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The Raven One is a very heavy high-mass specimen which nicely demonstrates how this type of turntable is supposed to work. Their kind relies on tight tolerances and an ideal plinth mass to suit platter and motor. When everything is properly balanced with the right tone arm, a high-end sound results regardless of the table’s price. The better the engineering and craftsmanship involved, the more characteristic traits will be more pronounced of course.

But a medium-priced turntable will exhibit the same basic characteristics. Good mass loaders always cost a certain amount as specific core ingredients cannot be done cheaply and well. This does not have to get very expensive however. The overall sound between the ultra-expensive Transrotor Argos and the inexpensive Transrotor Fat Bob S is similar. Ditto for the Raven One which is neither cheap nor overly expensive.

Some time ago I exchanged emails with Simon Yorke, owner of Simon Yorke Designs, specialist in turntable technologies who designs decks which embrace neither high mass nor complete decoupling. I opined that although I have no special preference for a given technology and that everything really depends on how it’s implemented, I always observe the same things in decoupled turntables which mass-loaded designs handle far better. These are lesser focus, lower bass not as fully controlled and a slight coloration of the midrange. Although the new plinth of the Linn LP12 Sondek took care of the latter issue, its bass remains unchanged.

Interestingly Simon did not fully agree. Although he prefers another approach, he said that well-designed suspended tables can make for spectacular results and cited Conrad Mas’ Avid Hifi as an example. Well, I immediately added SME to the list. Let’s then simply agree that suspended tables have a characteristic sound which some companies master such that it won’t dominate. I think that’s a sensible conceptual compromise. But I must repeat that in my opinion mass loaders do certain things better, period (perhaps SME and Avid excepted but those in fact are mass-loaded suspended designs). I am mostly talking about rubber/spring-type suspensions rather than air cushions. Here I won’t dig deeper as it’s a huge topic. Important simply is that well-designed heavy unsuspended decks perform in a very well-mannered fashion.

And that’s the Raven One. The sound of each record was exceptionally repeatable similar to how digital sources have a recognizable signature. Keep in mind though that I’m not saying it sounded digital. I just wanted to remind us that this was one reason why many electronics manufacturers abandoned turntables when the CD appeared. With digital a certain sonic unpredictability disappeared. One no longer had to take it into account.

With the Raven each spinning of the same disc under the same listening conditions was maximally similar. That was a big asset and a solid foundation to built upon which happened to be tonally well balanced with one proviso – not every cartridge yielded the same results.