Raw Power: VPI Nomad

If you love the smell of vinyl in the morning, then the turntable/record deck is arguably the most important piece of your hi-fi system.

It’s also the simplest to understand. With little in the way of electronic goings-on to speak of under the bonnet, all it really does when performing perfectly is go round and round at exactly the same precise speed, relentlessly, with the elegant celestial simplicity of the Sun orbiting the Earth. [Er, our Science Ed is on holiday right now, in a galaxy far, far away, but that orbiting bit doesn’t sound right to me… Ed.] And – it’s usually driven by something as simple as a rubber band!

“But up to now all my music is either on my phone or streamed,” you sulk, “so if I buy a deck I’ll also need an amp and speakers – a hi-fi system.”

Not any more, sister. What we have with US company VPI’s Nomad is (as far as we know) the only ‘take it out of the box, plug it in and play’ high-end turntable. With a built-in amplifier, all you need in order to groove to the grooves is a pair of head-/earphones. And because it isn’t hooked up to a ‘system’, you can listen where you want to. If you’re spinning a bit of Back In Black in the room with the TV and your flatmate/brother/sister/mum and dad come home with a Fifty Shades Of Grey Blu-ray and ask you nicely to piss off somewhere else, no problem. Take it from room to room, take it to work, take it to the pub (poseur)… take it anywhere you can plug it into a wall socket. It also has RCA connections for hooking it up to a separate amp.

And don’t be misled by the no-frills looks of this portable wheel of steel. Designed and built in the US, with a bespoke built-in amp, gimbal-bearing tonearm, preset tracking and fitted with an Ortofon 2M Red cartridge (the latter a serious bit of kit), the Nomad is, according to the hi-fi reviewer types for whom happiness is a warm component-performance spreadsheet, bloody rockin’, delivering the kind of sound you might have heard if you’d been there when the music was recorded.

Of course, once you do get decked out, you’ll be needing some tasty 12-inch vinyl platters to play on it. What to buy? Easy: check out last month’s vinyl issue.

£795, www.renaissanceaudio.co.uk

Paul Henderson

Classic Rock’s production editor for the past 22 years, ‘resting’ bass player Paul has been writing for magazines and newspapers, mainly about music, since the mid-80s, contributing to titles including Q, The Times, Music Week, Prog, Billboard, Metal Hammer, Kerrang! and International Musician. He has also written questions for several BBC TV quiz shows. Of the many people he’s interviewed, his favourite interviewee is former Led Zep manager Peter Grant. If you ever want to talk the night away about Ginger Baker, in particular the sound of his drums (“That fourteen-inch Leedy snare, man!”, etc, etc), he’s your man.