ELAC Miracord 80 Turntable Page 2

Around the back of the chassis are not one, but two power inputs. One is labelled 12V while the other, a DIN-esque Lumberg connector, is rated for 18V. This, therefore, opens up the possibility of an optional power supply upgrade, but ELAC takes a circuitous approach – the 18V option caters to people looking for a phono preamplifier matching the ELAC deck. The obvious choice would be the Alchemy PPA-2, a slender MM/MC-compatible unit priced £899. Next to its choice of single-ended and balanced XLR inputs and outputs, this phono preamplifier provides an 18V power output to drive an 'accessory' – in this case the ELAC Miracord 80.

Power Up
The high mass of the Miracord 80's platter, and relatively low motor torque, means you'll need to give it a moment or two to get up to speed before carefully depositing the stylus into the groove. It's not as glacial in this regard as the Miracord 90 model, however, and as PM notes in his Lab Report, ELAC has refined its optical sensor-controlled DC motor to continuously maintain the correct speed, which eradicates the need for fine tuning on the user's part. By removing a bit of complexity, this rewards vinyl enthusiasts who are seeking a turntable offering not only improved sound quality but also a plug 'n' play experience. However, if you do want to experiment with different cartridges and such, VTA and azimuth adjustments are on offer.

sqnote Mira Image
As usual (and preferable) for a deck at this price point, the Miracord 80 comes without a built-in phono stage. So my listening found the turntable hooked up to an EISA Award-winning Primare R15 phono preamp, in turn connected to a Hegel Reference H590 integrated amp [HFN Oct '18] and a pair Canton Townus 90 floorstanders. As it happens, the speakers were dressed in a walnut akin to that of the Miracord 80. This is perhaps a match ELAC would not prefer, bearing in mind that both manufacturers are fierce competitors in the German hi-fi arena...

It's easy to mistake A Light For Attracting Attention [XL Recordings XL1196LP] for the latest release from Radiohead. However, this is The Smile, not Radiohead, with drums manned by Tom Skinner, formerly the percussionist from The Sons of Kemet. Still, with the voice of Thom Yorke and the distinct guitar playing of Johnny Greenwood, it's hard to hear the difference, and the lockdown-composed songs come with a Radiohead-esque thick layer of melancholy that this deck digs into.

In particular, there was a keen sense of closeness and intimacy centred on Thom Yorke's singing, and even on dense, complex tracks like 'The Opposite' and 'Thin Thing', ELAC's Miracord 80 delivered a clear-cut musical picture where everything felt put in its right place.


ELAC's Alchemy PPA-2 phono preamp includes an 18V DC output to feed the Miracord 80 via its 3-pin DIN (or supplied 12V wall-wart into the jacket socket). The tonearm is wired into RCA outputs, adjacent to a ground terminal

'A Hairdryer' is another example of the multi-layer style typical of (not) Radiohead, with several vocals stacked on each other to create a dreamy, persuasive air. This can veer off into a muddled performance, as happens on entry-level turntables, but that's not the case here. The Miracord 80's strong points were on display – excellent speed control, a fine sense of rhythm and a driving energy. While the overall presentation did slightly favour the midrange, the D96 cartridge revealed treble detail too, such as this track's intricate hi-hat.

Alive And Kicking
In fact, the lighter balance delivered by this Clearaudio-sourced pick-up is quite different compared to, for example, the darker, fuller-sounding Ortofon Quintet Red MC recently auditioned on the Pro-Ject X2 B [HFN Sep '22]. Nevertheless, on The Dropkick Murphys' recent album This Machine Still Kills Fascists [Dummy Luck Music DLM002LP], where the Irish-American punks, in conjunction with producer Nora Guthrie, cook up songs based around unused lyrics from her father Woody, the standard Miracord 80 package still sounded admirably clear and detailed.

The band rocked true to form, with the portrayal of Ken Casey's raw voice on the anthemic 'Talking Jukebox' rousing enough to get the blood pumping. The sheer exuberance and force on offer made for a captivating listen, and the same was true when Nashville star Nikki Lane dropped in for a duet on 'Never Git Drunk No More', a promise to lay off alcohol that's doomed to fail.

Although the Miracord 80 and the aluminium-bodied D96 form a decent enough package, it's absolutely worthwhile pairing this ELAC disc spinner with something more upmarket. As you have the choice between purchasing the Miracord 80 with or without the standard cartridge, this is not as involved as some might fear – and no doubt a dealer will be happy to fit an aftermarket pick-up.

I certainly found that upgrading the deck reaped rewards. Whether with the aforementioned Ortofon Quintet Red or a Goldring Elite MC, the Miracord 80's soundstage broadened that bit further, with an uptick in resolution, and a slight improvement in dynamics. The switch to either pricier MC cartridge gave an airier, yet tighter feel to Hayden's Symphony No. 101 in D Major ('The Clock'), part of the Berliner Philharmoniker Splendeur du Classicisme boxset from Deutsche Grammophon's La Grande Musique collection [DG 2864 091].

This release dates from the early 1980s, proving that vinyl treated correctly and gently can last a lifetime. It also demonstrated that this ELAC turntable is not only a deck well suited to spinning new releases; it also has what it takes to extract the most out of older platters and thrift shop discoveries.

Hi-Fi News Verdict
The ELAC Miracord 80 is a well-designed and beautifully built vinyl player, with sufficient mass and control to give each recording gravitas and depth. Paired with the D96 cartridge it offers engaging listening to those seeking a high-quality plug 'n' play system, but it also presents a solid platform for upgraders looking to improve upon the deck's already excellent out-of-the-box performance.

ELAC Electroacustic GmbH
Supplied by: Hi-Fi Network, London
01285 643088