Oracle Delphi Mark IV Turntable Reviewed


Oracle Delphi updates have always been worthwhile. The company has concentrated on three areas, in most cases designed to be retrofittable all the way back to the first Delphi; the Mk IV mods are not. First has been a continuing program to improve the ease of set-up; in my estimation unpacking and preparing this Canadian turntable remains the biggest pain in the butt in all of hi-fi. Second has been the continuing refinement of the power supply and/or motor, while third has been even further detail improvement of the exceptional aesthetics.

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The Delphi has always been one of the smartest-looking decks money can buy, and I’ve no doubt that just as many were sold on styling as they were on performance. The Mk IV is just as pretty as its predecessors, so we can dispense with the facelift: the Oracle Delphi is an absolute stunner even as it enters its teens. More impressive, though, is the way that Oracle has changed just about everything else without changing the overall look. And the changes which constitute a Mk IV are the most extensive in this turntable’s history.

The first thing which anyone familiar with Oracles will notice is that the mat has disappeared, Oracle joining Goldmund, Basis, Pink Triangle and others by having the LP mate directly to the
platter. The Mk IV’s platter is made of a composite material sandwiched between aluminum, the top surface being hard like that on the Basis. The screw-down clamp is still part of the
recipe, but its press-down, anti-warp action is no longer so severe; I didn’t crack a single LP while using the turntable. No, I don’t miss the too-sticky Oracle mat, which — however good it
‘sounded’ — was an annoyance.

Underneath is a new Teflon bearing, while the sub chassis has been redesigned to make set-up even easier by eliminating the chore of choosing three different springs. It’s still fiddly (let your dealer do it), but now it’s no worse than setting up a Roksan or an Alphason.

The Delphi in Mk IV guise is available as a single-speed model at a substantial savings over the two-speed version, but the difference isn’t just a two-step pulley or a speed control box.
Although it can be upgraded to two-speed status, the single speed Oracle uses a 7.5V AC motor as in the Mk III; the two-speed version is fitted with a 16V DC motor. The power supply, too, has been improved with AC filtering, a complex network designed to reduce mains spikes.

The prices of the two decks — not counting the expensive, optional black/gold finish — are #1450 for the single-speed model with a soft cover or #1950 for the two-speed, with an
acrylic dust cover. The #500 difference is reflected in the upgrade prices: #350 for conversion from single to dual-speed, and #150 for an acrylic dust cover.

Read more about the Delphi Mark VI turntable on Page 2.

The pricing positions the Oracle(s) in the netherworld between the
killer British decks of Linn/Pink/Roksan persuasion and the current
high-end champions like the Goldmunds, the Basis, etc. As Oracle has
its Premier to fight with the latter and the Alexandra and Paris to
fight with the former, the Delphi is now the occupant of a half-way
house. I think of the three classes as Real World High-End, Luxury
High-End and
I’m-So-Rich-I-Can-Afford-Turntables-Which-Cost-As-Much-As-Cars High
End. My own feelings about jumping from class to class are that the
consumer gains in a couple of areas, including status amongst one’s

As one moves up the scale, at least in my experience, one hears
improvements in stability, bass extension and bass control. Other
bonuses might include greater immunity to air-borne and mains-borne
irritants. That’s not to suggest that the occupants of the ‘up to
#1000’ class are less than stellar performers; a Linn, Roksan or Pink
Triangle will not be shamed in a state of the art system, whatever
anyone tells you. But switch to a Basis or a Goldmund and you hear why
they cost six-to-twenty times as much.

I’ve had an Oracle in my system at all times since 1984 and have
heard an improvement with each update. The ‘IV was fitted with an SME
Series V arm and auditioned with a similarly-equipped Delphi Mk III and
the Basis, as well as the complete Roksan front end. My beliefs about
the relative status of the three classes were confirmed, with the
Oracle resting comfortably between the Roksan and the Basis, and easily
bettering its Mk III sibling. The most vivid improvement over the ‘III,
practical considerations aside, was a greater sense of weight and
extension in the lowest registers, especially noticeable on works
dependent on the power of the bass reproduction. Willy DeVille’s
‘Assassin Of Love’ had a ‘thwack’ not available from the ‘III or the
Roksan, though the Basis exercised even greater control on the decay of
the bass notes.

Also improved was image stability, albeit slightly, while transient
attack and (to a lesser extent) decay benefitted almost as much as did
the bass. How much of this is down to the revised
platter and how much to the new power supply and bearing I cannot
determine, as the platters aren’t interchangeable on the ‘III and ‘IV.
Suffice to say, though, that the disappearance of that
sticky mat is no sacrifice whatsoever, and thumbs up to Oracle for abandoning one of its primary traditions with such bravery.

So where does that leave the Oracle at the beginning of the 1990s?
It remains my reference in the under-a-king’s-ransom price category,
and it’s something of a bargain in single-speed mode if you can do
without 45rpm. Furthermore, I think it’s still the prettiest platter
spinner since the late, lamented Gale.

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