The Roksan Attessa turntable is a fully manual, belt-driven model with switchable built-in phono preamp for easy pairing with any hi-fi amplifier or phono preamp . Sold at €1,300, it is the entry ticket to the British manufacturer’s turntable offer. Does the Roksan Attessa turntable live up to the brand’s promise “to combine all the wonderfully complex sound of a class-leading hi-fi system with the simplicity most listeners crave”?
Roksan: the brand
Roksan was founded in 1985 by Tufan Hashemi and Touraj Moghaddam, graduates of the University of London, Imperial College of London and Queen Mary College. The name Roksan is derived from the name of Roxana, daughter of Persian King Darius. This closely reflects the Persian heritage and the roots of Hashemi and Moghaddam. In addition, many Roksan devices are named after cities and places in Persia or Persian figures.
The Xerxes turntable, named after the famous Persian king, was the first production to come out of the Roksan workshops in 1985. This belt-driven turntable without a suspended sub-chassis defied conventional design and won over many hi-fi critics with its high-quality construction and sound. This combination of innovation, audio quality and reliability remains part of the brand’s DNA to this day.
The brand then released a string of successful products including the Darius bookshelf speakers (1986), the Radius vinyl turntable (1990), the ROK DP1 CD player (1991) and the CD-DAC-separate power supply combination called Attessa CD Playing System (1992), Roksan quickly established itself as one of the best manufacturers of hi-fi components on the British and then international market.
Among Roksan’s greatest successes, we can mention the Kandy electronics (amps, CD players, FM tuners, power amps, etc.) which have been developed in several versions since the end of the 90s, culminating in the Roksan Kandy K3 range released in 2014.This updated versions of the electronics comprising this range are still part of the manufacturer’s catalog, with the Roksan Kandy K3 INT v2 , the Roksan K3 power amp and the Roksan K3 CD DI CD player.
In November 2016, Roksan was taken over by the Monitor Audio loudspeaker brand, but continued to develop its ranges and offer new innovative and still attractive devices, including power amps , stereo hi-fi amplifiers , CD players , turntables as well as digital sources .
In 2021, the Attessa name returned to center stage with a full range comprising the Roksan Attessa CD transport, the Roksan Attessa stereo amplifier , the Roksan Attessa BluOS WiFi/Bluetooth amplifier and the Roksan turntable. Attessa which we are reviewing today.
Roksan Attessa: packaging & accessories
The Roksan Attessa turntable is delivered in a large cardboard box at the bottom of which it is securely wedged between four outer panels and a top protection. The turntable is very well protected for transport and is covered to prevent scratches. The platter and felt mat are wrapped in a plastic bag and are in the box placed above the turntable. While the belt and cartridge are pre-installed, the anti-skate counterweight must be installed and the arm adjusted to achieve the recommended tracking force of 2g using the tools provided.
The box of the Roksan Attessa turntable contains:
- The Roksan Attessa turntable
- A protective cover
- A belt
- A Roksan Dana cartridge
- A platter
- A felt mat
- A spirit level
- A mechanical scale
- A bottle of oil
- Two cotton swabs for bearing lubrication
- A mains transformer
- An RCA cable
Roksan Attessa: presentation
Entirely developed and assembled in the UK, the Roksan Attessa turntable is part of the British manufacturer’s Attessa range. This range includes the Roksan Attessa CD player , the Roksan Attessa hi-fi amplifier and the Roksan Attessa bluOS streamer amplifier . Compatible with 33 and 45 rpm records, the Roksan Attessa turntable is made of an isolated anti-vibration plinth associated with the Unipivot tonearm specially developed by the brand’s engineers for the turntable. Made from a composite alloy, the Unipivot tonearm takes its name from the glass pivot on which it rests. This technology, developed to ensure that the tonearm moves as smoothly as possible, provides excellent groove tracking. The turntable’s unipivot tonearm features a pre-installed Roksan Dana cartridge. This Moving Magnet (MM) model made by Audio-Technica features a ‘diamond titanium’ tip. The counterweight is pre-mounted on a threaded rod for easy and precise tracking force adjustment.
The chassis of the Roksan Attessa turntable consists of an MDF plinth with rounded sides mounted on three damping feet inherited from the high-end Xerxes turntable. By using a three feet base, Roksan limits the contact points with the surface on which the turntable is placed, thus minimizing the transmission of vibrations. A design found on the Rega Planar 6 turntable for example.
The 24-pole asynchronous motor of the Roksan Attessa turntable is associated with a digital control interface for stable and precise rotation of the turntable. The engine is isolated and decoupled from the plinth to eliminate vibration and resonance. Thanks to the electronic speed selector located on the front left side of the plinth, the change to 33 or 45 RPM is quick and easy.
The Roksan Attessa turntable platter is a 10mm thick, 1.85kg high-density glass model with an anodized aluminum rim. The addition of the aluminum rim to the glass platter further dampens vibrations while maximizing inertia.
A dust cover is supplied with the Roksan Attessa to protect the turntable when not in use. However, there are no hinges and the cover simply sits on the plinth so you need to completely remove it when using the turntable. This can be very handy if you decide to place the turntable on a shelf with a limited vertical space, as you won’t have to worry about the height with the lid up.
Roksan Attessa: design
Like the electronics that make up the rest of the range, the Roksan Attessa turntable adopts an original look that sets it apart from other models on the market at first glance. Its rounded edge plinth combined with its backlit activation button and rotation speed selection system give it a modern look, strenghened by the flat unipivot tonearm.
Roksan Attessa: integrated phono preamp
Audiophile grade turntables in this price range with an integrated preamp are quite rare. Since the purpose of high-end turntables is to ensure optimal damping of vibrations and resonances, these models often do away with additional functions such as preamplification, Bluetooth transmission or the addition of an analog-to-digital converter. Yet, the British manufacturer decided to equip the Roksan Attessa turntable with a switchable phono preamp. It is thus possible to connect the turntable directly to one of the auxiliary inputs of a hi-fi amplifier without going through a dedicated phono preamplifier. While it is a very practical feature, the implementation is however perfectible. The selector is difficult to access and the only way to activate or deactivate it is to use a thin rod, such as a paper clip for example. Trying to access the selector with your fingernails is a guaranteed source of frustration.
Roksan Attessa: Key Specs
- Belt-driven manual turntable
- Speed: 33 and 45 rpm
- Electronic speed selector
- Switchable phono preamp
- Unipivot Roksan arm
- Pre-installed Roksan Dana cartridge
- Pre-amp gain: 42dB
- 1x stereo RCA output
- Included dust cover
Roksan Attessa: testing conditions
For this test, we paired the turntable with the Roksan Attessa amplifier from the same range. We first used the turntable’s built-in phono preamp by connecting it to one of the amp’s auxiliary inputs. Then we disabled the built-in preamp to connect the turntable to the amplifier’s phono input. Roksan does not provide any information about the built-in preamp of the turntable and amplifier. Impossible to know the differences between these two phono peamps beyond their implementation. We used the RCA cable supplied with the turntable. The RCA cable is well wade, as one would expect for an audiophile turntable. We used our trusty Elipson digital scale to adjust the tracking force. The amplifier was connected to a pair of Dali Opticon 8 loudspeakers using Viard Audio Silver HD12 HP cables. The system was placed on a NorStone Stäbbl hi-fi cabinet for optimal working conditions. The installation of the Roksan Attessa turntable was quick and easy. Simply place the platter on the spindle, then install the counterweight following the procedure indicated in the user guide. After removing the wedge blocking the tonearm and adjusting the tracking force to 2g, the turntable is ready to use. Be careful, however, not to lower the lever too quickly or to push it to the maximuall the way down, otherwise the tonearm does not go completely down and hovers over the disc.
Roksan Attessa: listening impressions
The Roksan Attessa turntable scored points from the moment we turned it on with a total absence of background noise. The naturalness of sound was striking and the instruments benefitted from realistic tones. With the album Sweep it Into Space by the rock band Dinosaur Jr., the reproduction of the drums was straightforard and all the details of the guitar playing were present.
The texture of the instruments was just as natural with a whole orchestra when we listened to the soundtrack of the film Vertigo composed by Bernard Hermann. The sense of scale was compelling and allowed us to appreciate the full magnitude of the orchestration. The bass was round with a lot of material which gave a lot of texutre and body to the brass section. The highs were a little harsh, but the overall sounds retained a certain balance. We appreciated the punch and the depth brought to the musical theme of the classic film from the master of suspense.
Acoustic music lovers will enjoy the Roksan Attessa turntable. When we listened to folk musician Kurt Vile’s album Bottle It In , we found that the texture of the vocals and instruments were reproduced very naturally. The acoustic guitar was reproduced with clarity and distinctly stood out without ever taking precedence over the vocals which were precisely placed in the center of the soundstage. The Roksan Attessa turntable, combined with the amplifier of the same name and the Dali Opticon 8 floorstanding speakers, almost gives us the impression of attending a private concert. A real pleasure.
However, when we listened to the album Mortherblood by the group Grave Pleasures we began to notice some shortcomings, especially in the high register. Without being a particularly aggressive album and with a very slick production, it nevertheless gave the Roksan turntable a hard time. If the previous listenings did not seem to suffer excessively from this problem, we deplored a certain sibilance and a slight distortion which compressed the soundstage as soon as the guitars start roaring. However, since this issue could come from the preamplification we deactivated the preamp of the turntable and switched to the phono input of the amplifier. We then noticed a very slight improvement without completely solving the problem. We can therefore only recommend using an external phono stage and a superior quality cartridge to take full advantage of the potential of the Roksan Attessa turntable.
Roksan Attessa: compared to…
Thorens TD 403 DD : esthetically speaking, the two turntables are polar opposites. While the Thorens turntable retains the traditional esthetics of the brand’s turntables, the Roksan Attessa boasts a resolutely modern and stylish look. While the Thorens TP150 tonearm’s groove tracking is comparable to that the unipivot tonearm of the Roksan turntable, the Ortofon 2M Blue cartridge outperforms the Roksan Dana when it comes to reproducing high frequencies. This treble clarity comes at the cost of a more clinical sound signature. Overall, the Roksan provides a more natural sound. The Roksan Attessa turntable also scores extra points with its built-in phono preamp.
Rega Planar 6 + Neo PSU : With its double-layered glass platter, Rega RB330 tonearm, and Rega Neo PSU external power supply, the Rega Planar 6 turntable has the advantage when it comes to performance and is clearly designed to get the most out of vinyl records. However, it comes without a cartridge, and any cartridge other than a Rega model requires the addition of a spacer. Easier to use, the Roksan Attessa turntable stands out by its integrated phono stage, its pre-installed cartridge and its electronically controlled motor. These features make it a high-end plug-and-play turntable that can be integrated immediately into an audiophile system and easily upgraded later.
Roksan Attessa: who is it for?
The Roskan Attessa turntable will primarily attract audiophiles looking for a modern and easily upgradable turntable. Easy to integrate into any hi-fi system thanks to its phono stage and pre-installed cartridge, it is ideal to enjoy vinyl records right out of the box. With its natural sound signature and its great ability to reproduce the tone of instruments and vocals, it will reveal its full potential once combined with a separate phono preamp and a quality cartridge.
Roksan Attessa: conclusion
Malgré un commutateur difficile d’accès pour le préampli phono et un levier d’abaissement du bras perfectible, la platine Roksan Attessa séduit par sa qualité de conception et son design moderne et audacieux. Celle-ci se montre particulièrement à l’aise avec les enregistrements où la finesse est de mise mais n’oublie pas d’apporter de la substance dans le grave pour garantir une belle dynamique musicale. Elle perd cependant rapidement le contrôle lors des fortes montées ou avec les styles musicaux plus agressifs. La restitution riche et naturelle ainsi que le bruit de fond inexistant laissent présager d’excellentes performances une fois associée à un préampli phono séparé et une cellule de gamme supérieure.
What we liked
- Having a high-end plug-and-play turntable
- The absence of background noise
- The natural restitution of timbres
- The rich lows
We would have liked
- A more accessible selector for activating the phono stage
- More control and finesse in the highs