Creek has long been a stalwart of affordable and compact electronics, so it was something of a surprise to come across a turntable in the company's booth at the Munich show in May. This wasn't just an entry-level job either, but an acrylic beauty with multiple drive belts and an outboard power supply.
Mike Creek has dubbed the deck, Wyndsor, in honour of his father's audio business where Mike got his start in the industry.
The Wyndsor, it turns out, was inspired by a number of factors, not least the fact that Creek's Chinese factory has the ability to turn out high-quality components with relative ease. Some of the ideas come from an equipment rack that the company makes, while others are Mike's engineering solutions.
The Wyndsor is based around a slab of black acrylic which has three substantial turned feet with spikes bolted in. These chunky feet from the AR4 equipment rack have rubber washers to provide some isolation, they also offer height adjustment for levelling the turntable -but this changes the relative angle of platter and motor pulley, so you are better off levelling the supporting surface.
Free standing motor
The motor sits in a free standing housing that is very nicely finished in anodised aluminium, it has rubber feet to reduce energy transmission into the equipment rack and an acrylic spindle to drive the three belts. There is also an on/off switch on top, plus you can also stop and start the motor from the separate power supply box, although it's certainly more convenient to have a switch on the turntable itself.
The motor is an AC synchronous type running at 24 volts and the power supply has an oscillator which allows fine tuning of the turntable speed via separate knobs for 33.3 and 45rpm. These seem a little on the accessible side considering how often they are likely to be tweaked.
There is also plenty of potential for accidentally turning one, but given that Creek supplies a strobe disc (and all you need is a focused mains lamp to read it) fine tuning the speed is pretty straightforward. The motor has a fixed cable that plugs into the supply and this lead is long enough to make PSU placement easier. If you use the same RPM speed there's no real need to have access to the PSU at all, but it does look nice.
The platter is a 38mm-thick slab of acrylic that's supported by an unusual bearing, (for more detail see box on p41). The turntable also comes with a clamp, not the screw-on variety, but a simple weight to suppress resonance in the vinyl. It doesn't offer the same degree of damping as a threaded clamp, however, but it makes changing records a lot easier. A built-in spirit level helps with setting up the turntable - the most fiddly bit being fitting the three belts.
Creek is in the process of making its own (relatively inexpensive) tonearm, but for this review it supplied a version of the Rega-based Michell Tecno arm, which presumably, was an older version as it didn't have the cut-outs that distinguish the current model.
The Wyndsor's arm base allows easy adjustment of VTA (vertical tracking angle), you just lock in the arm and turn a large knurled adjuster to change height. Ours was a little stiff, but didn't create a problem.
We started out using the Wyndsor with the Michell Tecno pick-up arm. This is a Rega RB300 with silver litz wire arm cable and silver plugs as well as the so-called Tecno weight that is heavier than the standard item and sits underneath the main beam. This combined with a Reson Aciore moving coil cartridge delivers a calm and smooth output that seemed to tame our vinyl rather too effectively.
The contrast provided by the relaxed top end of the Aciore has quite a significant influence on the overall presentation compared to our usual van den Hul Condor reference cartridge It nonetheless reveals that the Wyndsor is capable of a steady pace and attractively three- dimensional stereo imaging.
The bass is also rather chewy and enjoyable especially with Felix Laband's Dark Days Exit. This is not an audiophile album and has lots of deliberate distortion, alongside some of the meatiest bass on vinyl. The turntable manages to deliver the girth, however, without making too big a deal of the midrange nasties.
The switch to a Funk V with standard RB300 and van den Hul Condor, produces an unsurprising increase in treble extension and shine alongside extra energy - the cheaper priced turntable obviously benefiting from the addition of a more expensive cartridge.
Swapping this arm/cartridge pairing over to the Creek brings forth a more precise and calm sound with more power in the nether regions than we had encountered earlier, even with the relatively sophisticated orchestral manoeuvres of Rachmaninov's wonderful Symphonic Dances. This classic disc reveals that the Creek is adept at rendering convincing string tone and produced a good deep soundstage for the orchestra to work within.
For a change of perspective, we took the turntable, motor and power supply into an alternative listening room and partnered it with a Russ Andrews HP-1 preamp and ATC SCM150A active loudspeakers. In this context, the sound it produces is fulsome, slick and substantial, particularly with a recent 45rpm cut from Burnt Friedman delivering holographic imaging and deep, luxurious bass.
The Wyndsor seems to be very composed and relaxed for an acrylic-plattered turntable, and one has to suspect that the magnetic bearing has something to do with this. In some other respects, it is not unlike many other designs from the likes of Clearaudio, for instance. The way that Creek has implemented the power supply will have also a bearing, of course, but the way that Mike described it did not suggest that anything radical had been tried in this department.
One thing we particularly like about this turntable, is the way that the clamp can be removed and the vinyl changed without having to stop and start the motor. Threaded clamps don't allow this, so changing records is a bit of a kerfuffle. Whether the relatively lightweight clamp supplied makes the same difference as a threaded design is hard to say but it certainly helps keep the vinyl spinning.
We also put the Wyndsor on a highly isolating Townshend Audio rack - and given the minimal resistance to vibration offered by the turntable - this would be a recommendation when large speakers are nearby. In this respect it may not compete with challengers from the Michell stable, for instance, unless you can put it on a solid wall- shelf away from the speakers.
Under these circumstances, the Creek responds in revealing fashion to a whole stack of albums, placing them in the appropriate era and making no bones about the style and degree of compression used. Keith Jarrett's Changes may not have had quite the compulsion that it achieves with other decks, but it did bring to light one shortfall, which is that the timing isn't quite on-the-money.
As it was to hand, we also slipped in the dps250: another revamped Rega arm, this time based on the RB250. We noticed that the resonance that could be felt on the motor body could also be detected in the arm and armbase, suggesting that energy was travelling across the MDF surface of the rack and up through the spiked feet and acrylic plinth. Reducing the belt tension seemed to help, and we're confident final production units will differ from our early sample.
Whilst this turntable is revealing in many respects, it's perhaps not best described as engaging. It takes quite a while for this to become apparent and is can feel as if music lacks thrill power - it is possibly down to a shortfall in the timing department. The calm presentation is good for detail freaks, however, and if this floats your boat it's worth taking a closer look at.