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
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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