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The only regret I had was that the supplied arm and cartridge were actually not very sensitive to VTA adjustments. Although I tried a number of variations, in the end the differences were quite subtle and a few I probably imagined. There is nothing more frustrating for a reviewer than being afforded an easy experiment only to find out that it does not really matter. I suspect this result is extremely specific to a given arm/cartridge combination and having the ability to easily adjust VTA will prove very useful for people with more sensitive setups or ears.

As with every turntable, mounting and aligning the cartridge requires the highest care and attention because of the thin leads and fragile stylus involved. The Ortofon 520mkII thankfully has a stylus cover that can be lowered to protect the fragile appendix while proceeding with the necessary adjustments. The RB300 ships with Rega's basic alignment tool to provide a simple template for quick one-point cartridge alignment. It will be blasphemy to most turntable experts but I actually tend to agree with Rega's statement that a long, painful, multi-step alignment of a $400 cartridge + arm combo is probably a waste of time and money. The template allowed me to get a decent sounding setup in about 15 minutes at no extra cost. If I were to invest $5000 on an arm and cartridge, I certainly would go through the extra expense and care to ensure that I was expressing all their potential yet in the case of the RB300 and Ortofon 520mkII, a simple yet effective one-step process unquestionably saved me from missteps. Occasionally, good enough is exactly what's needed. Folks with years of experience in aligning cartridges who can do it in their sleep with one arm tied to their back will disagree but having previously only owned a turntable with a tangential arm, I've never had to worry about alignment before and found the Rega template a great beginner's way to become familiar with the exercise without making it overwhelming or intimidating.

A few more minutes were needed to finish the cartridge and arm installation by dialing the downward tracking and anti-skating forces to the upper end of the range recommended by Ortofon (1.5g to 1.75g and both relatively simple exercises since the RB300 provides for both adjustments). The force gauge supplied by Acoustic Solid's US distributor proved highly reliable just as everything bearing the Acoustic Solid logo seems to be yet at $275, it's priced on the high side of what similar electronic gauges go for elsewhere.

The last action necessary was to join the motor to the platter using one of the two supplied fishing lines (I can't think of a better way to describe this thin nylon string with a big knot on it which is probably the only aspect of the setup that looks cheap and somewhat out of place but I am certain this was actually selected with great care for its sonic properties). Finally, connect the motor to the electronic speed regulator standard with the table (another very nice touch at this price), plug the regulator into the AC outlet and hit the 'on' button.

It is probably better to give the platter a gentle push to make the motor's life a little easier but this high-torque component really requires no help to, from a dead stop, get the heavy platter up to speed in less than ten seconds, confirmed when the indicator light on the regulator stops blinking and turns green to indicate a stable 33rpm (or solid red for 45rpm, selected by a simple push-button on the regulator). Speed stability was an absolute non-issue during my weeks with the Classic Wood, with sustained pitch as accurate as I could qualify it.

With this last step accomplished, less than one hour after observing the Acoustic Solid shipping box delicately dumped on our garage floor from the back of a delivery truck despite being covered with 'fragile' and 'handle with care' stickers (I watched this sorry action with my own eyes), I was almost ready to spin vinyl. I say almost as vinyl playback, more than any other medium, is a symbiotic affair of synergies. Even when a designer can take table, arm and cartridge interactions into consideration when selling a complete package like the Classic Wood, two very critical elements remain outside his control - the physical support especially for a non-suspended table; and the phono stage.

When it comes to support, the Classic Wood could probably have used something more sturdy and stable than my old Standesign. As I was walking around on the suspended floor of the living room, the table was moving due to the stand's elastic frame. Thankfully I don't walk around while listening to music but it got me to wonder how much of music-induced vibrations found their way back into arm and cartridge. One thing is for certain, the stand was perfectly level as confirmed by the little Home Depot gizmo bought just for that purpose. If it hadn't been the case, the front two of the turntable's three feet can easily be adjusted using the provided tools.

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As usual with gear I review, I listen to it with and without SoundQuest Isol-pads just to get an idea of the impact affordable but efficient vibration control has on the overall performance of the component. The benefits of using the pads with the Classic Wood turntable were gigantic, probably the most dramatic of any gear I have tried them on. This leads me to believe that there are probably far more improvement to be had by trying more elaborate resonance control systems (John Potis' recommended butcher blocks and Gingko Audio Cloud platform come to mind but many others would certainly work too). Using a pad under each foot of the table and three under the motor brought out significantly more details and solidified soundstaging in no small way and there is no doubt in my mind that more improvements remain possible. If the opportunity presents itself, I'll report at a later date on the effects of improved stability and vibration control on the attainable performance of the Classic Wood.

The second critical element turntable designers can't control is what phonostage will be used with their gear. Here again, the use of the relatively modest but decent moving-magnet Ortofon 520mkII leaves the door open to a very wide range of compatible MM phono preamplifiers as the 3mV output and recommended 47kOhm recommended load resistance are perfectly standard and exactly what most entry level phonostages are optimized for.

Like the Revox turntable, my Creek OBH phonostage is long gone but thankfully both my current integrated amplifiers include very honorable built-in phonos, a rarity these days. This saved me from having to introduce another unknown component in my system (although in all fairness, the built-in phonostages were for all intent and purposes virgin and benefited from the break-in period just like the table).

The Ortofon 520mkII did very well with both the Musical Fidelity A5 (solid-state moving magnet input) and McIntosh MA2275 (tubed moving magnet phono stage with a pair of NOS Mullard 12AX7s). Ultimately I had a very slight preference for the Musical Fidelity's tighter bass and sharper reproduction of percussions but the more transparent and resolved midrange of the McIntosh coupled with more air and space made for a very compelling presentation as well and I could easily live with either.