Raven One Owners - Last Table?

Okay...if you're an audiophile then there's probably never a last one of anything!

Intro: (Please skip to "Where I'm at" if not interested)

I just joined Audiogon because I need a new analog front end. I'm a retired Locksmith hence, "Kennythekey." My first choice was Keyman but that was taken.

My first "stereo," was separate components that I built from a kit sold by Lafayette Electronics. It was crap but I got to use a soldering iron...I was a kid and I was hooked.

All this means, is that I have to save for quite some time before I can buy anything. My upgrade path is slow and my other components are about ten years old. Also, the soldering iron never made me an engineer so my ears are everything.

Where I'm at:
If you read my intro you know I have a slow component turnover rate. That's probably why I posted Last Table?

Besides the new front end, I also want to replace my CJ Premier 11a amp but that may take awhile if I buy the Raven. I also can't afford an arm right now with the Raven and would probably install my old SME 309. I plan on holding onto my BAT VK-5i preamp, McIntosh MR71 tuner, and Thiel 3.6s. I have a relatively small listening room, and the music that makes me happiest is small club live jazz and vocal.

Given my upgrade turnover rate and existing components, is the Raven One a good choice for me...a keeper...last table? I was originally leaning towards the Origin Live Resolution or Aries 3 before I found your thread and joined Audiogon. Additionally, where I'm at none of this stuff is available and I can't afford to travel for listening.
off subject but since my amp is also a Premier 11a was wondering what you were thinking of upgrading to and why. What sort of music do you mostly listen to, for me, it is almost all acoustic.
I'm looking for greater bass control and authority, as well as better spacial focus on the musicians.

Depending on what I wind up spending on my front end will dictate how long before I do the amp upgrade. If this was today, I'd probably go for a tubey sounding solid state such as Pass or Bryston. The Bryston warranty is appealing for someone who holds onto equipment for awhile.

Yes, acoustic jazz that's live is my favorite, but give me well recorded/performed female vocal and I don't care what type it is. I started out with Rock but I feel that the components I own and the space where I listen from, have played a role in influencing my choices.

My old analog front end has been down for quite some time and though I have found some good stuff to listen to on CD, I can't wait to get back.

I took a leap of faith and bought a R1 unheard and at the time unreviewed. There is a local VPI dealer in my hometown. I had an LP12 for 16 years because it had a reliable and extensive dealer network as does VPI. So i hold onto my equipment for a longtime too. In short I couldn't be mnore pleased with the purchse. You should call Jeff Catalano at High Water Sound in NY. After hearing many tables over the years, there are subtle differences but for the way I like to listen to music, it's the ideal platform for me.
Thank you. My concern with the OL Resolution is the plastic motor shaft...at least that's what it looks like. That's why the VPI was appealing...longevity? Who knows, it seems like they've beaten those models to death...tweeker's heaven though.

The R1 looks like it has fantasic build quality. However, I do worry that it may disappear into obscurity...parts?

Do you have a feeling about the R1's sustainable factor?
I think the Raven One would be an excellent choice given your listening preferences and tendency to hold on to equipment for a long time. The flexibility of the Raven would serve you well. For example, the ability to add a second arm/cartridge if you own a lot of mono LP's.

I concur with what others have said about Jeff Catalano at High Water Sound; absolutely first class. He also carries other equipment that may work well for you given your preference for a "tubey sound".

I've only had the opportunity to audition the Raven One at the RMAF, but both years it sounded excellent and it offers great bang for the buck. You definitely a large measure of the bigger Raven AC. Good luck!
Thanks for the recommendation Jazdoc. I read the Stereomojo review on the R1 that indicated that the table was direct purchase from Acustic ($5,000)...that's why the great value. Has there been increases now due to distribution?
Last year I purchased a TW Acustic Raven One and now that I have lived with it for a while I find it to be an extraordinary table for the price.

I narrowed my choice down to two table builders, the Galibier Gavia model and the Raven 1.

The choice was VERY difficult, both tables popular by word of mouth advertising, both tables similarly priced and both are incredible buys, this was pretty much a common comment I came across in North America including over seas.

I wanted a table that would easily accommodate two tone arms, have separate arm boards, known to have extremely good stable speed control and easy to maintain.

What turned me off of some other brands at this price point and this is my personal opinion.

For 6 grand for a table and motor alone the plinth should NOT be made of mdf or plywood or any other inexpensive material that's available at any building supply store including coming with a acrylic platter and rubber drive belt.

The Galibier is tape drive, the Raven has a non rubber belt that was developed by Thomas Woschnick that could be easily converted to tape drive if you wish, some Raven owners have gone this route.

Either table matched up with one of the good tonearms available, cartridges and phono stages WILL astound most anyone.
You make good points Stiltskin...and now that you've opened it up to the Gavia, what factor(s) swayed you over to the Raven? The reason I'm asking, is that I just found out about Galibier and I happen to live in Boulder, Colorado.

If the two tables are that close...
Jeffery of High Water Sound the soul North American importer of TW Acustic audio and Thom Mackris the designer and builder of Gilibier tables, No doubt about it, both are stand up guys.

What swayed me was a simple telephone conversation that turned to non audio related stuff, Jeff and I have similar back ground history.
That's it....

Both tables share similar strengths that do not exist with many other tables.

Gilibier is in your back yard, however you should ask if anyone in your neck of the woods has a Raven you could listen to.

I'm a big fan of Jazz in general especially the Divas from the Golden Era, vocals have to have that elution they come from a living breathing human being, this is one of the many strengths of the Raven.
I took a look and the designs are very similar.

I also have to figure out a cartridge and phono stage combination but I have set aside some decent funds for that...if I use my SME 309 for now and hang on to the CJ.

After doing some research, checking out the threads, and contacting Peter Ledermann, I'm being hypnotized by the Strain Gauge. The 400 is just fine for me, and the system fits my personality of holding on to components for a long time.

On the other hand for the same money, I could pick up a very nice phono preamp and cartridge combo like the Whest 30.RDT and choice MC.

Any thoughts anyone?...and thanks Stiltskin.
I cannot comment on the Strain Gauge or the Whest as I have not heard them in a system, they could very well be a great choice.

However what I do believe regarding phono stages is they could make or break a system.
I believe a good preamp and phono stage is the "soul" of a system, especially for a table, arm and cartridge.

Jeffery and Thom wear many different hats running their businesses.
Speaking with them you will notice they are not your typical sales people, far from it.

These guy's would certainly guide you through choices that work extremely well with their tables and of course asking questions here.
The human side to it is of real importance, especially if your in it like me for the long haul...and of course experience and knowledge.

Peter Ledermann with Soundsmith (Strain Gauge) also fits into this category, and after emailing him a couple of times he suggested that we talk. When dealing with some others, they respond to your first email and then they're done.

Whest products get good reviews and I may have the opportunity to listen to them locally...the dealer also has Ayre and Bryston. No worries...I stopped being impulsive years ago and will explore others and get feedback from Jeffery and Thom.

I sold some gold coins that I collected over the years and I just opened a bank account for these purchases. I'm waiting for the checks and debit card to arrive. After that, I will contact Thom to set up an appointment for listening. If that works out there's also the benefit of supporting a local business.

This is exciting and a lot of fun. I hope I feel as good after I'm done.
Another strong vote for the Raven one. It is easy to say, but I do'nt think I will ever change. Build quality is phenomenal. When I put the platter on the spindle, it takes up to 5 minutes to descend onto the bearings, build quality and tolerances are that good.
I changed from OriGin Live Resolution + Illustrious and the Raven is in a different league in terms of speed stabilty etc. I use mine with the Ortofon 309S arm, not seen or reviewed much, but the arm Thomas uses on his Raven one. He has a new arm of his own, but it is very, very costly.
I use my Raven with a Zyx Airy 3 and K&K audio phono pre and could'nt be happier. The K&K by the way, is another strong recommendation, excellent at the price.
I'm another one very happy Raven One owner
I think it could easily be my definitive turntable
Thanks for the feedback everyone. I think it's time to make some calls.
If you have any questions during the process, I'd be glad to chat/email.

Good luck!
You won't be disappointed .. Kenny
The Raven One is a great turntable
Has anyone out there had experience with the Vivid Two tonearm that can be had with the Raven One. For example, would this be a better choice for me than using my SME 309 instead? By the way my SME 309 is an old model.
I had one originally and upgraded to a Phantom. I would say it a competent entry level arm. The arm is made by Jelco. They are the Rega of Asia and oem for many manufacturers such as Koetsu, and Audioquest. If your goal is to have a temporary arm until you can afford something better then it would be perfect. I can't speak for the 309.
I have posted elsewhere about the Raven but will say that the posters above have it right, the Raven is a fine TT and is a great buy at this price point. I too researched many, many tables before buying the Raven and have no regrets. I have an audiophile friend who had a nice table and heard mine and bought one for himself with a Phantom (with new arm) and Dynavector. It sounds wonderful.
Mine is a Raven Two with an outboard motor. It has a Graham Phantom with an Air Tight PC-1 and an Ortofon 309S with an Ortofon Rondo Bronze. Both run through a Tron Seven with Telefunkens and then to a BAT REX. Regarding your questions about arms and compatibility, if you have not already discussed with Jeff Catalano, please consider doing so. Jeff has great knowledge and experience and I am sure he will lead you in the right direction taking into consideration budgets and bang for the buck.
Best of luck with your search and BTW, the lock on my car sticks in cold weather and.....
Thanks Ducatrider...thanks Bill!

Bill, there's a simple de-ice spray you can use for that, but I would recommend Tweek! Not only will it improve the performance of your door's linkage but you should also notice a dramatic improvement to the soundstage when slamming your door. Remember how American car doors used to sound, well you can...
Regarding the Vivid, I used that as a starter before I got the Ortofon 309S. For the price, the Vivid is very good indeed, but you will instantly hear the benefit of a better arm, in tracking, base etc. To get you started, the Vivid is good, though I can't comment about comparing with the SME, except the latter has better build quality of course
Another happy Raven One owner for 2.5 month now and i'm using a 10.5 inch Jelco S shaped arm which supposedly has better spec than the shorter Vivid 2(Jelco) arm. But the Jelco is an interim arm until my Phantom II arrives. i think you should keep your SME 309 rather than going for the Vivid 2 at the moment.

If i were living in Colorado, i would check out Galibier's comparable product too. Since i live in Australia and there's no importer, Raven One it is for me and i'm happy as. Have fun choosing.
Guys, Thanks for the info about the Vivid arm and Galibier TT. I've made contact with Jeffrey at High Water and will call him some time this week. I'll get the scoop about cost and options.

The Galibier Gavia seems to come in at a higher base cost...and then there are wanted but pricey options to consider. For example, I don't want the standard polished aluminum finish. I want it anodized...I like the look of the Raven...but that's a $750 add-on. The stock Gavia also does not come with the Gavia platter but the platter from the lower cost Serac. To get the Gavia platter with the Gavia is almost a $3,000 upgrade...hmmm?

At least that's how it looks on Galibier's website, but I'll also call Thom to get the details. There are a number of high-end manufacturer's here in Boulder...Boulder Amplifiers, Ayre, Avalon, PS Audio, Galibier to name a few...and I imagine the convenience for service and upgrades...but for whatever reasons, I don't end up with these products. Actually, I do have a couple of ancient products from Boulder Amplifiers that I got before they flipped they're market to sky-hi-fi.
Okay everyone I took the plunge!

Talked to Jeffrey and he easily and most graciously spent all my money. He's a really good guy to deal with and being out of the scene for awhile I'm glad I did.
So don't keep us hanging. What did Jeffrey buy you with your money? If Raven One, did you get the stand alone motor? Which arm? What cartridge will you use? How long will you have to wait for the delivery? Give us all the juicy details as we are all very excited for you.
Congratulations...You move quick.

Once you know what brand of tonearm your going to use ,be it your SME or another choice.

My highest recommendation at that stage is to buy a MintLp arc protractor for set up. MintLp.com

Much has been said by a long list of astonished users including myself.
Though it takes patience the excellent instruction manual will guide you through every step of the way backed by support from Mint including here.

For sure it's the best $100 you could spend.

Sorry...yes, I got the Raven...standard version with single arm. There are some new updates like Stillpoint feet but you may know that already...I think that's true but it's a little hazey right now. I will be using for the time being my SME 309 as Jeffrey thought it a better choice than the Vivid Two that can be gotten with it. The arm board for the SME is brass and black laquered/painted...whatever...sorry.

A change of plans for my cartridge...I was leaning towards the Strain Gauge but the Raven took me over budget...In my head were prices from 2006...and so was my budget...oops. Do I want the Raven, do I want the Strain Gauge...Do I want the...

That's okay because I worked with Jeffrey on this and he made recommendations that were outside-of-the-box from what I expected. With his help, I decided on the Otono-Edison Shilabe. What's really important to understand, is that Jeffrey is thinking about my particular needs, my particular budget, my existing components, my upgrade path, and what type of music I enjoy most when he made his recommendation. That's special because it's personalized.

The Strain Gauge system offers a perfectly matched preamp...you even get a little blue light telling you so. Wow...pretty cool. I'll have to get over it but I think I'll be alright.

Instead, I'm getting the Tron 7 that's upgraded to the caps used in the Tron Reference. I don't know if I'm the guinea pig or if this mid-upgrade is already available...don't care but I thought I'd mention to Tron 7 users just in case. I'm also getting the Tron 7 with XLR outputs. This may not be normal either. I have a BAT VK-5i to plug into and Tron (Graham?) and Jeffrey thought this was better than doing the RCA to XLR cable. BAT only accepts XLR connectors. This may only mean semi-balanced and nothing more.

I'm happy that I met my budget with Jeffrey's help, and will get some stuff that makes some magic. Hey, I'm looking back at a Sota Star and Grado Sonata...okay I'm done looking.
You are going to love the Tron Seven.
Thanks everyone for your advice, support, and guidance. Later, much later, much later...when I finally get my stuff, I'll let you know what I think.


Congratulations! You have chosen some great gear and I'm sure you'll be very happy with your choices. The Raven/Tron combo is spectacular. Make sure to budget for lots of vinyl purchases over the next few months!

Jeff is a great guy. Be sure to scratch his brain for vinyl recommendations, he has amazingly eclectic taste.
Luckily, I don't have many CDs, or maybe too many. There are some CDs that I enjoy, however, that are not available on vinyl...I will miss those as my Theta transport keeps shutting down and the company tells me to buy a new model since it's not practical to fix what I've got...enough said!

I do have have a decent LP collection and Jeff told me he really likes original vinyl..yes...don't we all? It would be good to pick his brain. Thanks.
My compliments .. Kenny
You have bought kinda definitive turntable
I want to chime in with the others and compliment you on your choice. Hopefully the wait is not too long for you as I waited 4 months for mine. Otono-Edison cart is quite a left field choice and i've never heard of it.Looking forward to your review and impression of both in the future.
Thanks to you guys...orders...TW-Accoustic has added staff. They have people dedicated to a specific part...like platters. The estimate for my table is six weeks.

I'm getting the Raven without a power cable? Is that normal and any recommendations?

Yea, the cartridge is a total leap of faith. It was recommended to me as a best value and would provide the magic like the Raven and Tron. There may be chatter coming up on this cartridge...hope it's good and will let you know.
Jaspert and anyone else interested, I found this review of the Shilabe cartridge...makes me feel confident.

So Kenny, Just out of curiosity what is the 2009 list price of a Raven One?
The updated Raven is now $6,500. I don't know what all of the upgrades are however...and I'm not sure if the pics out there are new or previous version.
Thanks. Darn currency.
Compared to a few months ago, i think Euro has weakeaned quite a lot against the Greenback so I don't think it's currency exchange issue. I think the local retail price in Germany has gone up by a fair bit too.

I think it's a combination of great reviews, adding staff, mark up, and competitive pricing. For example, the Galibier Gavia is $6,750 anodized.
SOme of the increase in price is pprobably due to the addition of Stillpoints, and the new powersupply which is better than the old one.
That makes sense...do you know if it is now the same as the AC or just upgraded?
I'm getting the Raven without a power cable? Is that normal and any recommendations?

Kenny .. I got mine without the AC power cord too
But it's enough a normal PC mains cable
Jeff with High Water Sound knows that I'm on a budget and thought the Gutwire B12 for $100 was an excellent cable for the money. That's what I'm getting.
Look for a used Electraglide it sounds wonderful on turntables great power cord for lp playback!!
Thanks, Ebm!
Kenny,As you now know Jeffrey is great to work with.Not only does he know component compatibility,his ear for music is second to none.When everything settles I would like to know your thoughts on the Shilabe cartridge.From what I have read it is well worth its price but I would like to hear what an actual owner thinks.
Thanks and the best of luck with your new purchases

Again congratulations on your recent purchases. Please keep us updated with your impressions. I am also interested in your thoughts regarding the Shilabe cartridge as I am considering the mono version for a dedicated mono arm/cartridge setup.

Good luck!
I'm still six weeks out or so because I'm doing preperation for the Raven and the other components. May even paint the room...Nothing like motivation. I actually told Jeff to let someone else have my table because I could wait. You don't have to say it...

Jazdoc - The tonal qualities of the mono recordings must be special. Someday I may succumb to that, but first I want stereo to sound special...one thing at a time.