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The Turntable for Audiophiles

G. Clay Whittaker
From the Print Edition:
Pierce Brosnan, May/June 2014

Like fast food, streaming music content is available 24-7. You’ll find it almost anywhere, but like those fries soaking through the side of your paper bag, its compressed digital files are convenience at the price of quality. For the gourmet musical experience, the way to go is old school: analog sound played on a high-quality turntable like the VPI Classic 1.

So incredible is the difference between high-end systems paired with turntables that on a song you’ve heard a thousand times you’ll notice new things, like a falling mic stand during the bridge of a favorite track. Artists have taken note, and many are releasing their work on vinyl LP formats even today.

Digital files basically convert natural analog sound into a binary representation, but things get lost between the microphone and the semblance of the music represented by ones and zeros. The first pressing of a great album in analog on vinyl is a better representation of sound. Your goal then is to lose as little as possible before it hits the speakers.

VPI has maximized every opportunity to preserve quality. The first advantage is the drive system: belt drives are longer lasting and create better, less distorted sound than direct drive. It keeps constant speed, while direct drive systems may have to compensate every few revolutions to maintain an average RPM. Part of the efficiency also comes from weight: The Classic 1 is over 40 pounds, a mixture of heavy aluminum plate and a sturdy, laminated base meant to reduce any and all outside vibrations. Every piece of this machine is created to preserve audio and reject intervening forces.

Set up, frankly, is a breeze. It takes just a couple of minutes to put everything together. Eliminating external noise and distortion factors may take longer, but it’s meant to be a labor of love. VPI has created great, adaptable mechanics for one part of your audio setup.

In fact, the VPI Classic 1 table’s best feature may be its endless upgrade potential. It’s a respectable starting point at $3,000, and as you learn more about your music and want to tweak your sound system, the turntables from VPI can all grow with you: incorporate a new tone arm for reduced resonance, extra weight to reduce vibrations. It’s your job—and pleasure—to build from there.


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