Remember Dual? Once the biggest turntable manufacturer in Europe, the German brand was on most music-lovers’ lips throughout the vinyl heydays of the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s. If you wanted a really good record player that was easy to use and very realistically priced, then Dual was on your list. So here’s the good news: if you still want a really good record player that’s easy to use and very realistically priced, the Dual turntable is back in the UK. Just be sure that you’re getting the ‘right’ one…
At this point you might be asking yourself, Didn’t I read this somewhere before? and/or, Aren’t Dual decks made in China now? Well, yes and no. Allow us to clarify.
Back in the 1980s when things weren’t looking so good for vinyl, the original Dual company was bought and sold by several other, bigger, companies over the years. In the process, the brand name and the original turntable models went in slightly different directions. Fast forward to the present day and now Dual is, well, dual. The Dual brand name is used by two different companies, both still German owned and based.
Dual DGC GmbH sells mostly imported, Asian-made consumer electronics such as radios, televisions and various portable audio devices, including inexpensive turntables (with models prefixed DT, NR and MTR).
Dual Phono GmbH, meanwhile – creator of the original Dual line of turntables – was acquired by Alfred Fehrenbacher GmbH, which has continued to produce them using the same production equipment from the original Dual factory, in the Black Forest town of St. Georgen. These high quality, affordable, audiophile turntables carry the original Dual ‘DNA’, are made in Germany, and are easily identified by their product name prefix, ‘CS’. They are also now back in the UK market, thanks to a new agreement with County Durham-based distributor Decent Audio.
Dual ‘CS’: affordably audiophile
The Dual CS range is, reassuringly, a return to what Dual did so brilliantly back in the good old days of vinyl: German design, German engineering and an excellent balance of quality, ease of use and affordability. Let’s face it, there are plenty of us who love music and want impeccable sound quality, but we also have other things that our money and time need to be spent on – so price tags in the thousands and fiddly set-ups are out. Thankfully, such (frankly, normal) desires are no longer mutually exclusive.
There are currently ten models in the Dual CS range, each of which offers an impressive balance of proven technology, expert craftsmanship and user-friendly convenience.
At the entry-level end of the range, opt for a complete package including tonearm and cartridge, with plug-and-play simplicity and fully automatic functioning. The CS 435-1, for example, offers automatic start and cueing as well as auto stop, returning the tonearm to its rest at the end of play. Atop the solid wooden chassis is a high quality aluminium platter with anti-static felt mat, below which a floating sub-chassis provides isolation from feedback and protects against footfall-induced skipping.
Move up to the middle of the range and you can opt for semi-automatic functioning, have the flexibility of your own choice of cartridge, and add a built-in phonostage. Here, the CS-505/4 is an all-time classic budget audiophile turntable, now in its fourth generation. The elegant tonearm features a complex Cardan bearing and precise torsion-spring tracking force control. The headshell is detachable, and the tracking and anti-skating are adjustable.
At the upper end of the range, play is fully manual. The top model is the CS-600, which features a unique, custom-developed four-point Cardan bearing tonearm. The triple-damped aluminium platter is weighted with two copper damping rings plus an additional internal cast mass damper. The platter rotates on a 10mm-diameter brass and Teflon bearing, driven by a precision flat belt and DC motor with electronic speed control, for supremely smooth running.
All in all, the Dual CS range offers ten highly appealing options for vinyl lovers seeking time-honoured quality and great sound at an affordable price – and with a variety of options for balancing ease of use with flexible features.