VPI Classic hum

Got mine a few weeks ago. Installed it with a high-output Benz Ace H cartridge. Loved the sound but there was a hum when I turned the preamp volume past the 10 o'clock position. Later changed to a Clearaudio Concerto, the hum was quieter, but wouldn't go away no matter what I tried.

Then I read the manual closely, and it said something about using shielded interconnects. So I tried a pair of Rega Couple wires, which are made from Klotz cable, and are shielded.

And you know what, the hum just vanished! Now I'm at peace ...

Just to share with those have hum issues with the Classic. Do share your solutions.
You need a well shielded cartridge with the Classic to stop the hum.

I had an expert suggest Soundsmith, and it's a dude who should know.
No hum from the Dynavector 17D3 Karat Mk II on my Classic. It's grounded and am using a Krell reference phono amp.
Here's an update, and a new issue.

Two cartridges I've used of late - Benz Gullwing and Dynavector 17D3 - reveal another source of hum.

This time, the hum begins when the stylus touches the playing surface, during the lead-in to the tracks, and I can also hear it a bit during quiet passages.

Someone told me it's because VPI motors are noisy.

VPI tells me it's because my low-output cartridge requires a lot of amplification, and is picking up some 50Hz hum from other piece of equipment in my system.

Anyone have any ideas?

I'm close to moving on to another t/t if I can't resolve this issue.

Oh, but the Classic/17D3 combi is awesome. Just that pesky hum bothers me ...
UUUhhmm, I also own a VPI Clasic and I mounted a Clear Audio Maestro Wood, a MM with a 3.6mV output. I think the I/C from the TT to the phono pre may be some off the shelf "higher end" Radio Shack RCA cable. I don't know if its shielded. I don't use a grounding cable from the TT to the phono pre. Also the phono pre is NOT a super high gain job, only 58 db. Bottom line -- no hum whatsoever, but as I mentioned in two other threads, still tweaking the set up to optimize sonics and reduce a slight bass resonance.

Bassraptor, did I miss something in the posts above, but it seemed like you found cartridge nirvahnna with the Rega I/Cs and the CA Concerto? How did you wind up with the Benz and Dynavector cartridges?

Let me challenge point you with a couple of questions. Krell runs his Classic with the Dynavector and reports no problems. His set up is grounded. Is yours?

You mentioned that the Rega I/Cs are shielded. Can I assume that these I/Cs are effective with respect to shielding against low frequency currents in nearby electronic circuits, trannies or the TT motor? Do the Rega I/Cs run near any of the foregoing types of equipment?

Finally, have you sent a private message to Krell asking for more details on his set up, including what he's using by way I/Cs? It seems to me that if you can duplicate whatever Krell is doing, presumably you should get a similar result.

Good luck!

To clarify, there are two different hum issues.

- The earlier one, I attributed to interconnect not being placed properly, ie, too close to amp or power cord. This is no longer an issue, as I've learnt how run the connects so they don't pick up noise.

- The newer hum issue is only when I place cartridge on record surface.

I started off with the Clearaudio Concerto, it had some issue later (it was about 3 years old), then moved to the Benz Ace ... later, in quest of something better, I upgraded to the Benz Gullwing. That's when I started hearing the hum from the record surface, which has continued with the Dynavector.

My distributor is dropping by this weekend to see what I'm not doing right, grounding, etc .... will update.

I wonder if the Classic needs to work with a high output cartridge?
works fine with HO cartridge, it just must be well shielded. The hum you are getting is from the cartridge not being shielded well enough to block the hum from the motor which is integrated into the plinth.
Tks, Macdadtexas, do you have any recommendations for such cartridges? I would have thought the ones I used would be well shielded? Is there anything I can do to the cartridges I have now to ensure they're well shielded?
I got the recommendation of the Soundsmith Cartridges from Michael Fremmer, and I LOVE mine. They make lower output models if that's a requirement, but most are higher output.
Running the Kimber Silver Streak from the junction box to the phono preamp. Nothing fancy and I'm not sure how shielded it is, but no "hum" to be bothered by. Of course you're going to hear more "hum" on quiet passages; it's nothing to do with shielding, but the nature of the medium. I have five gain settings on my preamp and the noise increases with the gain but so does the dynamic range. Once the music kicks in, it's a non-issue. If you want no noise at all during quiet passages or lead-in, switch to CDs.
I also have the Classic. This may not be quite related, but I get some distortion from my subwoofer when I use my turntable. The table is level and set up properly as far cartridge alignment, tracking force etc. I do not get this distortion from any other sources. Any thoguhts would be appreciated.
Actusreus, I have no noise at all now, with the Soundsmith VPI Zypher. Dead quiet, great cartridge. Love my analog again, simply sounds incredible to me.
Mcdaddy...that sounds like feedback. Get rid of your VPI minifeet and replace them with Bearpaws from Vermontaudio.com.
Actusreus - Thanks for your suggestion. I've been running with vinyl for 25 years, I know what it can and can't do. Record surface noise can't be helped, noise from cables can be eliminated via proper placement. The cartridge picking up noise from the motor is not a non-issue for me; I've run other turntables with low output cartridges and this never happened.

VPI themselves suggested a high-output MC to counter this.

Anyway, I installed a Clearaudio Maestro MM cartridge last night, 3.6mV output and this seems to have taken the hum down to a level where I can totally ignore it.

The only reason I haven't sold the Classic is because it's one of the most addictive TTs I've owned, despite a flaw or two - it has the slam and bass few others at the price have. That's why I've stuck with it to arrive at the right combination.

Anyone have experience with a Classic/high-output Grado?
Bassraptor: I installed a CA Maestro Wood on my Classic and am experiencing probelms with low frequency resonance/ringing. I've been trading e mails with Mike at VPI for over a week about this issue. In the most recent exchange of messages, Mike thinks that I might need a different VPI tone arm tube (higher mass and better damped) in order to mitigatde the ringing. I have a couple of follow-up questions for Mike to answer before I try his suggestion.

Please let me know if you're experiencing the same or different campatibility problems. If not, let's compare notes on set up. Perhaps I'm not installing the Maestro properly. Thanks
Your second post suggested that you were bothered by some noise on the lead-in and quiet passages and were trying to eliminate it. If you have buzzing sound coming from the speakers that's one thing, but I stand by my statement that some noise is inherent in the medium and those looking to eliminate it completely should switch to CDs. Doubtless, it might vary with different cartridges and cables (Grados are notorious for picking up hum with the Classic, for example), as well as with the quality of vinyl certainly. However, I've heard mega-buck systems and I'm sorry but at higher listening levels there will be noise, especially with tube amplification. Perhaps I'm misunderstanding your posts.
Bassraptor: I agree with Actusreus' comment about Grados, at least the Sonata. I used to own a Grado Sonata MM (5 mV), which was mounted on a restored vintage Thorens TD 160. No matter what I did, I couldn't get rid of the hum. The sonics were ok, but not as good as the Maestro.

I haven't tried a Grado out on the Classic, but maybe if I can't fix my Maestro bass resonance problem, I'll try one. However, I might "road test" the Ortofon 2 M Black, which is supposed to be one fantasic MM cartridge.
Actusreus - the hum I'm getting in the lead-in grooves, I heard no such thing in previous set-ups I had, including a Clearaudio and NAS, with a variety of cartridges.

Bifwynne - I will update my posts as I find out more.
I was told a separate ground wire is required for Grado cartridges not to hum, I've used a wood-bodied Grado with an Amari TT mounted with Rega RB250 arm, but with separate ground wire (unlike Rega TTs), and no hum heard.

My Classic has a steel arm-tube, btw ...

Damn, it shouldn't be so difficult to get it all right with the Classic. My previous Clearaudio Performance was much more well-behaved! Yet, there's something about Mary, er, I mean, the Classic ...
Bassraptor, which Classic model do you have? The Classic 1 and Classic 2 come standard with the JMW 10.5i SE arm, which per the VPI website is "made from aluminum and stainless steel, critically damped in the armtube to keep the arm and wires from vibrating." The VPI website says the Classic 3 "arm [has] a new stainless steel arm-tube, bearing assembly, base mounting, and Nordost Valhalla wiring from cartridge to RCA (or XLR) output jacks."

As I mentioned above, Mike is suggesting that I try an arm tube made of stainless steel. Perhaps it's the same arm tube you have??

In any case, I would appreciate knowing which model Classic you have and whether you have identified any compatibility issues with the Classic/Maestro combo. Thanks for your help.
the hum comes from the motor, and an unsheilded cartridge. No armtube, cables, or anything else is going to make a difference. With the motor in the plinth, you need a different type cartridge, well shielded.

Not a fault, just a design quirk, that means you need to use a certain type cartridge to get the absolute best sound from the deck.
Bifwynne - I have a Classic 1, it's about a year old; upgrading the armtube to steel was an option I paid extra for. There's no compatibility issue with the Maestro that I can make out so far, but that hum is still there! As Macdadtexas said, it's the design quirk ... odd that I initially never noticed it a year ago ... getting a Soundsmith is going to be another expensive trial.

Need to reassess things the next few months ...
Bassraptor, very curious, very curious indeed. As mentioned above, I installed a Maestro Wood cartridge on my Classic 1 with stock arm. I may be hyper critical here, but I think I detect a bass resonance or ringing in the 50+ to 100+ Hz registers. I surmise this because I still detect the bass bump when I turn off my sub, which rolls off at 40+ Hz.

As also mentioned, I've been trading e mails with Mike at VPI about the issue. I infer from his messages that he may have been able to replicate the bass bump at the factory. He suggested that I exchange out my stock aluminum/stainless steel arm for an all stainless steel arm. Mike explained that the stainless steel arm has a higher damping factor and effective mass. My questions back to Mike were (i) a request that he confirm whether in fact he was able to replicate the bass bump using the stock arm and (ii) if yes, whether the stainless steel arm corrected the problem. If the answers to the foregoing questions are "No," I may have to rethink what to do next.

Oh BTW, I believe the bass bump relates to the phono stage because I do not detect the bass bump when using my CDP.

Perhaps you can help me with my issue by telling me how you set up your cartridge. In particular, (1) did you use the VPI jig to set alignment and overhang? (2) At what mass did did you set VTF? (3) How did you set VTA/SRA -- with the back end of the cartridge above or below a straight horitontal plane for the cartridge? (4) Did you use a head shell weight? (5) Did you use the VPI mat, rubber damping ring and clamp. (6) Finally, I assume azimuth was true.

Now, as regards your problem, maybe my ears are just plain shot after obsessing endlessly over my perceived bass bump, but I do NOT detect any humming coming off the phono stage -- just a little tube hissing, which is normal. My rig is an ARC PH-7 phono pre, an ARC Ref 3 line stage and an ARC VS-115 amp. I have not as yet hooked up a ground wire from the Classic to the PH-7. The I/C from the PH-7 to the Ref 3 is nothing fancy, just a set of better grade off the shelf Auvio brand RCA jacks I bought at Radio Shack. The I/Cs from the Ref 3 to the VS-115 are balanced Kimber Heros.

It seems to me that we have similar TT set ups. Logic dictates that if we conform our set ups as much as possible, perhaps we can help each other sort through our respective TT issues. I gather you have suffered through I/C problems, grounding and proximity of the I/C cables to inductive current lines. If so, the only thing remaining is that your Maestro may be defective or, perhaps more likely, the stainless steel arm in some way is creating an induced electro-magnetic field because of proximity to the motor. Remember, my stock arm is a combo of aluminum/stainless steel.

Last thoughts, did you mention above whether you think the hum is at 60 Hz? If so, that would be a strong pointer to the motor and stainless steel arm. Have you contacted Mike at VPI, either via e mail or phone?

Sorry for the long post. Just trying to help.

Please write back with your thoughts. Thanks.
Bassraptor, I had a another thought that might help to localize the cause of your hum problem. You said you get the hum when you place the stylus on the record surface, mostly in the first couple of tracks. I'm not trying to be simple here, but do you get the hum with the stylus sitting on the record, but with the motor turned off? I suspect that the answer is no. Then if you start the motor, I assume that the hum starts up. If I'm on target so far, what happens if you touch the ground wire to the tone arm base. Does the hum go away? If not, what is your ground wire connected to. If the pre, any possibility of a ground loop? Just for fun, if you can extend the ground wire touch a water or gas pipe, you might get a clean and solid ground that will eliminate the hum.

I have a vested interest in your results. Mike at VPI just advised me that with the Maestro installed, the "Classic 1 arm . . . resonance was at 16HZ, way to[o] high. It will be at 10 HZ in the Classic 3 arm." As is mentioned above, the Classic 3 arm is all stainless steel. Hence, if I upgrade to the Classic 3 arm, I may resolve my bass resonance problem, but substitute a new hum problem.

Please let me know how you make out. Good luck!
Bifwynne - Thanks much for your input and suggestions. Give me 2-3 days to detail my history with the Classic since I got it last year. And also to try out some of your suggestions and my own procedures.

My Classic with steel tonearm tube sounds great with the Maestro.

Man, with the Clearadio and Rega I've owned, I never had to take this much trouble!
I hear ya! My goodness, I NEVER had anywhere this much grief with my old Thorens. I think the Classic is querky because of the uni-pivot arm. Everytime you mess with VTF, you screw up up azimuth. VTA is just trial and error, but at least we can adjust it with the star wheel. I believe that VTA in the Rega arm is a pain to adjust -- at least in the RB 301 I used to own.

As I wrap up my business with Mike at VPI, I will suggest that the company figure out a better way to adjust the arm without all the grief.

I hope it's all worth the effort when we're done.

Please let us know how you make out. I'll post something once I set up the Classic 3 arm.

Cheers to you.
Hi Bassraptor, are you ready to report on how're making out with the Classic/Maestro combo? I'm waiting for VPI to send me a Classic 3 arm, hoping that will calm down my bass resonance problem.
Hi, Bifwynne ... as of now, I'm still getting that hum, although, again, in the lead-in and quiet parts.

My dealer says none of his customers who have got the Classic report any such issue. Anyway, he's offered the Aries 3 to me for the weekend, and I'll be taking it home to hear how it behaves in my place. He's also got a new batch of Classics coming in soon, says I can try one if I want to.

Let's see how it goes with the Aries first, so I'll know if it's an issue specific to my Classic or overall set-up.

I've so far not encountered any tonearm resonance with the Maestro.
Bassraptor, thanks for the update. Did you try the suggestions I made on the 23rd, namely:

"Do you get the hum with the stylus sitting on the record, but with the motor turned off? I suspect that the answer is no. Then if you start the motor, I assume that the hum starts up. If I'm on target so far, what happens if you touch the ground wire to the tone arm base. Does the hum go away? If not, what is your ground wire connected to? If the pre, any possibility of a ground loop? Just for fun, if you can extend the ground wire to touch a water or gas pipe, you might get a clean and solid ground that will eliminate the hum."

The suggestions should take all of 10 minutes to try out. If the problem is, as I suspect, related to the motor and its interaction with the stainless steel tube, maybe the grounding ideas will help.

BTW, it's very nice of your dealer to let you try out another Classic TT this weekend. I suggest that you try out a Classic 1 with the stock arm, which as I mentioned above is an aluminum/stainless steel combo. If my suggestions above don't work, try twitching out your stainless steel arm with the Maestro already mounted onto the test TT. If the hum persists, I think that's credible evidence that your motor is ok. Next, I would mount the Maestro on the stock Classic 1 arm that comes with the test TT. If the hum disappears, then I think you have localized the problem to the stainless steel arm. If the hum still persists, maybe your Maestro is defective or the Maestro/Classic is simply not a good combo.

As I mentioned above, Mike from VPI is exchanging my Classic 1 stock arm for a Classic 3 stainless steel arm. In light of what you said on the 26th that you don't hear the bass resonance/ringing that I seem to have, then that's a good indication that the stainless steel arm is better suited for the Maestro. I just hope I don't wind up fixing the bass resonance problem, while adding a hum problem.

Please report back on how you make out. Good luck.
Curiouser and curiouser ...

Some quick facts:

1 - The Classic and Aries 3 tonearm don't seem to be interchangeable.

2 - The Classic arm, with counterweight attached, and steel arm tube, is lighter than the Aries 3 tonearm, which is all aluminium, also with weight attached.

3 - The Classic counterweight appears to be heavier.

Seems to be some significant differences between both the 10.5 tonearms.

Oh, I say this because the Maestro with headshell weight is too light for the Aries, but just right with the Classic's arm.

I'm now trying to get a heavier cartridge. Or a lighter counterweight ...

So much fun ... unlike the Regas, just fit and play ... (sarcasm intended) ...

more later ...
Just get a better shielded cartridge, that's all it takes. No other changes needed. It's not the arm, it's not cords.

Motor in plinth = hum with unshielded cartridge.

I have the Classic. I had a Grado Statement the Reference 1 (great cartridge) and I was getting tons of hum. Tried all sorts of things ($$$$), Michael Fremmer suggested that I try the Soundsmith Cartridges since they are so well shielded by design. I did, and what a huge change. No hum, great sound. I have a Soundsmith Zypher, which was quite a bit cheaper than my Grado, and sounds so good with the Classic I can't believe it.
Bassraptor, anything to report about the hum issue?

Mike at VPI said that I should receive my Classic 3 arm towards the ned of next week, already set up to take the Maestro. We'll see.

I agree, this is way too hard. I admire the build quality of the Classic, without qualification -- kinda reminds me of the way things were back in the 50s and 60s when "made in the USA" meant something. Ooops -- showing my age. But . . . I think the uni-pivit arm is too "unusual" for the Maestro.

In an e mail to Mike, I suggested that VPI try to disclose in its marketing data situations/cases where the uni-pivot arm is not a good match with such and such cartridge. There must be some common denominator where the arm is a poor, fair and good fit.

Perhaps VPI, as an alternative design, should provide as an option a more traditional fixed double pivit arm. I'm sure anything VPI comes up with would be top flight quality. In the end, I think whatever VPI comes up with should be, as you say, an easy plug and play situation --like the Rega. For me, I'd willing to "sacrifice" squeezing out the last "n percent" of capacity/sonics from a cartridge/arm combo for plug and play convenience. Just my humble opinion as a consumer and audiophile.

ARRGGGHHHHH. Going down the wrong road, making this too complicated.
Macdad - Soundsmith not available where I live, so I have to order online ... too much of a risk to take if i don't like it ... where i live, at least the dealers let me try demo units of the cartridges i've mentioned.

Bifwynne - That hum is still there whatever I try. Tmrw, the dealer is coming over to my place to have a listen and see what he can figure out. The darndest this is the Maestro and Classic seem to love each other otherwise!

On the other hand, I could have the option of an Aries 3 ... :)

let's see.
Macdadtexas: Is the Soundsmith Zypher a MM or MC? If MC, do you know what the voltage output is? The gain in my phono pre is 58 db, so I don't want to install a cartridge with an output of too much less than 1 mV. How much does it cost?

Also, Bassraptor and I seem to have different problems with our Classic TT. Bassraptor complains of an annoying hum with his Maestro. By contrast, I do not detect any hum with my Classic/Maestro combo. Rather, I detect an anoooying bass resonance. Very different problems with same cartridge and similar TTs. The only difference is that Bassraptor has a SS arm, where I have the stock arm.

Given that you believe the problem relates to the motor in the plinth, why does Bassraptor have the hum problem but I do not?????
The Soundsmiths are all MI high output cartridges, you can check the website (www.sound-smith.com) for the particulars. They can be used with MM phono stages. I use the Soundsmith's now, but it's not the only well sheilded cartridge. Dynavector and many other manufactures make well sheilded cartridges that guard against hum.

Call NeedleDoctor and ask them for recommendations based on well sheilded cartridges, and/or start a string on here.

BTW - I tried about 6 cartridges before I settled on the current one I have in use.
Just to recap:

This hum I get when stylus eases into groove, I've experienced from these cartridges:

Benz Gullwing (MC, 0.6mV output)
Dynavector Karat (MC, 0.3mV)
Sumiko Blue Point (MC, 2.5mV)
Clearaudio Maestro (MM, 3.6mV)

Earlier, I used these, and either didn't notice any hum that could have been present, or there was no hum to be heard. Hard to say as I can't retrance my steps to this point:

Clearaudio Concerto
Benz Ace H

I tend to lean towards Mcdadtexas' assessment that it's the motor built on the plinth.

Thinking further back, I did notice this issue with a cheap Project Expression II tt package I tried out for a bit last year, which had an Ortofon MM cartridge. That one had a motor suspended on the chassis. Prior to that, I had set up various Project systems at my place - the RM5, 6 and 9 lines - all with outboard motors, and don't recall this issue.

I've never heard aforesaid hum from any of the Rega tts I've had - 3, 5 and 7 - although they all had motors on the plinth.

With my previous Clearaudio Performance, no issue - it used, first a Maestro, then a Concerto. Outboard motor.

Also, finally, I had a NAS Interspace last year, with its own unipivot arm. Benz Ace H and Grado (green) cartridges were used at different times, no hum. Motor on plinth.

I'm curious to hear how the Aries 3, with its outboard motor, fares when we set it up this evening.

Seems a bit of a waste if you can use a tt with a just very limited range of cartridges.
Bassraptor and Macdadtexas: My particular problem may have resolved itself. Here's why.

I turned on my rig, carefully as usual lowered the stylus onto the record -- and no sound. Thought a tube blew in my phon pre, so I opened up the case and checked the tubes. A-OK!! Uh-oh. I figured now I've got phono pre problems. Gettin' ready to ditch vinyl and go back full tilt to my trustee CDP.

Then, behold, Shaazaaam! I noticed that the da*n cantilever on my Maestro disappeared into the 4th dimension. Last night it was there and today it "weren't." I asked my kids if the messed with the TT, but they said they did not.

I installed my old CA Virtuoso and I'm back in business. Phono pre is ok. No hum or resonance that I can detect. I still think the Maestro sounds better than the Viruoso --but then it should. It costs a couple of hundred bucks more.

So, at this point I'm inclined to thro' the towel in with the Clear Audio Maestro. I'll see what I can pick up, maybe one of the cartrideges that VPI sells; maybe a Soundsmith Zypher -- which I think is named after Mr. Federman's dog. I'll report back later.

Bassguy, you're right. This is too da*n hard. Never had this much grief with my old Thorens TD 160 Mk II and $79 Ortofon from back in the 70s. Please report back on how you fare with the Aries.
Ha ha, at least you found a solution ... if the Aries 3 with the Maestro is hum-free and the results tug at my heartstrings, I'm leaning towards trading in my Classic. But let's see in a few hours .... :)
My next thread will be called 'VPI Aries 3 no hum at all'...
Aries 3 far superior table. Congrats.
As Macdadtexas said, it looks like the hum related to the motor since nthe Aries motor is an outboard job. Curious though because I did not have a hum with my Classic/Maestro combo.
I got the dealer to come over to my place to listen, so he could hear what I was talking about. He agreed there was a hum each time the cartridge hit the groove and started playing. He tried a few tests, including what Bifwynne earlier suggested. Says he never heard on the issue from other Classic customers.

We then transferred the Maestro over to the Aries 3, and immediately, on the first LP itself, we could tell. No hum. Just the music and usual heavenly pops and clicks.

He offered to take back the Classic, I just need to top up for the Aries 3, which is rarely utilised demo unit with the protective paper sticker still attached to the plinth. Discounted from his usual retail, of course.

Sorry to see the Classic go ... now to work towards turbo-ing the Aries 3 along the way. Audiophiles ... sigh ...
And thanks for all the suggestions and feedback, folks ...
In my post from May 28th I said "I installed my old CA Virtuoso and I'm back in business. Phono pre is ok. No hum or resonance that I can detect." Sorry guys and gals -- too quick on the draw "pardners."

After more listening, I get the same exact bass resonance with the Virtuoso as I did with the Maestro. And that makes more sense because the cartridges are very similar.

I am still trading e mails with Mike at VPI about the bass resonance issue. I am 100% confident everything will be resolved to my complete satisfaction this coming week. When everything settles down, I'll report back.

In the meantime, to everyone reading this post, have a safe and restful Memorial Day weekend. Let's not forget what the holiday is all about. G-d bless America and the brave men and women who have taken up arms in her defense.
The Aries 3 is running beautifully. Itchy fingers - wondering how it would sound with the Classic's metal platter. Mike of VPI said no prob using it with the Aries 3, so I did a switch.

Wondering if it's my imagination that the metal platter gave the sound more weight and control ...

Damn, this road doesn't end, does it?!

Hey Bassman, I'm burned out with all these delays. Too much gatification delay. Still waiting to get my Classic 3 arm. BTW, I just sourced a new Ortofon 2M Black and a practically new DV 20X H MkII. Should get both before end of the week. I hear both sound great on the Classic. I'll try both and run with the better one. I'll report back.
So I've traded in the Classic for the Aries 3. Sad to see the Classic go, but I think I'm going to have fun upgrading parts of the Aries 3 in the years (months?). Platter, feet, maybe rim drive ...
Epilogue: Mike, the VPI customer service rep, came through 100% as I surmised. I recently sold my Clear Audio cartridges for scrap/re-tip credit. As mentioned above, the Maestro's cantilever disappeared into the Fifth Dimention (not the pop group from the 70s). The Virtuoso's cantilever is bent and/or out of alignment. I definitely must stop loading the effective mass of my tone arm with a brick.

On a more serious note, Mike did some testing of the Classic 1 arm and Maestro combo. He reported back to me that the resonant frequency was 16 Hz, which is too high. This could possibly be the cause of the bass ringing, but I can't say for sure now because those cartridges are history. Anyone reading this post who is interested in installing a Meastro on a Classic 1 arm arm would be well advised to call or e mail Mike at VPI first to learn what tweaks may be necessary to get the combo to work at its top potential.

In addition, it recently came to my attention that the VTA adjustment set screws at the bottom of the Classic 1 tone arm base were loose. I'm currently using a Dynavector 20X2H cartridge. The DV opened up after I tightened the VTA set screws down. Something to keep in mind with the Classic 1. Don't know if the Classic 2/3 is susceptible to the same issue since VTA is adjusted on the fly.

And btw, I haven't got a clue if the source of the bass ringing I heard on the Maestro and Virtuoso in some way related to the VTA set screw issue. As stated above, check with Mike.
This comment is from another OP that I started:

"Final comments: shortly after posting this thread, I sourced a practically new Dynavector 20X2H for my Classic. This cartridge was easy and forgiving to set up and sounded very good, especially "sans" rubber mat. I liked it very much as an all-around cartidge. But that's not the end of the tale.

"Fortunately I purchased the 2M Black from an incredibly nice guy whi is unbelieveably honorable. Upon learning of my difficulties with the 2M, even with full disclosure that the problem might relate to other issues, he offered to take it back with a full refund. In addition, I sold my Clear Audio cartridges for scrap value.

"Now, enter the Zephyr. As luck would have it, one came on the market about a week ago, and I snapped it up. Just got it yesterday. I am amazed at how good it sounds. If anyone is interested in learning about the reactions of other A'gon members, as well as my impressions, there is a thread running that was started by someone else. Check it out.

"Last comment about the DV 20X2H and the Zephyr. I am using the Zephyr as my primary cartridge with the DV 20X as a back-up. Obviously, I like the Zephyr more, hands down. BUT, the DV 20X is so good, I can't part with it. I may need it one day.

"Best to all and a sincere thanks for all the helpful suggestions."
I own VPI classic, the first release from 2010.

Initially the Grado cartridge was installed but it gave a lot of hum
even when the styles did not touch the record surface.
Then the dealer suggested to replace Crado for Benz Micro MC low
output. I chose Benz Micro Wood SL cartridge which was installed and I
use it now.
I still have an issue with the hum. But this time the hum is only when
I place the styles on the record surface and the platter is moving.
When the platter
is not moving and the styles touches the record surface there is no
hum at all. Looks like the cartridge picks up the noise from the
The hum is quite noticeable during the quite passages, the starting
and ending grooves, the grooves in between the pieces.