“Punches way above its price point”: Hi-Fi News reviews Clearaudio’s Performance DC deck with TT5 tangential tonearm

Clearaudio’s Performance turntable “has evolved almost beyond recognition over the last decade,” notes Nick Tate in the June issue of Hi-Fi News. “Will the new linear tracking TT5 arm propel it further?”

German analogue experts Clearaudio craft a stunning array of and highly desirable decks, tonearms, cartridges, electronics and accessories. While the company’s flagship Statement v2 turntable retails for more than £100,000, Clearaudio is equally keen to ensure that its technologies trickle down into products that are accessible to a wide range of music lovers’ budgets. The Performance DC is one of a growing range of affordable audiophile-grade turntable packages in which a mid-range price buys you high-end innovation and style in spades.

The standard Performance DC package includes the brand’s Clarify tonearm and Virtuoso V2 MM cartridge, but for those whose budget can stretch a little bit further there are three more options including the TT5 tangential tracking tonearm package reviewed here.

Clearaudio Performance DC with TT5 tonearm
Clearaudio Performance DC with TT5 tonearm

“Wonderfully compact” and “exquisitely put together,” the Performance DC “uses tried and tested Clearaudio parts with the emphasis on quality and consistency,” notes Tate.

Classic features include Clearaudio’s DC motor (a trickle-down from higher-priced models) with high-precision bearings and belt drive, and a 40mm-thick POM platter that rests on a Clearaudio’s patented ceramic magnetic bearing. “The result is ultra-low friction, vanishingly low wear and almost no noise.”

The TT5, meanwhile, is the most affordable of Clearaudio’s tangential tracking arms and draws on the technology of the high-end TT1 (see Hi-Fi Choice’s recent review of the TT5).

“The headline news is the clarity and poise of this package,” writes Tate. “Indeed its sheer unassailability is easy to become enamoured with… Your attention falls directly on the music, and not the means by which it’s being reproduced.”

An early 80s low-fi production – Prefab Sprout’s ‘Radio Love’ from the album ‘Lions In My Own Garden’ – puts the Performance DC to the test. The song’s stuttering, stop-start rhythm “can make some turntables falter when the music becomes disjointed. Not here though, because the Clearaudio combination sounded calm and composed, drawing me into the emotion of the song… despite a rather well-worn pressing, there was a satisfying sense of ease – leaving me blissfully unaware of the less than perfect surfaces.”

Moving on to Chic’s ‘Happy Man’ from the album ‘C’est Chic’, “the punchline lies in [the Performance DC’s] superlative stereo imaging… it develops a wonderful soundstage that’s wide, deep and tall, while giving the general feeling that everything within is perfectly in phase and locked into place.”

The overall verdict? “A highly enticing proposition. The TT5 tonearm really makes it greater than the sum of its parts, bringing a wonderfully spacious and stable sound that you’ll struggle to get from conventional tonearms.” Add to that its compactness and Clearaudio’s superlative build quality “and this combination punches way above its price point.” (£3,800)

Read Nick Tate’s full review in the June 2017 issue of Hi-Fi News.

Discover more about the Clearaudio Performance DC turntable and TT5 tangential tonearm.

Find your nearest Clearaudio dealer via UK distributor Sound Fowndations.