Upgrade from TW Acustic Raven AC-3 to what?

I have had the TW turntable (with 10" Da Vinci Grandezza arm and Grandezza cartridge) for two years. I have been happy with this TT and can live with it for a long time although i wish it wasn't as dark sounding, that the soundstage could be more spacious and the bass tighter. The upgrade bug in me is wondering for 50K ore thereabout, is there a TT that is superlative over the TW? One that would end my upgrading itch for the next 10 years?
Wow, first I have heard someone wanting more from this table. But hey, we all get the bug !

Some options:

1st is the new TW Black Night.
2nd is a SME 30/12 with V-12 arm.

However both of these may just give you more of what you have.

These tables may give you a different presentation, which seems like something you should at least audition:

1- Grand Prix Audio Monaco with Tri Planar or Graham arm
2- Technics SP 10 mk3, custom plinth, Pick your arm, I've heard it with the SME 312s.
3- Walker
4- Others (I have not heard) Criterion, Rockport, Da Vinci table (to match your arm/cart) and possibly the Brinkmann (given it maybe more nuetral).

Some other options for you might be just try a new arm and a new cartridge.

I am sure this thread will be a fun read as time goes on :)

Good luck, please post what you end up doing...
Its time for a Lenco or a Technics in a killer plinth. Remember rubber bands are for holding up your undershorts!

First off, let me state that I do not own a TW Acustic Raven, nor do I profess to know its particular sonic character. But over the years I have come to realise how critical proper set-up is. Also, please don't take this as a suggestion that you you are less than expert in system set-up. However, before you venture to spend $50k on a TT, you just might experiment with adjusting VTA and VTF. For example I have a VPI Aries 2 with dual motor/flywheel, a JMW 10.5 and Transfiguration Temper W. Clearly not in the league of the AC-3, but more than respectable. For years I set the VTF to 1.9 grams. The Trannie specs suggest optimal tracking force is 1.8, but VPI manual advises to add .1 gram if you use damping fluid in the well. Also, in setting VTA, I would set the arm (head shell) parallel to the platter and tip it back maybe a quarter of a turn on the VTA tower.

For whatever reason, I decided to experiment and drop the back of the arm another half turn or so and jump the VTF to 1.95 (I use a digital scale). The change was transcendental. I have since dropped the arm back another quarter turn and increased VTF to 1.985. I don't think this has improved the sound any, but since I live in the Northeast and the humidity has lifted (system is in the basement), I had lost some of the magic I heard earlier. The increased settings have merely compensated. I would never have believed my system capable of the performance I have achieved. I am actually afraid to "upgrade". I just have the feeling the system is punching way above its weight class.

The purpose of this tale is to suggest that before you look to greener pastures, you tweek your table, even if it takes you to the extremes of the manufacturers specs. You might be amazed at the improvement chaging these parameters may bring.
Hi Jfrech, good as the AC-3 may be, there must be room for improvement, otherwise TW wouldnt have come up with the Black Knight, which I haven't heard :). i will be interested to hear from people who have compared AC-3 and the Black Knight.
Hi Acoustat6, I haven't heard a "modern" DD turntable. Not sure about Lenco or Technics.
Hi Stew3859, in my 2 years with the TT, I have done plenty of tweaking with it. Besides the usual tracking force, VTA, loading, also tried different platforms, phono stage, cables, etc. Regardless of tweaks, the AC-3 is not neutral or utterly transparent. While it is voluptous, beautiful and ripe, it is dark sounding, which kind of reminds me of the Sonus faber Stradivari speakers. I wish it could image better too.

I would heed Stew3859's advice and suggest making sure that your system is optimally set up. Not just the analog front end, but everything (i.e. check connections, wire placement, room acoustics, etc.). Perhaps it is not the analog front end but another set up factor contributing to your dissatisfaction.

Even without listing the other components in your system, I am sure you have invested a considerable sum of money and effort and it would be a shame to commit more resources if what you have is not optimized. To that end, I would consider having someone adept at set up assist you, as much to bring a fresh perspective and validate what you are hearing. My hunch is that whomever sold you the analog front end would be willing to help. This would certainly be cheaper than buying and selling more equipment (and allow you to purchase more LPs).

However, if you still wish to explore other systems, I can enthusiastically recommend the Galibier Stelvio with the soon to be released TALEA tonearm (http://joelfdurand.com/Tonearm_project/index.html). Feel free to PM if interested.

Good luck and please let everyone know your outcome.

Well, unfortunately it is not the way to success (whatever this will be) to think, that a design has to be better when it is more expensive. Probably you should look for a better design instead of a more expensive one.
I guess you can try Clearaudio. To some Clearaudio tables sound analytical to them. To me, it is very spacious and focused, but be careful matching it with the right equipment. In my opinion, Clearaudio stuff is usually very detailed, spacious and open sounding. Again, some say it is analtyical.
Go for a Micro Seiki SX 8000 or SX 8000 II. You will start wondering what kind of worlds do exist.
What Syntax wrote is the Truth.

"Hi Jfrech, good as the AC-3 may be, there must be room for improvement, otherwise TW wouldnt have come up with the Black Knight..." Not necessarily.

More expensive does not equal better. But if you are really unhappy in the ways you state, the tonearm, cartridge, and maybe even the phono stage must also be called into question. Meantime, for a different take on turntables, you should sample an idler drive or a direct-drive tt. There is no better idler in the world than the Saskia, and it costs less than $50K. For direct-drive, you can consider the Grand Prix Monaco or any of the vintage Japanese greats, like the Technics SP10 Mk3, Kenwood L07D, Pioneer Exclusive P3, Onkyo PM100, Denon DM100, etc. None of those latter will cost you anywhere near as much as a full-up Raven AC3, let alone $50K. For even less money, consider a Lenco L75 or Garrard 301/401 in a state of the art plinth. Really, it's a different world. You owe it to yourself to at least stick your toe in the water.
If you have the money to spend, I see no issue in going to Black Night or the da Vinci to match your tonearm / cart combo and both should do more of what you are looking for.
Dgad might want to add some comments here as he has gone from AC-3 to BN and he states it is very much more open and not dark at all.

I somewhat agree that the AC-3 can be a little dark sounding and a touch warm in the upper bass - however I luv that trait about the AC-3 as it is a long way from stark and lean.

Lewm is correct, a very nice vintage DD or a GP Monaco should have a tighter bass.
I just bought an Exclusive P3 DD table and the biggest difference between that and the AC-3 is the way it drives and controls the bass. There is no upper bass bloom or overhang and it controls the bass and subsequent mid and upper bass with precision. This gives you a more clarity in the upper bass and lower mid range.

As with anything, there is no free lunch and with some recordings this is perfect, with others the AC-3 is clearly preferable.

Going the vintage DD route will cost less than your cartridge and you will get a 2nd turntbale which is always good. You can then play whatever table suits the style of music you are playing, as there is never a best of anything.

you have many choices available, so have fun
The Raven doesn't have to sound as dark as it looks (hello Syntax ;-). If you want to keep that table, I recommend to place it on a effective isolation platform first. A Vibraplane should work (need some extra weight on top, i.e a 20 kg slate slab). You would be amazed how much more space and transparency, and in consequence enlightenment in terms of sound this machine could provide.

Next steps could be: reduce three motors to two motors, placed opposite to each other. Use one long driving media such as magnetic tape. Two opposite positioned motors help to free table's bearing from being loaded one-sided. You can hear the effect very well on recordings of solo voices. They appear more accurate shaped, more free.

Don't put the motors on the same platform as the turntable itself.

Some more fine tuning is possible with isolating platter mats.

If you want to go further, change the DaVinci to a FR-64s, and your system to a ZYX UNIverse or Lyra Titan i or a FR-7f - and darkness and narrowness should be gone (if your phono is not another bottleneck)

I own a Raven AC 2 since about three years now and have done all treatments mentioned above.

Two different audio fellows, listening guests at my place, said that my Raven sounds notable different to all the Raven set ups they have listened to before. Not only different - it sounds better: with space, effortless - not Raven like. I'm still happy with it, too. Syntax would only believe it when hearing it at my place.

So, before you spent money in a hurry, try out some things with the Raven. It is not really just a plug and play table but rather need some care.

Nevertheless, honestly, there are better designs. Just money gives no access to these.
I have heard this table a few times and its not dark sounding at all.
First off, the cart- what cart are you using it with ? try some clearaudio carts if you want it to be more detailed and neutral. Lyras are also on the neutral side of things.
2nd- as other suggested, the isolation stands. Critical mass stands (CMS) is a good place to start. Makes the most out of this TT.
3rd- arm- I heard this table with a variety of arms and each has a different sonic signature. Graham Phantom II, Triplanar are the arms of choice.
4th- as what people have shared in this thread, the vta and the vtf all makes a discernable difference with this TT.
5th- the phono cables again, can impart sonic signatures. Try some nordost phono cables for a lighter, airer presentation.

Good luck. Its a good problem you have!
If all fails, the SME 20 would be nice as well as the TW Black Knight. CLearaudio is also another candidate.
Walker, period.

I believe every well healed audiophile should own this table once in their life. It is the most revealing table you will every hear. There is n-o mid bass bump, and there is that enormous soundstage that you will remember forever. I had six years on mine and I still think about it most every time I play a record.

Peter, "Well-healed" indeed. Maybe after dropping that lead platter on your big toe. I have been impressed by the Walker too, every time I have heard one.
I am sure you will end your upgrade itch with a Walker Proscenium Black Diamond.
Go for the EMT table....studio sound is the best!
Dear Alectiong, no - it won't end your upgrade itch. Not for 10 years to come. Most likely not even for 10 months to come. Not because of the quality of the Raven or any other current available so called high-end TT. And asking here the other audiophiles won't help either.
Ask any 10 audiophiles their opinion and you most likely will get 11 different answers.
The only possible way to a "calm audiophile state of mind and art" is different.
Select one single component of the chain you really LOVE. Then carefully and without altering the other periphery do form a suitable and matching chain around it - to your taste ONLY. Without asking others or without comparing the sound with other set-ups.
When you've done and am satisfied, cancel all subscriptions to audio magazines and forget the links to all audiophile online forums.
That is the way to "true audio nirvana".
If you happen to be the first to find a better way, I really would like to learn about it.
Have a great journey - and remember to ask and remind yourself from time to time, whether the road is the goal or rather the goal is the goal......

Hi folks, thanks for comments and suggestions.
Hi Solong, i will try out your suggestion of using two motors instead of three.
Hi Breuninger, I have read hyperboles about the Walker, and might be hearing a well set up walker soon to form my opinions. However, the big air compressor is a turn off.
I have heard the raven one, raven AC 3 and the black knight. All I can say they are great turntables. But the difference between them is minimal. I think only if you have a dedicated audio room that has been treated profesionally. And you have the best phono pre, amp, cables, power supply etc etc, only then will you hear what the top turntables are capable of.

By best I don't really mean most expensive but I mean a really balanced setup.

Throwing money at audio isn't a garantee for a good sound.

The Raven one or now is my dream turntable.

You have not indicated what cartridge you are using, what electronics are in your system, or the platform on which your TT sits. That said, I own the TW Raven AC-1 (one motor version). My tonearm is a Tr-Planar VII UC-2, and my cartridge is a Transfiguration Orpheus-L. TT, arm, cartridge set-up are paramount for paramount sound reproduction as indicated by other wise people answering your thread. If one or more parameters are not correct, the sound you hear will be unsatisfactory. You need a Wally Tractor or some other reliable brand so your cartridge is aligned using an arc across the platter and not just the null points. You need a reliable digital scale, and then you need to experiment with VTA and VTF. If you have already addressed these issues, I find that VTA needs to be adjusted slightly for each record I play to achieve optimum focus and "snap" in the sound. Unfortunately, there are many tonearms in the marketplace that do not allow for easy "on the fly" adjustment of VTA. Yours may be one of these brands. The last thing that occurs to me is that your cartridge is loaded at an impedence which is too low. If you have variable settings available in your phono preamp, try increasing your load setting. Remember that VTA and VTF may change with a different cartidge load. If you want to spend $50K on a TT, I second the Walker as your choice. However, correct set-up will still be required since this issue does not disappear with a more expensive rig.
Hi Elinor, tonearm is 10" davinci grandezza mated to a grandezza reference cartridge. Phono stage is Goldmund Ph3 set at 475ohm. Platform under the TT is a 35lb TAOC SCB platform. Linestage is a Vitus SL101. Amps are Karan 1200 monoblocks. Spkrs are Avalon Isis. ICs are Vitus Andromeda. Spkr cables are Crystal Ultra.
Dear Mordante,
this "Throwing money at audio isn't a garantee for a good sound" is the single most important sentence in this and most other threads regarding analog audio.
Hardly anyone will like, even fewer will follow it, but it tells the truth and nothing else.
Dear Alectiong, go follow Solong's advise. He did follow some of my advises and I can confirm from direct first hand experience that his Raven does sound different (in a most positive way...) from all other Raven set-ups I know or have seen.
The Raven - as ANY other TT - does benefit from isolating from periphery vibration.
It's essential to isolate ANY TT out there (any which doesn't already feature a below 3 hz or better isolation in its design...) on a Vibraplane, Minus-K or similar.
Otherwise 90% of the money spent on the particular TT were wasted.
The full potential is only shown/heard/experienced when the TT is isolated from building frequency.
A - sad and somehow frustrating - technical and physical fact on thsi planet.
Ask any scientist who works with a microscope then and now - they will all tell you the same story.
The periphery conditions of an analog TT are identical.
Have a nice audio journey,
I'd like to throw my 2 cents into this conversation. I own the Raven one that I have tweaked out quite a bit. And based on what it sounded like from when i first got it (which was very good) to where it is now is a rather large improvement.

I think the idea of abandoning this table at this point is a bit premature.
First I would try the above suggestions regarding replacing the rubber belt as an experiment, since it is almost free. The mylar Doug Deacon discovered and posted about is a great place to start, and I posted some info in that thread about an easier to use etching creme to remove the silver.

I replaced my standard feet (obviously you have stillpoints) with a Sistrum Sp-1 brass stand. You'd have to get a larger one for the the AC-, and possibly raise the motors up on something. This was a large improvement in speed and definition, and 1 point I added even drains vibration from the underside of the metal bearing.

Then I added a Halcyonics platform underneath the SP-1, which clarified so much of the spectrum I didn't realize was being colored by vibration. The Sp-1 acts a vibration synch into the Halcyonics, which Isolates it from the outside world. Once you hear active vibration cancellation, (at least in my building/setup, it's hard to go back.

I have since added a copper plater top (which the AC already has) and a TTweights peripheral ring and weight.

And the last thing I would suggest is trying the fantastic Strain Gauge cartridge system (which I sell- disclaimer). It gives so much resolution, and seems to provide great synergy with the TW sound. There is so much detail and information being thrown at you, sometimes I have to swap out to a less extreme stylus contour, to purposely gloss over some of the details in poor (or worn) pressings or recordings.

I also think it's interesting that Mordante has heard all of the TW tables, and feels they are close in performance. Sometimes I wish I had gone for the Raven AC, but after reading this comment, I feel my choice of going with the Raven One and using the savings to add the very best peripherals I could was a wise choice, and makes me feel confident that my analog setup doesn't need to change (meaning I can focus on other areas of the system). Best of luck.
Dear Alec: +++++ " although i wish it wasn't as dark sounding, that the soundstage could be more spacious and the bass tighter. " +++++

IMHO all those audio areas where you are not satisfied with means that ( between other things ) you have a not a wrong TT but a wrong analog rig set up where ( mainly ) the bass performance is not on target and this fact is more detectable due that your speakers goes really down on the bass frequency range: IMHO if this foundation frequency range is not on target then " nothing " can be.

I agree with Elinor and other persons that the Raven is not on the dark side and that the very first step with this TT ( and any others. ) is that the Raven seats in a platform that can dissipate very fast its vibrations ( inside/out ) otherwise this affect primary on the bass response that gives a " dark " sound, I write inside/out because the Isis puts high pressure on the room bass performance and it is a factor to take in count.

You have to find the right turntable mat for your TT system. The turntable mat is IMHO the most important link on a turntable performance other than the bearing/motor.
It is in the turntable mat where the LP seats and its relationsship ( vibrations/feedback/cartridge stylus tracking and stylus feedback/etc ) it is so crucial that is the one that in first step puts a " signature " in the quality performance. I have to say that if you decide for the record periferic ring or TT/platter clamp these IMHO have to be additional link and independent of that critical TT/platter mat.

Other factor to take in count additional of what I post here and to what other people posted is the arm board build material where different arm boards with different build material makes that the " signature sound " change.

Other thing that I make if I was you is to hear the system ( with out any other change ) with a different cartridge ( maybe with two-three cartridges. ).

I know is not easy with such big speakers but suppose that the analog rig is right on target ( what is your today set up ) then I would like to " play " a little with the speakers/room interaction on the bass frequency range.

The other audio link that you can check is that today you are using two different brands on phono stage and line stage where you have two different signature sound on each unit and maybe here ( independent that both units are very good ones. ) you can improve.
If you can try ( borrow somewhere. ) a integrated active high gain Phonolinepreamp, not separate phono and line stage: I understand you can do it with the Vitus through an additional phono board.

Alec, it is not easy for any one of us to give you the precise answer with out hear your audio system but I'm sure that all of us are trying to help you before you spend 50K+ to achieve what?

Regards and enjoy the music,

Great system.

I would verify that it is a problem confined to the analog chain by listening for the same problems during digital playback. Ascertain that this is not a problem with speaker/room interaction.

If it is indeed the Analog source, changing (arm/cart/isolation) may get you there. I have the 12inch Grandezza on AC1 and the Phantom. The Graham produce a different response that is closer to what you describe.

I agree that TT is a factor too. The Avid Acutus or SME did produce different tonal balance in my system but they had oth compromises.

Best of luck
Most Audiophiles have experiences, some have dreams (in a positive way), some have an altar and all listen to music. Some to originals, some to reissues and some use it to relax because life is boring otherwise :-).
No matter what the direction is, sooner or later some (not all) will realize that a cow can't be a race horse. No matter what you do. Some try to do that with better food, with training... but at the end of day (and the next...) it is still a cow.
Syntax agree, a cow is a cow and remains a cow but you can feed it properly, put it on good ground and you will like it much more. Agree not with Dertonarm: You need to ask many audiophiles first and get many opinions. You might learn from these opinions if you are able to draw some conclusions. It is important that you build up a proper decision path which is not so easy. Didn`t we all make some wrong decision on our journey and learned from that!!
Dear Thuchan: I agree with you in all your words.

Each one of us have our each one audio learning curve that is formation comes from our own experiences, other experiences, our own know how and other know how, at least is the normal way to do things: learn/learning is the name of the game. We learn everywhere and from any one, we learn on our own mistakes and learn on other people mistakes: our life is a whole learn process.

Regards and enjoy the music,
Dear Raul, dear Thuchan, we hopefully learn from mistakes, we learn certainly from results and sometimes from experience. But I can not see, what can be learned from an "opinion" of another listener who always have (must have, as he is a different individual...) preferences, taste and bias more or less different from your own.
We shouldn't mistake the gathering of opinions for "learning" from others.
An opinion is no more than that - an individual impression (expressed however...) formed by an individual matrix which has evolved over a lifespan of very unique - in fact singular in their combination - experiences, preferences, taste (or the lack of it....), moods and social circumstances.
An opinion is not transferable (well - all audio reviewers do make their living out of the fact that 99.9% of all audiophiles don't agree with me on that point....) - not in audio and not elsewhere in life.
If more people would trust their ears only and would listen to the set-ups more carefully and with less prejudice (i.e.: opinions from others...) more audiophiles would get much better results.
Enjoy the - long..... - journey.
Hi all,
thanks for all your suggestions on tweaking it out before abandoning the AC-3. i am a great believer in tweaking (plus isolation). It is a trial and error thing and may eventually get it to sound closer to what i want, ie neutrality and transparency and great bass with soundstage and imaging to match. However, the curiosity in me would think careful tweaking would benefit all TTs also and again put them on same level playing field. So I think the cow vs racing horse analogy is valid. hence though i certainly would love to save a bundle by just tweaking it, my fundamental query still is, what other TTs out there would TRULY outclass the AC-3 sonically by a country mile that would make me end the upgrade itch for the next decade or more.. maybe my "retirement" TT. It seems TW Black Knight may not be the one.
Hi Alectiong, any of these TT's will bring you closer - if properly set-up.... which does require some extra work and "tweak" with some of the TT's mentioned now - to a "positive retirement" state of audio mind - (I am mentioning the vintage ones here, as others most certainly will promote different current production TT's...).
And yes, - I have heard them all in familiar set-ups - safe for the PV Magnum...:

* Platine Verdier
* Platine Magnum
* Micro RX-5000
* Micro RX-8000 or SX-8000 (but I can NOT recommend the vacuum version)
* Basis Debut Gold
* Epic
* Melco
* Apolyt

4 of these you are not likely to find at all on the used market.
Aside from the Basis Debut Gold and the Apolyt all other do need some treatment on the platter (a GOOD mat...) and all others aside from the PV Magnum and the Apolyt do need an isolation from underground by means of a Vibraplane or Minus-K or similar (see Syntax system for inspiration and illustration).
This is essential.

Some others will now recommend some idler-drive or vintage DD-TTs or Walker, Continuum, Rockport or whatever.
It will be a long journey......
Basis Inspiration.

Dealer disclaimer.
Alectiong, Since there seems to be a consensus that Vibraplane or Minus K is a sine qua non for mounting a suspension-less turntable, why not buy one of those two and try it with your AC3, before making up your mind. Either platform will be compatible with most of the other options (since most of them also are suspension-less).

I totally agree with Dertonearm's philosophy, which is why I could take issue with some of the alternative choices he lists (all belt-drive types), although I don't have anywhere near the breadth of his experience. I nevertheless find that rather amusing. If you want a fundamental paradigm shift, you really do need to try a top-notch idler drive turntable (Saskia) or direct-drive (candidates listed previously be me and others). Win Tinnon, who makes the Saskia, is one of the best guys you would ever want to meet in audio or anywhere else. (Careful, though, the Saskia weighs 200 lbs.)
I have oftem wondered at which point the law of diminishing returns, starts to apply. If you are choosing quality components, then I believe you need to at least increase investment by 50, perhaps 100%, to get a meaningful improvement. Below that, I believe, you get different, not better. However, different may be what you really need. We all know the excitement of a new component, changing the sound, apparently for the better. In many cases, just change refreshes the audio tastebuds.

When you get to a quality component and I think we can nearly all agree the Raven 3 is a quality component, then improving it becomes frighteningly expensive. Even then, a large investment, will probably get you an improvement you can only hear in a superb set up, in a highly treated room. I think you will always hear a difference, because components have a very different version of audio truth, but that is'nt better. It would need far better ears than mine to hear an improvement between one of the top tables discussed and another
In high-end audio a fast and straight journey needs a really good roadmap, the ability to read that map and a very precise idea of ones destination.
Thats why it is such a long journey.......
Just an example what is going on when you listen to analog:

The dimensions from the contact diamond in the groove are microscopic and to show in what huge lever the cartridge System "sits" (to be able to realize that even the "tiniest" distortions will have their result in the sonic presentation),
imagine the following:
Multiply all datas from your Tonearm with factor 100.
With a regular Arm this one will have a length in the area of 27.3 yards, the cartridge System is about 1.09 yards in height, the cantilever about 0.5 yards and the contact are from the needle is in the area of 0.0196 inch.
The Mass has a direct relation to that sizes - well and this will be "disturbed" now by additional vibrations from outside ( can be from motor, belt, platter, bearing and so on)
The influence from tonearm (bearing etc.) or cartridge is not included

Turntables have something to do with science, even when some deny it and prefer a proper painting instead. I forgot, how about a rumbling wheel with direct contact to the platter...the low frequency is not the subway below Kingsway Hall or PRAT in reality :-)
Here you have the reason why tables "sound" different, or why a cow can't be changed to a race horse, even when you hug it :-), but probably it will learn to fly. Who knows....
This is only the vibration, we didn't discuss the quality from material mix, the influence from the platter, the quality of motor, belt or string ...
.... and sound pressure, building frequency - just to complete the listing even further and to illustrate the point a bit more precisely.
The different sound of turntables does indeed has its roots in different combinations of faults and periphery sourced disturbances which alter the playback situation and falsify the signal during the extraction from the grooves.
A truly great turntable has no sound.
Best possible isolation from building frequency and ground- as well as air-transmitted vibration is a FIRST major step.
Picture the electron microscope...... I mean this it is so obvious and easy.
The sharp image of an electron microscope resting on an isolation table (or inside an isolation suspended ROOM....) and the totally disturbed vague idea of something when the suspension is switched off.
The similarities between the TT w/tonearm and cartridge and the elect.-microscope should be obvious - both do deal with comparable dimensions and both need undisturbed surroundings to do their job.
Get the AC-3 on a Vibraplane first (or a Minus-K) - listen then rethink about sound and the way you want to go.
In any case - enjoy the journey.
We all agree. We just may or may not agree on what is a cow and what is a racehorse.

Syntax, I am blown away by the description of your speakers. They must be remarkable.
I've heard the Raven and really liked it at Highwater. I really like the sp10 mk2 better though at a fraction of the cost. Properly replinthed(which can be done for you) it is hard to beat. I would suggest trying something like this before spending 50K. There's a NOS mk2 just listed today here on audiogon. Someone needs to buy this so I won't be tempted. My wife would really appreciate it.
With your budget, why not keep the Acustic Raven for now and buy a Technics sp10 mk2 or mk3 from AlbertPorter or from Xactaudio or from Saskia and compare them in your own home. You will be comparing excellent examples of two very different, yet widely acclaimed, paradigms. And although I like a/b comparisons, I'm not suggesting this would be one. I'm suggesting you live with each for several months and by the end of that time you will probably know your direction.

Then, report back because I'm dying to hear the results.
Dear Lewm, excellent point !!

** We just may or may not agree on what is a cow and what is a racehorse. **

That is exactly the dilemma .........
Both animals do live on grass (or should....), both do chew grass (again and again...), both feature 4 legs, 2 eyes at the sides of their skulls, several stomachs and tend to leave at the first sight of real (or anticipated...) danger.
But as similar as they may look grazing from 200 yards , as different they are if viewed in close range.
It already stops at the hoof (or the lack of it....)......

I do not think that Alectiong will give a Technics SP10MK2 a listen.
What he did describe and what he wants to achieve will lead him on different and much more costly paths.
The SP10 MKx is nice.
With a sophisticated plinth it is good - compared to the price range $3k to $7k.
You want to try a really good DD TT, one that shows off the abilities of this drive concept?
Get a Mitch Cotter B-1 w/ big Denon DD.
You get a WORKING suspension with low frequency tuning for free.
But even this monsters abilities do soon come to an end.
But you do not get around its way too low platter weight (way too low to successful fight back playback inherent vibrations transmitted into the platter - and already way more heavy than the Technics SP-10's platter.....) in the first.
If you are running a speaker REALLY capable of the lowest 2 registers (... like Syntax's for instance, which shows a low level authority, speed, air, transparency and lack of distortion you won't hear anywhere else ...) in flat response, you will find out in due course, that all great turntables able to provide those lowest 2 registers (and by doing so "donating" to the listener all the upper registers with increased ease and transparency as well...) will feature a platter weight of at least 30 lbs and way up.
Regardless of bearing type or drive mechanism.
It is a game of amplitude of energy implied versus mass.
We can't get around it.
At least not on this planet ......
The 8 TT's I have recommended to listen to indeed have this one feature in common (the Basis may be a little less (but only a little...) in weight, but makes up for it with extreme good damping - but then it too is the one in the group with the least low bass dynamics - sorry, Syntax.....).
Turntable design is working with fairly easy physical rules and the ability to get along with them in a given price frame and idea of physical appearance.
A truly great TT will never come cheap, will always be very heavy and will always feature a high mass platter and low frequency suspension from periphery.
This is not my honest opinion nor my concept - its a direct result of mother nature and her concept and the bundle of physical events taking place when mechanical information is extracted by a tonearm/stylus combination from a grooved record.
Don't like that idea? - Me neither ..........
But then I never liked gravity too.
Unfortunately my dislike of gravity never actually helped.
Enjoy the journey........
...sorry, Syntax...
I know, I was born to suffer... (sic!)
Hey Syntax, poor man ..... "born to suffer" ...... or just enjoying it.....?
has anyone here compared the Raven One to the Raven AC-3 ?
I know that AC-3 is miles better, but is the Raven One about 80% of its sound ?
Would appreciate some comments on the Raven One..on ease of set-up, etc....
Well - Solong can provide an astonishing amount of insight into the setting up of the AC-1 and AC-2 respectively.
The AC-3 adds a 3rd motor - that is miles more expensive, but won't alter the performance.
The AC-2 already - if properly set-up... - does provide an AC with force-free horizontal bearing. This is the real advantage - not having a 2nd or 3rd motor, but eliminating a dreadful force vector in the horizontal plane. Thus considerably lessen the sound and the wear in the bearing axis.
It works with the Raven, it works with the Micro Seiki (their engineers put this in action with the inertia units HS-series back in the early 1980ies....), it works with every TT......
In the standard set-up of a Raven AC-2 the bearing most likely is not vector free - see Solongs set-up for illustration and inspiration and how it should be done.
Hey Solong - give us some nice pictures of your Raven AC-2 !
Its not a tweak - its applied basic physics.

Dear Dertonearm,

understanding you correctly we have to stop exchanging opinions. But what are we doing here and you too? Of course there are some very experienced opinion leaders and we like to listen to those guys. Nevertheless you cannot compare a consulting approach (done by human beings) with a technical and fully logical decision-finding process.
We are in no way logical bust most people would like to be!! Maybe some audiophiles adopt a somehow logical approach, some other will never do.

Therefore the best approach in the case of Alectioning is to put questions (what he did) and assess all our answers on our experience background and what might match to his taste and pocket. He draw a very good conclusion when stating the Black Knight could be a step forward but will never be the giant leap.

I have heard 5000 and 8000 Micros with air suspension and without. I would not prefer the non vaccuum versions. You do this. What is the reason for your position?
In the spirit of this discourse, you wrote "all great turntables able to provide those lowest 2 registers (and by doing so donating to the listener all the upper registers with increased ease and transparency as well...) will feature a platter weight of at least 30 lbs and way up. Regardless of bearing type or drive mechanism. It is a game of amplitude of energy implied versus mass."

Can you cite the math and/or physics that support this statement? I don't find it intuitively obvious that your generalization holds true for all turntable types. (But I will say that those who have heard both say that the SP10 Mk2 [8-lb platter] differs from the Mk3 [22-lb platter] mainly in the superior low bass response of the latter table, which is consistent with what you wrote.) Anyway, the Saskia would still qualify for your list on the basis of platter mass.
Dear Lewm, I am not familiar with the Saskia. There will be a mathematical term possible to give figures of the platter mass in relation to the energy level emitted by the stylus while extracting the information from the groove. This is of course depending on the compliance of the suspension of a given cartridge.

If you can do in the interim with some empirical research I have done in the early 1990ies, I can assure you that the 1st critical point is around 12-13 kg. The 2nd and last "barrier" (sonically...) falls around 35 kg. Above that you are in calm waters and can rest assured that even the most stiffest carts can no longer emit enough energy into the platter so to provoke any vibration of the platter which in return does alter the extract information.

It is a very similar effect as the one in billiard tables.
The picture is as follows:
- a machine kicks off a billiard ball on 2 tables covered with the same fabric and in the same room - both leveled perfectly.
On the table with the thicker stone platter underneath the fabric, the ball will run much longer.
The ball retains more of its rotating energy as the mass underneath is so much larger, that it does not deduct that energy - result: longer run.
That proven and common knowledge.
Same applies to turntables.
Put a given cartridge/tonearm combo on a TT with a platter of say 70+ lbs and you will notice while comparing to a TT with a 20 lbs platter less background noise, much more airy and authoritative bass and - surprise ... - a slightly louder playback level.
All these effects can be linked back to the fact that the cartridge/tonearm combination can do its work more undisturbed and do retain their energy.

Any math term explaining this relation must include compliance, stylus contact area, VTF, effective moving real mass, record net weight, platter net weight, contact area record to platter and - last not least.. - platter weight.

I am sure someone will help us with a formula....


One method that has been used many times with belt and string driven turntables is that of extreme platter mass. I suppose I did much the same with my idler driven turntable. It has a centerweighted platter of 12.5 kg. (26 lbs.) That is heavy for an idler type, but it also implements an external rotor motor, which of course, is placed near the rim of the platter. In effect, that adds an additional equivalent mass of around 168 kg. I say "around" because it depends on the rotational speed of the motor itself. That can vary due to the fact that the motor uses a regenerative speed controller that has many adjustments for pitch preference, and can also provide a higher speed for 45 rpm. (The design does not rely on any pulley configuration.) Anyway, there are various ways to skin the cat, and that one is the one I use.

Thanks for the mention!

Saskia Turntables
Hi Mosin, to add inertia and by doing so increasing speed stability of the moving system is indeed a wise decision. However - this added "dynamic mass" is not "seen" by the stylus assembly as it is only a dynamic (sic) part of the moving system. The platter of your TT still remains at a static net mass of 12.5 kg (which still is pretty much for an idler drive and already in a serious league).
So for the model I have set up we do need the bare net mass of the platter.
The added inertia helps to stabilize the speed - but it does not help the platter in its fight against tracking-born vibrations. Its only the pure static mass underneath the record - i.e. the platter itself - which matters in this case.

Nevertheless its always a smart move to increase inherent speed stability by added inertia - even in an idler drive ( which once again shows indeed, that there are many ways leading to Rome - but in the very end they all merge at the Capitol (or the Via Appia.... in case you want it to be a triumphal march....).

Keep up the good work.
Enjoy the journey,