The Sound of Two Threads Dancing
For my Flamenca audition I used the Ortofon 2M Black moving- magnet cartridge, Rogers High Fidelity EHF 200 Mk2 integrated amp, Endeavor E3 floorstanders, and Wireworld cables. My latest music obsession is alt-classical composer Ludovico Einaudi’s, whose In a Time Lapse is hauntingly beautiful. On the track “Experience,” Ludovico’s piano joins with violins, cellos, and a distant harp to create an amazing soundscape. While the Flamenca reproduced a bit more surface noise than other turntables I’ve heard recently, that little bit of added noise was overshadowed by the airiness with which the Flamenca presented the various instruments. The Flamenca had really great imaging, much better than what I would have expected from a $1495 turntable; the depth of the harp struck me as unusually good. Many turntables in this price range seem to put things on a thin, two-dimensional plane—like a flat, high-gloss wall. But the Flamenca dug deeper and extended the soundstage back from the speakers, creating a much more dimensional presentation.
This was definitely due to the F6’s ability to let the 2M Black do its job. Though the Flamenca was solid throughout the audio spectrum, the highs really shone, especially on James Blake’s phenomenal Overgrown. The Flamenca allowed Blake’s unique mix of electronic music and soulful multi-octave singing to come alive on the track “Retrograde,” during which he hums up and down an incredible range backed by only a simple piano. The Flamenca also seemed to reduce overemphasis of sibilants. Listening to Valerie June and her sublime half-country, half-soul debut album Pushin’ Against a Stone gave me goosebumps. Her voice on “Somebody to Love” sounded much more like it did when I heard her live than it usually does on a recording. Of course, no component sounds exactly like the real thing, but I couldn’t help closing my eyes and remembering the night I listened to her sing on stage. This is a surprisingly good turntable.
Though the highs and mids were really solid, the Flamenca lagged behind just a little bit when attempting to resolve the sophisticated bass lines of Amon Tobin’s experimental ambient album Isam. I’m not sure if this is an inherent issue with a thread-bearing tonearm, but it seemed like the Flamenca had a difficult time tracking the incredibly erratic bass lines on the track “Journeyman,” during which super-deep bass moves left and right, front and back, and even up and down. This is a torture test for even expensive turntables, so the Flamenca can be forgiven its shortcomings. But if you want to listen to any kind of music that employs electronic bass phasing and your budget is $1500, you might be better served with a good DAC. Again, this is a difficult feat for any turntable to bring off, but the F6 tonearm wasn’t as adept as the FXR-II in the low end.
This slight sluggishness in the bass department was also apparent during my favorite symphonic music, Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. The dissonant strings, the French horns, and the crash of the gong all sounded crisp, never overly bright, and very breezy, but when the thunderous rolls of the drums came rumbling in there was a bit more muddled confusion than I would have preferred.
Though the Flamenca paired with the F6 tonearm has a somewhat cumbersome setup—that is, if you want to really dial in your turntable—it excels at the highs and mids, and portrays music within a surprisingly focused and deep soundstage. Despite its slightly elevated surface noise, the ’table suffers little with vibration issues, and is a sleek design that won’t kill your budget. We can always dream of the ultra-high-end turntables, but for those of us on a Camaro budget the Funk Firm Flamenca will give your system that much needed performance boost— and for a lot less than a supercharger.
SPECS & PRICING
Motor: 33/45rpm servocontrolled DC Motor
Wow & flutter: Less than 0.15%
Dimensions: 16" x 12.5" x 4.5"
Weight: 19 lbs.
Price: $900; $1495 with F6 tonearm
PRO AUDIO LTD
111 N South Drive
Tower Lakes, IL 60051
44 (0) 1273 585042