Since Roksan was acquired by Monitor Audio in 2016, things have been quiet for the brand. However, the arrival of the Attessa range changes all of that. Roksan has never been particularly prolific in this area, but the Xerxes and Radius have fine reputations at their price points. Read our Roksan Attessa Turntable Review
The Attessa is a clean-sheet design; there’s next to nothing you can readily identify from existing models that has been employed in its design and construction. This is perhaps most apparent in the plinth. This is a single section, rather than one split by decoupling ‘blobs’ as used in the older models. A reasonable degree of isolation is achieved via three slightly pliant feet, but there’s no other suspension or decoupling. This plinth mounts the bearing; which extends a considerable distance below the bottom and a 24-pole synchronous motor that acts via a belt on the sub-platter.
The motor operates on a surprisingly low 5V power supply. Not only that, but the PSU has sufficient oomph to also run an internal phono stage and a touch panel to select 33 and 45rpm speeds. This is impressively efficient although the PSU feels cheap. Rather more impressive is that the Attessa is a two-pin product with no external ground that remains completely hum free across all the things I test it with.
The platter is a combination of 10mm-thick high-mass tempered glass with an aluminium edge that is cut inwards towards the lower section. It is topped by a felt mat with the characteristic triangular cutouts that serve as a visual link to the Xerxes. The tonearm is a unipivot design and has an armtube that’s flatter and wider than standard. This is made of a 5052 aluminium upper segment with ABS plastic lower. At the top of the pivot it forms a flat circular section. This is stainless steel and can shift on and off the pivot, but can’t be lifted off completely. The wiring routes internally rather than looping outside the housing.
Around the back of the arm the metal section curves and creates a space for the counterweight, which moves back and forth on a threaded stub for usefully fine adjustment. At the other end is the Roksan Dana cartridge, which appears to be a simplified version of the Corus 2 moving-magnet design and has an aluminium cantilever and unspecified stylus. Output is quoted at 3.5mV; lower than some MMs, but not likely to be an issue for most phono stages.
The turntable is a beautiful example of industrial design, but I find myself questioning who exactly it’s aimed at. With its electronic speed control and relatively limited upgrade potential, the Attessa leans more towards the lifestyle end of the market, while conversely the tonearm requires its owner to have an understanding of how to set the azimuth and it feels less ‘planted’ than a more conventional bearing design.
The effortlessness of its performance can elude more propulsive rivals
Something that also deserves praise is the quality of accessories supplied, which puts most rivals to shame. The inclusion of a lid (albeit one that lifts on and off rather than being hinged) and the switchable phono stage, complete with short but useful interconnect, makes this an easy turntable to live with.
Initial testing takes place with a Cyrus Phono Signature Phono Stage (HFC 408) connected to a Chord Electronics CPM2800MkII integrated amp, before switching the phono stage into the circuit and connecting the Attessa direct to the Chord. The first and most noticeable result is that the Roksan does its best work via its own phono stage. Whatever the notional advantages of the Cyrus, the manner in which the Attessa gets stuck into Emily King’s Scenery seems a little more fluid via the on-board option.
‘Fluid’ is a word that crops up a lot in my notes. This isn’t a turntable that fizzles with latent energy or that goes for attention-grabbing fireworks. Instead, with Go Back, the Attessa flows through the performance in a manner that is extremely satisfying. The timing is usefully tight, but there’s an effortlessness to the performance that can elude more propulsive rivals. The decision to go with a unipivot arm results in an extremely natural sound, free from any mechanical transference.
Further up the registers, the news is still rather good. The Dana cartridge might not be as highly specced as the Corus 2, but this is a refined and spacious performance that gels well with the turntable as a whole. It tackles the periodically edgy Bright Magic by Public Service Broadcasting in a manner that keeps the excitement of frenetic tracks like Der Rhythmus Der Maschinen but avoids becoming bright or overly forward. It’s extremely well judged. This isn’t the hardest-hitting turntable you can buy at this price; the bass it delivers is articulate and tuneful, but never truly seismic in terms of impact. This serves to increase the focus on the fluid and engaging midrange, though.
Combining the Attessa Turntable with the Attessa Streaming Amplifier (HFC 487) does little to change my original assessment that the on-board phono stage remains the best option over the (perfectly respectable) one in the amp. Going ‘all Roksan’ results in a combination that is undramatic, but impressively musical. With the bombastic Imploding The Mirage by The Killers, it manages to keep the excitement that the band delivers so effectively but simultaneously avoids any sense of fatigue creeping in. In a dealer demonstration I don’t think this is the model that’s going to leap out at you, but I suspect that the longer you listen the more its virtues will make themselves felt.
This, then, might be best seen as something of a slow burner. The Attessa Turntable has virtues that are a little different to the ones that many similarly priced rivals bring to the table. This record player never seeks be the story itself, but consistently manages to tell very good ones with the records you choose to play on it which is wholly in keeping with the company’s longer-running models. When you consider the decent spec, solid build and attractive aesthetics, you have a very accomplished and charming turntable indeed
HOW IT COMPARES
The Roksan is £ more than Technics’ SL-1500C (HFC 453) and uses very different means to achieve the same sort of package. The Technics feels more solid and its arm is more confidence inspiring to use. The Attessa cannot match the impact and drive of the SL-1500C, but it sounds more fluid and natural and the Dana cartridge is quite a bit better than the 2M Red that the Technics comes supplied with. If you set it up correctly, the Roksan has scope to out-perform the Technics.
Roksan Attessa Turntable
Unsuspended, belt-drive turntable
(WxHxD) 432 x 105 x 353mm
• 33 & 45rpm
• Unipivot tonearm
• Dana movingmagnet cartridge
Blending audiophile smarts and convenience, the Attessa appeals more the longer you use it
- Flowing, engaging performance
- decent spec
- well finished
- Arm can be odd to use; some rivals sound more exciting