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Old 01-12-2021, 10:15 PM
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Maks Maks is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Chicago
Posts: 1,733
Default HW-40 thoughts so far

Well this has been a long time coming, last year I was simply too swamped with work, but I've finally had some time to tweak the setup a bit and do some more listening. This is just stream of consciousness about my real experience, there won't be any hyperbole like, "with this table I was able to sense a grasshopper outside the recording studio."

My first impression was that this thing is a beast, my other VPI TT is a Classic 2 in a Classic 3 piano black plinth and that arrived in 2 boxes: one for the platter and one for the table. Two huge HW-40 boxes arrived of about equal size, one is the cover (which will go into storage, unused) and the other box is everything else. Weighing at about 100 pounds. Everything is well packed with custom foam so the table will arrive exactly as it left the factory. Platter on the bottom, table above that and the rest on the top layer.

When it comes to setup, you may as well just toss the manual in the trash. It does come in an LP style sleeve, which is cool. Obviously this isn't a beginner's TT, but it seems some of the instructions aren't even written for the HW-40 such as unscrewing two black screws at the base of the tonearm to adjust height...the HW-40 has an adjustable VTA tower and no such black screws. Negatives aside, this was SO much easier to setup than my Classic 2. At first I was confused because the jig wouldn't fit (the manual refers to the male bearing which isn't referenced anywhere in diagrams), but it turns out I had to lower the VTA tower quite a lot to get the jig to fit properly. Adjusting the counterweight for proper VTF is infinitely easier than the Classics and the azimuth adjustment (not mentioned in the manual) appears likewise. I could probably do a bit more tweaking on a weekend in good sunlight, but I'd say I'm 95% of where I need to be. I might even order one of those highly regarded mint protractors at some point.

My Classic 2 is using the standard JMW tonearm, an Ortofon 2M Black and Gold Lions in the MM section on my C2300. The HW-40 is obviously a completely different tonearm, a Soundsmith Paua mk 2 and right now whatever tubes the C2300 came with in the MC section. I need to do more listening before I can write much about the sound, but the 2 most immediate things I noticed was the bass and how dead quiet this table is. It's not that the Classic 2's bass is muddy by any means, this just sounds so much more crisp and defined. The 2M Black's stylus is long in the tooth, so I won't be able to do any direct comparisons between the 2 tables.

As for other thoughts on the table that don't affect sound at all, this is truly a beautiful turntable and I like that they stuck to the more classic look. To each their own and I know plenty of people like the newer styles, but to me the HW-40 looks how I feel a turntable should look, especially with the wood sides. The ease of use with the direct drive is unbeatable, not that the Classic 2 is a hassle to move the belt around, but simply pressing a button and the table being up to speed so quickly is a huge convenience. Of course with speed regulation there's no need to worry about the belt stretching and affecting speed or moving it to a different groove in the pulley. And also not having to slow the platter by hand before flipping or removing a record is quite nice as well. As mentioned, the cover will be going in to storage as I have no intention of using it so I don't have much to say about that. I won't be using the VPI weight, but I may give the periphery ring a go with a couple records, though I'm in no hurry to try that.

I have to admit that I spent considerable time thinking about this turntable, especially with Mat talking about newer DD turntables and DD motors being retrofit into existing tables at some point in the near future. Will there be a day when I can send my Classic 2 in for a DD upgrade? What if they release a non 40th table without a cover, interchangeable arms and a piano black plinth that is cheaper? In the end I decided to pull the trigger on the HW-40, it's a special turntable and I have zero regrets about my purchase.
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