Brinkman Balance Comparisons

For those who have the Brinkman or compared it to others please chime in. How does it compare to the Avid, TW Raven AC and SME 30? I heard the Raven AC has been compared to the Brinkman in Germany extensively. any thoughts? Also, how critical is a good support stand to achieve it's perfromance?

Thanks for your help,

Hi Andrew, I might be able to shed some light on the tables you listed. One year ago I bought the Brinkmann LaGrange after much shopping and traveling to listen to the many other tables on my list. I owned a Teres 265 at the time and the Brinkmann killed it in every way. Bass reproduction was the most dramatic improvement of all. I went with the Lagrange because it seemed to be a bit more lively than the Balance AND I could mount two arms.

A great guy here in town owns a SME30-2/SME V/Celebration in a very good system. I know its sound well and the SME sounds very quiet, very smooth but too polite for me. The music from the SME just does not deliver the excitement that I have come to expect.

The standard Avid Acutus, not the Reference, was very much the same as the 30-2 but with slightly more detail but not as quiet of a background as the big SME. More energy in the music but just not quite enough for me. It also lacked finesse' when compared to some other tables, of course, IMHO.

The Raven AC plattenspieler I have only heard in Denver at the RMAF. I did spend several hours there getting a feel for the system. I must say, I think the Raven AC sounded on par with the best I have heard, again, YMMV. Very dynamic and very quiet. As quiet as the Brinkmann but with more punch, more energy.

The TT out there that I may like even better than the Raven AC, from my limited listening sessions, is the beautiful new direct drive Teres. I did hear it with my tonearm/cart but not my speakers. The new Teres just gives the music so much PRAT, so much real world dynamics. The new Teres seems to be very quiet as well. Detail retrieval is among the best I have heard.

Both the Raven AC and new DD Teres have the speed stability to give the music that solid foundation that only comes when the bass is right. With that foundation, the rest of the music sounds so right. Attack, bloom and decay of piano and guitar notes just do not get any better unless you are live. Both these tables have the finesse' that so many tables lack. These tables have what it takes to keep me listening well past my bedtime.

Forget the relatively reasonable price of the of the Raven AC and the Teres DD tables, these may be two of the best new TT's available today. I think they belong in my top five list in any case.

Good luck Andrew, I think most of us would be proud to own any of these tables. I don't want to knock any of the tables listed, thay all have some very strong points and deserve consideration. I just gave you my view. I hope you can find a way to listen and compare for yourself.
In this league you should also consider the Shindo Garrard 301 set up (table, arm, & cart) for 20k. It uses an idler wheel, and sounds fundamentally different (and better) than any belt-driven table I've heard. That said, I have no experience with the tables you've listed.

Info at

Good luck.
I have no experience with the tables under discussion, but I find it soooo interesting (though to me, not surprising) that Vetterone has noticed something special about a direct drive table.

Besides Teres, the new Goldmund Reference will be DD (the original was belt) and of course, Micro Seiki was going that way toward the end of their production. Today, a number of other prominent makers are considering this option.

A well designed and executed DD TT will in my opinion outperform any other design at the same price point. It's a simple and elegant solution to so many TT mechanical problems. And modern electronic parts/technology will make this approach even more attractive.

As a mechanical solution, belt drives and idler wheels are so . . . . . . . British (if you've ever owned a British car, you know what I mean ;--)

Thank you very much for your thorough ecplanation. I have heard good things about the new DD Teres. I wonder if the high torque motors with BD that some people use is a bridge between your traditional low torque BD and a DD.

Fremer's recent Stereophile review of the AC Raven just happens to include some comparisons to the three tables you mention.
I have compared the Brinkmann lagrange with the Sme and avid decks. The sme lacks pace - its very clean sounding but too polite and saps all the life out of rock music. The avid acutus has very good timing and pace but lacks vitality in the midband. I havent heard the raven but I have heard kuzma, yorke, amazon, pluto, origin live and may others and the BLG is way ahead. However the emt cartridge must be correctly loaded at 600 ohms and MUST have around 330 - 470 pf capacitive loading on top of the interconnects due to the emt design. Without this you have not heard what the BLG can do. +/- 50 ohms or +/- 30 pf is clearly audible - I have never ehard a cartridge so sensitive to loading.
Hi Steve, Andrew and gang!

Steve, what a thoughtful and complete description you gave. I always learn a bit more when we talk. I am also in the search for a new TT and tonearm (remember the Tri-Planer) and would love to ask you (Steve/Andrew) you thoughts about the Galibria line. I am interested in the Glavia and heard it at someone's home. However, you can never really tell how good the piece of equipment you are auditioning when the system you hear it on is totally new to you and your ears!!!
That said, Steve/Andrew....any comments about the Glavia? I believe it is quite good (Dan chime in) and with a good arm (Tri-Planer/Graham/Schroder) it will keep me happy for many years. The only problem is that the unit is produced in Colorado and the set-up would be done by someone associated with the table here in NYC. I am an "all thumbs" person and require assistance in with arm/table set up.
That said......I also was interested in the idle wheel TT but they are so difficult to find to listen to.

Anyway......any thoughts/comments?

P.S. Andrew I always love your topics !

RWD (Rick)

Call Jeff at Highwater Sound in NYC to demo the TW Acustic Raven 1, baby brother to the Raven AC. It uses the same P/S, motor and the same, but smaller bearing as the Raven AC. It's competitively priced too.

Hi Rick,

Thanks for your comments and it's too bad we never met at the Vaccum tube show last year. Anyway, I think the Triplanar is a good arm. I have been using it now for about 1 year and it is very easy to use and adjust parameters. Because of that, I have been able to appreciate the impact of fine tuning VTF, VTA and azimuth.

I don't have experience with other top arms, But peole in the know say the Triplanar is close to neutral.

The Graham Phantom is supposed to be very good and has the option to have multiple armwands for multiple cartridges.

If I were to buy a second or third arm it would be the Schroder DPS and the Ikeda IT-345. The latter having the ability to swap headshells. But ultimately, you need to make sure the cartridges and arms are compatible.

As far as the Galibier goes, I think it is one of the top TT's. Very well made and a good value which you would enjoy for a long time. I just don't have a lot of excperience with it. I'm planning to go to CES this year and I hope to listen to it and meet Thom in person.

Dan Ed has good experience with the Galibier. Also, I would not worry about having it set up by someone in the NYC area.

Vetterone: would you include the Walker and the Continuum in your top five? DO you believe the Teres competes at that level?
Thanks Evan! I called a few weeks ago. Never heard form them? I guess they are just starting to set up?

Jeff is very responsive so I'm sure something is amiss. Try him again and I'll give him a heads up that you're calling.

Hi guys, glad that I could add a little something to the group. I have received so much help here. It feels good to give back once and awhile.

Gladstone, I would include the Walker in with the SME 30, very smooth, VERY quiet and very well crafted but also very polite. So it would not make my personal top five. The silk thread Lloyd uses may be a part of the sound. When I tried their silk drive thread on my Teres, it lost dynamics and became slightly quieter. I would include the Continuum in my top five for sound. However the price excludes it from my list. $100,000+ gives it a poor return on investment. I could buy a Raven or Teres and for the extra money, make much bigger improvements elsewhere in my system than the Continuum could ever give. And I would still have enough left over to buy the sport exhaust system for the 911. Now that is another kind of music I love. A 911 at 7000 RPM...goose bumps!

As an aside, I have talked to someone that heard the Continuum's Cobra arm replaced with a Schröder Reference and the room pretty much agreed that they preferred the Schröder over the Cobra overall. Just a rumor from a reliable source.

I was going to mention the Raven 1. It does sound oh so very close to the AC. However the unit I heard had the Raven AC bearing so it may not be indicative of the final production sound. If they would build one with the bigger AC bearing, that might be a no brainier. What a huge bang for the buck that would be!

Rick, I have heard the Galibria tables several times at shows, but for some reason there were issues with something in the system or it was too noisy and I can't give a solid personal opinion except that Thom's tables are VERY well made and a lot of people like them. From what I have heard, I would say they are very similar to the belt drive Teres tables except the Galibrias delivers a bit more in the way of dynamics. No question they deserve one of the great arms on your list.

Andrew, I will be at CES too, dinner's on me if you want to get together. Might be fun listening to a few rooms together to get an idea on what each of us likes in our music. I would like to talk to you about your new Trans cartridge too.

Briz, I think we are in agreement on what we are describing. The EMT carts are indeed very sensitive not only to loading but on which arm they are mounted. I still own an EMT cart but it has too narrow of a sweet spot for me. If you want to take the Brinkmann up another level, put a Schröder on it. Wow! I think the Tri-Planar is also better than the Brinkmann arm. The Tri-Planar is more versatile in regards to which carts it will handle and more neutral than the Brinkmann arm. The Brinkmann arm really needs the Brinkmann/EMT cart because of a strange midrange hump situation.

Regards, Steve
Vetterone--many thanks for your response. Are you using the DD version of the Teres? Have you inspected the Grand Prix turntable?
I dont hear a hump when properly loaded. I havent heard the triplanar or the shroder but I have heard the airtangent on the BLG and from above the bass it is fantastic? The bass is good but not great. I hope to listen to the kuzma airline if it can have the best of both worlds.
Hi Gladstone,
I hope to hear one of Chris' DD tables in my room next year. I think they are just coming on line production wise. We will see.
I have inspected/heard the Grand Prix tables and listened to Alvin Lloyd explain his newest creation several times at shows but that is all I can say for sure except that I really like the carbon fibre look. My guess, and only a guess, is that they lack the mass to take full advantage of the direct drive. Would love to have one to try in my room, but until then, I will admire from afar.
SME 30/2 with IV-VI arm is the best source I have heard. Comparisons across systems and cartridges are probably not valid, but everybody does it anyway, and I would say within the limitations of this kind comparison, the SME 30 is better than the full bore Shindo Garrard and a Rockport Sirius III I heard in far more expensive systems. However, some listeners don't want something that doesn't add or subtract to the signal, they want something that "adds" in a euphonic way, so your mileage and taste may vary.
I like the Audio Federation's blog on high end turntable comparison. Their take is that above the $20,000 retail threshold, the difference between high end turntables could be accounted for by adding or subtracting a "tweak" from the system i.e. changing phono cartridges, phono stages etc. With this in mind, all of those turntables would be more or less equivalent in sound quality with minor qualitative or subjective differences. This would make the Brinkmann table with arm and tubed power supply in that kind of estimation just about the best retail "bargain" amongst the various and sundry high end turntables, since it tends to come in at that retail price point. Maybe the Raven, HRX, SME 20, Avid etc. would be "two tweaks" away from this league, which would mean a lot could be equalized by system dependence and synergy.
The Audio Federation blog wasn't entirely impressed by the Caliburn, for instance.
Having owned a SME 30/2 for close to four years, I know it well. I know have a TW Acustic and think it is just as good if not better in some areas, such as pitch stability.
I find it more enjoyable to listen to musically and it was much less money even with buying the SME used. Perhaps the ony advantage the SME has over the Raven is the built in isolation, but still the TW is very quiet and it take a lot to upset the TW.
Hi Carl,

You completely negated everything you said in your comments regarding system and cartridges and how everything is different, and tough to compare - so how can you then say the SME30 is 'better' than the Shindo 301? The fact that I've taken in an SME 30, Kuzma Reference and two Brinkmans in trade toward Shindo 301 Player Systems this year alone, is testament to a particular quality the Shindo has that no other table does.

pitch perfect audio, LLC
HI, Matt,

Shindo is outstanding. I just acquired the SME 30 in my own system after hearing the Shindo and comparisons are, as stated, across systems and are probably limited in validity due to the built in comprimises of the comparison. I do prefer the SME 30 overall for detail and balance in my own system. I think the thrust of the comments are that the high performance turntables can be similar in performance above a certain price point. I certainly think the Shindo gear is wonderful, but I am entitled to a personal preference based on my own listening. I think you should read the comments in context. Everybody should hear the Shindo gear for themselves, it is a fantastic system, but what is important to listeners might be different especially with different system topologies. I have enormous respect for the Shindo equipment and would recommend it to anybody.
Please don't go ballistic over subjective impressions, they are to be taken as always with a grain of salt and this does not represent an attack of Shindo, which I still admire based on my listening.
The high end is very competitive with a lot of people making unfounded comparisons. I guess I will just stop posting opinions if the result is defensive, I forgot that when you get into the higher price componenets it becomes a small world.
I have the Brinkmann LaGrange and Brinkmann arm and have listened to numerous cartridges with it, including the Brinkmann EMT, the Koetsu Rosewood Signature Platinum, and Van den Hul Colibri. (I also used the arm and cartridge with a Brinkmann Balance for a time; I tried the Triplanar with that table and went for the Brinkmann instead) Neither I nor anyone else has ever heard the "strange midrange hump" Vetterone refers to--of course, I use a different preamp (Shindo Catherine, as well as an Audiotrium 23 step up) and different amps, speakers and cables, and have a different room (and ears). I have never heard the Bernings and the MBL 111s but based on published information about the Berning's output impedance and the MBL's impedance one might suspect some frequency anomalies centered around 1000hz (which is not to say they don't sound good together)
Do you prefer the lagrange to the balance?

I havent heard any mid range hump with mine ;) With the correct loading its neutrality is startling.
I just looked at (and listened to) the TW Raven AC yesterday. is DROP DEAD GORGEOUS!!!!!
A small footprint and it does not take up too much real estate, simple to use and set up (I am not too sure why it's so expensive...guess it's the material?), and although it has a DC motor it uses a filter or controller plugged into your wall so not batteries!!

The sound? Well this is where it is difficult to evaluate.
I was listening to different speakers, per-amp, amp, cartridge, arm etc....and I felt the sound was clear, clean and a bit (and I mean bit) too heavy on the bottom.
Not too sure where that was coming from. However, compared to my ARIES/10.5 arm I have to believe this is a winning table (along with the Glaibier-Glavia).
Oh, the decisions......!!!!!!!!!
Do you prefer the lagrange to the balance

The LaGrange and Balance are slightly different, but I got the LaGrange because I wanted to run two arms. I am not unhappy with my decision

The Raven definitely does not have too much bass. If you hear a bass hump it will either be the tonearm match with the compliance of the cartridge. It could be the system but that you will know comparing it to a CD source you are familiar with.

I have played with 3 arms on mine and noticed that you hear everything you put into your system. This means that if the arm has a certain signature it will show. If the cartridge exacerbates the signature of the arm then it will show more. More likely than not if the arm is not high enough in mass the bass will become muddy. If the arm and cartridge match is truly synergistic it will shine. I honestly believe that everyone here wondering if the Brinkman Balance, LaGrange, Galiber or TW Acustic are better or worse are spliting hairs as they are all top flight. It is a matter of design and flexibility at this level. The Raven sound can be changed by the addition of a mat. So can the Balance. In the end of the day the bearing is the most critical. The bearing needs to optimized to the weight of the platter etc.

PS the Raven manufacturing process is a full in house operation. Thomas (the designer of the Raven) does not want to farm anything out to reduce cost as this will reduce quality. His bearing and bearing sleaves are made one at a time and matched. This means you can not just replace the bearing. You must replace both if you damage it (it is almost impossible to damage). You should look at the TW website.

Also, there is a lot of exceptional audio equipment that has long waiting list due to the fact that they are made in house and the quality control is at a very high level.
Dgad...thanks for the comments. As I said to Jeff when I was with him at the audition I suspected the pronounced bass was probably from some other source in the system.
Your comment about the bass has eased my mind.
I received a note back form Jeff suggesting a revisit and listen to the table again...he was a gracious host!

He also explained to me....once again, the reason for the cost due to some exotic materials. The table (as I said before) is a winner!

Dagd...what were you listening to before the Raven? What arm/cartridge did you wind up with?

Finally, I suspect I may wait till May and HOPE the Raven along with the Galiberia-Glavia are both at the Stepeophile show for me to see/listen to and then make a decision. Although I am an impetuous kind of guy and I could be persuaded to purchase something sooner?

I am leaning toward this: Raven or Glavia as a table, the arm...a Tri-Planer or Graham and the cartridge a Dynavector XV-1.
Comments anyone???

I was listening to a Nottingham Hyperspace w. a SME V. I used a Koetsu Urushi with the Groove and a VdH Condor w. a custom phono stage. An excellent table at its price point in its time. Once the Urushi broke in there was magic that made me stop listening to CD. Once the Urushi broke (cleaning woman) I went through a bunch of changes. Then I went after total neutrality which the Raven has in spades. I strongly suggest you look at the phono stage as an integral part of your analogue setup. People disagree but my suggestion is that cartridges are too often judged out of context as the phono stage is part of the synergy. I will report more later on this but not for now. I know people who love the XV-1s and those who don't . Very polar opinions. I believe this is phono stage dependant. The new Tri Planar is lower mass than the original VII. The Graham can be adjusted from my understanding. Hope I help you with your decision.
Thanks Dgad! I have a Rhae phono stage and it has the ability to select a laod for the cartridge. I garee it is very helpful!!!

It was great listening to you system the other day. I was impressed with the detail, soundstage and separation of instruments.

As we discussed, I think the Raven AC is a very good bet. The high torque motor will be the closest thing to a direct drive which are supposed to be a very good design. Plus tthe bearing design and weight of the platter are optimum and produce some necessary drag. Latly, the materials are exotic enough. Many different substances are used to create enough impedance mistmatches to produce very effective isolation. Whta impressed me was Fremer's account of the "tap test".

Anyway, the Raven Ac is the table I would like to have.

Andrew, it was my pleasure having you over this past Monday. Please feel free to stop by again (and anyone else in the tri-satte area) for some music, good chat and some fine espresso!!! Let's try to get a group together for the May stereophile show???

RWD (Rick)
Cjfrbw says: "With this in mind, all of those turntables would be more or less equivalent in sound quality with minor qualitative or subjective differences."

Dgad says: " suggestion is that cartridges are too often judged out of context as the phono stage is part of the synergy."

I find myself agreeing with these statements. At the level of play of these very best of turntables--where all the resonance, noise and speed stability problems are pretty much resolved--the character of the sound is largely determined by the arms, cartridges, loadings, and rolling tubes in the preamp.
I disagree. It seems as though tables keep improving in precisely these areas: speed stability, pitch definition, and resonance control. Consider the new Continuum turntable or the new Walker arm, etc.

Is the Continuum that good a turntable? Is the Walker? Have there been no turntables that approach what they do?? Are they so far ahead of other turntables to make a great former design sound broken? I would suggest Albert Porter chime in here about the sound of his Tape vs. LP. I think LP as a medium is limited. We can spend more money to move up the chain but at a certain level the jumps get smaller. It then makes more sense to place our money elsewhere in the chain where the audible ROI is maximized. If you sacrifice a great phono stage for a world class turntable you are not even getting close to hearing what your turntable can do.
Yes, I'm afraid it is. And re: phono stage. True. But anyone who's shelling out the dollars for a highend turntable is unlikely to skimp on the phono stage.
Dear Andrew: Any serious TT comparison is valid only if take place in the same audio system/room with the same tonearm/cartridge/phonolinepream/cartridge set-up.

I respect all the people and what they already posted about but is not really usefull. Because almost all heard the different TT's in different environment.

When you are talking of any of the TT's named here ( including your Acoustic Signature ) you don't have to worried about its performance or the " minute " differences between them what you must to worried is about two critical subjects: tonearm/cartridge matching and Phonolinepreamp, these two subjects make the difference ( not the TT )specially the Phonolinepreamp ( I agree with Darren about ).

Andrew, for the last four weeks I was " exposed " to several TT's: Walker Gold, SME 30, Avid Acutus, Micro Seiki, Rockpot Sirius, Teres, Galibier, VPI Aries and Acoustic Signature. I can tell you which audio system like me more and I can graded each one but I can't tell you which TT's is the best one.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Thank you for your valuable opinion. Unfortunately, you present little information on which to evaluate it.
My earlier post pointed to some of the qualities that, I think, the elite tables provide--freedom from the sense that vinyl is being played, sensational dynamics, increased refinement, greater sense of hall space, and so forth. The SME 30, Walker, and Continuum all provide it. Whether it's worth the money to you is another question entirely. That said, superb sound can be had for a lot less. But you will get more with the better tables. My opinion, valuable or not, is that it's all a question of how demanding (and obsessive)you are or want to be.
Raul said: Any serious TT comparison is valid only if take place in the same audio system/room with the same tonearm/cartridge/phonolinepream/cartridge set-up. Now I agree but HOW do you do that?????? It's almost impossible to go to some audio store and start to compare the Galibrier/Raven/Teres/SME/VPI etc with the Tri-Planer/Schroder/Luster/Graham/Dynavector with a ZYX/Orpheus/Dynavector, so many choices.
Gdastone is right .......tables and arms have been improving year by year. This is what is so frustrating to me is just not an easy choice. Then again, it really is!
What I include in my decision to buy is the following: why do I want to there somthing wrong with what I have OR is the new unit better?: Is the new unit better in areas I need and want (and like)?: has it been blessed and given an approval nod by you (the group here on audiogon)?: is it reasonably priced?: Is the dealer/manufacturer a person I want to deal with (important)?: What is the availability of the unit (a problem with Schroder for now)?: will I get the necessary service?:
All of these are important in my search but I do feel that a: Teres with a Graham Phantom and ZYX or a VPI HRX with a Tri-Planer and Orpheus would make me happy........

P.S. The units I mentioned above are just some of the candidates. I am also looking at the Raven AC, Galibrier, Schroder, etc.....

Rick (RWD)
Dear Rick: +++++ " What I include in my decision to buy is the following: why do I want to there somthing wrong with what I have OR is the new unit better?: " +++++

This statement is critical ( it does not matters if we are wealthy or not ), many of us change " things " only for change " things ". In the case of TT's and before we change it it is " healthy " to look for some tweaks that could improve the TT performance like: mat's, clamp's, plattform's, etc, etc.
Of course that we can change something because it " looks " better or is the new " kid on the street ", this is our decision.

Rick: +++++ " Now I agree but HOW do you do that?????? " +++++

we can't, and that's why some other posts here " speak " about of " minute " differences between those TT's and I posted:
" When you are talking of any of the TT's named here ( including your Acoustic Signature ) you don't have to worried about its performance or the " minute " differences between them what you must to worried is about two critical subjects: tonearm/cartridge matching and Phonolinepreamp, these two subjects make the difference ( not the TT )specially the Phonolinepreamp ( I agree with Darren about ). ".

This means that with top TT's performers the decision is more in what you like more ( look, name/brand, warranty, post-service, feautures, price, etc, etc. ) of each one other than the performance.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Raul..well said. You are correct. I must assume that my final cartridge decision will be one of these: Dynavector XV1-S, ZYX-3 or Uni. With that said, I believe the Tri-Planer, Phantom will do well to carry these cartridges (agree)? Then, the TT....and I believe a Raven, Glavia, Teres 320 will all do well to complete the unit.
My Aries/10.5 unit is good....quit good. However, I just have to believe the upgrade of a newer table and arm and cartridge (Helikon now) will be a move up for my system.
Thanks again, Raul for your quick and thoughtful comments.
RWD - Have you considered the Titan-i as another cartridge choice? Lyra will subtract $1,000 off the Titan-i with your Helicon trade-in. I've been going through the same cartridge conundrums with my set-up. An Avid Volvere, Tri-Planer VII, and Helicon. If you like the Helicon, the Titan-i may be an excellent progression with a little less guesswork and a substantial savings. Richard
Hi Richard....Yes I have. However, my Helikon is quit good but I'd like a bit more warmth and roundness. Now, here come the part that I get so frustrated about. I have heard the titan in another system BUT it was another system and not mine. Therefore, what I was istening to was quit good BUT on someone elses system. I guess what I am saying is I am ready for a change.
As to price...I may be wrong but I believe cartridges have a very high mark up. I believe I can get a good price on any cartridge with a complete system (TT/arm/etc).

But Thanks for your commets and are always helpful!
P.S. Anyone have a copy or link to the stereophile Michael Fermer review of the TW Raven AC?

Dynavector XV1-S, ZYX-3 or Uni. With that said, I believe the Tri-Planer, Phantom will do well to carry these cartridges (agree)?

Yes, they work very well.
Don't believe MF "formally" reviewed the Raven, sort of commented on it at length in the analog section of Stereophile and compared it by memory and across systems to some of the tables he has reviewed in the past. Pcosta here (owned the SME 30) and Kha probably have the most most current extensive experience to comment on the Raven. Maybe they could add agreement or disagreement with MF's assessment?
This thread proves to me that we audiophiles operating in the analog domain have it made.

Discussions between us centering on differences between the best turntables, arms and cartridges in the world and everyone seems to favor (or at least be excited) by their own choices.

I have owned many high end tables, perhaps the last two or three only qualify for insertion in this thread, but truth is the high end turntable market has pushed technology to places I never thought it would go.

Thirty years ago and perhaps even earlier, my experience with Thorens TD 124 and Ortofon arm and later, A Luxman Direct Drive with a modified Rabco linear track arm, convinced me that high end analog had reached a summit that could not be improved upon.

That was before I owned my Win Labs table, my Dynavector arm and cartridge and the Oracle Premiere with (original) Tri Planar arm.

Later I owned a Versa Dynamics (with it's own linear track arm), Basis Debut Gold IV and V and after experimenting with Tri Planar, Graham, Air Tangent 10 B and Breuer arms I thought (again) that analog had gone as far as possible.

Over the last five months I have had the pleasure of comparing directly side by side, the Kuzma Stabi XL turntable with Kuzma Air Line linear track arm to a Walker Proscenium (without Walker's latest arm upgrade).

I and the owner of these two fine tables agree the Walker is superior but as Raul mentioned in his post, the difference between these two high end tables was erased by swapping cartridges, and the two cartridges could not have been more similar. Koetsu Rosewood Signature Platinum in the Walker, Koetsu Jade Platinum Signature in the Kuzma.

The Kuzma had the advantage in this (above) set up. After swapping cartridges where Koetsu Jade went into the Walker, the Walker was the winner.

I heard things I preferred with the Walker, even when it had the Rosewood, but the Kuzma with it's linear track arm was so good, that the cartridge became the sticking point in this contest.

This test was made in the EXACT same system with Identical components, only the turntable plugged and unplugged into the same phono stage. Both turntables sat on the same stand, using the same isolation and with the same wall outlets powering everything with identical cords.

This was a true test, a test that occurred over 6 months of relaxed listening. I can still hear each turntable in my mind even now as I type this post.

I think there are so many variables and so many ways to alter sound in a high end system that it's difficult (perhaps impossible) to know EXACTLY what is the absolute best. In any case, a number of high end tables both new and old with proper tweaking and perfect arm and cartridge match can provide "top ten" sound in a state of the art system.
RWD--how do you like the woofer towers? Do you find them fast and tight enough?
Interesting you should say that? I had a pleasant visit last week form Andrew (our author of this thread) and he listened to my system. He liked what he heard! I commented to him not to expect thunderous earth shaking bass coming form the woofer towers...that is not what you hear from a live symphonic concert. He commented that the bass was very tight and detailed. So I guess I'm on the right track... but to comment the woofers are not as fast as the EMIM's or EMIT's but do well to portrait a close similarity of the symphony at a concert hall