April 11, 2017
Pros: Feature-laden, automatic operation, included phono amp and USB, musicality
Cons: Unfocused midrange, bloomy bass, build
Verdict: Offers good value for money with reasonable sound quality plus that attractive automatic operation that beginners will love.
Unusually, this Eastern-built turntable has not been built in Hanpin, Taiwan, like a lot of other turntables of its ilk but in China which, I’m sure, has further enhanced the price and value of the design. A two-speed model, the plug-and-go Dual gives you plenty for your money including a dust cover, an arm plus an Audio-Technica cartridge: the AT3600 with a conical stylus placed within a removable, bayonet headshell. It’s not the best cartridge to extract detail, it has to be said, but a worthy budget model, nevertheless.
You also get a built-in phono amp, which will help many a budget (an external phono amp upgrade is recommended at the earliest opportunity) plus a USB port for digitising purposes. A featured disc including the popular and easy to use Audacity software further aids that service.
The star of the show, though, is the deck’s automatic operation. Controlled by the Start and Stop buttons on the front of the plinth, pressing Start raises the arm to rest it at the beginning of the record. Pressing Stop at any time, raises the arm again to return it to the arm cradle. Also, when the record is finished, the arm will automatically raise and return. The process is accurate and faultless. While we’re on the subject, I was rather disappointed not to see a secure latch on the cradle, to prevent accidental arm knocks that can inadvertently cause damage to the stylus.
To aid the correct positioning of the arm, you have a record sizing switch placed on the top of the plinth that flips between 7” and 12” records (although here it irritatingly offers 17cm and 30cm as size options, which is just not romantic at all).
One note of caution, the included cartridge performs at a groove ploughing 3-3.5g downforce. You will find that it runs fine at 2.5g, though. Which will extend the lives of your records.
Build quality is relatively cheap and tacky yet basically solid in use. Understandable, though because you have to weigh the large feature count with the price.
In sonic terms, the upper midrange area, the place were fine detail tends to live, was rather unfocused, smearing all over the soundstage while the bass was rather blurry, wooly and bloomy. That said, these points were made while carefully comparing the Dual to a Rega RP1. Listened to in isolation, the Dual sounds fun and very musical. If you can listen to the deck without being too analytical, the performance is both tuneful and pleasurable with an overall good natured and good hearted presentation.
It’s easy to be hard on the Dual, in terms of sound quality but you really need to look at the entire package rather than fixate on sonics. Combine decent sound quality with a host of solid features and that superb automatic operation and you’ve got quite a value package. A great option for vinyl beginners.