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Published August 1, 2008


Dual CS 435-1 Turntable

Dual -- or Gebrüder Steidinger, as it was originally known -- was founded in 1900 by Christian Steidinger in St. Georgen, Germany. At first they manufactured spring-wound motors. In 1927 the company changed its name to Dual to honor a technological advance in motor assembly -- the record players the company now made were literally run by two motors, hence the name.

After surviving both World Wars, Dual began in earnest to produce turntables for the consumer market. In 1949 they released the legendary 1000, and, in 1958, their first stereo model. Things continued to motor (sorry) along until the early 1980s, when Dual began to experience a decline in sales that coincided with the advent of the CD. In 1982 the company declared bankruptcy, though employees, with the assistance of their dealer network, kept the company running to keep the Dual name viable.

In July 1982, Dual was purchased by Thompson-Brandt, which allowed them to continue to refine their products. Once CD had become the major music-carrying medium, Dual went through a number of ownership changes. Since 1997, the Fehrenbacker Company has been the maker of Dual turntables in St. Georgen, said ’tables being the ones available today. It’s been a long and torturous road, but the Dual name is still alive, and Dual is still dedicated to building the best turntables they can.

The CS 435-1 ($749 USD), near the bottom of Dual’s new line, is intended to meet the needs of the vinyl novice, or of the veteran analog lover who’s considering pulling his old LPs out of storage.


The Dual CS 435-1 is almost a plug’n’play turntable. If you think that’s nothing to get excited about, try one of the competition that doesn’t include everything you’ll need to play your LPs, already set up, and you’ll soon see what I’m talking about.

The Dual looks the way most people think a turntable should: no fancy-schmantzy design, no exotic materials, no high price to cover all those extras. What you get for your $749 are the basics, designed and implemented so that you can quickly begin to enjoy your LPs again -- or for the first time. The CS 435-1 comes in matte black, measures 17.2"W x 4.6"H x 14"D (440mmW x 119mmH x 360mmD), and weighs 12 pounds (5.5kg). It’s belt-driven, has two speeds (33.33 and 45rpm), and can be operated fully automatically or semi-automatically (see below). It comes with antiresonant feet, a floating subchassis, and an antistatic platter. It has a claimed wow & flutter of WRMS 0.05%, a weighted rumble of >68dB, and a frequency response of 10Hz-22kHz.

The only aspects of the Dual CS 435-1 that are not ready to go, straight from the box, are the wall-wart power supply, the tonearm counterweight, and the dustcover. The power supply plugs into your power strip and the back of the ’table. The dustcover’s two hinge clips slip into slots at the back of the ’table; you insert the cover, which then can be raised or lowered. The counterweight is only a bit more involved. Dual provides a skimpy but complete owner’s manual that explains exactly how to attach the counterweight and align it to properly adjust it to zero balance, and then how to properly set it for the supplied Dual cartridge. I followed the instructions and had everything up and running in less than half an hour.

To check the accuracy of Dual’s basic factory setup, I pulled out my alignment tools. The cartridge was close enough to perfect alignment that I felt no need to adjust it. Set up following Dual’s directions, the counterweight was off by less than 0.5gm. I then set the tracking force to what the manual recommends for the supplied cartridge. But should you worry about either setting, just make sure the dealer you buy the Dual from double-checks them, or have a friend with a set of alignment tools stop by for a beer and a quick check. Other than that, the 435-1 was ready to go.

All controls are topside, front right. A switch chooses between 33.33 and 45rpm. The Dual gives you a choice of operation: fully automatic (push the lift switch down) or semiautomatic (raise the tonearm via another switch and move it over the record). But no matter how you start the CS 435-1, it automatically lifts the arm at the end of the side, returns it to its rest, and turns off the platter. Couch potato that I’ve become, this was one of the things that pleased me to no end. No muss, no fuss, no annoying thump, thump, thump of the stylus bumping against the lead-out groove. Very nice. I quickly got used to the auto-play feature, and can see why many would be willing to spend a bit extra over basic manual ’tables to get those automatic features.

One last thing: The CS 435-1 has captive tonearm and ground wires; if you plan to upgrade, this isn’t the ’table for you. But I wouldn’t lose sleep over this.


I plugged the CS 435-1 into my Audio Research PH5 phono stage, replacing my normal analog rig of VPI HW-19 Mk.IV turntable, SME 309 tonearm, and Audio-Technica OC9 moving-coil cartridge. The PH5 is connected to an ARC LS17 preamp, which drives a Bryston 4B-SST power amp, which in turn feeds my Paradigm Reference Studio 100 v.3 speakers. Together, the VPI ($1800 when last available), SME ($2195), and A-T ($599) cost more than six times as much as the Dual ($749), but I thought that if the CS 435-1 did no more than hold its own in this system without embarrassing itself, it should do just fine in one far less expensive.


The first thing I noticed after letting the Dual run in for a bit was that it offered the analog newbie -- or the older analog lover who’s spent the last quarter-century with digital sound but still has a stack of vinyl he just can’t part with -- a pleasing set of virtues.

The CS 435-1 with Dual cartridge (it looks suspiciously like an entry-level Shure) had a good sense of timing. Don’t for a minute think that this is an unimportant quality. If a turntable is running even slightly fast or slow, you’ll hear it almost immediately. The Dual’s smooth, relaxed, stable sound never varied in the time it was plugged into my system. Dire Straits’ eponymous debut album [Warner Bros. BSK 3266] showed off this aspect. Without good speed stability, the rhythmic quality needed to drive this group’s music along would be lacking. I’ve heard far more expensive turntables that didn’t run as stably as the Dual.

While the Dual’s sound was weighted a bit toward the bass, it didn’t shortchange the rest of the audioband. The midrange -- where most music takes place -- was full, rich, and meaty, and the treble was clean and clear, lacking only the utmost in extension. Cymbal strokes were rendered with a good sense of initial impact, and a sense of decay as the sound died away. The bass, while a bit heavier and more prominent than it should have been, was still fairly taut, full, and well defined. No, it didn’t go overly deep -- a fault I lay more at the feet of the cartridge than the ’table -- but it was there, and it wasn’t one-note bass, either. The Dual had the cojones to be able to differentiate low notes well enough that I could hear what the bass player was up to.

Unlike some inexpensive or older turntables, the Dual CS 435-1 could make a piano sound like the large percussion instrument it is. While listening to the Red Garland Trio’s self-titled album [Moodsville/OJC-224], I could hear Garland pounding the keyboard, and that pounding being relayed to the hammers and then to the strings. The ’table’s speed stability paid dividends by making the sound of the piano whole and coherent. Nothing spoils a listening session more than a component that distorts the sound in some way. Thankfully, the Dual didn’t, but maintained its composure.

The CS 435-1 handled resolution very well, a feature often overlooked at or near its price. This quality was demonstrated when I played Paul Desmond and Gerry Mulligan’s Two of a Mind [RCA LSP-2624]. The Dual clearly let me hear the differences between Desmond’s alto and Mulligan’s baritone sax, in both size and sonic signature, the alto smaller and higher in pitch, the baritone bigger, fuller, and deeper. But both had that reedy, burnished-brass sax timbre while still sounding like two distinctly different instruments. I hadn’t expected to hear this level of resolution from a turntable costing as little as the CS 435-1.

The one area that could use some improvement is Dual’s choice of cartridge. While it’s nice to have a complete package, and the Dual-badged MC isn’t the worst I’ve heard, it wasn’t up to the level the CS 435-1 is capable of. For one thing, it did little to lessen surface noise, something other inexpensive cartridges can do a much better job of. If you have older LPs, or if you frequent the used-record bins, surface noise is your constant companion; a cartridge that will minimize that noise is all the better. While the Dual cartridge did a good job of playing music, as noted above, it didn’t reach the levels I’ve heard from other inexpensive cartridges. My suggestion is to use and enjoy the CS 435-1 as is; then, if you decide you’d like better sound and funds permit, think about upgrading the cartridge. Still, if this is my biggest complaint, then Dual has done a better-than-average job of putting together a turntable-tonearm-cartridge package at a price most will find affordable.

While there are cheaper turntables out there from Rega, Pro-Ject, and Music Hall, none offers the Dual CS 435-1’s level of convenience -- and the Rega doesn’t even come with a cartridge. Take that into consideration when it’s time to make your decision. The Dual’s auto-turnoff feature is nothing to sneeze at. It lets you fully enjoy each album side without having to jump out of your chair before the needle hits the outer groove, and without the banging at the end of the side that destroys the mood the music has just put you in.


The CS 435-1 is no giant killer -- I never once considered replacing my VPI-SME-AT setup with it. But I enjoyed the time I spent listening to music as reproduced by the Dual. I found it a good, solid choice for the analog lover who’s looking to get back in the game with a minimum of muss and fuss, and who values the automatic abilities of the CS 435-1 more than its cheaper alternatives. While it can wrest truly enjoyable music out of any decent LP you play on it, I felt that the Dual’s biggest weakness was the cartridge. I feel that, for not much more money, you could take the Dual to its limit by installing a cartridge more in line with the ’table’s abilities, such as the new Ortofon 2M Red ($99), the Sumiko Pearl ($95), or the Grado Prestige Blue ($80), any of which, I feel, will offer far better sound for a modest price.

But even right out of the box, as delivered, the Dual CS 435-1 offers more than a mere glimpse of high-quality analog sound. You’ll find yourself enjoying music for hours at a time. While it’s taken me a long time to hear what a Dual turntable is really capable of, I’m glad I got the chance to hear the CS 435-1. It shows that, 30 years or more on, Dual is still building top-flight turntables with full complements of features at prices well within the reach of anyone looking to return to analog.

. . . John Crossett

Price of equipment reviewed

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