The three turntable and tonearm packages under consideration here are:

Origin Live Resolution MK IV / Origin Live Illustrious 3C Tonearm

Dr. Feickert Woodpecker / Kuzma Stogi 12 VTA Tonearm

Dr. Feickert Volare / Origin Live Silver Tonearm.

 

Why am I doing this, and what will you gain from it?

Okay, I’ve reviewed these tables individually, but never really worked at making direct comparisons,  nor discussed why you might pick one over the other.  Let’s start with links to the full reviews, which will open in a new tab if you want to backtrack:

Origin Live Resolution Review

Dr. Feickert Volare / Origin Live Silver Review

Dr. Feickert Woodpecker / Kuzma Stogi 12VTA Review

I’ve transitioned through several tables since owning the subjects of this review, including a Basis Audio Debut Vacuum and now a Nottingham Analogue Hyperspace. There’s nothing wrong with the Nottingham table that I own now, just like there was nothing wrong with the Basis Audio Debut that preceded it, or the Wilson Benesch, or the 3 different Feickerts I’ve owned, or the Origin Live Resolution, VPI TNTs, Linn LP12, Music Hall, Rega, etc.

But I’m contemplating the acquisition of a new turntable to replace the Nottingham, and before making a decision on what to buy I feel compelled to tie up some loose ends. I’m actually thinking of going back to either a Dr. Feickert or an Origin Live, and perhaps stepping up the product line a rung or two, so this process will help me organize my own thoughts.

For you – well, if you’re considering a new turntable, and you’ve already read the reviews linked-to above, and one or more of these decks is in contention, then hopefully this comparison will provide some useful insights.

First off, cost. You might be wondering what a doubling of your budget from say $4,000 to $8,000 will get you. The Origin Live package of parts retailed for around $8,000 when I purchased it from the manufacturer back in late 2022. The Dr. Feickert Woodpecker and Kuzma combo came in at around $9,500, and the Dr. Feickert Volare with the Origin Live Silver, a mere $4,000.

So given the price differentials you can also think about this as an exercise where one might own the lowly Volare, and be trying to justify the cost of stepping up to the Origin Live or to the Woodpecker.

Before we spill the beans on how these decks perform, let’s look at some photos 🙂

Origin Live Resolution MK IV with Illustrious 3C Tonearm

This is by far the prettiest turntable that I’ve owned, even nicer looking than the Wilson Benesch Full Circle with Act 0.5 carbon fiber tonearm.

Origin Live Resolution MK IV with Illustrious tonearm review Origin Live Resolution MK IV with Illustrious tonearm review Origin Live Resolution MK IV with Illustrious tonearm review Origin Live Resolution MK IV with Illustrious tonearm and Dr. Feickert Volare with Jelco ST250 review Origin Live Resolution MK IV with Illustrious tonearm review

 

 

 

CLICK AN IMAGE BELOW TO ZOOM

Dr. Feickert Volare Turntable with Origin Live Silver Tonearm (and Jelco ST250)

Dr. Feickert Woodpecker with Kuzma Stogi 12 VTA Tonearm

How Do These Turntables Compare…How Do They Sound?

When I started thinking about how best to present an actual comparison I thought about considering each as a ‘package’, including both turntable and tonearm. But then I thought more carefully about it and decided it just wouldn’t paint an accurate picture of performance and might actually prove unfair, since in two from the three ‘packages’ reviewed here, the arm and table are manufactured by different companies.

So, I’ve separated out the tonearms for scoring, but added one score to each turntable which is for the ‘compatibility of the arm/deck package’. You’ll get my drift when you scroll down and view the results.

Turntable review results

 

1 – Okay, let’s try and make a bit of sense by adding some context. First off, I am not a big fan of the Kuzma Stogi 12VTA tonearm, and that’s the main reason that the Dr. Feickert Woodpecker package has scored lower than Volare/Origin Live Silver package.

I found the Kuzma to be fairly difficult to set up and align, and always had a tough time with it when changing cartridges. Its uni-pivot design isn’t friendly to folks with any slight tremor, as I have (more than slight), and it’s a recipe for disaster when switching out cartridges if you shake as I do.

I found the Kuzma awkward to set up properly, awkward for switching cartridges, and I didn’t have much confidence in it in normal play operation, due to my unsteady hand.

2 – I had a rough time with the Volare when it came to vibration control, while I managed to affect some improvement by using rubber pads (after trying a lot of different vibration control methods, Chris Feickert recommended simple rubber pads, and they worked the best) but I was never able to fully rid the table from some nasty interaction with a nearby subwoofer. For the record (ha!), the Woodpecker and Origin Live Resolution tables didn’t have the same issue with vibration and pickup as the Volare.

3 – You’ll see what looks like an issue under “Ease of Setup – Table” for the Origin Live Resolution, where I’ve scored it a lowly 6. The Origin Live table comes in several pieces and there’s some careful assembly required, whereas both the Dr. Feickert tables are pretty much plug-and-play, with the obvious exception of tonearm installation.

4 – The Kuzma’s one saving grace is with the on-the-fly VTA tower, which works OK.

SOUND QUALITY

5 – On sound quality, you can read the individual reviews from the links above, where you’ll find a more detailed analysis of how these table/arm combos sound. But you’ll note that the OL Resolution and the Dr. Feickert Woodpecker score closely on sound quality, which tells you that despite not caring much for the Kuzma arm on a functional/ergonomic basis, it does sound very good once you’ve set it up properly.

I’ve written elsewhere that the Origin Live Resolution table presents itself quite differently than those from Dr. Feickert. Comparing the Resolution with the Volare, the Resolution is more detailed, more airy, and more dynamic, whereas the Volare has a more solid foundation, more bass emphasis, and less extension on the top end. The Woodpecker takes the virtues of both the Origin Live Resolution and the Volare and combines them quite well together. So the Woodpecker has all of the weight and solidity of the Volare and most, but not quite all, of the detail and resolving prowess of the Origin Live.

Both of the Feickert decks give music a live feel, a natural sound with a slight emphasis on low/mid-bass, an emphasis which extends up and through into the midrange, manifesting as warmth and ‘flesh on bones’. The Origin Live is still musically engaging, never fatiguing, but presents as a slightly more analytical tool, allowing you to see through crystal clear glass into the recording booth. This level of transparency has been quite rare in my vinyl journey, I can say confidently that none of the decks I’ve owned over the years have been capable of digging the same amount of information out of the groove and presenting it in such a detailed, musical, and cohesive manner.

The star in this group however is the little Volare. It’s an outstanding turntable for the money, and almost at the level of the far costlier Woodpecker, with which it shares a very similar sonic signature. I doubt if you’d hear much difference in sound if you mounted the Kuzma arm on the Volare deck than that of the Woodpecker/Kuzma combo. Of course, that nasty little vibration issue would need to be addressed if you’re running subs or your speakers have deep bass.

So if you’re on a tighter budget, and you like your music presented with good bottom-end authority, with a ‘weightier’ sound, pick up a Dr. Feickert Volare, I’m convinced you’ll love it. And the Origin Live Silver tonearm is a great partner for the Volare and a great starting out point. I’m convinced the Volare could carry a far more costly arm and not constrain its performance, so there’s a natural and safe upgrade path open to you. 

If my audiophile vernacular hasn’t made much sense to you and you’re not really understanding the differences in sound presentation that I’ve painted for you above, then I can’t emphasize strongly enough the need for a home demo. Buying and setting up a high-end turntable is no easy task, so don’t take a gamble based on this, or any other review. I know it isn’t always easy to find and listen to a turntable locally, let alone finding one for a home demo, so if you have any questions about what I’ve written and about my experiences with these tables, just drop a line in the comments below and I will do my best to answer it.

As for me, and my next purchase, I’m leaning toward another Origin Live ;

CAH 2024

Note – The Origin Live Resolution was purchased with all available factory add-ons when I ordered it in December 2022.

Since these tables were owned and used over around 18 months or so, the list of associated gear is too long to list. That said, they each were used with several key pieces of equipment, including:

  • Manley Labs Steelhead Phono
  • Thor Audio TPA-60 power amps
  • Thore Audio TA 1000 preamps
  • Dunlavy SCIII speakers
  • Many, many other pieces of audio gear floated in and out, but the above gear was used with each of the turntables at one time or another.

Cartridges used in the assessment of the above included:

  • Hana ML
  • Ortofon Cadenza Bronze
  • XYZ 100
  • Benz Micro LPS