VPI Classic vs. Well Tempered Amadeus

Both of these turntables are priced very simular. Who out there has compared the two turntables? Which one did you like and why?

Disclosure: I retail Well Tempered turntables, Departure Audio.

I have never A/B'd them directly, but I owned a VPI Scout with JM memorial arm and now own a Well Tempered Amadeus. Both good tables, but sonically, no comparison. To my ears the Well Tempered performs at a much higher level. Quieter, deeper bass, bigger sound stage, more musical. Maybe the higher level VPI models even things out, don't know. I do feel the Well Tempered competes well with tables at many times its cost. I think you need to get to the mega buck tables to significantly better its performance. I have owned Linn's, Technics, VPI's and SOTA's, all good tables, but bettered significantly by the Well Tempered from a high value/high performance perspective.
I'm also interested in this comparison. Joc3021, one thing about the WTA that worries me is the fixed headshell geometry. Surely there are a number of good cartridges whose overhang must be way off if mounted on the WTA. What has your experience been? More generally, which carts are a good match with the WTA and which would you steer clear of?
..regarding VPI tables. If you are using the minifeet, performance can be greatly enhanced if you remove them in favor of something called Bearpaws. Check out Vermontaudio.com I was amazed at how much more I get with these. More space, more and cleaner bass, silky highs, etc.

How do you use Bearpaws? Do you screw them in? I looked at the website and it looks like you simply put them under equipment. Also, what do you keep your Classic on? I keep mine on a 3-inch maple block and I wonder if brass makes sense on wood. Thanks.
Drubin: William Firebaugh, the (some say genius) designer of the table says he has addressed the geometry issue and it's not a concern. There's a link to a white paper explaining his reasoning on the Well Tempered web site. If you can fully understand it, you're ahead of me. I do know all the Dynavector cartridges work perfectly in the arm. I believe the arm was designed partially with these cartridges in mind.
I also know lots of Amadeus users use a variety of cartridges and have had no issues.

From the WT Website

Tonearm Geometry
When I was researching Amadeus, I decided to try a non-standard tonearm geometry. I introduced a tracking
angle error of 15 degrees and was surprised to find the musical result was better!! This led me to investigate
tonearm geometry further with unexpected results. To make a very long story rather short, tracking angle
errors generate 2nd harmonic components to the musical signal and many people interpret this as “sweeter
music”. I have written a computer program to show the amount of 2nd harmonic as a function of tracking
angle error. At tracking angle errors less than 5 degrees, the 2nd harmonic level is essentially negligible.
I have 21 phono cartridges. I used these cartridges to determine a statistically valid fixed tonearm geometry
so the user is relieved of a complex set-up. All who have used this approach have commented on the ease of
set-up and all have been more than satisfied with the result. Users of Amadeus simply mount the cartridge
on the tonearm and proceed to the music.
William Firebaugh, Chief Designer
I've had my WTA for a couple of weeks now and am using a Decca London Super Gold cartridge with it - sounds like a marriage made in heaven!

I've owned many turntables over the years, including a VPI Scout, some costing multiples of the WTA. Based on what I'm hearing IMO the WTA is easily the best turntable I've owned.

The sound seems to come out of nowhere with little or no sensation that it coming off of a record, cartridge, tonearm, turntable. I suppose this is what the reviewers of this TT meant when they refer to the "blackness of the background." However, that doesn't fully describe what it's like to hear it in person.

Yes, it's a bit of a weird apparatus - though not so much to me since I owned an original WTT back in the mid 90's. Good news is that it does an extraordinary job of playing records.
I think I'm sold. Going to wait until the new Simplex model hits the US as it's possible it's as good as the Amadeus, or nearly so, for quite a bit less money. Though, really, the Amadeus is quite a good value as it is.
"Though, really, the Amadeus is quite a good value as it is."
It really is IMHO. I am sure the Dynavector XX-2's are great w/ the Amadeus, as is my EMT-Tsd-15. Decca London SG sounds interesting too.

If it were my choice, it would be which model I could comfortably afford, though you should get better sound with the Amadeus. You all sold Drubin, perhaps there should be a commission.
Sure thing, I'll have the dealer PayPal 10% to...who?

Do any dealers discount these tables?
Comparing the WTA to the Scout is not a fair comparison. The Classic beats the Scout by some margin. I've owned both VPIs
Has the OP purchased one? If so, which one and why? I'm in the same position now.
I recently replaced a Nott Spacedeck with an Amadeus. I thought about going with a new Aries, but I am glad I went this way instead.

The Amadeus is so much better than the Nott, it's almost laughable.

Shakeydeal, are you using the Benz L2 with your WTA? I ask because I have an L2 and have been thinking about the WTA but wondered how well the two would pair up.
Yes I am using the L2. No problems at all, sounds great.

In his white paper on tracking angle error, does Mr. Firebaugh explain why he does not provide for end-user adjustment of stylus overhang? It would be a simple matter to provide slots in the headshell, rather than fixed position holes. All that he says about tracking angle error may be true, but it still does not explain why he seems not to trust the end-user. Further, there is another school of thought on the importance of tracking angle error. (I personally have no opinion; I am merely arguing from principle.) Moreover, if you say that this or that cartridge sounds "great" on the WT tonearm, this tells us nothing about the effect of tracking angle error, good or bad, on what you are hearing. I know from experience trying to help a friend to mount a Dynavector Karat on a WT Reference tonearm that the stylus overhang was way off, because the Karat has an unusually short cantilever. Ditto for the Decca mentioned above that sounds "great" on the Amadeus.
I have not purchased yet, but within the next few months I will upgrade to a Amadeus. Thanks for all the replies.

So you own the C1 and feel that the Amadeus is an upgrade?
Either the Amadeus is impregnated with a drug that renders its users slavishly dedicated to it, or it is a very good turntable. I have never seen such unanimous adoration for a product. As a contrarian myself (and a person who finds much not to like in the Well Tempered Reference tt and tonearm), I admit I find this hard to swallow. But it is more likely that the fans are motivated by its good qualities than by drug.

I can't speak to the Classic (though Jeff Dorgay at Tone Publications was raving about it recently). But you can see my direct comparison of the WTA and a Townshend Rock in a thread titled something like "Townshend Rock 7 Initial Impressions" on AudioCircle. Both are great tables (or your drug hypothesis is correct and Townshend uses the same drug).

I also think that Robert Greene's review of the Rock 7 captures the differences in the 2 tables quite well. you can find that on AVGuide (sorry about to run out the door so no time to track down the links).

I am hoping Music Direct in town here has a Classic set up in their showroom. I'd like to take a listen to one.
I have the Classic 1 and just bought a WTA, which should be here in a week or so. it will be very interesting to compare them, since as someone else mentioned, the WTA seems to get more universal praise than any other piece of equipment out there.
I had a chance to listen to the Amadeus at In Living Stereo when I was visiting NYC recently. I don't remember the amplification or the cartridge, but they certainly don't set up their demo systems with cheap gear given the two small rooms they have. The speakers were a pair of floorstanding DeVores. I was not impressed to say the least. I'd definitely not trade my Classic for the WTA.

That's good to hear....I ordered a new Classic 1 yesterday.
Baranyi - the Well Tempered gets delivered today.
What phono stage & cart will you be using?
K&K Maxxed-Out
Soundsmith Zephyr
Ok, you have had a couple of days with it. Inquiring minds want to know.

By now the drugs should have taken effect, so I expect a glowing report.
unfortunately I will not have the table until friday now due to fedex home delivery trying to drop it off in the morning instead of the usual evening time.
I suspect the Well Tempered stuff is so interesting to us is because of its unique implementation of its workings.
Yes, only a genius could look at a golf ball and think "tonearm".

(I hope WT fans realize I am only joshing. No offense intended.)
I roughed in the setup for the WTA tonight and in my opinion it is already sounding better than the VPI Classic. that's not a knock on the VPI either, I actually really like my VPI. bass is definitely better and I seem to hear things I never heard before with the VPI. some of the hardware aspects of the WTA are not as good as the VPI though. I'll fine tune the setup tomorrow and do a lot more listening.
This is what I suspected you would hear. My WTA made short work of my Nottingham Spacedeck, which is also a very good table. The key is the amount of damping in the cup and how far down you suspend the ball. My preference is for almost touching the bottom of the cup.

I'm very interested in this comparison as well, although I find myself wondering how the WTA would stack up against the Classic 3.

Anyone ever compare the WTA to the Simplex or know someone who has?
here's a list of MY observations so far between the WTA and Classic 1 with the Soundsmith Counter-Intuitive (you'd be crazy not to spend $50 on this).

sound - yes, in the end the most important thing and the WTA wins. better bass, more life-like, more texture, more detail, smoother, blacker background (except one thing, see below!). I thought the VPI sounded amazing, and I still think it does, the WTA just cranks it up a notch or two. it has that magic that really draws you in. I think I have reached the end of the line as far as tables go.

belt - in reference to the above post about blacker background, the belt makes noise every time that stupid knot passes around! at first I was like "what's all this static popping with no record playing?". then I turned on the light and can see it's all related to the belt. what am I doing wrong here? I can't imagine people would put up with this and not comment on it. it also looks pretty darn retarded seeing a knot and the loose ends spinning around the platter.

feet - I can't stand tables that don't have adjustable feet. my audio rack is very heavy and not easy to level out to perfection. WTA gets a minus for not being adjustable but VPI gets a minus too since the nubs on the bottom of the feet are of such a hard compound that I see it scarred my table top from twisting them.

VTA - definitely better on the VPI with the ships wheel adjustment. loosen an allen bolt, spin the wheel, and you raise and lower the arm exactly where you want it with no disruption to other settings. on the WTA you are adjusting the height of the suspension post, which also twists as you are trying to get it where you want it, not to mention messes with the height of the ball in the cup. it's also not easy to move in tiny increments.

VTF - definitely better on the VPI since you have 3 levels of adjustment. put the weight in roughly the right spot, slide the Counter-Intuitive to get it exact or very close (and be able to reference a marking where it is), then use the bolt at the end of the tonearm for ultra fine zeroing in. on the WTA you are left with only the weight and no point of reference for marking your spot.

azimuth - better on the VPI if you are doing it only by sight, but if you have a fozgometer it shouldn't matter much. again it's nice though being able to reference the markings on the Counter-Intuitive. to me it seems like it would be difficult to get the azimuth perfect on the WTA by sight. I did my VPI by sight using the supplied balance beam and an index card. I was able to get it to near perfect compared to what the fozgometer said.

cartridge alignment - man, this is one huge plus of the WTA! I have very shaky hands, especially when trying to concentrate on something, so installing carts has always been tough for me. sometimes I would spend hours trying to get it perfect. with the WTA you bolt it on and go, a matter of seconds. I thought for sure my Zephyr would run into issues with not having the right overhang since on my VPI it sits way back in the headshell. not at all, it seems to work perfect.

tonearm wiring - partially due to my shaky hands, but this stuff is scary thin. I thought for sure I was going to break it. the WTA and VPI have similar metal mini DIN connectors that plug into a jack on the table. the VPI has a better connector. it snaps in with an audible click and has a sturdier connection than the WTA. there's also marks showing you how to line it up. I'm sure the WTA is making a fine connection, but it's just kind of wiggly sitting there. not exactly confidence inspiring.

power switch - my god, how VPI can sell (and keep selling) a $2750 turntable that has a huge POP if you cut the power without being muted is beyond me. I've heard there's a $1 fix that VPI tells people to make by using a cap from Radio Shack. why would they not install this themselves? I'd sometimes forget to mute before shutting off, thankfully the WTA does not have this issue.

construction - both tables are well made with decent materials (they're not a Rega). I like the look of the VPI, but the WTA is better in person than I thought it would be. might be nice having a table where there's no chance of throwing my back out from lifting it. the VPI is a beast.
Thank you for a thorough comparison of the two tables. Perhaps you'd be willing to come back to the thread after you've spent a considerable amount of time with the WTA and do more comparisons focused on the sound. You know, after the novelty factor wears off...:) As I mentioned in my thread above, I had an opportunity to listen to the WTA in a very good set-up and it definitely did not have a better bass or detail than my Classic. Of course the sound is so system- and associated gear-dependent, on top of any evaluation being a very subjective affair to begin with. Nonetheless, I'm rather reluctant to believe that the WTA is better in such a profound way right out of the box, after just a few hours of listening. Was your Zephyr set up correctly on the Classic? Sounds like you had some issues with aligning it properly. I can't help but think that the crazy tracking error on the WTA makes Mr. Baerwald, Loefgren, and the rest turn in their graves. Is it possible that it's fast food packaged as high-end in terms of sound? Or is it genuinely a high-end product that renders the established understanding of analog equipment set-up obsolete or irrelevant?

Now as a suggestion, if you're keeping the Classic, look into replacing the stock feet with brass footers, such as Bearpaws. Not only will they improve the sound, but will also eliminate the marks if you need to adjust the table.

Also, the Counter-Intuitive is great indeed, but I'd recommend O-rings for an even easier VTF and Azimuth adjustments in addition. This would be especially helpful for the WTA from what you described. An O-ring will provide not only a point of reference, but also prevent any unwanted movement of the counterweight, especially if you have shaky hands.
that's interesting, because the bass is such an improvement over what I had. it's so smooth and natural sounding, very very nice. I'll be the first one to admit if something is crap, even if I spent thousands of dollars on it. there's no novelty to the WTA, it just sounds amazing. I think my cart on the VPI was setup to near perfection using a 10x magnifier and a MINT Tractor, but it was not easy for me. it sure was much much better than using the stock alignment tool from VPI.

to be honest, I was kind of hoping the VPI would sound better and I would keep that. I'm going to lose money by selling the VPI and I just think it is a much better looking table, without the quirkiness too. it was pretty obvious though that the WTA is better sound wise in every regard, in my opinion and in my system.
"Nonetheless, I'm rather reluctant to believe that the WTA is better in such a profound way right out of the box, after just a few hours of listening"


Believe it. This table is the real deal.

I have been anxiously awaiting Vortex's update after setting up the WTA. So glad to hear the results so far. It's not the drugs afterall. It's the fact that Firebaugh has looked hard at the system of LP playback and re-addressed it with innovative out of the box thinking and design. If it takes a golf ball to do this efficiently, then who are we to argue. Don't have an Amadeus (yet) but I immediately heard the results of his vision the first time I set up my aged Well Tempered "Super". Something squeeky clean and liquid about the sound generated by his zero play platter bearing and floating fluid coupled arm. One of the most important things we want in a turntable is to lose the sense that the music is coming from anything rotating around. You should look over at the table and feel dumbfounded that such a life like illusion can be eminating from it. The Well Tempered products have always had this quality in spades. I certainly understand all the skepticism- no other product I recall has received such unanimous accolades. Particularly, even listeners who have been around the Analog block a few times seem to go GaGa over this thing. Good for you guys. You didn't go the easy route. You didn't just buy another safe bet Corvette. You had the balls to search out a Lotus.
Believe it. This table is the real deal.

I'm sorry, I don't. I heard it and it did not impress me. Perhaps if I hear it again, I'll retract my opinion. I'd have no problem doing so.

Btw, lack of a lift mechanism alone would prevent me from buying this table. It is not so much lowering the stylus onto the record as it is lifting the stylus off the record that would give me a life-threatening anxiety. A small, uncoordinated move and you could send the the cartridge to its demise. No, thank you.
you can get a lift mechanism for it from WT as an option. for me it is much easier lifting off than putting on. the great thing is nobody is forcing you to like it! you can be the one person who's heard it and was not impressed. like someone else said, this is probably the piece of gear with the most universal praise that I have ever seen. there is a reason for that.
It's certainly a curious design. I have a few questions for those who own it or are knowledgeable regarding the table's and tonearm's technical specifications.

1) From reading the WTA's review in TAS, I understand the WTA's tonearm has no resonance. That means it is impossible to match the cartridge with the tonearm to attain the desirable range of resonant frequency between 8-12 Hz as there is nothing to match. Correct? That means that you can use any cartridge on the market, regardless of its compliance as long as it can be physically mounted in the headshell, right? As a corollary to the desired frequency statement above, if the optimal range is 8-12 Hz and WTA's tonearm has none, where does this leave us?

2) Is there a clamp or a ring that can be used with the table? How do WTA's owners deal with records that have bigger warps?
Correction to 1): the TAS review did not state that the tonearm had no resonance, but that "[s]ince the arm works entirely by damping, it naturally damps out the arm/cartridge resonance very well indeed. Running the Shure Era IV test record to find the arm/cartridge resonant frequency, one comes surprisingly close to finding no resonance at all." Nonetheless, my question still stands, i.e., how does this fit with the optimal cartridge/tonearm resonant frequency between 8-12 Hz?
No ring or clamp is recommended or necessary. I have a record that was unplayable on the first two tracks on both sides on my previous table. The WTA sails through this record like nobody's business.

With an Amadeus, I would deal with warped records by buying a Vinyl Flat.
Is any other WTA owners out there having the knot noise that Vortex mentions? Is there any option to relocate the power switch or have an external one since the rear switch would not work well with my wall shelf recessed into but not touching my audio cabinet.
I have no issues with the knot.

Not sure what you means about the power switch. Mine is on the top near the front.