Cambridge Audio has manufactured high-performance, high-value audio components since 1968.---more than 50 years ago! In 1999, they introduced the original Alva TT, a direct drive turntable that was the first aptX HD-enabled turntable. –And yes, it was named after Thomas Alva Edison—the inventor of the phonograph, along with a few other items.
A Bluetooth-enabled turntable allows enjoyment of vinyl records without the use of a full component system; it can stream to a smart speaker or headphones that are Bluetooth-enabled. Of course, it can also stream to any Bluetooth-enabled component if desired.
Fast forward to now: the original direct drive Alva TT has been updated and upgraded, becoming the Alva TT V2, and is joined by a less-expensive belt drive model, the Alva ST. Both models stream a hi-res 24bit/48 kHz signal via aptX HD, with far greater resolution and sound quality than that provided by standard Bluetooth. By transmitting its output by Bluetooth, the turntable can be placed anywhere, rather than being tethered by an interconnect to a limited area. Both tables also have standard RCA outputs as well; if desired, the turntable can be connected conventionally, and on the TT V2, the Bluetooth can be shut off.
But there’s more to these turntables than just the Bluetooth. Both have onboard phono stages, eliminating the need for an external unit. If in the future, the owner upgrades the rest of the associated sound system and wants to use an external phono stage, the internal phono stage can be bypassed.
The TT V2 and the ST share the same precision-made low-resonance tonearm with a removable headshell, for easy cartridge changes if desired. On the ST, that headshell is loaded with an Audio Technica moving magnet cartridge; on the TT V2, a custom-made high output moving coil cartridge is provided. In both cases, the cartridges are properly installed and adjusted, so the turntables can be used minutes after they come out of the box.
While the TT V2 and ST have been designed to be convenient and easy to use, that doesn’t mean sound quality wasn’t a consideration—after all, it is a Cambridge product. In its review of the original TT, What Hi-Fi? magazine said, “The way the Cambridge handles the midrange is particularly impressive. The Alva serves up a weighty helping of bass, but also plenty of texture and definition here, too - it's a grown-up, mature sound.”
At first glance, the combination of a turntable and wireless streaming might seem idiosyncratic, and contradictory—like Neil Young’s all-electric ‘59 Lincoln Continental. But as with Young’s “LincVolt”, the disparate technologies work together brilliantly. The Cambridge Audio Alva TT V2 and ST deliver the characteristic warm sound of vinyl, coupled with the convenience and freedom of Bluetooth. For music lovers, that’s the best of both worlds.