Let’s take a good close look at the direct drive OASIS. The table comes extremely well packaged in one large box with a ton of accessories, tools, a microfibre cloth, gloves, a speed measuring disc and pretty much everything you need to get up and running.
If you’ve ordered an accompanying Tonearm then it will be shipped fitted. The deck also has a very useful elasticated cover around its entire plinth which protects it from any rubbing.
Installation is very simple. The deck needs to be levelled like any other and this is simply achieved with the three adjustable metal feet on its underside. These can be rotated by inserting a supplied screwdriver into 3 access holes on the top of the chassis so no need to fiddle around underneath; simply site your deck and then rotate each foot in turn with a spirit level on the plinth. Next the platter is simply placed on top and the outboard power supply connected into the back of the deck. At this point I tend to level her again, this time placing a small spirit level on the platter.
After that, its straightforward arm and cartridge setup, overhang, azimuth, VTA and tracking force. The manual suggests leaving the motor to run for a few hours before speed adjusting but when you do, the speed is easily modified again using a screwdriver inserted into a hole next to each speed selector switch. My demo deck was spot on so no need for any tweaking.
Overall then, the Oasis is an extremely simple deck to setup. Truly fit and forget. The 10.5 is also a delight to use with a delicate minimalist design offering very easy and intelligible access to all the adjustments.
So how does it sound ? Well first of all the Oasis does not hide its underpinnings. To someone well versed in the different types of turntable drive mechanisms they might quite easily guess that they were listening to a direct drive. This is a good thing too; the overall persona is muscular, weighty with an extremely grounded, solid feel to the music. This heft and stability is an instant source of joy and satisfaction and is well juxtaposed with very quiet black backgrounds. Music feels extremely well organised and tied down and pitch stability feels rock solid as do the three dimensional images in front of you. If you like your tunes to be unravelled and projected straight into the room like they were carved into vast immobile hunks of granite then the Oasis is the deck for you.
The next characteristic to impress upon you is the Brinkmann’s attack, speed and precision. Notes start instantanously with no smear or ramping and they retain a sense of power and fullness as they develop. As one of the reviews points out so well though, the deck still sounds fluid and never strays into the analytical or overly-detailed and like all good vinyl setups, you do definitely find yourself getting totally lost inside it all for album after album.
With the 10.5 tonearm and furnished with the flagship Transfiguration Proteus moving coil resolution is very high especially for this sort of pricepoint. On my first encounter I had the Oasis piped through a £12,000 Allnic phonostage + head amp combo, Vitus Signature amps and a £40,000 pair of Avalons – one hell of an open and transparent sytem – and it didn’t feel like the Brinkmann deck had been found out or been caught struggling for answers. Resolution is high then but like just about every other product I sell here, the Oasis does not have added in ‘sounding detail’. The top end isn’t lit up or etched, the presence region isn’t pushed forward and like all Brinkmann products, what you get is a supremely even, balanced, neutral sound, selfless access to exactly exactly what is on the disc; if a pressing is inherently warm then you will hear it faithfully, if its neutral or cool then that’s exactly how it will sound too.
Criticisms ? Well, it should be no surprise that the Oasis does not quite offer the same delectable fine microdetail and delicacy that the best belt drive turntables will. Harmonics and timbre are exceptional by any standard but again, not quite as fully resolved as some of the best decks i’ve heard. To most, and in all but the most revealing systems, this small persuasion will not matter one jot though and what the Oasis gives us in terms of its accuracy, speed, dynamics and sheer sense of grounded energy will more than justify the relatively modest asking price. Getting some perspective, these are fairly lofty comparisons, the Oasis in isolation has beauty by the bucketload and is wonderfully refined sounding.
I’d just like to finish up by talking about modifications. Here at Lotus we have a tried and tested package to drastically improve the sound of most turntables and that involves mounting them on a Pro Audio Bono suspended anti-vibration platform. These are inexpensive compared to many of the other noise cancelling support solutions out there and they have a naturalistic look and feel which blends very well with the whole concept of a beautiful thing that spins vinyl round and around. Additional to that, we find most decks also improve again with the use of stillpoint feet, either ultra SS or ultra 5. the Brinkmann Oasis is no exception here and using a PAB reference platform and some ultra 5, I was able to lift the performance to a completely new level with ever better quietness, better coherency, more resolution and transparency and just a more engaging and vital delivery.
All the Brinkmann decks can also be upgraded by the RoNt II vacuum tube power supply as well and we will be looking at this closely in a later entry. The HRS platform made specially for Brinkmann also remains a viable alternative isolating base for all the decks.
With the Brinkmann, there’s more space between the notes—lots more. A note begins and then ends. The next begins, then ends. The transient is like a razor edge, and the tail dissipates equally fast. In other words, there’s no smudge or blur: notes are cleanly demarcated, and the table doesn’t hold onto them.
The Brinkmann package is a truly reference level analog front-end that is competitively priced. It is special and belongs on your short list.
Now we come back to that wonderful balance I described at the beginning. While it exerts rigorous control over the signal, it is never overdone. The listeners’ impression is always of a natural flow of notes and, in fact, the Brinkmann has a lively quality—it can dance. It is that rare component that does both.