Months of listening with a range of cartridges have reinforced my favorable impressions, and little of that listening has been casual. The only caveats I have lie in the fact that the Classic Direct relies almost solely on mass-damping, and it is sensitive to acoustic feedback if you touch the actual tonearm base. This is not an issue on a decent table or shelf, and acoustic feedback is not a problem. As is the case with most turntables, however, setup and placement are key issues.
I’d also be careful about getting all the help you need in setup. This is a more or less open the box, put the turntable platter into the motor housing, mount the cartridge, and plug an RCA cable into the tonearm socket unit. But the motor assembly is really heavy and needs to be precisely aligned. Cartridge setup means mounting the cartridge and then actually listening to the azimuth and SRA adjustments, listening to make sure the tracking weight gives you the best sound quality in demanding loud passages. Checking every other aspect of the setup is really critical to getting the best out of this unit. (See JV’s article on cartridge setup.)
To hear the VPI Classic Direct and 3D ’arm at their best, you also will need to work with a dealer or fellow audiophiles to audition top-quality cartridges, pay attention to the quality of the interconnect that goes between the tonearm and the phono preamp, use a top-quality phono preamp, and load the cartridge properly. These are all “taken for granteds” by audiophiles with lots of analog experience, but be careful if you are upgrading to a better analog front end, or going analog for the first time. The VPI Classic Direct is a platform for the best analog sound I know of, and every associated aspect of the rest of the system really matters. If you are not an old hand with a lot of practical experience, you won’t get the considerable best out of this unit without a dealer or friend’s help.
These requirements, however, are part of the fun in choosing every analog front end and a key to letting your own taste help shape the sound and the resulting illusion of musical realism. Moreover, it has been a long time since I found a turntable that made so much difference in improving sound quality. The Classic Direct Drive delivers the sound quality its price tag implies and is now my reference. It is a continuing pleasure, and it constantly helps me rediscover my record collection.
SPECS & PRICING
Drive: Direct Drive
Motor Type: Custom Slot-Less Synchronous Electronically Commutated Motor (SSECM)
Platter: Machined Billet Aluminum
Platter Mass: 17.6 lbs. (7.98 kg)
Speeds: 33-1/3 RPM and 45 RPM
Wow: 0.02% (DIN)
Flutter: 0.01% (DIN)
Rumble: <-80 db
Tone Arm: 3D Printed Epoxy
Effective Arm Mass: 7.4g
Dimensions: 23.5" x 17.5" x 9.4" (turntable); 6.25" x 9.2" x 4.6" (power supply)
Weight: 72.5 lbs. (32.9 kg)
VPI INDUSTRIES, INC.
77 Cliffwood Ave. #3B
Cliffwood, New Jersey 07721-1087