Project Xtension 12 or VPI Classic 3


Hello,
I am looking to get into vinyl and am a bit of a novice.
I have demo'd vinyl and loved the sound compared to digital.
I am considering 2 turntable / cartridge options at this time.
A Project 12 xtension with a Sumiko Celebration 2 Cartridge and a VPI Classic 3 with an Ortofon Cadenza Black Cartridge.
Is the VPI / Ortofon that much better?
I don't have the opportunity to demo that combination but have read great reviews.
Is it worth the addional cost?
Any suggestions would be appreciated.
I currently have Cremona M's, Conrad Johnson ET3 SE with Phono and Cary 500 MB Mono Blocks and my current source is a an Oppo 95
Thanks
pkelly1504
I would ask if you know what a unipivot arm is?
A unipivot arm is packed in the Classic 3 box and is placed on top of the "bearing" which is like a heavy duty sewing needle pointing at the ceiling.
There it sits -serene and free-floating until you (or your child or cat) lifts it off its perch to do whatever.

I have a Classic 2 and was kind of shocked by the whole unipivot thing.
It does sound good, I must say, but has a certain precariousness about it.
The Classic 3 is the better table by far. I have had a Scout with the unipivot arm for many years and it is excellent and very reliable.
I've never had any problems with the unipivot design in my VPI TT's as well.

More importantly, though, the components that you are looking at are very expensive for someone who's just getting started with analog. Its pretty risky. What if you don't like what you buy?
Why the different cartridges for turntable?

The Ortofon and Sumiko are very different sounding cartridges.
Thanks for the responses.
I am aware that I am looking at expensive components however I feel that in the long run I will save money because I will not have the need to upgrade as I am possibly doing with my current speakers.
Regarding the cartridges I demo'd The Sumiko that came with The Project Table. A dealer highly recommended the Ortofon Cadenza Black and was offering a great price in a package deal.
Any other suggestions would be appreciated.
Thanks
Be aware: Some cartridges don't work well in a unipivot setup.
Your spending much too much for a first TT. To maximize the experience best to find an experienced brick/mortar turntable dealer that can help you with your purchase including setting it up in your home. That way all the headaches will quickly resolve themselves and you can get right into the music. As Zd542 mentioned, an expensive DIY first TT is risky. Consider buying a demo or used TT from a dealer with set up included.
Analogue is not like digital when it comes to upgrades. With digital, you get something new and it sounds better than what you had, and you are happy for a while. After the newness wears off, you feel compelled to upgrade again. Analogue isn't like that. You may find areas that you would like to improve but you can still be happy with what you have in the mean time. (My theory, of course. Others may feel differently.)

"I am aware that I am looking at expensive components however I feel that in the long run I will save money because I will not have the need to upgrade as I am possibly doing with my current speakers."

Spoken like a true audiophile. Spend $8500 on a record player to save money.
I have heard the Sumiko you are looking at, and IMO it is a very good table. It was in a Shindo/Devore system I have heard many times. I also think it is underpriced and should be selling for more. A very good deal packaged with the Pearwood Celebration cartridge. The fit and finish is great. The VPI table has received good reviews, I have not heard the VPI model you are considering so I can't comment.

When someone says one is better than the other they need to also be able to say they have heard both in the same system.

If you have not you should try and get a home trial of each table. It sounds like you are working with local dealers.
I had exension, and very familiar with vpi, also very familiar with the cartridges. INMHO Cadenza Black is better then Sumiko. Extension is very good tt, but classic 3 is better. Classic 3 + Benz Lp would be a killer deal in my opinion, but vpi+cadenza is also a good deal. Do not need to wonder why I choose vpi and ortofon, it is not about a better soundstage or silky highs, vpi&ortofon simply better.
"When someone says one is better than the other they need to also be able to say they have heard both in the same system."

I agree. That's an excellent point. Also, one other thing you really need to do is try the new TT setup (or at least the cart), with your preamp. Especially if you are considering a low output MC. You'll be asking a lot of the phono stage in your CJ.
VPI has a very active and friendly customer service. If you have a problem/question, they will make it right. They do everything in their power to please their customers. Classic 3 and Benz LP is a great combination (I have an LPS - even better). The Classic and Black is very good as well.
Zd542 i heard both tt in same system, but sadly not in same time. At most 1 month distance between demos. System was ; yg anat professional speaker, ar ref 5(maybe se), ar ref 610, transperent ref cables(mm or mm2 not sure), ar ref 2 phono. Both tt had ortofon jubilee and benz lp cartridges. Inmho Vpi classic was better in every way, again imho benz had a better chemistry with vpi and ar phono. Also i used Extension, i cant say anything bad for the price/performance or building quality, but simply classic 3 is better. Of course i am doing this comparing with an assumption that extension has the project 12" tone arm. If you mount an ikeda 407 things may change, i do not know.
Thanks for the responses.

Will the Conrand Johnson ET3 SE be sufficient for the phono stage?

I am about to sent it back to CJ to have it installed.

Is there something else that you would recommend in the $2000 range for a phono pre?
12-26-13: Jperry
When someone says one is better than the other they need to also be able to say they have heard both in the same system.

While I do agree with this, personal tastes are also critical as to what is "better". I have seen many times when several audiophiles were listening to the same comparison in the same room at the same time yet had different perspectives of the "winner". Better is in the ear of the beholder. So any opinions expressed should be taken with a very large grain of salt.
12-27-13: Jmcgrogan2
"While I do agree with this, personal tastes are also critical as to what is "better". ...So any opinions expressed should be taken with a very large grain of salt."

I agree with you completely. My comment was addressed at "brand campaigners" who like to say that whatever they own, or would like to own, is better than everything else, even though they have made no comparison.

You have a lot of great, insightful advice and I always like to see your posts.
Taking into account everything you and the other posters have said, my take is that you would be happy with either system. Just make sure the phono preamp is up to the task.
"While I do agree with this, personal tastes are also critical as to what is "better"."

Another good point. I think I can put this into "better" context.

"When someone says one is better than the other they need to also be able to say they have heard both in the same system."

To me, that statement implies "better" will be a subjective judgement by one person listening to both TT setups in the same system. So if 2 or more people listen to the same setup listed above, each person gets to say what is "better"; for them. And having the 2 TT's in one system allows you to eliminate many variables in the sound that is not related to the gear you are trying to evaluate. Its a better "better".
ZD - That is an interesting point. When does it cross the line from "better to me" to "clearly better" where most would agree that one is better than the other, and it is no longer a matter of individual preference.

The "clearly better" can be difficult to determine between individual components that are very close in performance.
12-27-13: Jperry
You have a lot of great, insightful advice and I always like to see your posts.

Thank you very much, I appreciate that. Now if only my wife would appreciate my advice. ;)

I know what you mean about the "brand campaigners", but they are just part of the membership here. They don't bother me anymore, as I know who likes what now. I suppose it could be confusing for newbies who do not know their way around, but then they need to learn how to search the archives and do some homework of their own. They will soon find out who offers sage advice and who is simply pushing their own brand.

We are all free to offer advice, the wise ones will be those that learn to value certain members experiences and tastes over others. I've learned through my own trial and error to find out which members personal sonic tastes most mirror my own over the years, hopefully others are doing the same thing.

In the end, it's always a personal decision. You can ask someone what turntable, cartridge, amp, car, scotch, that you will like best, but you have to realize that what someone else prefers may not be the choice that works best for you. Cheers.
Better is simply better, no personal tastes involved. Also why it has to ? As an audiophile, we should not look for our personal tastes in music reproduction, we should have to look for best possible life like music reproduction, and at his point of view, classic 3 is better then extension, in any system and for any hearing capable human being.
12-28-13: Altanpsx
Better is simply better, no personal tastes involved.

If there were any truth to that statement at all, it would make this hobby a whole lot easier. ;)
+ 1 on that JMCgrogan2. You just can't throw money at this hobby and expect good sound. Let me just leave it at that!
Jmcgrogan2 there were some truth in your statement like mine. If you need a two person and a blind test to understand extension vs classic 3 i consider this is a lack of experience. If you cannot decide a continuum caliburn or airforce one is better, thats the time when your statement has truth. Some components are not in the same league for lots of reasons, some components are in the same league and yes better is very subjective.

Also this hobby is very dependent on money. Yes you may not get the best result throwing money around, but you cannot get best result with 500 usd.

Many things can be spoken about this hobby, many statements and counter arguments can be made, but the result is same, classic3 is better then extension.
Altanpsx, so you do have some understanding of the subjectiveness in this hobby, that is a start. We are not discussing a Continuum Caliburn versus an entry level Rega table here, or I may agree with your statement that better is simply better.

We are discussing a $4K Project table versus a $6K VPI table, which ARE in the same league (unless you have some blatant personal bias towards one brand). So obviously, "better" will lie in the ear of the beholder in this regard.
Jmcgrogan2 i wish u a very happy new year. I am old enough to avoid meaningless arguments. If you say that better lie in a subjective devision, so be it. But really consider 4 vs 6 means %50 different, which is a mathemetical fact. But if u say it is subjective, also fine. I wish u a pleasent 2014....
Happy 2014 to you too Altanpsx! BTW, I love your system! I'll bet that ZYX UNIverse II sounds great!! Is it the copper version? Enjoy the music. :)
Yes it is copper and creating the first magical and musical moments of 2014 by bringing Anna(opera star) to our home...:)
VPI classic three is better? why? in what ways? They are both awesome sounding turntables, the Extension 12 with a Ortofon Candenza red was the best sounding table I have had in my listening room, absolutely stunning. I have heard the vpi at a dealers and was also impressed, but it had a different cart and gear behind it.
I own a ProJect 5.1 and 9.1 and am very happy. I would rather have the VPI Classic 2 or 3