VPI Ceramic Platter

I just got VPI's new ceramic platter after living with the Superplatter, and then the Classic. I've read reports on these forums that there isn't much of a difference...WRONG. When replacing the Superplatter with the Classic, the sound difference is extremely dramatic with the Classic doing away with the stodginess of the Superplatter. The highs are much more extended without a kind of a wholly character. The sound difference just slaps you in the face. The difference with the ceramic platter is much more subtle....then you realize what it is and revel in it. The increased depth, focus and air is its major accomplishments, but there is a sweetness (not saccharine) of live music that you just don't hear with the classic. Crappy LP's are still crappy, but you can still make out the music rather than feeling like you just want to run away from it. The very worst and most disappointing record I have is Norah John's "Little Broken Hearts". I used to enjoy her efforts, but this one is produced sooooo badly by Danger Mouse, I will not get another Norah Johns album until I see this guy's name gone from the cover. I wonder why Norah sings words... The sound is an absolute blur, and yet with the ceramic platter, there are blurs of different depths, and if you listen closely you can actually hear what's going on. Next, I played a Ltd. Kiji by Leinsdorf on Serephin records from years ago. The speakers disappeared, as did the walls. The violins that are so difficult to reproduce, were clearly and sweetly singing. Percussion was never spread, but instantly and clearly struck. I suppose the best of these upgraded abilities will be lost unless excellent equipment is used. On another thought, you just can't change the spindle, install the platter and go. To find the best this platter can offer, you must tweak the tonearm. The platter is slightly different than with the Classic. Remember every single thing you adjust on the VPI arm affects every other adjustment. Take your time and do it all and enjoy.
Never read in any review that the VPI with the S-U-P-E-R platter is so inferior in reality. Seems, VPI can be tuned quite easily.
The speakers disappeared, as did the walls. The violins that are so difficult to reproduce, were clearly and sweetly singing
Seems the internal vibrations from motor and spindle are a bit better dampened compared to the SUPER platter. Why has the Arm to be tweaked? Can a VPI Arm be tweaked? I thought, VPI offers final solutions?
Please come clean, are you an agent of Harry? I am sure your 'experience' will quickly be posted on the VPI web site. Enjoy the music.
Stringreen, I read somewhere that the new ceramic platter uses a different spindle with an oil bath instead of the inverted bearing- is this true? That would be a plus for me. What is the price on the ceramic platter? Thanks.
Hiendmuse....nope...inverted spindle, however, I couldn't use the one from the Classic ...something was different. I'm uncomfortable to publish a price...if you contact VPI, they'll tell you.
Stringreen- is the platter officially available? I just looked at the website and there was no mention of it. I would have to assume it is retailing for more than $800, since that is what the standard Classic platter retails for. Do you know if this platter will work on the Aries? Also you posted on another subject that you have the new tonearm on order, any word on when that will arrive? I'm assuming that will be much more than a 12.7 arm, but maybe he'll go into "mass" production to keep the price low!
Pmotz.... I understand I got one of the first of the production...Harry was trying to iron out some manufacturing glitches he said. Although its not yet on the website, if you call or write to VPI, they will accommodate your request. I have a Superscoutmaster rim drive, but I am pretty sure that your Aries uses the same platter. If you do decide to get the ceramic one, made sure you readjust your tonearm....there is a bit of a difference between the Classic platter and the Ceramic one. When you install the ceramic, it very well might look as though it is the same as the Classic.. Your arm will very probably need tweeking..mine did. Regarding the 3D arm. I understand that too is in production. The arm I understand is about 4000 dollars, but all you will need is the arm tube itself. While you're talking to VPI about the platter, you can ask them about the arm as well. I have a 10.5i...yours will be a different price. Happy listening. Stan
I am sure the arm "tweaking" refers to revisiting the SRA/VTA settings and all cartridge setup parameters since there will be a small change to the level of the top of the platters even if they visually seem to be at the same height. No actual tweak to the arm structure should be required even if possible.
Sytax..What I meant was that the setup perameters have to be reset...VTF, Azimuth, leveling the turntable proper, etc. The Superplatter is WAY different in sound...stodgy, muffled, and (because I have the rim drive) makes the tonearm sway in sync with the out-of-roundness of the Superplatter. It sounds to ME that you are correct in assuming that the ceramic coating does damp vibrations. I am not an agent of Harry (although my father's name is Harry, but was a dry cleaning mogul, not a turntable mogul).
Material science will tell you that a ceramic coating will not damp vibrations, no matter whether thick or thin. As Harry sits in his 'man cave', he is thinking of the next 'material' that will improve the bottom line of his business. Really, think about it, the difference each material makes is marginal, compared to the profits Harry makes. My guess is that the next turntable material will be an exotic wood, newly discovered in the rainforests of New Gunia, where Harry spent his last vacation. I admire Harry, pulling off another con, its what America is all about.
Regarding Buconero's above post, while I respect his opinion, Harry and his company have produced fine sounding TTs for a very long time. Most, although not all, are happy with their purchases as well as the upgrades. I am sure many things produced by VPI are profit enhances, very few people on this as well as other forums have ditched their VPIs for the compitition. Consider that there are interconnects that cost more than Harry's most expensive offering.
I can not tell you if the ceramic platter does or does not damp vibrations...all I know is what I hear. They guy next door hears an improvement, my wife does, and I do.....I don't care HOW it works, only that it does. The bad mouthing of VPI/Harry, does nothing to dissuade how most of the audiophile community feels about him. He is always helpful with any problems of his manufacture, and continues his thriving business using the highest ethical standards.
I'm a happy VPI customer!! Mike just sent me a Classic 3 tonearm bearing base to upgrade my Classic 1 base. Installation was a snap. Mike sent me all the tools, jigs, taps and alignment tools needed to show where and how to drill the new holes in the steel plinth. The Classic 3 base covers up the Classic 1 holes. The installation was so accurate I didn't have to change the cartridge overhang, which I think is pretty impressive.

The Classic 3 base is much heavier and better looking. It also has VTA on the fly. So I guess I now have a Classic 2.5 now. Funny thing is that the sound may have improved by a tweak or two, but not another league. But I don't care. The Classic 3 tonearm base looks better and it matches the Classic 3 wand that I bought a couple of years ago.

Bottom line: VPI aims to please and I am pleased!
So, Buco ... are you saying that Harry and VPI are not entitled to manufacture a good product, identify improvements over time, price their products in line with their competition, market those changes and make a reasonable profit? They've been around for a long time, and as such, I would expect them to change and improve the products they offer. I don't hear you moaning about VAC, or Krell, or Wilson, or the myriad of other long standing companies in this industry who continually "improve" their products and change their line-up from time to time.

Back on topic - I also have a ceramic platter, replacing an old MKIII platter and bearing. Big improvements along the lines of what String reports above. The pace of the music is just rock steady using my silk string drive. Images float very nicely with great extension top and bottom and plenty of detail. Dynamics are improved and albums just sound musical and not overly analytic. All in all, a very nice product.

When I saw these there were 2 versions, one had side wall grooves and one was smooth. I wanted the smooth one, per Harry's suggestion, but they shipped me the grooved one instead. I asked for a replacement and it came within a few days, but I installed and listened to the grooved one first. Nice, but not as nice as the smooth walled one when it came. Don't know if there was a different process for each, but I would advise getting the smooth walled one if they continue to offer both.
Ptmconsulting, interesting that Harry would recommend the smooth sided platter to be used with a thread drive. My understanding is that grooved side wall prevents belt creep, thus improving speed stability. The smooth side platter is marketed for use with their rim drives and future direct drive.
Nothing more then another version of The Emperors New Clothes.
What justifies the price gouging that Harry and company have been doing for so many years now? The price of the Classic is raised yet again, the Traveler is certainly not worth considering for it's cost versus quality. Everything we learned about isolating the motor from the plinth has to be unlearned according to VPI. It's just a record player, stop the merry go round Harry and give the consumers a break. Stop taking advantage of us and put some clothes on.
Brf, doesn't that depend on the style of motor pulley?
Bpoletti, not sure what you mean? The pulley merely drives the rubber belt or thread which are both susceptible to belt creep. Only tables with a standalone motor assembly can properly implement a thread drive. Pease remember that the first generation VPI Classic platter was a smooth sided and later changed to a grooved sided platter based on user feedback.
If it is a pulley with a single deep groove, the belt will not wander but will stay in that position on the pulley. Some of the newer pulleys have multiple smaller grooves and the belt could jump from groove to groove if there is not additional "guidance" on the platter.
Belt creep happens on the platter not the pulley due to the belt not being 100% perfectly round.
I have a question -- not a comment. I have a Classic "2.5" TT, which has the original smooth platter.

The question is how much difference can there really be between a smooth versus groved side wall platter when we're talking about an 18 pound spinning disc? I ask because it seems to me that the inertia of a spinning 18 pound disc should result in a pretty even steady state speed, belt creep or not. Btw, it seems to me that my belt doesn't appear to creep much at all, even with a smooth sided platter.

Now a comment. As I mentioned above, I switched out my Classic 1 tone arm base for the Classic 3 base, which is heavier and has VTA on the fly. Maybe I'm going deaf, but if there is an improvement in performance, it's measurable in tweaks, not another league.

I guess my point is that there is a point where additional tweak improvements result in diminishing returns versus cost. And I think I have a pretty resolving system. While some tweaks make a difference (e.g., switching my carty to a Lyra Delos), many do not. Could be a case of acute "upgrade-itis."

Just my humble opinion.


I currently have both the smooth and the grooved platter for the Classic and also the Classic 1 and Classic 3 tonearms. I have a Shure V15V/Jico SAS on the Classic 3 tonearm and a MX97XE/Jico SAS on Classic 1 tonearm.

Now for the between the two platters, none that I can hear. I can say that the either of them (tonearm/platter) produces wonderful sounding music from my Aries 3.
Video here VPI Aries 3 meets the Shure V15V

Bruce, when I had my Classic I, I also eventually upgraded the armbase to one with VTA on the fly. At that time, there was no Classic3 arm per se so it was technically an upgrade from 10.5i to standard JMW 10.5. At that time, it also included rewiring the arm with Valhalla wire instead of the stardard silver wire that came with 10.5i.
Personally, I think it was mostly the change in the wiring that made the biggest improvement. Arm base with VTA tower is bigger, may be a tad more stable but I did that upgrade mainly for convenience of VTA on the fly and not so much for any inherent sonic benefit not contributing by ability to dial in VTA accurately with ease. Of course, this is just a guess since I made both changes at the same time.
I wouldn't exert much effort and/or money to change the Classic groove to non groove....If you have the itch that just doesn't go away, inquire if Harry would just exchange it for a modest fee. (yours would have to be refinished/manufactured to sell as new again.)
I have the classic 3 smooth side. I didn't even know there was a groove sided platter until I read this thread and looked on the VPI Facebook pics. I also didn't know about the ceramic platter. Which product is the ceramic platter going on? Is it an aluminum platter with ceramic coating? Very interesting, since there have been many positive reviews of the classic aluminum platter with stainless steel weight underneath.
Captain_winters is onto it. What is the substrate of the platter underneath the coating? This would be the material that determines whether there is additional damping going on. The ceramic coating will no doubt add great resistance to corrosion, scratching, etc. I don't see any dampening possibilities there, however. Still, materials, especially combined materials, are complex when it comes to aural nuances. What ceramic coating is being used here?

I suppose I could call the spindle I use ceramic because it has a PVD nitride coating. It is only there for added resistance to wear, though.
Don't put it all on Dangermouse. The collaboration between DM @ Sparklehorse is very good!
I am surprised that no one took up String's casual comment that his "superplatter" (Have I got that right?) was not perfectly round. Of course, replacing such a defective platter with almost any platter that is closer to tolerance should result in an improvement, most notable in terms of pitch stability.

Also, if I learned my Mark Kelly turntable physics correctly, use of a smooth vs a grooved platter addresses belt "slip", not belt "creep". Mark was always careful to distinguish between those two phenomena. Further, the fact that the cross-section of a belt is not "100% round" is indeed another source of speed error in belt-drives, but it is not the central issue in belt creep, I don't think. Belt creep derives from the fact that the tension on an elastic belt is not a constant for every part of the belt. Belt creep can be reduced (but not completely eliminated) by using a non-stretchy belt and by configuring the drive so that as much as possible of the platter circumference is in contact with the belt.

Finally, wouldn't it be true that Stringreen's listening experience can only be relevant to those who use the VPI rim-drive? The drive system is SO different from belt drive that very different factors are at play in determining the end result.

Finally finally, according to theory, introducing a new material between the vinyl and the platter (assuming the VPI platter is aluminum coated with ceramic) would result in a change in the efficiency of transfer of energy from the vinyl to the platter. (Whether it gets more or less efficient would depend upon certain physical constants which I am too lazy to look up.) Energy has to go past the vinyl/ceramic interface, through the ceramic layer, and then past the ceramic/aluminum interface, in order to be dissipated. At each interface, if energy transfer is not perfect (never is), some energy can be reflected back to the vinyl. This is not to say that bleeding energy from the vinyl is critical; lots of people seem to like to use mats and such that practically prevent it.

I use a Kenwood L07D. Kenwood made an optional ceramic mat for it, back in the day. Those who own(ed) it tell me it sounded bad. I think SAEC also made a ceramic mat that can be used on a variety of turntables. I don't know whether either or both of those were solid ceramic or ceramic-coated, but I think the Kenwood one was solid ceramic.

You are right. There is ceramic, and then there is ceramic. The ceramic that first comes to mind for most of us is the vitreous type, like in dishes. That's made from clay, but the tech ceramic is completely different. Silicon nitride balls are examples most commonly discussed in audio, and they have no clay base. Another example is the gold drill bits you see at stores these days.

The VPI platter may be chromium nitride coated. That is a PVD coating commonly used on industrial punches. It is deposited on the surface of the base metal inside a vacuum chamber at around 750F. The end result is a surface hardness that is off the Rockwell scale. It is very, very hard, and measures at 2,000+ on the Vickers scale. You won't scratch it, and you won't wear it out. It will always stay shiny and polished, so I like the idea for that reason.
Lewn....you're correct. My rim drive table MUST have a perfectly round platter, otherwise the out of roundness makes the turntable ride out and in to accommodate the different diameter of the platter and each point as it turns. The result is that the Superplatter forces the turntable back and forth. The VPI arm as you know rides on a sharp point, so the result was a rocking of the arm, which REALLY was awful to look at.... and much less awful to listen to (though I could hear it). The Superplatter is not made any more because it was so difficult to make it absolutely round. On another point, the Superplatter had a kind of tubby sound. When I went to the Classic platter, it was simply a revelation...the soundstage, the stability, the new information, etc. was wonderful. The difference between the Superplatter and the Classic is enormous...the difference between the Classic and the Ceramic is less so, however, still a very worthwhile upgrade.
I guess the Superplatter really was not "Super".
The Superplatter was really much better than the platter that came before it. The rim drive (difficulty in precision manufacture) was a non issue since only the belt drive was available then.
I would think that having a perfectly round platter (and a perfectly centered spindle) is just as important for belt-drive as it is for rim-drive. In both cases, the driving force is delivered to the circumference of the platter; if the platter is out of round, the speed would vary during every revolution. Perhaps the problem was more visibly evident with the rim-drive, because of the motor moving in and out.
Using a run out gauge, both my Super platter and TNT Mk5 platter measure the same as my Classic platter. I know that both the Super platter and Mk5 platter were expensive to make due to the cost of combining both Delrin and stainless steel to make a platter, but I would have thought that machining to a specific tolerance would be the same for the Classic and other VPI platters.

I do not doubt Stringeen’s findings; it’s just that my experience does not mirror his.
I don't know if the grooved ceramic platter I initially received was a "production" version or not, but it wasn't finished quite as nice and evenly coated as the smooth walled platter that replaced it. I do know that the smooth platter did sound better to my ears (real or imagined).
Ptm...now that you have the smooth platter, its time to go to the ceramic platter. Talk to VPI...I bet it isn't as expensive as you might think
That is what I have String. The new smooth walled ceramic platter. Enjoying it very much.