The guys over at Andover Audio have been busy of late creating products that make enjoying vinyl both enjoyable and straightforward.
I’ve been fortunate to have a chance to try out three of their most recent offerings, which together form a tidy little system called the Spin System.
First, I got the $299 Spinbase, an all in one powered speaker system designed expressly for Turntables. It reminds me of the soundbars made to double as a base for your television. It has a low profile, and it forms a perfect stand for most turntables.
The design looks like something out of IKEA, very minimal and monochromatic, which I’m not mad at, being a fan of clean design. The front and sides are perforated, looking like one big speaker grill, and the only control you see is the big volume knob/power button dead center.
The rear has a little more going on. It’s also straightforward, occupied by a standard line input for connecting a digital audio player, a phono input, bass and treble controls, plus a 1/8″ headphone jack. There’s also a ground screw for your turntable and a ceramic cartridge switch that allows the Spinbase to adjust for their higher output.
The only thing that bothers me is the placement of the headphone jack. It’s quite inconvenient. I don’t know why they make you plug your headphones in the back. You end up loosing so much length on your headphone cable having to reach around the unit. It makes the jack seem like an afterthought.
That being said, overall operation is super simple. You plug in your turntable to the correct input based on whether it has a built-in preamp or not, connect the ground, and then turn on the combination volume knob/power switch.
One of the things I found most impressive about the Spinbase was the IsoGroove technology. This bit of engineering isolates the top surface where the turntable sits from the vibration of the speakers, so it doesn’t harm the playback of your record.
I was able to turn up the speaker loud enough to fill my living room with sound, yet it didn’t affect the turntable in the slightest. Wow.
If that’s not enough, the Spinbase also doubles as an excellent Bluetooth speaker. My phone connected quickly with no fuss. Great for when you have company over and want to queue up a playlist real quick.
What about the turntable?
Of course, you have to consider which turntable to use with your Spinbase, and fortunately, Andover has that covered too. They also sent out the $299 Spindeck, a turntable developed along with Pro-Ject.
Pro-Ject is a European company well known for making quality low-cost (and high-end) turntables. They know how to put the money exactly where it counts, so you get a decent sounding product without spending a ton of money or feeling like you’re stuck with a toy.
Knowing this, it came as no surprise to see that’s what you get with the SpinDeck. It’s nothing opulent, but it’s handsome and still manages to have a serious hi-fi aesthetic. The deck and platter are made of a low-resonance MDF, the tonearm is made of aluminum with Sapphire bearings, plus it’s topped with a thick acrylic lid.
It also has the same effective vibration-resistant feet you see on Pro-Ject’s entry-level turntables. The supplied Ortofon OM cartridge is of excellent quality as well, probably worth about $70 bucks alone. As far as color goes, SpinDeck comes in white or black to match the finish of the Spinbase.
Also, like the Spinbase, the SpinDeck has a super-simple setup. Pretty much all you have to do is drop on the platter and mat, install the silicone belt, and you are ready to go. The cartridge is pre-mounted, and the tonearm and counterweight are pre-set. The tonearm and associated lift arm are manually operated.
It’s a good turntable for the money, but keep in mind it’s not made to do a lot of upgrades. The interconnect cable is permanently connected, and the tonearm is made expressly for the pre-installed cartridge.
Everything is optimized to be used as shipped from the factory. That’s probably best since the majority of people buying in this price range will live with their turntable as equipped.
How about a stand?
You don’t necessarily need a stand for the Spinbase, a shelf or console table will do, but when you place it on Andover’s new $169 Spinstand with the Spindeck, you end up with a tidy system with storage for plenty of albums and accessories.
There’s also a headphone hook on the side to hang your Andover audio PM-50 headphones if you’re so inclined.
It must be assembled, but it’s pretty easy to put together. Its made up of wood shelves held together by a framework of hollow square wood supports reinforced by metal rods.
As long as you pay attention to which part goes where (there are similar pieces of different sizes), you should have no problem putting the Spinstand together. The only tools you need are the included Allen wrench to tighten everything up plus a screwdriver to put on the headphone hanger and anti-tip strap.
Listening to the Spinbase and Spindeck
I already went over how amazed I was over the Spinbase’s IsoGroove technology, but I was just as amazed over the 270º soundstage. When I first listened to it, I couldn’t believe how wide the “sweet spot” was with this speaker!
For the whole first album, I just walked side to side in front of it, trying to understand the stereo image stayed stable no matter where I stood! You can darn near stand off to one side and get a full stereo image. The soundstage is also ridiculously wide compared to how wide the enclosure is.
In the marketing materials, they say, “Its clarity and output levels match the performance of small bookshelf speakers,” and I can vouch for that. The way they leverage the two tweeters and two woofers with their Class D amplification is nothing short of remarkable.
I listened to Roberta Flack’s “First Take” album on the Spindeck/Spinbase combo, and I loved the nice bass weight, the relative lack of coloration in the mids, and the surprisingly smooth treble (even though it’s rolled off some). This system isn’t the last word in detail or bass extension, but there are more of each than what you would expect from this small enclosure.
Roberta’s vocal was soft with the emotion you want to hear, and the bass guitar plucks were deep. The Spinbase/SpinDeck combo oozes musical enjoyment.
If you have a small apartment or room and you’re looking for a compact vinyl music system, the SpinSystem (Spinbase/SpinDeck/Spinstand) is an excellent option.
It’s a special package that combines several sources, quality music reproduction, and storage in the smallest footprint I have ever seen. It’s also amazingly simple to operate. With this system out there for less than $800, there is no reason for anybody to go without good music. It’s no wonder Andover can’t keep the Spinbase in stock. Highly Recommended!!
Andover Audio Spinbase $299 [Buy Here]
Andover Audio Spindeck $299 [Buy Here]
Andover Audio Spinstand $169 [Buy Here]