vinyl/LP|
|Written by Todd Whitesel|
|Tuesday, 26 October 2010|
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Last month I stopped into a large retailer with the initials “BB.” I wasn't shopping, per se, but verifying reports that among the rows of compact discs, DVDs and Blu-ray discs were dozens of new LPs. In 2010, who would have guessed that the venerable 33 rpm would enjoy a renaissance that not only includes big-box retail sales but those same establishments offering turntables among the scores of personal media players, flat panel TVs and other home theater accessories. Consumers shocked to see record players back on the shelves would do well to look beyond such stock and discover the numerous options for spinning vinyl that exist outside the strip malls.
Design & Set Up
There's an unwritten rule about turntables – the more expensive the system, the more difficult to set up. It can be very intimidating to adjust azimuth, vertical tracking angle and even install a phono cartridge if you've never done so. Unfortunately, most manuals do a poor job explaining the process. The 2.2 LE, however, offers no such challenges or education. Set up is super easy, and basically involves removing a pair of motor-transport screws, looping the belt around the pulley and the rim of the sub-platter, setting the platter on the spindle, putting the counterweight on the tonearm, setting cartridge tracking force, slipping the anti-skating weight in place and sliding the dust cover onto its hinges. Back in the true glory days of vinyl, it was a rare machine that didn't come equipped with a dust cover. As the high-end audio industry grew, though, designers went to all ends to reduce vibrations and resonances from turntables. Such zeal pretty much spelled the end for dust covers. I'm happy that the 2.2 comes with such protection, as it's too easy to leave an LP exposed to the elements and discover days later that it's coated with particles.
The tonearm comes pre-mounted with Music Hall's Tracker cartridge, a high-output moving magnet design (with replaceable elliptical stylus) that is fully aligned in the factory and ready to play music out of the box. It's important to mention that the tonearm is a substantial upgrade from 2.1 models of the past. One of the few complaints I remember in the past reading about this well-regarded entry-level predecessor was that the tonearm was rather skimpy. Music Hall went up the ladder and replaced the old-style tonearm with a more robust alloy model, the same one previously found on its MMF-5.1 turntable, which retails for hundreds more.
The alloy platter is a substantial 4.5 pounds, befitting of the 2.2 as a whole which weighs in at a solid 17 pounds. An isolated asynchronous motor with two-speed (33/45rpm) pulley keeps the platters spinning. To go from 33 to 45 rpm, simply remove the platter and loop the drive belt around the motor pulley's larger diameter rim. The process should take no more than 30 seconds. A black, felt turntable mat is included. The whole system sits on a trio of adjustable, vibration-damping feet, which makes leveling a breeze.
Ferrari Taste on a Kia Budget
Not that it influences the sound one bit, nonetheless, Music Hall gives consumers two finish options beyond the stock high-gloss piano black lacquer found on the base model. For an extra $50, you can get the 2.2 LE outfitted in white or Ferrari red finish. Both are eye-catching and turn the table (pun intended) into something that will perk up any room. Music Hall sent me a Ferrari red model. Seeing pictures of this 'table doesn't do it justice. Call me cynical, but at this price I was expecting a half-baked finish that was likely to flake from day one. Not so! The Ferrari red coating is flawless, just like you'd expect its namesake speed racer to emerge from the factory. Roy Hall, Music Hall founder, notes on Youtube, “I actually had to go to a Ferrari dealer... and get a sample of it...” Originally, the Ferrari red model was the only LE version of the MMF-2.2, but because the 'table was so well accepted Music Hall kept making and selling it, eventually offering the record player in a lustrous white finish, too.