turntable upgrade VPI or CLEARAUDIO?

I currently have a Well Tempered Classic V turntable with the graphite arm. I am running a Clearaudio Discovery cartridge into an Accoustec PH1P phono stage.

When playing records, I have the feeling that the Bass and transient attack is "muddy", or slow, and I seem to be missing the pace of the music. I have very good frequency responce, both low and high, but the detail is just not there.

My question is, is it better to look at a VPI TNT, or Clearaudio Reference turntable, to clean up the tempo and pace of my music? I know that I am looking at spending 4-5,000 dollars to make the upgrade(if I can locate a suitable used model here on agon) and I wonder if this would be money well spent.

For reference, here is my system:

Well Tempered Classic V turntable
Accoustec PH1P phono stage
Transparent Ultra Phono cable
Transparent Ultra XL cable, phono to preamp
Krell KAV 300i pre-amp
Transparent Ultra XL cable, preamp to amp
Krell KSA 250 amp
Transparent Super XL cable, amp to speakers
Hales REvelation 3 speakers

Thanks in advance, Brad
Before jumping into another turntable, check the speed of yours with a disk and strobe. Maybe all that is needed is a speed control devise. A record that is off in speed will exhibit the sounds you hear, also cables will impart the sounds you hear, you might try something different in the cable department before spending 5 or 5K.
The speed is something to check. Cart alignment to. Maybe a new drive belt? Does that table have a speed controller? If not, investigate that. It can have a profound effect.

As far as the cables, the Transparents are great. That isn't causing the muddy bass or slow transients. My opinion here. I use them (Ultra's and Ref XL)

Also, doesn't Well Tempered have a upgrade program? You might try stepping up in their line. From what I've read, that's a good table.
Another thing to try first is isolating the table with something like a Neuance or Sistrum platform under. Many here have been amazed by the improvement in bass clarity and speed from these devices. Cheers,
Dear Brad: What do you have before this analog gear? Do you already had the Discovery?.
I know well the Discovery and it does not works in the manner that you told, so the problem it is in other place.
I agree with Jfrech about the drive belt and cartridge alignment. The cart alignment it have to be exactly like the Clearaudio advise and the load impedance and VTF too.
About the TT you have to contact with Well Tempered, I agree too that you have a very good TT. Now, the other option is to change the tonearm, this can be important and makes a difference.
BTW, great audio system.
Regards and always enjoy the music.

FWIW, I too own the WT Classic V, in my opinion this is a really awesome table, BUT the arm is a real bear to get set properly--

Perhaps looking at the amount of silicon you have in the arm well and going through all the adjustments is in order.

I just moved and I spent an entire morning setting the arm up again-- I am finally in a range that I am fairly satisfied with, but have a little more tweaking to go.

One thing I find extremely important is to do all the adjustments in minute amounts and let the arm settle in the silicon for about 20 to 30 mins allowing the for stabilization :) then checking, listening and rechecking.

If you don't have a copy of the factory setup manual let me know and I can make a copy and mail it to you if you like.

Happy Listening,

I completely agree with Focusedfx. Arm damping of the Well-Tempereds is absolutely critical for success with these tables.
Neither of your alternative table choices can compete in the qualities of tempo and pacing, with your current WTC when it's properly adjusted and the arm damping matched to your cartridge's compliance.
Detailing should also improve to a degree as a result of arm setup but also care in isolation and resonance management can lead to significant benefits in resolution as well as improved pace,timing & dynamic inflection if a rigid,rapid dissipation/evacuation approach is employed.

Ken Lyon
I have owned every version of the Well Tempered table over the years from the very first ones produced. These are exceptional tables and I would not be in too big of a hurry to upgrade. The arm damping does make a difference, but easy adjustments will only be achieved with the Reference arm. I had the Reference plinth before the Reference arm was available. A later upgrade to the Reference arm was a stunning improvement particularily in the bottom octaves. With the budget you've allowed you could easily pick up a used Reference table and arm or you could just put a Reference arm on your Classic. Personally, if you've got the bucks and are really into vinyl I'd go for the Reference table and arm. That table is a thing of beauty. The VPI and Clearaudio will not necessarily be an improvement, just different. One additional thing I would mention is to consider trying the Grado Reference cartridge. I switched from a Van den Hul Grasshopper to this cartridge (mine is the original low output version at 1mV) on the recommendation of Carl Smith at Transparent and another friend with the same table. The difference was notable in my system and an improvement over the much more expensive Grasshopper in my system. This is a perfect match for the Well Tempered arm and extremely musical. Synergistic. The folks at Transparent have tried every kind of cartridge regardless of cost on this table and this is the one they recommend. Hope this helps. My system is as follows:

Well Tempered Reference w/Grado Reference (1mV)
Audio Research PH3 Phono Preamp
Pass Labs Aleph P (remote version) Preamp
Bryston 4B-SST (amazing amp that replaced a pair of BEL 1001 MK3A's)
Aerial 10T Loudspeakers
Cardas Golden Hexlink 5C Speaker Cables
Image Reference Interconnects
Dodson DA-217 Mk2 DAC
CEC TL-2 Transport
API Power Wedge 116 Power Line Conditioner
Set of 3 Argent Room Lenses
muddy bass can be caused by having your speakers too close to your speakers(feedback). this is a problem with turntables that don't have a suspension system. Some people even put thier turntable in another room.
Fluctuating line voltage can cause speed variations. Check voltage with a voltmeter. Careful,we can't afford to lose any audiophiles. Maybe you have a dealer nearby who wil lend you a power line conditioner.
Before you spend your money be sure you nailed down the tt as your problem.
Lastly, I don't know about clearaudio but VPI offers an elctronic flywheel. Niether turntable has a serious suspension system. A sota cosmso while not perfect at speed is essentially immune to feedback. Good Luck!
obviously, I meant to say turntable too close to your speakers.
Thanks for the help on this matter. I don't have a copy of the owner's manual, so I called and spoke with Stanalog a while back. I think that I must not have the damping correctly set for the Clearaudio Discovery cartridge to work up to potential. Any help in getting the damping level set would be greatly appreciated.

Also, my table has the 3 layer plinth, with the graphite armtube tonearm. I am thinking that I might have the arm overdamped, hence the slow bass?

Thanks again, Brad
Hi Brad,

Here is the quote from the WT factory setup. (somewhere in all this writing.)

PLEASE KEEP IN MIND-- that this is really part of an intregal setup and soing this procedure alone will not suffice.

You really need to set up all respective parameters, ie: vtf, vta etc -- and you really DO need a protracter as well -- the WT arm is so very much an intregal process (as with any arm.)

I am giving you a sort of band-aid by giving you this part of the setup prcedure.

I was sort of hesitant because this is only a small part of what really needs to be done.

"Put arm fluid in cup. use nut driver or socet wrench extension to push plunger. When fluid settles, paddle should be covered by 1 to 2 mm of fluid. Fluid for arm is very stiff." *(hence my reason for saying wait 20 ~ 30 mins and recheck)*

This is a great place to start but as I have stated additional adjustments and rechecking are in order.

BTW There is a specific mathematical formula for figuring out the rate at which the arm hits the vinyl. (do a search @ the asylum for details.)

I believe that you will be extremely satisfied when you have accomplished proper setup :)

As a side note, I had really great customer service via the OLD WT -- Carl was extremely helpful but Stanalog has been less than helpful...

Happy listening,

The offer still stands for a copy of the manual--

FX, thanks for the help. I have done what I think is a good job setting up the table, as I have had quite a few, including another WT.

Regarding the silicon, when you said "covered by 1 to 2 mm", are you refering to the entire paddle immersed in fluid, or just the bottom covered, and up the sides of the white paddle 1 or 2 mm? I currently have silicone only half way up the side of the paddle puck. I would think that additional fluid would make the sound more congested, or is it the opposite of this?

I agree that Carl was very much more helpful than Stanalog, although I did get to visit with Stanalog at length last spring after a month of phone calling to reach them.

JFRECH, I am curious about your cables. You have both the ref. and ultra Transparent. Is this on purpose, or are you working your way up the line to all reference?

Hi Brad,

The paddle is to be covered completely with the silicon, WT suggests starting out with 1-2 mm then adding more if necessary. (If I remember correctly mine is covered with about 3mm)I use a very thin wire or the end of a thin steel rod to measure the distance.

Please note that the arm silicon and the platter silicon are not interchangeable.

Happy Listening -- let us know how you make out.