Setup was a snap. We especially liked the very large stylus guard on the Rainer. Some guards are tiny and a little tricky to remove without risking stylus damage. This one covers the entire cartridge and just pulls straight down.
Our only complaint with the setup and we saw this on a lot of Debut Carbon’s out of the box is the anti-skate assembly. You want to put the little loop on the second groove of the tiny post on the back of the tonearm then hook it over a wire with a loop in it for a nice gravity-based anti-skate setup. The wire part has a little set screw that lets you move it from left to right. As it came out of the box, it was too close to the arm, so if you put the loop on the second groove, the angle pulled it to the third groove. We just had to take a phillips-head screwdriver, loosen it a bit, move it about ½” and all was well.
Other than that, the total set up time was about 3 minutes. If you have never balanced a tonearm before, you may spend a little more time but we have several videos showing you how to balance a tonearm.
Our first track was from Donald Fagin’s Nightfly album I.G.Y. This track has a lot of varied synthesizer and drum sounds all going on at the same time. Many cartridges fail to track this properly resulting in some distortion. Not only did the Rainier/EVO combo track this fantastically, but surface noise was also super low. Before we knew it, as we sat typing this up, 2 more songs had played and Ruby Ruby started up, which is a very rhythmic cut. We noticed our toes were tapping to the music! All of the multiple layers of vocal harmony were totally separated and again the tracking on the Rainier was really impressive.
Next, we moved on to the Squeeze East Side Story album from 1981 that has the big hit Tempted. The first track though is In Quintessence. On this cut, there are two male vocal parts, but on many systems, it just sounds like one. The EVO with the Rainier made it perfectly clear they were separate voices. Like the Fagin cut Ruby Ruby, this one is very rhythmic towards the end especially. Once again our toes were tapping and our head was bobbing up and down to the music.
Staying in the last century we put on one of our favorite albums of all time, Eric Clapton’s Slowhand from 1977. Every song on this album is great, but the 9-minute long track, The Core, is just full of great energy with a lot of playoff male and female vocals. About 5 minutes in, it gets very complex with many overdubbed tracks of guitar, sax, drums, and vocals. Less expensive turntables tend to fall flat on this cut as they just can’t pull all the information out. While we have obviously heard this done better on much more expensive turntables, this combo did just incredibly well for $500.
Things sounded so good we kept listening to the next track May You Never. On this cut, which is more laid back, you can hear Eric Clapton putting little subtle emotions into the vocals. The tiny changes in volume that allow you to hear his expressions shined through with the EVO.
We have to say, after about an hour of listening to the new EVO with the Rainier, we feel this is one heck of an easy to listen to rig. Compared to more expensive tables it is lacking in very deep bass impact and it's not as dynamic as some $1000-$1500 tables, but geez, it's one incredible bargain for the price. The sound is never harsh, it tracks great, and just makes you want to pull out more records, always a winning combination!