TTWeights perip ring/platter/clamp on my Raven One
First I would like to congratulate Larry Denham for bringing this product line to market. In this era where we have all seen how unbridled capitalism without proper moral and legal oversight can lead to worldwide devastation, it is refreshing to see that the philosophical underpinnings of our chosen system of trade can work correctly, in that anyone who proverbially builds a better (or more cost effective) mousetrap has the freedom to create a product and make a profit doing so.
The nicely made copper periphery ring is easy to place using the removable plastic centering guide, and quite thin, which makes it clear the underside of the cartridge, stopping the cart from bottoming out on the ring.
I have only used the system for a few hours this afternoon, and again this evening so this is by no means an exhaustive product review. It's only my findings after listing to my Raven One/Graham Phantom table in 4 different configurations. Also since VTA has to be changed for each different platter configuration I tested, there is some chance that VTA differences could account for the some of the sonic changes.
First I listened with my usual setup, which is the Audio Technica vacuum hold down (add on platter) in combination with the Millennium clamp.
In the past I found this to be a large improvement over just the LP sitting on the platter. When I first got the Raven, I preferred the sound of no mat or clamp at all. I found the Millenium mat and clamp squashed dynamics and the life out of the music. Other Raven One owners, however preferred the mat and clamp. I use no damping in the Phantom arm (the European way), which could account for some of my preferences.
I then put in the TTWeights platter, ring and clamp, and listened again. I initially thought the TTweights to be at least as good, and possibly better than the vacuum hold down. The AT vacuum system has not been manufactured since the 80's so it's not really an option for most people to find one in good shape that still has good seals (luckily my unit does).
Then I listened to just the bare Raven platter with no clamp or ring.
In the next round, adding the clamp and ring (to the bare platter) made a significant improvement in bass definition and control. I have to do this test again to determine other parts of the spectrum that benefit, but I can't imagine a Raven One owner not being extremely happy with the upgrade.
Then I added back the copper platter. It really dresses up the Raven One and makes it look like a baby Raven AC. I placed the LP and added the periphery ring and clamp. I now heard what sounded like more detail and ambience. On Bill Evans Spring Leaves, piano strikes seemed more dynamic and better defined. Instrument placement seemed higher as well. It was as if a spotlight had been shined on the sound stage. Audience clapping on that LP had more of a leading edge than before and was more defined. Based on one's system, I could see some people preferring the copper platter, and some preferring the LP direct on the Raven One's Delrin mix platter, (with the ring and clamp). In an already bright and edgy system, the copper may be too much. My system is rather laid back, so the extra excitement is welcomed. I think it's certainly worth ordering all three parts, and returning the copper platter if it doesn't fit your sonic taste.
In my listening session tonight, with the full platter, ring and weight, Sufjan Steven's Illinios really sprung to life in a way I have not heard before with my vacuum platter. Illinios is a fantastic example of a digital recording that sounds wholly analog, mostly I think due to the lack of mixing and mastering for maximum loudness, lack of over compression and the fact that they recorded many of the original tracks in real acoustic spaces.
The soundstage seemed larger, instruments gained a clarity and separation I have not heard before in my system.
One caveat (at least with the Phantom on a Raven) that is by no means a deal breaker. The Phantom's arm cueing rest sticks out a bit, and means the periphery ring (and the plastic placement guide) must be lowered onto the LP at a bit of an angle to clear the cueing rest. Not a big deal but I thought I'd mention it. I think they might be coming out with a slightly smaller diameter ring, that would provide a little more clearance.
While I can't comment on the benefits of the system on other tables, I think all Raven One owners should try to hear their tables with this system. The more expensive Raven AC has a copper top platter, so perhaps some of magic of that table can be added to the Raven One, for a reasonable cost.