Dual CS 418 Review

by crackler01

After a long time here is a text about the turntable in my new Dual CS 418 Review.

The Dual CS 418 marks a new beginning for the traditional brand and wants to score with a built-in phono preamplifier, high-quality cartridge, and clean sound. Will he succeed?

Dual CS 418 Review – Intro

The long and checkered history of the Dual brand is getting a new chapter: With the Dual CS 418, Dual GmbH is appearing for the first time as a manufacturer of upscale turntables. The Landsberg company has held the rights to the traditional name for decades but had granted Alfred Fehrenbacher GmbH in the Black Forest the license to manufacture the classic hi-fi turntables. The Landsbergers have now collected this license again – and with the CS 418 and its bigger brother CS 518 presented the first two models manufactured in-house.

Dual CS 418 Review

Dual CS 418 Specifications

Motor

  • Drive: Belt
  • Speed settings: 33/45/78
  • Wow & Flutter: < ±0,1 % (DIN WTD)

Tonearm

  • Auto-Start/-Stop-Function: ✕
  • Bearing: Ball-bearing
  • Effective length: 221,5 mm
  • Offset Angle: 25,6°
  • Overhang: 19 mm
  • Type: statically balanced
  • Stylus Pressure Range: 0 g to 4 g
  • Cartridge Weight Range: 5 g to 9 g
  • Factory installed cartridge: Ortofon 2M Red

Platter

  • Material: Die-cast aluminum
  • Mat: Rubber 2,5 mm
  • Bearing: Hardened steel spindle, Brass bushing
  • Diameter: 305 mm
  • Weight (incl. Mat): 850 g

Plinth

  • Material: MDF, folded
  • Surface finish: Vinyl veneer / Black
  • Feet: Ø 62 mm / Elastomer
  • Connection: RCA socket
  • Connection to Phono Input: ✓
  • Connection to Line Input: ✓
  • Digital Output: ✕
  • Dimension, closed dustcover: 435 x 367 x 145 mm
  • Dimension, open dustcover: D: 415 mm / H: 400 mm
  • Weight: 5,8 kg
  • Power plug AC/DC: External power supply

You can download the manual here->Dual CS 418 Manual

Dual CS 418 Review – Construction

The developer of the Dual CS418 is very well known: among connoisseurs and collectors of the traditional brand, Alfred “Dualfred” Langer is considered a technology visionary with a special weakness for direct drives. Nevertheless, he designed the 418 and 518 models with belt drives – simply because serious direct drives are more expensive than the budget for these models allows.

After conscientious calculations, the Landsberg company also had to reject production in Europe: CS 418 and CS 518 are assembled in China. Of course, Dual is in the best of the company: in addition to dozens of other brands, the old rival of Dual, Thorens, for example, also uses large OEM specialists in Asia. And with ultra-high-end models like the TD 124 DD, it also shows what perfection you can get there – if you order and pay for them.

The CS 418 already feels very stable and wobble-free when unpacked. One could only dream of such processing in the “golden” Dual era 40 or 50 years ago. Even with models that, adjusted for inflation, were significantly more expensive than today’s CS 418. A generously dimensioned box with clear edges forms the basis of the player. It is made entirely of 12.5-millimeter thick MDF, with additional MDF blocks for reinforcement. The case back is also made of thick medium-density fiberboard.

Dual CS 418 Construction

The Dual CS 418 is solidly built

The platter bearing consists of a brass bushing in which a steel axle runs. With a diameter of 10mm, the axle is surprisingly big – especially in view of the relatively light plate – and should probably retain its honey-fine, smooth-turning feeling forever. Only during the first few hours of operation did the tightly tolerated bearing make a very slight grinding noise, which then disappeared and never came back.

Dual CS 418 bearings

Key component: The platter bearing of the Dual CS 418 is dimensioned for eternity with an axle diameter of 10 millimeters. The axle is made of hardened steel and runs wonderfully smoothly in a brass bushing. | Image: Dual

The Dual CS 418 is powered by a small DC motor. The unit runs very quietly at 33 RPM and is significantly louder at 45 and 78 RPM. Thanks to the elastically decoupled assembly of the motor, the running noises do not find their way into the music signal. The unusual placement of the motor also contributes to the decoupling: It sits on the front left instead of the usual rear left on the frame. This is a well-known design trick that is intended to improve smoothness.

Dual CS 418 DC-motor construction

Striking parallels: the motor and platter bearings are aligned exactly in the “travel direction” of the needle. | Image: Dual

Engine at half past seven: Why the old pink triangle trick improves smoothness?

Every motor vibrates as it rotates. With a record player, these vibrations are the number one enemy of sound. Because the cartridge cannot tell whether a groove modulation is shaking its needle or a mechanical fault that has cheated its way from the motor to the platter or tonearm. With a belt drive, there are two ways for vibration to get into the output signal: via the common frame on which the motor, platter, and arm are mounted, and via the drive belt, which creates a direct connection between the motor and platter. However, the elastic belt can only transfer significant energy when it is under tension – and then preferably in the direction of this tension. This fact can be played off against a special feature of all MM and MC pickups: the systems prefer to “see” lateral deflections. If the belt is oriented in such a way that, from a system point of view, unwanted vibrations traveling with you arrive exactly from the front, their share in the useful signal is reduced. The physicist and record player developer Arthur Khoubesserian propagated this motor arrangement in the 80s and 90s with his company Pink Triangle, which also offered corresponding conversion kits for other record players. The actual behavior of vibrations is of course much more complex. However, this measure certainly makes a small contribution to better sound.

Sale
Dual Electronics Dual CS 418 Belt Drive Manual Turntable Black Vinyl Veneer
1 Reviews
Dual Electronics Dual CS 418 Belt Drive Manual Turntable Black Vinyl Veneer
  • Solid MDF plinth with a black vinyl veneer
  • Precise aluminium die–cast platter
  • Solid aluminum construction tonearm with ball–bearings
  • Low vibration DC–Servo–Motor Drive
  • Removable dust cover

In fact, the Dual CS 418 seems to be superior to competitor turntables in terms of smoothness – despite or because of its very simple drive concept. Unlike the AT-LPW-50PB from Audio-Technica, for example, the Dual CS 418 does not constantly measure the actual platter speed. He merely keeps the voltage for his DC motor as constant as possible. And at three different values, depending on which speed you have selected with the cleanly latching selector switch. There is a choice of 33⅓, 45, and 78 revolutions, and each one was spot-on in the test device. If this changes at some point, for example, because the belt loses some tension with age, you can readjust all three speeds individually.

Dual CS 418 speed adjustment

1 – trim pots for fine speed adjustments; 2 – speed selector

The tonearm bearings are a notorious weakness of inexpensive players. Precision bearings are expensive to buy and need to be carefully assembled and adjusted – which again costs money. However, the straight arm of the CS 418 surprises with really play-free running and at the same time very low friction – both excellent basic requirements for low-distortion sound.

Dual CS 418 tonearm

The tonearm of the CS418 looks like many others, but surprises with very decent bearing quality. There is no height adjustment, but you can live with that.

The headshell of the tonearm is removable but sits firmly and wobble-free at the end of the aluminum tonearm tube. Overall, the tonearm makes a very good mechanical impression. Which in turn allows the pre-assembled cartridge to show itself from its best side. Mounted on the CS 418, Dual uses the proven Ortofon 2M Red moving MM cartridge. A high-quality choice, which then also proved itself in the listening test with a precise, cleanly drawn sound.

Ortofon 2M Red Moving Magnet Cartridge
2,066 Reviews
Ortofon 2M Red Moving Magnet Cartridge
  • Universal fit for most turntables
  • Upgrade from stock cartridges
  • The Ortofon 2M Red is an all-purpose cartridge that delivers open, dynamic sound with a slight touch of warmth
  • The Ortofon 2M Red features an Elliptical diamond
  • Can be upgraded with an Ortofon Stylus 2M Blue

Dual CS 418 Review – Connectivity

The connector panel on the back panel of the Dual CS 418 presents gold-plated cinch sockets to which you can plug in the supplied cable or any other phono cable. The easiest way to do this is to use the built-in phono preamp. Then you can easily connect the CS 418 to a line input of your amplifier or directly to active loudspeakers with a stereo cable.

If your amplifier has a good phono input or if you want to use an external phono preamplifier, you have to think about the additional ground wire, which is absolutely necessary for hum-free operation. It connects the small screw terminal next to the cinch sockets to a corresponding point on your preamplifier. The built-in phono part is switched on and off with a small slide switch on the back.

Dual CS 418 backside connections

The choice is yours: With the integrated phono preamplifier, you can connect the Dual CS 418 to practically any amplifier or active speakers

Sound Test

I initially ran the CS 418 in my listening room for 48 hours to give the motor and platter bearings some break-in time. I also treated the cartridge to a few operating hours before making any critical comparisons. The Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Evo, one of the currently best-sounding mid-class turntables, served as a competitor.

The Pro-Ject has the same cartridge as the Dual CS 418. That makes the comparison even more exciting. Because everything I hear about the differences results from the qualities of the two turntables and tonearms, not from the cartridge.

The Dual performed surprisingly well in the listening comparison. It runs quietly, with stable synchronism despite its fairly light platter. With the CS 418, even difficult vinyl records such as Nick Cave’s solo concerto “Idiot Prayer” can be enjoyed from start to finish: piano chords fade away with stability, the recording room (Alexandra Palace, a concert hall in London) takes on realistic dimensions, the calm, concentrated atmosphere of the performance becomes noticeable.

The Dual’s handling of the album’s high dynamics is also impressive: poor tonearms quickly produce audible distortions when the grand piano is played loudly. However, the Dual CS 418 stays clean, even when Nick Cave hits the keys harder. It’s also nice that the spatial perspective of the piano is retained in the loud passages: Many beginner turntables get a kind of tunnel vision when it becomes dynamically demanding. The acoustic panorama then temporarily collapses in the middle.

Sale
Dual Electronics Dual CS 418 Belt Drive Manual Turntable Black Vinyl Veneer
1 Reviews
Dual Electronics Dual CS 418 Belt Drive Manual Turntable Black Vinyl Veneer
  • Solid MDF plinth with a black vinyl veneer
  • Precise aluminium die–cast platter
  • Solid aluminum construction tonearm with ball–bearings
  • Low vibration DC–Servo–Motor Drive
  • Removable dust cover

Without a direct comparison, there are hardly any criticisms of the sound of the Dual CS418. In the silence between the songs, there is absolutely no engine noise, and the difficult-to-reproduce percussive character of the piano attacks comes across very nicely. The impression is similarly positive with other records – such as “Unsung Heroine” by Norwegian indie romantics Midnight Choir or the edgy UK post-punk of Shame on their 2021 album “Drunk Tank Pink”.

If the Dual competes directly against the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Evo, you will be torn: “Born In Luton” by Shame sounds silkier in the treble and at the same time more powerful in the bass with the Pro-Ject. The CS 418 looks a bit slimmer and more mid-range here. But it catches up even more guitar, vocal and keyboard tracks pile up in the track’s finale. He may not play quite as juicy and large-scale, but he always retains control and an overview of the musical happenings. In the end, the sound is of course always a question of taste, but objectively the Dual lets the Pro-Ject take precedence.

Dual CS 418 Video Review

Final Verdict

An aluminum platter with a rubber mat, an angular housing covered with imitation of the wood, and the somewhat large nameplate give the Dual a striking, but also somewhat brittle touch. In terms of sound, the stately player convinces with good dynamics and clear definition. Right away one of the most recommendable mid-class turntables: The CS418 not only means a good, sustainable start into the analog HiFi world for its future owners but also for its creators at Dual GmbH.

Dual CS 418 Pro & Cons

Pros

  • Quiet and low-noise drive
  • Dynamic and transparent sound
  • Integrated phono preamp

Cons

  • No adjustable feet
  • Sounds a bit too sharp sometimes

Great turntable in this price range. Decent sound, good tonearm and cartridge, quality bearings.
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