Inspire Eclipse SE V2

Combine this turntable’s presentation attributes with SME’s M2 arm and you have a fine piece of audio engineering

The newest kid on this particular analogue block, Inspire, clearly has a penchant for acrylic. It started out offering mods for Rega decks in the material and the Eclipse SE V2 is almost entirely made of the stuff. The black shiny fi nish says it all really, but it’s more than a couple of slabs of the stuff, between the two are three cones with acrylic tips, alloy bodies and sorbothane damping. The bottom half of the plinth sits on three low-profi le feet with no option for height adjustment.

The platter is a weighty lump because it combines 18mm thick acrylic with a 10mm thick ring of stainless steel. This provides peripheral weighting and thus increased inertia. It’s nicely executed with studs running through the acrylic, while it’s a pity to hide the all-over machining under the foam-cored mat that Inspire supplies as an option. Apparently this does the trick soundwise, so we used it for the review. The subplatter is an impressive piece of engineering that sees bearing spindle, centre pin and platter machined out of a single lump of stainless. If this was an offi cial mod for the LP12 it would cost nearly as much as the whole Eclipse!

Drive is courtesy of an AC synchronous motor placed close to the subplatter and fixed, like the bearing, to the top acrylic slab. On/ off switching is achieved at the back of the deck next to the mains inlet, which isn’t all that convenient, but at least the unthreaded record weight means you can change LPs without switching off.

Inspire supplied the turntable with an SME M2 tonearm, the least expensive arm in that company’s roster and a superbly engineered and finished piece of kit, that has the convenience of a removable headshell.

Sound quality

This is an assured and slightly louder than average turntable with good dynamics and imaging. In fact, it’s capable of genuinely 3D results with a good recording. The perceived level factor is unusual; the listening panel thought that the level had been changed on its fi rst outing and this was observed in the hands-on evaluation as well. Its timing is decent, but not outstanding in the context of the competition, but this doesn’t stop it from turning in an engaging result with a variety of music styles.

We particularly enjoyed its tonal depth with early instruments and found that most of the vinyl placed under the cartridge offered up a vibrant and colourful tonal palette. It’s not quite as focussed as the best in this department, but its steady calmness lets plenty of music through.

The listening panel noted that it’s a bit short on low-end weight, lacking the depth excavated by the alternatives without providing the timbral clues in the bass that allows the Roksan to get away with a similar characteristic. They also commented that, while it’s good on vocals it lacks detail across the band and this might be why it’s a little short on engagement.

The soundstage lacks the sort of scale that designs such as the Michell and Clearaudio achieve. Its imaging and dynamic skills are not quite enough to offset limitations in timing and bass extension, but this doesn’t stop it making engaging music with a great recording.

LIKE: High-quality machining and finish, with good dynamics
DISLIKE: Back panel power switch and below par bass extension
WE SAY: An interesting newcomer to the scene, but sound is not quite revealing enough

• Record weight
• Stainless steel and
acrylic platter
• Flame polished
• AC synchronous
Inspire Hi-Fi
01246 827272