Although most audio enthusiasts know ELAC as a loudspeaker builder, turntables are really deep in the DNA of the German brand. Less known, because the company did not build turntables for decades. Until recently – and with the brand new Miracord 80 top model, ELAC proves that their vinyl comeback is serious.
The Miracord 80 was presented at the High-End trade fair in Munich last May and was in stores from late autumn. So brand new. The German brand, which is often bluntly referred to as ‘speaker builder’, has a new top model for vinylistas. And if you have any doubts: this is without a doubt a turntable for demanding music lovers. The target group is not people looking for a budget player to occasionally play a record in the background. Its heavy construction and high-tech arm makes the Miracord 80 more suitable for people who often play vinyl and are looking for the best reproduction.
The Miracord 80 is at the top of a range that starts with the Miracord 50, a record player of around 500 euros. A middle position is occupied by the Miracord 70. With a starting price of 2,199 euros, the Miracord 80 is clearly a completely different device than that duo, but you will notice that immediately when you see it. It is a heavy belt-driven turntable with a solid base and carriage, equipped with a newly developed carbon fiber tonearm and very precise speed control.
Why are there different price tags? That’s because a turntable from this higher category is almost always offered with and without a cartridge. After all, seasoned vinyl enthusiasts often have their own cartridge preferences. Rightly so, because this part is very decisive for the sound quality and character. They may prefer the cartridgeless version and mount one of their choices. With a turntable of this level, that may be a more refined moving coil model.
However, if you are looking for a complete package that you can use right away, choose the ELAC Miracord with a pre-mounted ELAC D96 cartridge. This ready-to-play version costs 2,499 euros. That additional price is not unreasonable, because that is almost as much as what you pay for a Clearaudio Concept V2 cartridge.
|What||Record player with belt drive|
|Cartridge||ELAC D96 MM-cartridge (optioneel)|
|Dimensions||47 x 14,8 x 37,5 cm|
Further development of the Miracord 90
In 2017, ELAC decided to release another record player after more than forty years. That more or less coincided with the ninetieth anniversary of the company from Kiel, Germany. There was also a desire to dust off the Miracord name at the time. A piece of revival that would not really appeal to many vinyl enthusiasts, simply because the previous use of that name dated from the sixties and earlier. That was the period when ELAC sold many Miracord players and was more or less a household name. Loudspeakers – the product segment for which ELAC is now known – did not roll off the German production line until the 1980s.
Despite the age of the Miracord name, it was decided six years ago to name their first new turntable the Miracord 90 Anniversary. It was a limited edition that later became a regular Miracord 90. The Anniversary model was very well received, including by the jury of the EISA Awards.
Why the history lesson? Yes, it is still relevant to talk about that Miracord 90. After all, the recently released Miracord 80 shares a lot with that high-end model from six years ago. Coincidentally, we own a Miracord 90 Anniversary ourselves, so we could easily compare old with new by parking the test device to our own record player. It was immediately clear that there are many similarities in terms of industrial design.
60 mm MDF
Just like its predecessor, the Miracord 80 is a turntable with a large footprint. You don’t just put it on a small TV cabinet, this is a player that needs enough space. That is certainly the case if you mount the optional dust cover of 199 euros. This one is quite high; in order to be able to open it smoothly, there must therefore be sufficient space behind the appliance.
The trend is to make even cheaper players big, as we saw with the Pro -ject Debut Pro S. But the Miracord 80 doesn’t take up much square footage to make an impression in the store. Its larger size provides technical advantages. The thick base made of MDF and the aluminum exterior put a lot of weight in the scale, which should minimize the impact of vibrations. The turntable made of aluminum is also impressive in terms of weight. In any case, the Miracord 80 appears very solid and stable due to its build quality.
What immediately catches the eye is the large body that is enveloped by a curved housing made of brushed aluminum. But that doesn’t quite tell the story. If you look sideways at the player, you will notice that those aluminum panels are not completely installed. Actually, there are two separate parts. There is a panel with a large ELAC logo that covers the front and extends gracefully to a quarter of both sides. The second panel covers the back, where there are connections, and continues to the left or right side in the same way. So on both sides, part of the base remains uncovered, giving the impression that the Miracord is floating above the table. It’s a nice visual effect, and it makes the player look intriguing in real life.
Walnut or black
There are two editions of the Miracord 80: full black or walnut with black aluminum panels. The Miracord 90 was also available in white and with silver-colored panels, but for the new players ELAC sticks to two color versions. We received the walnut version on visits, a beautiful finish that also looks precious up close. And also minimalist in a way. Not much distraction is to be found. The top is interrupted only by the turntable, an on/off dial that is also the speed controller, and the motor drive. The rotational movement is transmitted via a belt on the outside of the turntable – in other designs, the belt is often located under the turntable or there is a direct connection to the motor.
With this player, however, the motor is not located under the platter, but in a corner of the housing. After all, here the engine can get a suspension that is better isolated in terms of vibrations. Why is this obsession with eliminating vibration so prevalent among builders of better turntables? It all has to do with the nature of the vinyl beast; after all, any vibration or speed variation can influence the reading of the record by the stylus. The more stable the better.
Record players seem like ‘old’ technology to some. It is refreshing that ELAC is one of the builders that embraces new technology. The Miracord 80 thus contains a smart electronic control of the motor. It continuously monitors the speed of the turntable and adjusts if a decrease or increase is noted. This allows the brand to almost completely eliminate wow & flutter – speed deviations. You can’t make any adjustments yourself – but thanks to the computer control you don’t have to.
So many elements have been carried over from the Miracord 90. The main change, however, is with a new 10-inch carbon tonearm. Both the tonearm itself and the accompanying construction are completely different. In terms of resonance, the new tonearm would perform better, it says. Also new is that a separate headshell is used. One of the things to do when unpacking the ELAC is to clip it onto the tonearm (if you choose the full package). The setup further only includes the correct adjustment of the counterweight and the mounting of the anti-skating weight. The included instructions are relatively clear; we assume that someone buying a turntable at this level already has some experience or asks the dealer for help.
Like most better turntables, the Miracord 80 has an external power supply. And like many rivals, ELAC offers power upgradeability. But the Germans do it their way. Instead of simply providing a ‘better’ power supply, you have the option of connecting the player to the PPA-2 via a separate DIN-style Lumberg connector. That is a slim phono preamplifier from ELAC department Alchemy that is available in stores for 999 euros. We have not tested this device, so we cannot pass judgment on it. But the extensive range of connections and support for many types of MC cartridges are intriguing. If you want to connect the Miracord 80 to an amplifier without its own phono section, the PPA-2 seems to be an interesting choice.
Detailed and open presentation
We connected the Miracord 80 to a Primare set that we have in the test room on a long-term basis, using the Bowers & Wilkins 703 S2 as speakers. Because the Primare PRE35 (which is connected to an A35.8 amplifier in stereo mode) does not have a phono input, we include the Primare R15 phono preamplifier.
One of the records we like to play regularly is ‘Push The Sky Away’ by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds. It is a successful press of an album that has a very warm and enveloping character emotionally. Tracks like ‘Mermaids’ and ‘Higgs Boson Blues’ are beautifully performed, with a lot of texture in Cave’s voice. You really get sucked into the music. We get the impression that the D96 brings out a relatively large amount of detail, including when the accompaniment to Higgs Boson Blues fades out towards the end of this long track but still continues to strum in a refined manner. We also enjoy listening to the more dynamic ‘Jubilee Street’. It is a beautiful total performance that offers much more than entry-level models in terms of peace and quiet background. That also makes listening to ‘Don Juan’ on the A-side of the Decca release (along with Pro-ject, a rival of ELAC…) with the Wiener Philharmoniker conducted by Von Karajan very pleasant and catchy. The large scale of the symphony orchestra, but also the refinement of the strings, for example, is very well interpreted. A little more body for the horns and timpani? It was allowed, but this has already been brought very beautifully and dramatically.
Judging by the negative comments on Discogs about the quality of some versions of “(Not My Moves)” by War on Drugs frontman Kurt Vile, we should be very happy that our green discs are flat and virtually crack-free. Well, that is also the physical medium vinyl. The ELAC turntable (in combination with the D96 and of course the Bowers & Wilkins speakers) puts the spotlight on Vile’s acoustic guitar playing, adding to the intimate feel of most of the songs. But it’s not a thin sound that lacks bass – in ‘Say the Word’ the bass player is more than present enough to push the whole thing forward. Although a different cartridge might offer a different balance in this area. Part of the fun is – for those who want it – is of course figuring that out.
There are of course many turntables that aim even higher and cost more than this ELAC. However, 2,500 euros is already top-class for many people. On a positive note, the ELAC Miracord 80 offers a very complete package for its price and performs well. The record player itself is solidly built and of excellent quality. The integration with the PPA-2 phono preamplifier is also intriguing. The bundle with the D96 delivers a lot of sound quality and a detailed, all-round listening experience. You don’t pay too much for that ready-to-play configuration. However, those who really go for the ultimate should think about the naked version and perhaps a higher cartridge. The turntable itself can certainly support such exits.
- Excellent build quality and finish
- Electronic motor control
- Captivating, detailed display
- Ready for vinyl tweaking
- No balanced XLR output
- Cartridge upgrading is worth considering
- Dust cover is extra