VPI Classic vs Clear Audio Wood

Looking for some advice.  Upgrading Luxman PD 284/Grado Red.
Leading candidates are VPI Classic 2 ( NOS) vs Clear Audio Wood: both with either SoundSmith Zephyr III or Dynavector 20 x 2.
My system: Leben CS 600 amp/LDF LE Phono stage with Spendor SP1 speakers.
Any thoughts?
Thanks MP
I find VPI tables to be somewhat lacking in sparkle so I'd get the ClearAudio Concept Wood. There is an ex-show demo one for $1650 on eBay from a dealer.
I find VPI tables to be somewhat lacking in sparkle so I'd get the ClearAudio Concept Wood.

Not sure I necessarily agree. While I've only heard the Concept Wood at shows, I do own the Classic 3 (with a Zephyr Mk.II) and an Avenger. In neither case do I find either lacks sparkle. IMO the result will have much more to do with the cart being used and the phono stage. That price on the Concept is pretty good, though. If you can't find a Classic 2 at a competitive price it might be a nice choice.

You are aware EVERY suggestion/opinion is subjective and biased?

I’ve used a Classic for many years. Cart selection and the best phono stage you can afford will ensure there is no "lack of sparkle" as mentioned in an earlier post.

If you don’t mind used, I would offer $2K for this listing. Put a $1K LOMC on it, and you will have a setup that will show you what the fuss is all about.


I don’t know anything about your existing phonostage, but any table setup needs to be shown in its best light through a capable unit.
I had the Clearaudio Concept (not the Wood version) and it was very nice, but super sensitive to footfalls.  I have wood floors and no way to wall mount it, so it had to go.  No experience with VPI.

I owned a Classic 1 with Zephyr Mk 1. I would describe the sound as very clean, quite dynamic, with good pitch. I would not describe it as big on tone color. Quite a different set of sonic priorities than the Leben — not that one is “wrong” and the other is “right”, just that I think they would be odd stable mates. In that price range, I’d take a look at WTL or the Nottingham-type tables, if one wanted a companion for the Leben. I haven’t heard enough of the Clearaudios to offer an opinion in this case. 

Happy hunting,
Funny you should mention the Nottingham tables; I will be auditioning an Analogue Works One today; sounds like it might be a nice match.
I want to try clarify what I meany by my lack of sparkle comment.
Maybe it is because I run a Decca London and Garrard combination and I like the music to really come at me as if I am there. When that doesn’t happen, it’s got no sparkle!
I have heard the Scout with an Ortofon 2M Red and it was, to my ears, somewhat grey sounding with essential detail pushed back.
I’ve heard a Classic 3 and it was good but, again, had a slight dulling that veiled the ’live in the room’ quality.
I have heard the Prime (anniversary 30?) with a Soundsmith Strain Gauge and it was good. However, while it had plenty of detail, the performer did not come to life for me.
I have heard the new 40th Anniversary and it too is a fine machine. Maybe a little polite.
On reflection, you have to hear what you buy for yourself. 
Sparkle is not a quality of live, acoustic, unamplified music if you like sparkle in your music reproduction system then you are enjoying electronics, distortion, and unaccurate sound which is fine but it is not high fidelity reproduction.
I may have inadvertently created an erroneous descriptor by using this word.
No, it’s not a brightness caused by odd order harmonic distortion or tilted frequency response, it is a palpable sense of being present at an event using playback cues like space, immediacy, transparancy, color, timbre and timing. If these qualities are not there in good proportion, the sparkle is absent.
I get a sense of what you mean by “sparkle”. I get that with vintage Fidelity Research arms paired with Koetsu/Shelter cartridges. I’m realizing now I didn’t get that with modern/tech arms like the Graham Phantom and Clearaudio Universal - very smooth and refined, but not as much "sparkle".

I think the cart/arm pairing is going to have a much higher impact on this than the table itself. But you do need a good foundation for the arm. And the Ortofon 2M Red is in no way adequate if you’re looking for analog magic, no matter what arm.