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Maks 01-12-2021 10:15 PM

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.

joey_v 01-12-2021 10:38 PM

Good review!
Aside from bass and blackness, anything else?

Antonmb 01-13-2021 02:00 AM

Congratulations, thanks for the great write up.

Maks 01-13-2021 09:49 AM


Originally Posted by joey_v (Post 1029138)
Good review!
Aside from bass and blackness, anything else?

Thanks, I'll have to do additional listening. At this point I won't say that there's a night and day difference between the Classic 2 and the HW-40, but I think most of us know once you start getting into this league we are talking incremental improvements. I believe the Classic 2 listed at 4k when it was last sold, I certainly wasn't expecting 4x better sound. If I can find a great deal on a 2M Black stylus I'd be happy to do a comparison between the two tables, I even have a 3D arm I can install on the Classic for a more evenly matched comparison.

Also, keep in mind the Soundsmith cart is a factor here as well, I think there are just too many variables in play to definitively say which differences the table/arm combo made vs the Paua mk2 compared to the 2M Black. I don't know what the "standard" HW-40 table will retail for when it comes out, but even if it is $5k less similarly equipped with a 12" fatboy (which is most likely a huge stretch) I still won't have an ounce of regret on this purchase.

This falls into the "doesn't affect the sound" category, but I put some more time on the table last night after my post and the looks, the push button startup and even the arm rest compared to the Classic are just so luxurious. It's kind of like flying first're getting to the same destination as everyone else, just in more comfort.

cleeds 01-13-2021 09:54 AM


Originally Posted by Maks (Post 1029137)
... Two huge HW-40 boxes arrived of about equal size, one is the cover (which will go into storage, unused) ...

Do you plan to use a different cover, or do you not use a dust cover at all?

Maks 01-13-2021 11:04 AM


Originally Posted by cleeds (Post 1029165)
Do you plan to use a different cover, or do you not use a dust cover at all?

I've been a no dust cover guy for awhile now, it hasn't been an issue with my Classic. I never leave a record on the platter and a quick dusting from time to time keeps everything tidy.

cleeds 01-13-2021 12:39 PM


Originally Posted by Maks (Post 1029172)
I've been a no dust cover guy for awhile now, it hasn't been an issue with my Classic. I never leave a record on the platter and a quick dusting from time to time keeps everything tidy.

I am so jealous!
I use a dustcover whenever my turntable is not in use - yet dust still gets on the turntable anyway! I have no idea how it gets in there. It's just a cosmic mystery.

Formerly YB-2 01-13-2021 12:59 PM

Nice write-up on a terrific TT/TA.

As for dust, the better looking your gear the more it collects it. Simply an audiophile rule that we all live with. ;)

miner 01-14-2021 12:18 PM

That would be an end-all table for me but for now my Aries 3 with Fatboy will keep me very satisfied until that day arrives. Great review and congrats on the table.

Maks 01-14-2021 01:27 PM

Thanks for the feedback. I really do enjoy this table, I spent more time listening last night and I'm still amazed at how quiet it is. The table with the 12" fatboy and the Soundsmith Paua are an excellent combination.

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