We are constantly being told not to muddy earth’s carpet with our grubby carbon footprints; yet, when it comes to turntable construction, the use of carbon – or carbon fibre, at least – is considered as a good thing.
Predictably, it’s all to do with increased rigidity and damping, which is why the use of carbon fibre on this turntable should, in theory, make it a worthy upgrade to Elipson’s original Omega 100 RIAA BT deck.
However, the Carbon Black’s inferior star rating will tell you immediately that our testing led us to disagree.
With this being the premium version of the Omega 100 turntable, you have access to the same features as the cheaper models.
A built-in phono stage may not be the rarest of add-ons, but Bluetooth connectivity – meaning you now only need a wireless speaker to be able to listen to your records – is unlikely to be sniffed at by a new wave of vinyl listeners.
A USB output also allows you to connect to a computer and archive your library.
That phono stage is primed for use with either a moving magnet or moving coil cartridge, though the Omega 100 RIAA BT Carbon Black comes pre-fitted with one of the former: an Ortofon 2M Red, another upgrade on the original version’s OM 10 offering.
Read all our cartridge reviews
At a glance, though, it is only really the characteristic carbon fibre finish that sets this particular incarnation apart from its more affordable sibling.
It is present in both the tonearm and sub-chassis – two areas in which rigidity is most valuable as a commodity.
Where we certainly aren’t seeing a step up, however, is in build quality.
For £700 (a 40 per cent price hike from the original Omega 100 RIAA BT and more expensive than the Award-winning Rega Planar 3/Elys package) we’d expect this deck to feel decidedly more robust.
Putting aside any concerns about flimsiness, we could hardly ignore the standard of finish on an entry-level turntable, let alone this one.
Even if the Carbon Black offered up a five-star performance, the untidy finish where the carbon fibre meets the rest of the chassis gives a poor first impression.
MORE: Rega Planar 3 review
The Carbon Black is sonically capable, though certainly not a class leader.
With set-up all but done for us in the factory, it’s only moments before we’re able to drop Boards Of Canada’s Tomorrow’s Harvest on the spindle and enjoy our first taste of its full-bodied tones.
It’s well balanced, digging deep enough to give kicks and warbling synth waves real dimension and warmth while keeping to well-penned margins, and offering treble frequencies headroom without allowing for any harshness.
We aren’t offered the same clarity we enjoy from the Planar 3/Elys – paired with a Rega Fono Mini A2D, that combination would cost only a fraction more – but there is still detail enough for a decent amount of textural analysis.
It’s a similar story in terms of timing. While nowhere near regimental, the Carbon Black doesn’t trip over its laces or seem confused while dovetailing drum patterns and synthesizer attack.
Our main gripe is in terms of the dynamics and overall musicality. The longer we listen, the less we’re inclined to turn a record over. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the performance, but there’s little to excite us either.
We play The Pixies’ Doolittle in an attempt to give the Carbon Black a shot of adrenaline, and though the raucous, near schizophrenic energy of the album is alluded to, it’s far from lain bare.
Were this a live performance, we’d be a bit disappointed Black Francis et al weren’t giving us our money’s worth. The same has to be said of this deck.
Switch to John Martyn’s One World, and a track such as Small Hours is treated in much the same way. Where the Carbon Black misses the Pixies’ boisterousness, so it fails to communicate this track’s aching vulnerability.
We don’t fundamentally dislike what we’re hearing, but at the same time we aren’t really given much that we can actively admire.
The Carbon Black is too capable to award any fewer than three stars, but mostly it serves to highlight that there are two better options already on the market.
If you want the features, the original Omega 100 is a better bet at £200 cheaper. If performance is your only concern, we’d recommend the Planar 3/Elys with a sub-£100 phono stage instead.
In this case, Elipson really would have been better served by lowering its carbon footprint.
See all our Elipson reviews