26
Jun
11

Dr Feickert Woodpecker turntable

If you have mistaken Dr Feickert sounds like some funky rap star (especially in the hifi trade!), you might like to know there is a real Dr Feickert and he has a real PHD in physics and mathematics. Dr Feickert hails from Germany where some of the most distinguished turntable designs are grabbing headlines in the audio industry. That means there is a lot of competition and competition is good – we get better turntables at competitive prices.

The Woodpecker is Dr Feickert’s entry level turntable (S$5000 for the turntable only), the clean execution of the design bodes well in the aesthetic department – brushed aluminum plate sandwich on the multi-layered laminate plinth with a Delrin surround, thick Delrin platter with a Delrin clamp and Delrin tonearm base. The inverted stainless steel bearing assembly is greased (instead of using thin mineral oil).

Dr Feickert offers two tonearms – a 9-inch and a 10.5-inch. Of course you can mount any arm as long it fits the arm board cutout – The Woodpecker arm cutout offers quite an extensive range to suit all save a few of the longest of arms (that means most of the 12-inchers could fit – check with your Dr Feickert dealer). The motor drive system is obviously belt driven with a DC motor; a small wall plug power supply is standard supply. A dust cover is not supplied. Speed change is effected with soft rubber buttons on the left side of the plinth with a hole to allow a thin screwdriver to make slight speed changes, if required at all. Although there are three buttons – 33, ?? and 45, the ‘unknown’ button is said to be for future use. What future use, Dr Feickert isn’t telling at the moment.

Like most modern turntables, the motor is not suspended from the chassis, nor is there a suspension to isolate the turntable. Knowing audiophiles who pay for a high-end turntable to have a proper isolated shelf for the turntable, the latter band-aid is rendered a non-issue. However mounting the motor directly onto the plinth can only be effected if the motor – has some form of housing for vibration absorption or is of a low vibration variety. The Woodpecker chooses the former as it has a high torque motor. When the motor is running – with or without load, you can place your fingers on the plinth right next to the motor and you will not feel any motor vibration.

The Woodpecker is tested with an Ortofon RS-212-D 9-inch tonearm (S$ xxxxxx) and an Ortofon Cadenza Blue (S$2100) MC cartridge. Phonostage is the Lehmann Black Cube SE2. The Ortofon RS-212 and its 12-inch equivalent, the RS-309-D (S$2850) comes with a low slung counterweight and dynamic tracking – the tracking force is effected by a spring which offers more stable tracking over warps and hence the benefit of the low slung counterweight which also adds stability by putting the center of gravity of the counterweight in line with the cartridge (instead of the arm tube for normal arm counterweights). Better tracking enables the arm to preserve the dynamics picked up by a high-energy cartridge (like most if not all moving coil cartridges).

The Ortofon Cadenza Blue is part of the Cadenza family of moving coil cartridges of which starts off with the Black, then the Bronze, Blue and the Red. The Cadenza Black (S$xxxx) uses the famous Shibata Stylus with a Boron cantilever, the Cadenza Bronze (S$xxxx) uses what Ortofon calls a ‘Replicant’ stylus with a tubular aluminum cantilever, the Cadenza Blue comes with an ultra fine line stylus and a thin solid ruby cantilever, finally the Cadenza Red (S$xxxx) uses a fine line stylus on a tubular aluminum cantilever. Essentially, the Cadenza series offers an identical engine in an aluminum/steel body but the stylus and cantilever options allow for a different sound for different systems or preferences. There is even a mono version, the Cadenza Mono for collectors of mono LPs. At just over 10 gms, the Ortofon Cadenzas is a tad heavier than most cartridges but not in the unmanageable territory yet. Recommended tracking force is between 2.2 – 2.7 gms which is typical for low compliance moving coil cartridges. Output level of the Cadenza Blue is high at 0.5mV and recommended cartridge loading is from 50 ohms.

Turntables in this price range offer the first significant upgrade path from entry-level turntables like the Regas and Projects. While these entry-level turntables offer exceptional value for money, there is only so much a simple design can do. Essentially a turntable is the foundation of the system and being its foundation, it needs an element of integrity to ‘ground’ the system.

The Woodpecker is in every respect, an effective upgrade – the soundstage is of a bigger scale, the instruments and especially voices fleshed out tonally with more body, kick drums have more impact and weight, deep bass becomes more apparent and effortless. The speed stability of the Woodpecker is impeccable, especially in the low bass region, this turntable system is able to sustain notes and offers superior definition of the bass instruments, the usual bugbear of lesser turntables. The sound is more effortless, naturally detailed and most important, it can generate a more dimensional soundstage. You get a good sense of layering of the instruments, the relationship of the position of the instruments as it suspends in the space between the speakers gives the listener the correct perspective of the performance. Awesome!

At no point of time am I intimidated with a lean or overtly dry sound, the Woodpecker/Ortofon combination seems like a match made in heaven – neither lean nor overly bloated. The silence of the background is another hallmark of a well-designed turntable. The fine line stylus and ruby cantilever of the Cadenza Blue though on paper, should veer towards a more detailed sound, it just isn’t so. Here it sounds impeccably balanced in this system, no exaggeration yet detailed.

The Woodpecker is worthy member within the ranks of the High End Turntable fraternity, irrespective of price. It performs with distinction, well build and asking for a very affordable price – the engineering is beyond reproach, the laminated chassis design is well documented for its inherent self damping qualities, here it works a treat. I can only add – the Woodpecker is one turntable that not only sounds superb but also a beautiful piece of engineering – at a price anyone can afford.

This article is contributed by Terence Wong from MOD AV magazine.

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