VIP, SOTA & Oracle Turntables

Can these turntables from the late 1980's and 1990's be upgraded to more recent standards? I am planning to purchase one of these turntables for use in my audio system. Since I can't afford to purchase new, my plan is to purchase a used turntable and arm for upgrade later when I have extra cash.

My present system consistes of the:

1. Threshold S/300
2. Classe DR-5 pre-amp
3. DAC
4. Parasound 2000 CD transport
5. Upgraded cables and interconnects
6. Mirage M-09 speakers to be upgraded to Maggies 1.6. I presently listen to CD's but really want to begin pulling our some of my classical and jazz albums. All advice will be welcomed. Thanks very much.
I am a VPI dealer so I will confine my advice to them. While there is some ability to upgrade the older tables, which are good buys, I would suggest looking at the current Scout, which has a clear upgrade path to the Scoutmaster Reference, a table that costs mega dollars to better. The standard Scout is a very good table in itself and often appears on Audiogon at favorable prices. Stan Wallen, Alternative Audio
I had a SOTA Star Sapphire from the early 90's that was upgraded by SOTA to a Nova Series V in 2004. The benefits as a result of upgrading were such that IMO I could not have bought a comparable table for twice the price when factoring in the cost of the original table plus the upgrade.
don't spend a nickle upgrading until you listen to your new purchase for awhile whatever it may be.
Sota has a full trade in program. Contact them for details.
This my opinion. It's always better to wait and buy waht you want the first time.
Why? Because everyone wants to nickel and dime you on the value of your trade in. I know 'cause I just ried it on Saturday.
I agree, buy once and save money.

I went from a cheap Technics to a Rega P3-24 then subplatter,Techno Weight, then power supply, then Acro Platter. I then sold it for a Scout, then 300 RPM motor. I sold the VPI and bought an Avid Diva II which blows them all away in MY system.

The only reason I'd upgrade now for some reason, would be some sort of windfall. I would like to climb the Avid chain though:) That isn't going to happen in the foreseeable future unless the Power Ball hits.
All of those tables mentioned can be upgraded and much of it can be performed by yourself, if your handy.

I had a SOTA Star Sapphire for many years and upgraded it periodically myself, including new springs, armboard, vacuum system and platter mat (the platter did need to be sent to SOTA for bonding of mat.) Contact the factory.

Some food for thought: Upgrading via factory is expensive and you must be sure you have the correct packing materials for a turntable (the SOTA has a special box and hold-down system that must be used.) Shipping is expensive and chancy. Plus, you have to deal with down-time, packing, shipping, insurance...

I like the idea of getting a VPI scoutmaster and upgrading at home once the checkbook recovers.
I want to thank all who responded here. However, I just realized that I did not provide very important information. I did not provide you information regarding the kind of music I listen to.

I love classical, spiritual and jazz music. In regards to classical I love small and large scale choral works. I also listen to large scale orchestral works. I love organ music and individual works for the violin and harpsicord. When I listen to jazz I listen to Miles, Stan Kenton, Gill Evans, McCoy Tyners, Coltrane, Monk, Brubeck and one of my most favorite composer/conductors Ms. Maria Schneider and her orchestra.

I am looking for a big, wide, tall and bold analog type sound with excellent bass. Is there a turntable that can handle this variety of music without flinching that does not cost an arm and whole body? Can a used SOTA or VPI give me what I am looking for-for starters? Thanks again everyone and I find the information you provide wonderful.
I haven't used a SOTA in a long while but the VPI will give you what you want if pared with the right cartridge. The job of the table is to permit the cartridge to do the best possible job; cartridges vary widely in sound and are a very personal choice. An HW 19 or Scout or corresponding SOTA will satisfy you for a long time, I regularly switch between cheaper and more expensive tables, the more expensive are better but the cheaper ones are very good and easily beat out CD. The advantage of the Scout is that it comes with a very good arm. Eliminating the arm board reduces your choice of arm but significantly improves the sound according to what I hear back from 2 well known table manufactures.

I have owned a Sota Sapphire (older model), Vpi Scout,and a VPI HW-19 mk2. In my system I like the HW-19. I listen to all kinds of music. My amp and preamp are tube, my speakers are time aligned first order crossovers.
These together sound the most balanced for the kinds of music I listen to.......
I have a twenty year old Sota Star Sapphire with an upgraded platter and I never get tired of using it. Built like a tank; terrific imaging and image solidity; a pleasure to use and own. a long shot!!

Great design.Well thought out,as to LP accuracy.Great ownership of the company,who will be around for their customers.

Of course so will the other choices,most likely.Yet,from experience the Sota folks are appreciative of their customers.That should mean something,IMO.

Best regards
Just had a small earthquake in LA while my VPI was playing...never skipped a beat!
Must agree with Stanwal VPI one of the great American turntables two of my friends have one SUERSCOUTMASTER one HRX Both sound great VPI has wonderful service as well!!
Hello Sirspeedy. Great seeing you post. Hope everything is fine with you.

I owned the SOTA Star Sapphire for over 10 years. It provided very good sound and had ullet proof reliability. Later, I upgraded to the Oracle Delphi MK5 SE. The Oracles are much underrated turntables. Earlier vintages of the Oracles can be upgraded easily. I found the Delphi MK5 more musical and transparent with greater mechanical quietude
While I agree with Sirspeedy on sota,you might want to take a look at the Well Tempered Amadeus. At $2800 you'll have money left over for an poverpriced cart and an outboard suspension.
... you'll have money left over for an poverpriced cart

Good point.
I haven't heard the other you mention, but I agree with SirSpeedy that Sota is an excellent table. The mid and upper models come with a suspended platter. If you put the table on spikes, you end up with one very accurate sounding table.

The Sotas are an excellent value, and on the used market they are especially so. I have bought two Sotas used over the years and have been pleased both times.
I've not heard a SOTA, but have heard Oracle Delphi's of various vintages, VPI Scout-series and HW-19 series tables. The Delphi is much more to my liking than the VPI's due to its more lively/involving presentation.
Oh, and to answer the actual question, any Delphi can be updated to present specs (Mk. V) - the newer it is, the less expensive the updates. But the most expensive update is the Mk. V motor/plinth combo @ ~$1.5K. That one is really only necessary if the motor has a problem, the rest are more likely to improve sonics on a better value for dollar basis...

The VPI's are a bit tougher, as not all parts are available from VPI anymore on the HW-19 series, however all Scouts can be upgraded to higher models.
"an poverpriced cart and an outboard suspension."
Obviously I meant overpriced cartridge. Sorry for the typo.
Dear Bob: I assume you still have the Towsend TT/Excalibur that it is a very " decent " rig.

I don't know which's your today cartridge ( still the Sumiko? ), if that Towsend combo is in full and good operation condition then IMHO maybe ca help you try a " new "/better cartridge that that TT you are asking for.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Stanwal, what do you think about the new VPI classic? Is it as good as HP says?
The "three" mfgrs mentioned are ALL superb designs.It is really(as in "truly") going to be a stretch to do much better,IMO.

What one wants,is a product that will spin a disc with as little of it's own personality as can be had.....and.....

it's not as hard a thing to do(get)as many would like us to believe!!Do you really believe you have to spend the kind of cash outlay as is being asked by many products to outperform something like a VPI Super-Scoutmaster,Sota Cosmos,Oracle?...C'mon!!

Sorry,but I've been around the block,and know enough about what is going on in today's hobby,to realize the best designs have a "load" of quality competition,at "any" price category.Go ahead.Knock me!

What I mean is that though there are some superb products,with absurdly high (necessary....really?) prices,the humble/standard-"ish" turntable has been around for SO long,that a goodly amount of them/tables will "do" the job "so" well it will be a real stretch for a hobbyist to make a meaningful/discernible comparison to determine a "true" winner.Whatwith the "other" variables involved in a high end set-up.Sorry!

What I see happening in the hobby,is the plethora of "dumb" high priced "stuff",that is really NO better than the products of yeaterday....being that many of the older designs have been maxxed out,by the passage of time!....."If" the mfgr is still viable,and cares!

Egads,the Oracle is STUNNING,and is a "complete design"....Don't even get me started with the Sota Cosmos(with some minor mods)and some of the VPI tables.

ALL of these designs are COMPLETE!....Disc clamping,and suspensions...if you want it.

I pick up a new magazine,today,and cannot believe the costs of some designs......AND on forums like this, these costly(better?????)designs are almost worshipped.(and there is nothing wrong with it,so don't get too excited....I'm just venting)

So,we get the "passion hobbyists"(like many on Audiogon)who have a vested interest in keeping a particular dealer or manufacturer "exposed".That kinda bugs me,because I know from personal experience "those" folks who do this get better "deals".They are actually asked to "pitch" the name of the dealer,if the design gets knocked.Even if the criticism is valid!

Hey,the magazine press does the same thing!Newer,higher priced!!....Puhleeeease!!!I've heard way too many older/smarter hobbyist set-ups to realize the ability to sound good comes from voicing to a room,and "personal taste"!....That's it!!!...In the musical instrument "world" the passion hobbyists/musician accept,and laud the differences in "voice" between instruments.

They should post a message at the beginning of any "this is better than that" thread which reads "it's a matter of personal taste"!

Sorry,I have left the hobby(no big deal).It is a "great" hobby,but in honesty,I've gone back to collecting acoustic fretted instruments and studying music theory.ALL my original passion,before kids.Still,I think I have a right to voice my "opinion".Which is all it is...."opinion".

I had the misfortune of having a 2.5 year stretch,of non-stop lack of customer support,unreliability in "new'expensive" products,shipping/packing,spending BIG dollars for repair or updating.Only to have to re-pack if the problems were not solved and basically just having had enough....."That" is just "me"!...I needed to be more interactive with music too,so decided to "play" an instrument "again".

Nothing wrong with audio!Just some of the "characters" in the industry,imo.

Btw,in the acoustic instrument passion hobby/field(as nuts as audio,and maybe more-so, btw-:)the money is spent on stuff that goes "up" in value over the years(if well cared for).Is more desireable with time passage.Has a lifetime guarantee,and actually improves in sonic characteristics as the instrument ages......

Just like audio!-:)

Best to all
Sirspeedy.You truly are out on a limb working with out a net. I said something similar in my system post. Essentially some very expensive tt's with some very simple designs.
Sirspeedy, Vintage instruments are like vintage tts, only moreso. I have always wondered what audiophile product from what company caused you so much misery. As far as I can recall, you've kept it secret so far.
Thanks all for your many comments and suggestions. I do appreciate.

I agree with everyone who complimented SOTA on their customer relations and on the nice quality of their products. I will just relate my own experience regarding the "sound" of the Star Sapphire Series III, which was a table I owned about 8 years ago and for many years prior to that time. This is a Sapphire with a vacuum hold-down system. Plus I had purchased a Cosmos armboard for it. The Cosmos armboard takes advantage of constrained layer damping (CLD) with acrylic and aluminum layers. The point is that piano tones were always a little "shaky" or unstable with that tt. And the extreme low bass tones were a bit muddy. These traits were most noticed when I purchased a Nottingham Analog Hyperspace and was able to compare the two, using the very same tonearm and cartridge on both tables. In sum, I would not have gone back to the Star Sapphire after hearing the Hyperspace. I am not familiar first hand with the other products you are considering, but if you go Sota, I would suggest a Cosmos, Nova, or Millenia, rather than a Sapphire In those later products, I believe Sota addressed these sonic issues. Also, and Raul sort of alluded to this, your tonearm and cartridge are going to have most to do with the qualities of the sound you say you desire.
Whenever there is a thread on the Oracle I feel compelled to comment because this table just never seems to get the respect it deserves. I can't comment on the other models here, but I can compare the Oracle to other well known units.

One of the great aspects of the Oracle design is that its both timeless in terms of engineering design as well as its aesthetics. Any Oracle can be upgraded to the current V version for a reasonable $sum.

The Oracle has one disadvantage - it can only take a single 9" arm.

The Oracle V / Grandezza combo is as musical as my Micro-Seiki RX5000, SP 10 Mk2, Lenco, Linn, Victor TT-101, and a few others.

As always, it comes down to personal choice, but I can be clear that the Oracle is dynamic, clean, accurate and not colored at any particular frequency.

Unfortunately many people confuse clarity with coloration.

The Oracle V is as true to the source as anything out there and usually available at a much better price. The upgrade path keeps any unit current.