they both are pretty neutral given a decent cartridge and arm, but the nottingham spacedeck has stood the test of time.
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I recently auditioned the Ace Space 294 vs the comparable priced VPI.
To my ears the Nottingham got more into the music (and was warmer). The VPI was more dynamic (out side the music).
Because most of my 5-6 hundred records are jazz (Blue Note, Impulse, etc) the Nottingham suited my taste better & that's the one I bought. If I were listening to rock/pop etc I might have gone the other way.
I owned and enjoyed the spacedeck but ended up being happier with a VPI Aries. But it was more of an arm thing than a table thing, the spacearm I had was a a quirky and persnickety device to live with (imho, others differ in their experience). The spacedeck and somebody elses more robustly designed and user friendly arm would be a combo that I could be just as happy with as the VPI, but I might still miss the VPI's great set up info and tech support (Nott gave me a cheasy 8.5*11 sheet that did not tell you much and that was about all I found for reliable information).
As a former Spacedeck/Spacearm owner, and current VPI TNT6-HR owner, here's my experience.
I enjoyed the Spacedeck for about 2 years paired w/Shelter 501II cart. After listening to some others' rigs, I felt that I wasn't getting all the music out of my records. On small combo jazz and simpler rock/folk, everything seemed great. Balance is definitely warm, meaning a slight hump in mid bass to low midrange. With full orchestral music, and relatively complex rock recordings(e.g. Yes, old Genesis) my Spacedeck lacked the transparency and clarity to hear all the nuances in the music. It was not easy to follow one instrument in an orchestra unless it was close miked. I knew there was more to hear.
My VPI upgrade was to a more expensive table, and simultaneous with a cartridge upgrade, the ZYX Airy3. However, I did hear my Shelter on a friends' Scoutmaster. The Scoutmaster and TNT6 share a similar sonic signature; better extension at both ends and significantly better resolution. The Scoutmaster might be a bit generous in its bass presentation, with the TNT6 being more neutral. Both tables allow you to mentally lock your attention on any instrument within a large group, and all the images emerge from a blacker background.
Other reasons I recommend VPIs:
- a solid track record of clear and affordable upgrades
- consistently superior customer service(at lease in USA)
- Spacearm's wiring is most fragile you'll encounter
- Easily adjustable/repeatable VTA/SRA on the JMW arms allow you get the most from each record
- The most used tables at every CES, the pros must know something(they aren't free loaners)
Both are nice alternatives. It's a good problem! Cheers,
Might want to consider why there are new upgrades and new iterations of virtually every Vpi table coming out literally every 6 months or so.It has been that way as long as I can remember.If they are so good in the first place,why the constant need for upgrade?
I find the Spacedecks and arms to be a model of simplicity and reliability and ease of use.Plop the record down and play.
With the Vpis you will add to that,put on the center clamp,put on the outer clamp, and then reverse when changing sides.
Vpi much more quirky and fiddly.
And all those clamps squeeze the life out of the music,in my opinion.