VPI Classic Turntable Review – A legend is born?

My VPI Classic with Denon DL304 Cartridge

Of all the elements of my system the one that has changed the least over the years has been the turntable. Whereas there have been numerous CD Players, Amplifiers and Speakers I have owned perhaps 3 or 4 different turntables though my hi-fi love affair.

There are a couple of reasons for this. I think that one of the main things with it is, to my ears, analogue always sounds “right” no matter the vinyl source. Yes the further up the chain you go you get better bass, more detail and all the other stereotypical adjectives but the basic foundations of all the analogue replay systems I have heard have been consistently solid. Never have been able to say the same for CD for example.

This is why turntables from 40 years ago are still going strong and provided superb replay in high end systems today.

The other reason is software. My total musical collection has been split 70/30 in favour of CD.

I came to the VPI Classic from an AA Challenger. I loved the industrial look for the Challenger and it’s huge soundstage and bass reproduction. What I didn’t like was the fact that it did have some speed stability issues that I just couldn’t resolve.

The walnut is a great finish – it is also available in black

To my mind speed stability in any turntable is fundamental and the foundation upon which all other aspects can exist. Most high end companies do get this right but there are some that don’t. Any variation in speed when playing a record back is going to be immediately noticeable and irritating. It makes me want to immediately switch off and put a CD on.

There are no such issues with the Classic. When you unbox the turntable and the platter from their respective boxes it is like creating something carved from solid rock so well made are the main components. The uni-pivot tonearm is a masterpiece of design and purpose. If someone were to break into the house I think the tonearm would be the first thing I would reach for. One whack over the head with it would put anyone down!

The uni-pivot tonearm is a sight to behold in the flesh

Simple to set up – you do need a very large solid surface to take the weight and size – and once cartridge alignment and levelling are out of the way you are ready to go.

Once plugged into the amazing MC phonostage in the Linn Kontrol preamp (a total revelation for me by the way) and you put a record on the platter the musical presentation matches the build quality and looks. Every piece of music has a granite, iron fist drive to it. It is not a fast sounding deck. It reminds me of a huge American 18 wheeler in overdrive. It just keeps going and going and going……..

I put Dire Straits’s Communique album on. Electric guitars leapt from the speakers and then the drums thundered in the first track suddenly powering way in my lounge. Mark Knopfler’s voice was dead centre and more intelligible than I have ever heard it. He doesn’t have the best voice in the world and can sound a little odd with the processing applied to his voice. Not here though. I listened to the whole album and then put it on again. Honestly, it was that good.

Since that first listen it has never let me down sounding wonderful whatever the material.

So why is it that I yearn to try an LP12? Part of it is getting the Linn bug, I think. Anyway whatever, a fascinating comparison that would be………

Stunning design and build quality – the Classic is set to be a classic

All photographs taken with the Leica X1.

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