VPI Classic 3

Is it really as good as they say or not?
And a follow-on question - for the money, is it that much better than the Classic 1?
Can't completely answer your Q, But FWIW, I own a Classic 1 and I upgraded the wand to a Classic 3 arm. As soon as the VPI factory reopens after recovering from Sandy, I will be upgrading the base to the new VTA on the fly version, which can handle the new heavy weight azimuth ring. So except for the base and feet, what else is there to do?
Hi Bifwynne,

I'm waiting for my new Classic 3. I'm keeping my fingers crossed, that it's as good as everyone is saying.
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.

Captain, I read your post. I wonder out loud how much of your improvement related to the Classic 3 arm versus the Classic 3 plinth?? As I mentioned above, I upgraded the arm to the Classic 3. I totally agree with your comments about the Dynavector 20X2. I switched out my Soundsmith Zephyr for retipping and installed my backup DV 20X2. Uuuggg.
Bifwynne, to answer your question. One of the most noticeable thing about the classic 3, is the plinth and the VTA tower. The motor is also 300 rpm, hence it has bigger pulley than the Classic 1. The plinth has a solid aluminum top which actually is elevated from the surrounding piano black aluminum plinth. The Classic 3 feet are also more substantial than the Classic 1. I use a dust cover, so the elevated aluminum top is welcome, because it fits into place without moving around. The plinth, which includes the integrated aluminum top is very heavy and extremely solid. Love or hate the walnut versus piano black, that is user preference, but there is no doubt the aluminum top on the Classic 3 is at a different level versus the Classic 1 synthetic top. Also fit and finish is at a different level. The combination of materials of the plinth, aluminum top, aluminum piano black surround, is extremely solid.
I only changed out the turntable, everything else, including the cartridge and my alignment method was the same. As I mentioned the noise floor, bass response, tighter bass, then all frequencies seem more musical. I speculate that the lower noise floor is a combination of the plinth, 300 rpm motor, the different coupling of the motor to the plinth and the Classic 3 feet. In my system, to give you an idea of the noise floor reduction from the Classic 1 to the Classic 3, I will use an analogy. My analogy: System on, phono section on, tonearm on arm stand. Noise floor difference is analogous from a 12:00 volume control to a less than 9:00 volume control, where 2-3:00 is pretty much max volume. What I felt was a very substantial improvement, which was immediately noticeable. I speculate the combination of the Classic 3 arm with the Classic 3 motor, Plinth and feet in combination result in the total improvement that I witnessed in my upgrade. I don’t believe you will get the entire Classic 3 performance without the Plinth, especially the lower noise floor.
Thanks for all the info.
I have a Benz Micro Wood Series 2. They made 3 versions
MC-H2, MC-M2 & LC-2. Mine is the MC-2. I have on another table, I was going to use. But I was told that VPI'S are not a good match for this cartridge.
Any comments please?
I can't comment on the Benz, but I hadn't heard that before.
For reference, when I was going through my upgrade decision process I had some great correspondence with VPI:
"The 3 does everything slightly better than the 1, it's like a car that they do a few changes to and Car and Driver says "There a 10 small changes but the end result is a much better handling car" same thing here. It is quieter, faster, deeper bass, larger stage but with more focus, a whole bunch of little things that add up to a better listening experience."

In general, VPI does not believe you need an ubber expensive cartridge to achieve a great listening experience. They typically will recommend cartridges costing from $600 to a little over $1000.
The differences between the Classic 1 and Classic 3 that I noted (everything exactly the same, just the table swapped out) were done with a $600 cartridge the Dyna 20x2 Low output. My experience was summed up pretty well by the quoted text above by VPI. In addition, however, when I went from the Dyna 20x2 low to the Dyna XX-2 MKII ($2000), the entire system went to a different level. So the quality and resolving power of the table revealed the differences in the cartridges.
Note: The Classic 1 was long gone when I purchased the XX-2 MKII, so I don't know if the Classic 1 would also have that much resolving power to reveal the real differences in the cartridges.
Thanks for getting back to me with all your info.
I will be getting my Classic 3 on Monday. I'm looking forward in putting in my 2 cents on here, about my new table.

Cheers, Alan2
Monday, nice, congratulations. If after you install the Classic 3 you get a "thump" through your speakers when you shut the turntable off, then you need to change the capacitor across the on-off switch from the .001 microfarad installed to a .01 microfarad. Just write VPI and they will send you one or buy one at Radio Shack. It is easy to change, just take off the trap door under the turntable. The easiest way is to take the platter off and arm, then lean the table on the carpet against the couch with the trap door facing up. They are installed with standard electrical twist caps. The thump doesn't occur in everyone's system, it depends. It did in mine, and after changing the capacitor, no thump.
Captian winters,
Thanks so much for the information regarding the thump problem. I will go to Radio Shack just in case I face the same thing.
Alan2, Did you get the Classic 3 up and running? I actually took a picture of my Classic 1, when I was changing out the capacitor so you can see exactly which one to change. Both the Classic 1 and the Classic 3 needed a capacitor change in my system to get rid of the thump. Like I said it is system dependent, so you might not have a problem at all. The wiring is the same from the Classic 1 to the Classic 3, so if you want a picture, let me know, and I can send it to you.
Hi Captian winters, I haven't set it up yet. I'm looking for someone local who's familiar with VPI's. I've done some minor work on my Oracle Delphi MK-ll, which is a way different design. But if I don't find anyone I will just go for it very slow.......
The photo would be great thanks.Replacing the capacitor I can do for sure. I used to be into Ham Radio 25 years ago. Built many antennas and other things.
Hi Captian winters, I finally have time to setup the VPI Classic 3 on Saturday. I will let you know if I need any advice. Thanks.
Already to setup my new Turntable and it was damaged by FEDEX.
Maybe UPS is the way to go.
Sh*t Alan!! Sorry to read about your woes.

I'm thinking about sending my Classic 1 via FedEx to the VPI factory for some upgrades. The drive to VPI is at least 2 hours from where I live and I can't afford to take off the time. Further, who wants to drive 2 hours in North Jersey?? When I'm that close to NYC, my blood pressure goes up 10 points. LOL. Ergo FedEx.

FedEx must have been playing football with your Classic 3 because the darn thing is packed so well. Don't get so warm and fuzzy about UPS. If you check the Forum posts, plenty of complaints listed about UPS too.

Does anyone know of a better carrier than FedEx and UPS??
I have had far more problems with UPS damage than FedEx. Best of luck getting this resolved. Hang in there, with either company it can be hairy getting claims resolved.
Hi Bifwynne & Roscoeiii,
Nice to meet both of you. And thanks for the kind words.
First time I've ever had a shipping problem. It's going on 10 years since I've been on Audiogon buying, selling & trading gear. I guess my luck ran out.By the way, after I opened the boxes and put the turntable on my rack. Then saw this big corner smashed in, right above the A.C. Plug-in. My girlfriend left the house....And I poured more then one drink of Scotch.
Was the box damaged too?

So far, I've been lucky too. The way I ship and receive is via a local FedEx/Kinkos store near my house. As said, I ask that heavy equipment be delivered to the FedEx store. The thought being that if a box is damaged, I can make a complaint on the spot.

Also, it's a good way to keep my "audio activity" off of wifey's radar screen. Just bring a new acquistion into the house when she's not around. Although, lately she's been counting equipment pieces. Guess she doesn't trust me. I wonder why???? LOL
Great! I just sent my Classic 1 into VPI on Friday via UPS for inspection and either upgrades or possible trade in for a Classic 3 and now all I can think about is getting a damaged TT back from UPS. I have to stop reading these posts!!!
Thanks for getting back to me both of you. That's a great idea having it sent to your local Fedex Store. Also Yes wives & girlfriends and Audio, sometimes can present problems. There have been many break-ups because of Hobbies.
Isn't it better to be hooked on audio than be a rotten, cheatin' husband?? No girl friends, no drinkin', no cigs. And my obsession with Linda Ronstadt ala 1970s and 80s doesn't count, especiially her album pic on "Living In The USA." Linda was born in 1947. The lady is about 66 years old now. My wife already confiscated that album. I think one could do far worse than my audio addiction.
Yep, that was a great Linda Ronstadt Album. And regarding having an audio addiction. It's been since 1968 for me.
CAptain Winter

May i ask how do you adjust the azimuth with multimeter instead of the azimuth meter, thanks

i have XV-1S on Classic 1, wish to upgrade to Classic 4 or HRX, but HRX is pricey but is it worth it for hRX?
For Classic 4 will cost me $4000 more for the upgrade with trade in.
Csng1, I would go for a Classic 3 without a VPI arm and put on either a Graham Phantom or Tri-planer. It would cost you roughly the same as if you went for a Classic 4 with the 12.7 arm.
To adjust Azimuth with a Multi-meter, you need a test record, HiFi News or Ultimate Analogue test records and a Root Mean Square (RMS) Multi-Meter. You use 2 tracks on the record, one that plays only the left channel and one that plays only the right channel. My procedure:
Disconnect the RCA cables after the preamp. So my process includes the cartridge, turntable, phono section and preamp. In other words, disconnect the RCA cables going into the AMP. They will be your test point.
Play the right channel track. Put your multi-meter into AC mode, Hook up the multi meter to the right channel and adjust the volume so you get between 0.3 - 0.5 Volts AC.
Play the left channel and this time adjust the balance knob to bet the exact same AC voltage. Pick a voltage between 0.3 - 0.5. Try not to pick a voltage lower than 0.3, because then your crosstalk voltage will be really low. If you pick 0.510, you cross talk voltage will be around 0.025. If you pick 0.3, your cross talk voltage will be around 0.014.
You might have to go back and forth a couple of times, but when you are ready, you are reading exactly the same voltage on the left and right channels with the left and right channel tracks. For example, let's say that it is 0.3 Volts.
Now for the test:
Play the right channel, and record the voltage in the left channel
Play the left channel, and record the voltage in the right channel.
You want to try and get those as close as possible, preferably within 1 db, 20*LOG10(V1/V2). If the right channel has higher voltage (when playing the left channel) than the left channel (when playing the right channel) then tilt your azimuth of your tonearm towards the right channel and the voltage of the left channel will go up. It takes a bit of practice, do it multiple times. Resist the temptation to make large changes in azimuth, you can usually find a good balance close to 0. If you are going over 2 to 3 degrees, then you might have missed it, or over compensating. In that case, go back to parallel and start measuring again. Rememeber, tilt the azimuth of the tonearm towards the channel that has the highest crosstalk value.
For example my last results were:
Left channel v1=0.3 v2=0.14 crosstalk(db)=-26.62
Right channel v1-0.3 v2=0.15 crosstalk(db)=-26.021
This is with an azimuth, tilted towards the right channel 0.19 degrees.
This is also my last step, I do my alignment first, adjust SRA to 91 degrees, re-do alignment, complete VTF, then I do Azimuth.
One last piece, when you measure cross talk, the meter will fluctuate, I use the reading that it stayed the most stable at, for the longest time.
Hi Captain winters
Thanks very much for your full explanation,
i do not have a test record. i should get one,
Regarding the SRA to 91 degrees, how do one measure this, i have read many times, the VTA on classic 1 as long is parallel
to the plate. i know it does not mean it is 91degree. What measuring devise is needed?
I pretty much used the procedure by Michael Fremer on Analog Planet > Setup tips> How to use a USB Digital Microscope to set 92 degree Stylus Rack Angle (SRA) with some modifications. Link below:


I used a different digital microscope (it was around $40) and is very high power, 800x. It is a little hard to use at that power, and I also needed to take off the front protective piece so I could get it close enough for the focus. I took the image, transferred it to Powerpoint, then drew my graphic lines on the image. Then I measured the angles with a protractor on the screen. I repeated the procedure, raising the VTA tower, until I achieved the desired angle, 91.5 degrees. So the only additional software I use is Powerpoint, and the software that comes with the USB microscope. The protractor is your standard grade school protractor.

Every stylus is different and my goal is to get it to 91 or 92 degrees SRA. I needed to raise my VTA tower significantly to get to 91.5 degrees. What is nice, is it gets you in the ballpark and then you can fine tune by ear.

Also, make sure to check your MINTLP (alignment device) again, since as you raise the VTA, you will also change the geometry of the arm, and you will need to re-align on the MINTLP (alignment device) and re-do VTF. That is why I do the SRA first, then re-align cartridge, then VTF, then finally azimuth.
BRF.....the arms you suggest are very good ones, sound different from each other, but not necessarily better than the VPI. The real trick is to set up the cartridge well no matter the arm.
Hi Captain Winters
Again thanks a lot for your details explanation, I wonder I could ever manage this task, but it definitely gave you satisfaction when you achieve your desire sound. that the fun of vinyl.
Stringreen, I have both the VPI Classic and TriPlaner arm. Yes, both good arms, I just like the TriPlaner better but I do go back and forth between them.