September 21, 2017
Pros: Musicality, ease of use, appearance, quick set-up, feature count
Cons: Tonearm bearings, lightweight bass, treble roll-off, midrange stridency
Verdict: A good looking, easy to use deck that suffers from sonic issues, but remains a fun turntable to use and listen to. Ideal for beginners.
Most people interested in hi-fi technology will know Roberts as producers of quality radios. We won’t be going in that direction with this review, because the company is celebrating its 85th birthday with the release of a new turntable.
The turntable itself has not been produced by Roberts, though. It’s a Chinese OEM model. This is somewhat understandable. To produce a unique turntable would cost Roberts an absolute fortune in terms of new CNC machines, jigs, software, templates and other machinery. Nevertheless, go into this one with your eyes open.
Those who do will notice the straight arm which has populated DJ decks from the likes of Denon and Numark, while the turntable itself looks very similar to the Lenco L-90, thus nailing its Chinese origins.
In terms of features, the RT100 includes a built-in phono amp, which is useful if you want to plug into powered speakers or an amp. A free phono amp also helps you in budget terms. There’s a USB port to allow you to ‘rip’ vinyl to your computer via the included Audacity software. It also includes a switchable semi-automatic feature that lifts the tonearm off the record at the end of play and returns it to the cradle.
Other features include an aluminium platter with thick rubber mat, a very presentable plinth covered in wood veneer, a rear-mounted power switch, dual speed selector on the top of the plinth and a removable headshell at the end of the tonearm sporting an Audio-Technica AT-3600L. Its stylus is a conical design so do yourself a favour and upgrade to a cartridge with an elliptical stylus as soon as possible to enhance sound quality.
In sound quality terms, the internally fitted phono amplifier is reasonable and works fine but does restrict sound quality somewhat over all frequencies, specifically in terms of detail and clarity. Upgrade to an external model when you can.
Plugged into an external phono amplifier, jazz music offers a broad and quite spacious sound stage with admirable detail on offer, although the midrange is rather strident, treble rolls off as dynamic reach is limited, while bass is rather slender and lacking heft.
The RT100 much prefers rock music to jazz. Freed of the requirement to offer precision and accuracy, the RT100 is one fun turntable, offering a rollicking good time in terms of punchy bass and a sense of emotion during full on vocals, with vigour and energy throughout.
Yes, there are build and sonic issues, especially when precision and focus is required, but the RT100 is brimming with musicality. In fact, it’s a real party animal and an ideal turntable for the raw beginner.