The Alva TTv2, as the name suggests, is an updated version of the original Alva, launched back in 2018. The basic specification is similar to the original which is no bad thing because the result is both technically interesting and unusually flexible. The Alva is a direct drive design, with the motor acting directly on the platter. Simply slot the weighty acrylic platter onto the bearing and you are good to go.
Around the back, you’ll find a pair of RCA phono connections. If you want, you can connect the Alva TTv2 directly to a line input on your amplifier and make use of a phono stage built into the turntable. New for the v2 version is the option to switch this phono stage out of the circuit and connect it to an external unit or if you don’t have to use anything so old fashioned as a cable, the Alva has an on board Apt-X Bluetooth transmitter to wirelessly send the signal to a receptive amp.
A massive change for the TTv2 is the tonearm. This is a new design that has a detachable headshell on a straight armtube. It’s really well made and extremely easy to set up and use although you can’t adjust the height of the arm relative to the record which might limit your phono cartridge choices in the future. You won’t be in a hurry to change the supplied unit though because the Alva MC cartridge is carried over from the original Alva TT and it is a fabulous piece of kit. It is a high output moving coil design which combines the lower mass of a moving coil cartridge (which helps the responsiveness and overall performance) with an output high enough to work into a moving magnet phono stage.
The Alva TTv2 looks similar to the original version and this is entirely welcome. Cambridge Audio has pulled the neat trick of creating a design that is simple and attractive but still has identifiable styling details from other Cambridge Audio models. The build quality is excellent and, thanks to features like electronic speed control and that most underrated of extras, a lid, the Cambridge Audio is extremely easy to live with day to day.
Connecting the Cambridge Audio up and making use of the internal phono stage, the good news is that it gets all the basics right. There’s no unwanted background noise or hum and there’s plenty of gain too so your amplifier won’t struggle to hit the listening level you want. More than this, the manner in which it makes music is tremendously appealing too. The Alva TTv2 combines a powerful rhythmic energy with a refinement and control that means it handles everything you throw at it with effortless engagement. There are more out and out exciting turntables available at this price but that isn’t really what Cambridge Audio is going for.
This behaviour is down to the features of the Cambridge Audio working together to great effect. The direct drive gives it excellent pitch stability which combines with deep and controlled bass to make music of any tempo sound right. The Alva MC cartridge ensures that vocals in particular are absolutely sensational. This is one of the very best pre-mounted cartridges you can buy on a turntable at this price point and the Cambridge Audio uses it to give you some of that stereotypical ‘analogue warmth’ without ever sounding bloomy or slow. This is also a turntable that is impressively forgiving of less than perfect pressings but that can go on to show how good vinyl can be with better ones too. This is not a device that blows you away in the first five minutes but, after a day or so, it can make many rivals seem forced and frantic.
Switching the phono stage out of the circuit and using an external one works perfectly, meaning that you can potentially boost the performance of the Alva TTv2 even further in the future. No less impressive in its own way is the Bluetooth transmitter. I’m not sure how many people will choose it as their main means of connection but, connected to an Apt-X capable Bluetooth device, the performance it offers has a genuine character of the wired connection and captures the positive elements of the Alva TTv2 very well. There’s enough range and stability that you could conceivably use it to send a signal to another room, giving you a unique take on multiroom audio.
Cambridge Audio has put a commendable amount of thought into making their turntable as easy to use as possible. Everything from the inclusion of a simple stylus force gauge to the clearly labelled connections on the back make this a simple device to set up, even for a novice. Once done, the Alva TTv2 is simple to use and, thanks to its sensible footprint and lid, something that will fit in most places and stay protected from children and pets.
The Alva TTv2 takes the Cambridge Audio hallmarks of clever engineering and user friendliness and brings them to vinyl. This is a turntable that manages to bring a genuine taste of high end vinyl replay to a relatively sensible price point and asks very little of its owner while it does so.
Nina Simone Nina Simone Sings the Blues
One of the all time great Simone albums, the Alva TTv2 is able to truly do justice to her extraordinary voice while building a soundstage around her that is unfailingly convincing.
Stereo MCs Connected
The Cambridge Audio takes this joyous collection of early nineties dance and makes it a head nodding, toe tapping, grin inducing spot of nostalgia
Sigrid How To Let Go
A deceptively complex take on a ‘pop’ album, the Cambridge Audio is able to handle the radical changes in styles and tempos while ensuring that Sigrid herself is always the centre of attention.
Why you should buy it
If you enjoy listening to records but have little time for the fiddly and time consuming foibles of some turntables, the Cambridge Audio offers sparkling performance with fit and forget levels of convenience.