the nottingham dias. a reference table from a company that is a leader in analogue technology and reliablity.
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I would put my money on the TW Accoustics Reaven AC. With a tri Planer or a Graham Phantom.
I have observed remarkable difference between the TW Raven AC and the VPI Line. I have not heard the Nottingham but can say that the TW is as good if not better than the SME 20/2 turntable. The speed control is amazing on the TW and the driving motors are extremely quiet and well synchronised.
Now I am no expert on any analog stuff, but I have listened to a few lines. I did not have the budget for the TW Raven AC so did not buy it at that time. But have it in my list for future.
All the tables and arms you mentioned are very fine choices. IMHO the Basis Signature Series and Vector arm should be added to your list. The bearing on these tables are second to none and the Vector arm with Basis wiring is an excellent performer. They give you alot of performance without fuss and have a model for every budget. Good Luck on your quest.
A while ago, I was in the market for a new TT in the price range you are. I have had a Nottingham Mentor for many years, and I found the Dais was to much of the same thing. Heavy platter, graphite top platter, but with an outbord PSU. A bit booring. I liked the Mentor. It had good rythem and drive, but I really never got it to play with coherence and musical flow. The VPI I have not heard, neither the TW Raven AC. However, after talking with some of my audiophile buddis, reading all the buzz about the Raven, and and drooling over a couple of reviews, I ordered one:-)
You know, the Raven AC seems to make a great impact on everyone who gets close to it.
I made my choice purely by what table I was most attracted to, and I am very pleased with that. I will use it with a Phantom arm and a Transfiguration Temper V.
Im getting it in mid May:-))
Because of my mediocre financial situation, I was forced to go with the Raven One. I did go for a Phantom to put on it, so don't feel too bad for me.
I think this may end up being a great combo for a somewhat reasonable cost.
readers of high-endaudio.com commented on the Raven AC vs Raven one
"I was in the TW Acustik room when Frank Schroeder was there with a guest. They played the same track on the cheaper model Raven, fitted with a cheap arm (Sumiko MMT like) and the Dynavector 20X cart, followed by the expensive table with the Schroeder Reference SQ and the ZYX Universe.
There was a difference - the expensive rig sounded brighter but less dynamic. Herr Schroeder and Woschnik admitted they were close and favored the extra "air" of the expensive arm/cart. However, sitting there asking myself "which sounds more convincing, more like real musicians and instruments?", my answer was the cheaper arm/cart combination. How is it I never hear "air" around instruments and singers when I go to live concerts?"
another notes..... "The expensive copper update for the platter is not good. A record directly on it was really bad in reproduction. We then tried a cheap paper mat between the copper and the record, and it became DRAMATICALLY better. Arthur, a PIECE of Paper!"
The Raven One doesn't have the copper platter. Maybe the original Raven doesn't either.
The TW Akoustics Raven AC would be my first choice in the list you provide. I know VPI sells a lot of tables, but I have never heard one I liked including the HX.
I don't know anything about the Nottingham, so you'll get nothing outta me regarding it...
The Ravens are built like a tank, if you could find a beautiful tank, but since tanks are always ugly, I don't know what to say... I thought the Raven sounded great!