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Moustaches’ Adventures in Analog – MoFi StudioDeck Review (with Serafim, the Carpenter)

In my childhood, I often encountered a man in Aldeia de Baixo whom, we kids called Serafim – the Carpenter.

My father was a industrial machinery technician. Even today, more than a decade after his retirement, he still has enormous, thick hands and fingers. For comparison, his fingers are roughly twice the thickness of mine. But if my father’s hands were in the Champions League of hand size, Serafim – the Carpenter’s hands belonged to a different league, to the Galactics of hand size. Perhaps he belonged to a time when everything was learned through trial and error (and error was followed by a slap on the neck, courtesy of his master). Given the size of his fingers and hands, precision wasn’t likely to be Serafim’s strong suit. For every nail he tried to hit, he surely bang two fingers first. That must have been Serafim – the Carpenter’s childhood.

MoFi StudioDeck

Since then, whenever an illustrative image of someone lacking manual delicacy is needed, my childhood friends and I remember Serafim – the Carpenter and his enormous hands and fingers flapping beside his legs, at the end of his long, oar-like arms, as he walked decisively through the streets of Aldeia de Baixo.

MoFi StudioDeck

My hands, compared to Serafim’s, seem like pianist’s hands, but when it comes to the mechanisms of a turntable, I behave as Serafim would, performing brain surgery, only without the cold sweats. So, one of the things I quickly learned to appreciate in my recent return to vinyl was the solid construction and components of a turntable. This MoFi is reassuring in this aspect because of how it feels when I handle it.

MoFi StudioDeck

This, along with a series of interesting technical details, especially when considering the manufacturer’s asking price, makes the MoFi immediately appealing to a music lover who doesn’t want to spend a small fortune on a new turntable. For those like me, coming from many years of exclusive digital use, this is a perfect start for my analog adventures, or even as a definitive solution. Here is a complete deck, for convenience, with tonearm and cartridge already included.


MoFi StudioDeck

The solid MDF chassis rests on resonance control feet from HRS – Harmonic Resolution Systems. The Delrin motor pulley connects to the platter with an orange rubber belt. The 1.7kg platter is also Delrin made, a thermoplastic created by DuPont with vinyl similar physical characteristics. The platter sits on an inverted stainless steel bearing with Teflon cushion. The StudioDeck’s aluminum tonearm, also present in the higher-end MoFi UltraDeck model, is 10 inches long, a feature I don’t recall seeing in this price range. It’s adjustable for tracking force, VTA, azimuth, and anti-skate. The unit present at MoustachesTower came with the StudioTracker cartridge already installed, perfectly tuned by Francisco from Ultimate Audio, MoFi’s Portugal distributor. The asking price for this deck is €1749 (including the plastic cover). It can be ordered without a cartridge for €1599, with the UltraTracker cartridge for €1999, or with the MasterTracker for €2199. All factory-available cartridges for the StudioDeck are Moving Magnets. I heard this deck at an Ultimate Audio’s event (report here) with a Hana MC Shibata cartridge (€690), and the jump in sound quality is substantial. For those with the budget, it’s seriously worth considering.

MoFi StudioDeck Tonearm

The tonearm gently lowers onto the record, and the needle thanks it. The On/Off button lights up orange when turned on, making an interesting visual combination with the belt of the same color. To switch between 33 and 45 RPM and vice versa, just change the belt position on the pulley.

Paired Equipment

This StudioDeck has been with me for over half a year now, allowing me to develop a knowing relationship. Usually, the equipment arrives, and just when I start to get attached to it (which sometimes happens), it has to go back.

MoFi StudioDeck + Serblin & Son Frankie EX

This one was connected not only to the phono stages of the Serblin & Son Frankie EX integrated amplifier (review here) and the Marantz Stereo 70s receiver (review coming soon), but also to the Rothwell Simplex phono preamp. With the Simplex, it played with the Axxess Forté 1 integrated (review here), the AudioNote Cobra, and the Pier Audio MS-480 SE (reviews of these three amplifiers will be available in the coming days). It has played with the Triangle Borea 03 speakers, the Indiana Line Diva 252, Alacrity Audio Dundee 5, the PMC Prodigy 5, and the Bowers & Wilkins 607 S3 (reviews of the PMC and B&W also here soon).

How Does StudioDeck Sound?

Unity by Larry Young: This album is a jam session with Larry Young’s organ, Joe Henderson’s saxophone, Woody Shaw’s trumpet, and Elvin Jones’s drums. The challenge lies in Elvin Jones’s cymbals, present throughout the album, and the risk of them becoming too abrasive, sharp, or tiring. This didn’t happen. Even to my digitaly trained ears, the detail and clarity across the frequency range of this turntable are delightful.

MoFi StudioDeck

Two Headed Freap by Ronnie Foster: Here too, Jimmy Johnson’s ride cymbal sounds bright but not overwhelming, on the edge of sweet and sour. Again, precision is key, with the added weight present in this album. This turntable seems designed for ears trained in digital era, accustomed to seeking detail. The music is presented as a clear picture, but without losing the sense of emotion. As in Unity, this picture is clear, but with all the meat, meaning a full sound, with some (few) fatty bits here and there. These fatty bits remind me of Maradona in his glory years before falling into the grips of the Neapolitan Camorra. As with him, The music always sounded agile and fluid. In Two Headed Freap, the version of Al Green’s Let’s Stay Together shines, reproducing all the nuances the performers imbued in the music.

MoFi StudioDeck

Common Touch by Stanley Turrentine: This album is an ode to cool, and the StudioDeck interprets it precisely that way, delivering the nuances and details in just the right measure to make the music move me. Though far from being a fanatic of these sounds, I couldn’t help but tap my foot or slightly nod my head to the sounds of Stanley Turrentine, Shirley Scott, and the rest of the troupe.

And What About Serafim?

Let’s return to Serafim – the Carpenter. I imagine him returning home after another arduous day of work. With no one watching, all by himself. He pulls out a black vinyl record and plays it. I imagine him, capable of handling the StudioDeck with his thick fingers and rough ways. To counterbalance, its detailed sonic signature. The clarity, defined bass, meaty midrange, and bright treble, with a wide, deep, and defined soundstage. Serafim, finally relaxed, listening to Com Que Voz. His tough exterior finally shed, sitting in his armchair, old brandy in his left hand, his weathered features gazing, holding in his right hand the cover of the record of his favorite fado singer, Amália Rodrigues. At that moment, everything boils down to that voice.

MoFi Studio Deck + Axxess Forté 1 (with Rothwell Simplex)


Motor: 300 RPM AC Synchronous

Speed: 33 1/3 RPM, 45.0 RPM

Platter: 3.88 lb Delrin®

Wow & Flutter: 0.017% – 0.025%

Signal-To-Noise Ratio: 72dB

Power Supply Requirements: 120V 60Hz, 220-230V 50Hz, 100V 50Hz

Power Consumption: < 5W

Dimensions: 19.69″ x 5.375″ x 14.25″

Weight: 19.1 lb

Tonearm specifications

Type: 10″ straight aluminum, gimbaled bearing

Overhang: 0.71″ (18mm)

Offset Angle: 22.8˚ (+/- 2˚ adjustable)

Cartridge Weight Range: 5g – 10g


• 33-1/3 and 45.0 RPM belt drive turntable

• Custom design and manufactured in the USA

• 10-inch MoFi Studio Tonearm

• 3/4-inch Delrin® platter

• Isolated 300 RPM AC synchronous motor

• Anti-Vibration feet designed by HRS

Product page

Pairing equipment

  • MoFi StudioDeck, turntable with tonearm and cartridge included
  • Rothwell Simplex, MM phono pre-amplifier
  • Serblin & Son Frankie EX, class AB solid state integrated amplifier with MM & MC phono stage
  • Axxess Forté 1, class D solid state integrated amplifier
  • AudioNote (UK) Cobra, class A valve integrated amplifier
  • Pier Audio MS-480 SE, Hybrid class AB integrated amplifier
  • Triangle Borea 03, monitor speakers
  • Indiana Line Diva 252, monitor speakers
  • Alacrity Audio Dundee 5, floorstanding speakers
  • PMC Prodigy 5, floorstanding speakers
  • Bowers & Wilkins 607 S3, monitor speakers
  • Ansuz cabling and power distributor