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From the perfect-fit shipping box, we extracted the Millennium Mat and platter which despite being plastic is one heavy contraption. It feels just like it looks, smooth and caressable unlike acrylic platters which are cold and hard. One level lower in the box sat the base whose profile resembles a koala bear's shadow from the back while the front is quite different. In the left 'ear' sits the motor and the right 'ear' contains the stainless steel base for the arm board. In the middle sits a recessed steel plate with the spindle bolt hole.

In a separate box we discovered the motor control and nicely tucked away a bag with the spindle itself, the belt, a bottle of lubricant, the three turntable feet and a spanner to fix the spindle to base and arm board. The latter is the copper version of the board painted black and replaces the older Delrin compound board.

To assemble things, we first fitted the three feet under the base which make it easy to level the table to perfection. Once in place, we cleaned the spindle with a
soft cloth and hand-tightened it to the base. Thomas hand-checks each and every bearing and pre-runs it for at least two days to insure tolerances. Each spindle comes with an engraved number that matches the platter's brass sleeve. With a tissue, we applied a very small amount of lube to the spindle and carefully slid the platter over. It took quite a few seconds for the platter to slowly slide down the shaft and have the highly polished dome at the shaft's apex touch its counterpart in the brass inset of the platter, proof of well-calibrated tolerances.

Next was dismounting the Vivid Two arm with Oyaide head shell from the demo Raven One and mount it to the virgin unit. Here the Benelux distributor insisted he set up arm and cart. His offer was no mere kindness. While the Vivid looks simple and comes at an attractive price for its sound quality, setting it up is a chore. With a Geo Disc tool, overhang and azimuth are relatively simple to achieve correctly. Setting up proper VTA is entirely different. Vivid's designers don't provide for simple adjustments. You must loosen a screw and then lift or lower the arm on the vertical shaft by hand. Each time you tighten the set screw, it leaves a mark on the shaft to make it harder next time to fine tune the arm.

In the end all settings were up to par but the arm rest had to be turned to make it useless. With the mounted Lyra Dorian, the naked cantilever stuck out quite a bit and it dangling in mid air was not a reassuring sight. Extra caution was the order of the days.

After putting the Raven One on our support, it was time for speed calibration. Thomas' motor control is an example of his engineering skills. An integrated circuit designed by Mr. Woschnick constantly communicates with the platter to track speed. Whenever there is need for adjustment, the chip performs multiple correction many times per second. For TW Acustics, absolute speed control alongside the cancellation of all external resonances are their prime objectives to building the very best turntables they can. With the help of an electronic strobe, the initial speed was set. While adjusting the speed, it became clear how the combination of motor, belt and platter is quite special. After switching on the motor, the platter was at the desired speed within two seconds. The motor possesses enormous torque while the perfectly flat belt has plenty of grip on the motor's axle and platter. Once at speed, the electronics exactly keep it at speed. Pabst supplies the motor but after TW's treatment, it re-emerges a completely overhauled beast. One of the alterations concerns the replacements of the original motor magnets.

While talking motors, the Raven One may be the baby in the TW Acustic line but it can grow substantially. Ultimately the Raven One can become a three-motored two-armed monster. Taking the motor out of the plinth makes space for a second arm board. With a little ingenuity, two additional motors may also be added, necessitating a longer belt of course. Thomas developed the belt over the years and just like all other parts -- it's getting monotonous -- it conforms to very tight specifications. Its thickness is within a 1/100 of a millimeter tolerance just like its slack and wear figures.

We had the choice between two separate phono preamplifiers to insert between turntable and our Meishu integrated. The first option was the Gain Cell technology-based PS Audio GCPH. Here one gain cell forms the input to couple to the cartridge, then a passive RIAA curve corrector follows and another gain cell becomes the output whose voltage can be adjusted with an attenuator. We also had the Tri TRV-EQ3SE, a fully tube-operated phono equalizer stage built around a 5AR4 rectifier and four ECC803S. TW Acustic's distributor also provided an Oyaide analogue cable to connect table to phono stage.