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If I can make a suggestion - before you upgrade, try a Herbies mat on the 5.1. I have never heard a mat make so much difference on a turntable. Not that it's not worth upgrading, but just give the Herbies a shot. You also might want to replace the stylus. The Goldring it came with is not a bad MM cart at all and it deserves a fresh tip if you want to get back into vinyl.
Another option is the Garrard 301/401 or Thorens TD124 with a custom plinth and an arm of your choice. you could easily get a wonderful set up for your budget and be happy for ever, with tons of upgrade paths for the future. I went from an oracle Delphi MK 4 system to a Garrard 301, custom bamboo plinth, Jelco 12" arm and my Van Den Hull MC10 cart (just made it with a light weight head shell for compliance), and some steal pin points for isolation. After refreshing the very good shape Garrard 301 grease bearing I found total costs worked out to. Note; Canadian cost so lower by 30% for US$. Payed $2000 for the one owner Garrard 301, $1100 for the Jelco arm and light weight head shell (New price), $800 for the plinth I had a local gentleman who makes these custom make one for me but you can find great ones for less money then that. $250 for the isolation pin points. all set under $5000 Canadian so room for a great cart to toss on. Its much more musical then the Oracle ever was and I loved that table had it for over a decade. look at my profile for pictures. I would highly recommend this approach but its not for everyone of course.
link of mine playing one of the first times after finishing:
If you’re narrowing down choices, and you choose the Classic, make sure it’s the very last of the production run. A couple of runs VPI decided to try incorporating an inverting circuit for stable AC feeding the drive motor.
What this means is, there is a little DC box feeding the table. You can’t use any speed control devices(SDS, Phoenix) if, later down the road, you want precise platter speed.
I have one of these models, while it’s generally fine, I occasionally see these units listed for cheap, but can’t use them!
On rare occasion, the audio geek ears can hear the speed fluctuation, depending on instrument. Not a deal killer, just sayin....
The final runs do not have this circuitry. Easy to tell, if the power cord simply plugs into the table, you’re fine.
I see Classics listed regularly for great pieces. Spend another 1k on a LOMC, and you’re done. Invest in an equally competent phono stage. The Classic is worthy of a $2k+ unit if your tolerance can handle it. Always good,used listings for $2k+phono stages, which are always negotiable to half or better of retail.
I would suggest that you look for a used Oracle mk IV or V. That should be in your price range and they can always be upgraded to the current mk VI version 2 when/if you want.
The upgrades make a really good table awesome. I have had a mk III which I upgraded to mk V, and later upgraded a mk V to mk VI, and recently to mk VI v.2. Each upgrade was a BIG improvement.