Clearaudio Innovation Wood vs. TW Acoustic

I was wondering if anyone has been fortunate enough to be able to compare these two rigs and would care to share their experiences with them .good, bad, or ugly.

Interested in sonic differences, speed stability, reliability issues, sensitivity to footfalls, etc.

Thanks much for any contributions you might be able and willing to make!
No Regrets
A good friend has Inovation Wood and I have TW Raven AC.
Both are really good but very different sounding turntable so personal preference and the rest of your system will be very important. If you want a turntable that is a bit more lively, clean, clear, detail, fast, Clearaudio would way the way to go. TW will be more relax, richer sounding, more quiet background. This is for Raven AC-1 (the one motor version). To compete with Clearaudio in the bass area, you will definitely needs the new 3 motors pod (I have not heard the standard Raven AC-3 though so I am not sure of the sonic quality of 3 separate motors units)/
However, some of the sonic quality can also be improved or change depending on your choice of tonearm and cartridge as well though.
I've never heard the TW but owned the Innovation Wood for a couple of years, so I can comment on it. I found it fast and lively with deep, solid bass and pretty good tonal balance that was biased toward leanness. I used a Phantom II and a Clearaudio Universal arm, much preferring the Graham. The Universal is fast and lively, itself, resulting in too much of that character for my taste. The combination was exciting but could sound hard and glassy on some LPs.

Speed stability is good, although the molded rubber belt has a lumpy joint that causes an inconsistency when passing along the motor pulley. Inaudible, perhaps, but visible when watching the belt or monitoring speed with a KAB strobe. The supplied spare belt had this issue, too.

My DC motor was a little noisy and grew noisier with age, which may be characteristic of the breed. Because it is integral to the plinth and tripod support-structure, the motor transmits some noise to the armboards, readily audible through a stethoscope. I don't think it's a big deal but it adds to the noise floor.

I found this table to benefit hugely from the use of a Minus-K vibration platform. Everything improved, especially suppleness, depth, clarity, and tonal richness. After a few months, I removed the platform as an experiment, placing the IW directly on my Adona shelf and rack. The leanness that was merely a tendency when on the Minus-K became the deck's dominant characteristic, although it hadn't been so noticeable before I added the platform.

All this might sound like I'm bashing the Innovation Wood but I don't mean to be. It's a very good TT with a lot of solid and innovative engineering behind it, like its ceramic/magnetic bearing and optical speed control. The selection of tonearm and vibration control can really raise its game, as is the case with any 'table. And the accessory Statement Clamp and Outer Ring, while pricey, help to bring its focus and musicality to a higher level. The combination looks pretty cool, too, like an extra-terrestrial wedding cake, one friend said.
Hello Suteetat,

Thank you for your reply and sharing your experiences between the two tables in question.

Out of curiosity, could you share what type of equipment your friend is using with his Innovation Wood, or whether it was tube based or solid state? Your system, by the way, looks very impressive!

How does the speed stability seem to be with the TW?

Thank you again for taking the time to respond to my thread!
Hello Wrm57,

Thank you for taking the time to give me such an in-depth and honest review of the Innovation Wood. I appreciate the helpful tips in regards to tone arms, platform support, clamp and ring.

Do you still have the Innovation Wood or have you moved on to another table?

Another table I am considering is the Spiral Groove….have you had any experience with this and how do you feel it would compare to the Clearaudio?

Thanks again for sharing your experiences with me!
No_regrets, my friend's system consists of top of line T&A active speakers (I think it is now not the current model), a McIntosh pre (can't remember the model, one of the anniversary model I believe) and ARC Ref2 phono. He uses Graham arm and Ortofon A90 and a Benz LPS on second Graham armwand.
I don't think either table has any problem with speed stability that I could hear.
No experience with Spiral Groove but I imagine that it would another excellent contender.

btw Minus K works extremely well with TW as well and I would not hesitate to recommend it at all.
Hi No-regrets,

No experience at all with Spiral Groove.

I replaced the IW with a Brinkmann Oasis, which I really like. Lower noise floor, better articulation of instruments in space, very neutral and natural in presentation with maybe slightly better speed stability, though the IW had no notable problems in this regard. Its ergonomics are simple and elegant, and the armboards are brilliantly engineered with extremely high tolerances. The IW maybe dug a little deeper in the bass.

I made the move mostly because I wanted to try a next-gen direct drive, and I'm glad I did. I wish the Oasis took two arms, though. Its integral screw-on clamp works very well but requires some getting used to: slight differences in screwing tension have sonic consequences, so you have to come up with a repeatable method. And the Oasis needs the Minus-K even more than the IW did. Right on the shelf it sounds relatively hard and thin.

In the same system , I also have a fully-updated Nantais Reference Lenco with two arms, and it might be my favorite (at least sometimes). Great rhythmic grip and drive with plenty of detail retrieval and coherence, even if it has a slightly higher noise floor, is a bit less precise in articulation, and is marginally less neutral than the Oasis with a warmer presentation. Excellent speed stability, too. And perhaps because of its 100lb+ plinth, the Lenco doesn't require a Minus-K nearly as much as the other two decks.

So I'm belt-free for the first time since I cut my teeth on a Dual idler in the '70s. I might return to a belt-drive in the future--plenty of good ones out there--but I'm happy without for now.

Hope this helps.

Hi Suteetat,

Thank you for telling me more about your friend's system. When you described the Innovation Wood as being….clean, clear, detailed, and fast….it made me think that maybe his system was based on solid state rather than tubes.

I'm a tube guy myself and really value the harmonic richness and purity of tone that can be achieved with some vacuum tube gear.

It's good to know that you felt as though both tables excelled with their speed stability.

The MinusK sounds like a very valuable component to be utilized….I'll have to check into them more.

Thank you again for sharing your thoughts and experiences with me!

Happy New Year!
Hi Bill,

I really appreciate your responses as they give excellent comparisons between the various tables and how the use or non-use of the MinusK affects the sound of the tables.

I remember when the reviews of the Brinkman Balance came out….it sounded like it would be right up my alley. I've never had the opportunity to hear any of the Brinkman tables. I wonder if the Oasis and the Balance retain a similar house sound, even though their drives are different?

Thanks again for your time and help. Happy New Year!
The Balance is another beast entirely. While I've never heard one, I have little doubt that it's in a different league than the Oasis. Its price-point certainly is.

Happy New Year to you, too!
Thanks Wrm57 for sharing your thoughts on the Brinkman with me. I do kind of cringe at the thought of paying that much for a vinyl rig, but at the same time, when I listen to really good vinyl…it sends goosebumps up and down my body. I have such an emotional connection to the music when listening to vinyl that it just seems to happen naturally. There are times when my digital can do it as well, although not nearly as often. It is in this vein that I try to justify the expense….but if I could find a pristine example in the preowned market, I could be persuaded to take advantage of that.

I wish that there could be an easy way to audition analog rigs in a meaningful way so that a person could better know how it actually is contributing to the whole sonic picture.

In any case, I truly appreciate both you and Suteetat sharing your thoughts and experiences with me on this subject.

Warmest regards,
Sure thing, No-regrets, happy to help. I sure know what you mean about the emotional magic of vinyl. Nice Balances at good prices do come up occasionally for sale here. I almost grabbed one a year ago for around $10k, complete with dedicated HRS vibration base. But you'll have to be patient to go that route--not so easy to do!

Good luck and best wishes.
Hi Wrm57,

Wow, 10K for that sounds like a steal to me….I would have had a hard time passing that up. I will try to be patient and bide my time for a few months, but I think once the Chicago Axpona comes this spring I will be chopping at the bit!

I wonder how the HRS base compares to that of the MinusK?

Take care,
No Regrets