I can't help much with the incremental upgrades, because I jumped directly to the classic 3 from the classic 1. I am very happy I did. From a resale perspective the classic 3 is class A in Stereophile 2013 recommended components. You won't necessarily get that from a resale perspective with incremental upgrades to the Classic 1. Although it would be much cheaper than a Classic 3. Don't forget you also get the outer record ring weight and center weight. You also get better eye candy with the classic 3, I think it is a fantastic looking table. The classic 1 is a good table, the classic 3 is a great table, I believe the plinth makes a huge difference in that respect, if you haven't seen a classic 3 , I suggest you look at one to see just the difference in the plinth. I believe the plinth contributes greatly to the much lower noise floor of the classic 3.
I made a comparison between the classic 1 and classic 3 as soon as I upgraded,everything else was exactly the same,only turntable changed on this thread.http://forum.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/fr.pl?eanlg&1263789072&openflup&17&4#17
Good luck with your decision.
Do you mean chaning the arm base from 10.5i to one that comes with VTA on the fly?
I did something similar a couple of years ago, changing from 10.5i base to one with VTA on the fly. Personally, I don't think there is any sonic difference. However, you will get VTA on the fly which make adjusting VTA much easier and much more accurate and repeatable easily. A bigger improvement would be from chaning the silverwire (Audioquest?) to Valhalla wire. I can't remember if Classic 3 armwand comes standard with Valhalla wire or not.
I heard one of the first Classic 3 prototype and compared it directly with Classic I (back when bearing was still similar if not identical, same arm) and the improvement is quite signficant in my opinion. The heavy aluminium plinth does make quite a difference.
Yes Suteetat. Actually, Mike (VPI) said I could drop the Classic 3 tone arm base on the Classic 1 plinth. He said it's very easy to do. As you know the Classic 3 base has VTA on the fly. My thought is that the upgraded Classic 3 base will match the Classic 3 arm I already have. I guess my Q is whether the Classic 3 base will improve the sound playback as compared to the Classic 2 base, which also has VTA on the fly.
Btw, Mike mentioned that VPI will be introducing a super-duper fixed gimbel tonearm for the Classic 2. He suggested that I wait and try it out.
I've taken both apart, the classic 1 base and the classic 3 base. Both are directly bolted into the plinth, certainly the mass involved is a huge difference. The classic 3 base has a solid steel "hockey puck" with 3 holes drilled directly through it. On top of the hockey puck is base with threaded screw assembly with 2 guide rods. The black knurled knob assembly with tonearm rest screws on top of that. I should also mention there is a guide rod right next to the tonearm rest so there is only one way to screw on the upper assembly. You get a total of 15 turns before the top assembly is pretty close to coming off the middle screw assembly with guide rods. The pivot is offset from the hockey puck base, so the same 3 holes from the classic one base will not work, there will have to drill 3 new holes to get the same spindle to pivot distance and geometry. I guess if they don't want to drill and tap 3 new holes, they will have to include another base which will compensate for the offset. The holes in the plinth are tapped, so the Allen screws go directly into the plinth. With the upper assembly all the way down, knurled knob at zero, the tone arm is basically close to horizontal with most cartridges. The you have 15 turns, 100 units per turn, so 1500 units for VTA adjust.
I don't know about better sound quality, there is certainly a lot more mass, and the VTA adjust is very convenient. I have all the offsets computed for digital scale, MINTLP, 180 gram record, etc, as I posted in Acterseus post. So from a VTA standpoint it is super convenient. Also fun to play with on the fly to hear VTA differences.
FYI, link to the thread where I listed the VTA offsets for digital scale, MINTLP, 180 gram records, etc.http://forum.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/fr.pl?eanlg&1366675416&openfrom&13&4#13
I have my Classic on a 3-inch maple butcher's block, which in turn rests on four Mapleshade Isoblocks. I never listened to the table without the block, but I first used it when I had a Scout, and the difference was profound with and without the block. I highly recommend it.
I would save my money if I were you. I went from the 9 to 10.5i and the differences if any were hardly recognizable. On the other hand, VPI has a new arm that is actually 3D printed. If you want to upgrade, go there.
I would assume that the 10.5se and the Classic with VTA would sound the same if both were optimally set up for the cartridge, BUT, you have a much better chance of getting the arm optimally set up for the cartridge with VTA on the fly, and for that reason alone, I would go for the upgrade.
Did the upgrade. I was a little nervous that I would screw up [pun -- :>')] the installation. That is drilling and tapping new holes. But I did it A-OK. Mike sent me everything I needed, drill hole template, drill bit, tap, screws, etc. The support base is not a hockey puck. It's L-shaped to cover up the holes in the plinth from the Classis 1 base. It's actually larger than the Classic 3 bottom base and I suppose a little more mass. Other than that, the install was perfect. So much so that when I checked the overhang, there was no need to make any adjustments. Impressive.
I can't say that there is a day and night difference in sound quality between the Classic 1 and 3 bases. I think my system and ears are resolving enough to pick it up. Maybe a little better as measured in tweaks. But I like the VTA on the fly feature and was able to dial in the VTA for my Lyra Delos just right. And ... it looks better than the Classic 1 base.
If I ever sell the TT, which I doubt I will, I will ask a premium price for the hot-rodded tone arm base and wand. I'd call it a Classic 2.5. LOL
Right now, the next tweak project is improving the TT base. I've ordered a 2 inch thick maple butcher block slab and 5 rubberized cork feet. I'll report back on that tweak when I get it set up.
Other than that, I'm in vinyl heaven.
Bif....if you look back, I told you there would be little if any improvement with the tonearm base. If you do want an improvement, get rid of the VPI mini feet, and screw on Bearpaws. Big difference for the better.
String..., I re-read the thread and yes, ... you did say that. And I have to admit your advice is usually spot on. I'll keep the bear paws on the radar screen.
As I said, I ordered a maple butcher block slab and rubberized cork feet. Let's see what that does. Btw, how much do bear paws cost?? Do you think there will still be much benefit if I use the butch block slab AND the bear paws?
Btw, btw, I'm playing an oldie but goodie, The Night Hawks. Wow!! I can feel the bass guitar SPL slam kicking my chest and listening seat. The Classic/Delos combo is great -- with a little help from the rest of my rig. It's a shame CDs suck so much compared to a great vinyl set-up.
Now that you have the VTA tower, dial in your SRA, I did mine with a digital microscope at 91 degrees, then re-align with the MINTLP at that VTA/SRA. I think you will notice an improvement. BTW, what I just did is adjust my azimuth at my optimal SRA for lowest crosstalk in both channels. I used to try to achieve equal crosstalk, even if it was higher db. I recently went to the lowest crosstalk in both channels, even though they were 2 db difference and I believe it sounded better.