I owned a Well Tempered Classic before buying a Reference. The Classic bettered my previous SOTA Sapphire (early version). I didn’t just replace the Classic with a new Reference. First, I upgraded the arm to the Reference arm. With the Reference arm and Classic table, all frequencies from the mid-bass up were dramatically improved. The “soundstage” became much better focused. Highs were cleaner and better resolved. Then I bought the Reference table, which is made out Fountainhead, a stone-like material with good damping properties. The Reference arm was moved to the Reference table.
The table did for the lower frequencies what the arm did for the upper frequencies. Bass notes were deep, fairly tight, and had great impact. Also, using the complete Reference “system” improved the upper frequencies even more. The table is also very stable: it does not need periodic adjustment. The arm adjustments haven’t required any adjustments since everything was set up with a new cartridge. I have used a Benz Ruby, Shure V15-V (when I was between moving coils), a van den Hul Black Beauty, Shelter 501 and 901, and lately a current production Koetsu Urushi. The latest Urushi is differentiated from earlier versions by having tapped mounting holes, along with an advanced sonic signature. All of these fine cartridges worked very well with the Reference table and arm.
The various adjustments, including VTA and damping, are set-and-forget. This arm STAYS where you leave it. And, of course, there is no suspension to deal with. My only gripe is the cost of a new belt: $50. Seems excessive, but then my informal survey indicates a belt life of about 8-10 years. One owner suggested that older belts sound better. Interesting? “May I age your belt for you, sir?” Maybe someone will invent an “automated belt-ager”. $250 or $26.50 DIY.
With a small footprint, no thoughts of bearings wearing out over time, and very gentle treatment of expensive cartridges, the Reference has been a welcome partner through hundreds of hours of pure musical enjoyment.
Overall Rating: 10 LPs