VPI Direct Drive Turntable

I received a copy of the new Music Direct catalog today and saw the new VPI Classic Direct Drive turntable listed at $30,000. It looks virtually indistinguishable from the Classic 3 with the new 3-D tonearm save for three speed buttons in place of the pulley and the rubber belt. The description on the MD website is rather scant, and certainly does not give enough information to explain what makes this turntable $25K more expensive than the belt drive Classic line. The VPI website makes no mention of the new flagship product at all.

Does anyone have any information on this new megabuck VPI table?
Way too expensive, if you ask me.

Have a look at the Brinkmann Bardo direct-drive turntable at 1/3 the price of the VPI and sounds absolutely amazing (I have one)!
Here is the link to the VPI Classic Direct table on the VPI website.


The Classic 3 w/o the 3D arm is $6K, add $1500 to upgrade to the 3D puts you at $7,500 retail.

The DD motor costs VPI $4,000, using a manufacture to retail multiplier of 5 times, puts the DD motor at $20,000 retail.

Add the cost of the Classic 3 with 3D arm ($7,500), plus the DD motor ($20,000) gets you to $27,500 and that does not take into account any motor modifications plus additional electronics.
But does it come with a dustcover?
If we speak about high quality components sold 30...35 years ago, It would yield prices equivalent to today's $2k ranges for highest quality analogue setup. This one is more than 10x above the reasonable price. I certainly omitted mentioning such options as marble plinth or solid gold tonearm that have nothing to do with audio engineering.
The DD version probably is not 5-6 times "better" than the Classic 3. No one expects a linear relationship between cost and performance, I hope. Also, the fact that the two products look somewhat alike in photos is not necessarily meaningful. The proof of the pudding is in the eating; you'd have to listen to the two products side by side in order to make your own decision. HW seems to think that his DD tt is a revelation.
$30K?? That's a bargain!! I think I'll grab 3 of them and give them to the kids as Xmas presents!! LOL!!
Hilarious. Brilliant. Pointless.
VPI has had NO performance improvements since the TNT tables with SDS, and the original JMW arms!

Just more BS from HW!

But VPI makes much more money now. Go figure ????
There are a few good alternatives for $30K. Time will tell how this one performs relative to the competition.

The 3D arm has now been out a while. Are there any reviews or have people compared it to other references? I saw a recent video from Fremer on his website showing a tour of the VPI factory, but it stops short of discussing the sound of these new products. It is quite a tease.
I heard the new direct drive VPI turntable this weekend and thought it sounded really great. VPI (Mat and Harry) were demonstrating it at an open house last Saturday. They said the motor is derived from a submarine motor so it is really quiet. I didn't hear any blurring in the piano music they played. The music sounded really open and natural. Mat said the footprint is the same size as the Classic 4 but is a bit thicker to accommodate the extra internal electronics needed to control the motor. It doesn't require an SDS since all of the motor controls are built into the base. It's a really beautiful turntable and if you get a chance to hear it, don't miss it. VPI also gives great support. I spent a lot of time with Harry, Mat, and Jack from VPI and they took a lot of time to answer questions not only about the current tables but about my TNT and HW-19 MK IV. I would buy it if I could afford it.
There are those that think the last 5% closer to perfection is worth the extra big money.....I don't . The classic with the 3D arm is as close as I am willing to go. It gets very, very close....you will love it.
Let's hold out for actual reviews rather than speculation shall we?

There are a number of options at the $30k price point, just like any other price point. If HW feels that the DD Classic is competitive at that price, fine. Market will tell whether that proves to be the case.

I admire that VPI has a line of tables at a number of pricepoints, ranging from the Traveler on up. And many of these tables have upgrade paths for those who seek more and think the extra cost is worthwhile.

They also have great customer service and continue to be able to supply parts for many of their tables. Not all HW-19 parts were available when I had one, but IIRC they still had a good many available for HW-19 owners.
The increased performance will be assymptotic. Personally I stay away from this super high end stuff, because I can't afford it and even if I could, my sense is that it's not so much about the enjyoyment of music as it is about the enjoyment of knowing one has a toy that most others don't. And there is certainly a place in the market for that.

But that's my 0.02
IMHO opinion, VPI made a “marketing” mistake by making the Classic DD look like the rest of the Classic line, therefore, drawing unfair (?) comparisons to its lower cost brethren.

If VPI design a new looking plinth, (like they did with the HRX when the TNT was discontinued) and utilized a DD motor with an outboard motor controller, no one would question the price tag. Bundling the DD motor and hiding the electronics into the already established Classic line, was asking for “value” debates.

As always, the real proof is in the listening, but a cool looking table that screams hi-end, always helps.
I remember when I first heard a belt drive turntable. I thought my Denon DP-72 was the shit. The rosewood vernier matched my Tandberg TR2080 and with my high end moving magnet cartridge I was a happy camper. Then one day I checked out a Thorens. It's was silver and black and the sound was perfect to me. I never looked back at direct drive since.
Years later someone came up with the idea of separating the motor from the plinth. Less noise and vibration to interfere with the platter. Makes perfect sense to me. So not only do my ears hear a difference but marketing campaigns assure me this is the ultimate in turntable design.
Now we are at present time and not only have these same companies put the motor BACK on the plinth they market it as improvement in sound. Huh? Which brings me to the subject at hand. An almost $30,000 direct drive with an onboard submarine motor. This is a free market and you are allowed to sell whatever you want in this great country but if anyone buys this monstrosity I would be very surprised and would gladly nominate that person for Knuckle Head of the Year award. Thanks for listening.
Harry is all about marketing and the dollars it will bring. Sound is really secondary. Plan on a return to belt driven TT's in the near future from Harry. Don't get me wrong, Harry makes some great products, they are just not good values.
It's kind of fun to watch both the VPI tour video by Fremer on AnalogPlanet and the factory tour of SME Ltd., parts 1-3, on YouTube. I wish there were more of these factory tour videos. They are pretty informative.
C'mon folks. All these table-unheard pronouncements? "Knuckle Head of the Year" by someone who hasn't heard the turntable?

Let's get some more actual listening impressions. Kekohler, thanks for posting your experience.
I don't need to audition a $30,000 direct drive turntable made with a submarine motor to call someone a knuckle head. I remember when you could buy a ranch house for that kind of money. I stand by my statement. I don't care how good the deck sounds. If you have the funds to make such a purchase and you even consider it I suggest you reexamine your priorities. Harry needs to be reminded that people are going hungry in this country and this is an insult to the people struggling to make ends meet. The 1% are starting to wear thin in this country and I for one are embarrassed for them, certainly not envious.
will be for sale 50% off pretty soon too...
will be for sale 50% off pretty soon too...
Excellent word Steve! But only one 's' :)
Dreadhead, There are two parts to your "complaint": price and your certainty that direct-drive is inferior to belt-drive. As to price, it is your decision, not to spend $30,000. I wouldn't either. As to the mechanism of direct-drive operation, you may qualify for your prize of "Knucklehead of the Year". In direct-drive, the platter per se is the rotor, an inherent part of the "motor" that scares you. Thus, the only moving part of the motor is the platter itself. The only source of noise is the platter bearing, which is equally likely to be a source of noise in a belt-drive, in fact possibly more of a risk in the latter, because the belt is exerting a side force on the platter bearing that increases friction in that plane. The fact that you compared a DP72 to some belt-drive and preferred the latter, several decades ago, is hardly convincing evidence that all belt-drive tt's sound better than all DD tt's.

On the other hand, the advertising claim that VPI use a "submarine" motor is indeed preposterous or pointless.
Dear friends: I have no opinion or information ( other that what some of you posted here. ) on the VPI marketing " procedures " . Reading the VPI information on its DD TT we can read:

++++++ " the speed of the platter directly to yield the most consistent and accurate playback possible.

Speed accuracy of .01% or ...... " +++++

this is the only measured spec that gives VPI and is curious that they states : """""+++++ to yield the most consistent and accurate playback possible. """""+++++

when exist other DD TT where its speed accuracy is: 0.001%, that tell us VPI spec is not the: " most accurate playback possible. " +++++

In other part VPI states:

++++++ " A ½" thick machined aluminum plate bonded to 2" of MDF creating a plinth which is so massive and well damped it virtually eliminates resonance. " ++++++

" virtually eliminates resonance " , what really means " virtually " ? where are the facts that serve as foundation to VPI statements?

Seems that all those information could be a misleading information.

Anyway, I think that a " new toy " for some of the audiophiles always is a welcomed one.

Regards and enjoy the music,
Lewm, if my belief that a belt drive turntable sounds "better" than a direct drive nominates me for knuckle head of the year here on Audiogon then I whole heartily accept. I can't pretend to be as astute as many of the members here, it fact I love to read the threads I find beyond my experience and understanding. What I do know from some thirty plus years experience and many tables later that the difference between the two is vast. The belt drive is superior in speed stability and overall sound quality. I also prefer a standard shift automobile. Thanks for your observation on my two cents worth.
There are plenty of turntables at $30,000 or above so no need to single out VPI about ridiculous price. Most people in this web are also adult who earn their own living so no need to lecture how to spend his or her own money either, I would think. Hifi is luxury item and is not essential, price can be outrageous but there is not need to get upset over pricing. Nobody is going to die from not being able to afford highend turntable.

I agree that at least cosmetically, the DD will look bad as it looks too similar to the much lower cost product despite all the differences inside. If HW feels that there is no need to make radical change to the looks that may add another $5-10k or more without sonic merits then more power to him.
Submarine motor angle left me a bit uneasy. Not sure if I should take that as a super well engineered motor that is going to be better than motors found in other turntable
out there or if it is going like one of those $80,000 toilet installed in the Pentagon that does exactly like a toitet you can get anywhere.
However, having never been disappointed by VPI and rather like their sonic attribute, I am eagerly waiting to hear the DD.
Suteetat, regarding your first paragraph, it appears it is you who is lecturing me and I resent the tone. I read Stereophile too, I'm aware of the costs of this hobby and certainly don't need to lectured by someone who choose's to defend the ridiculous pricing policies high-end manufactures feed us. If this deck is an option to you then God bless you, but maybe you should consider how the other half lives while plunking down that kind of cash in this current economy. I will refrain from any further discussion regarding anyone's income or what they choose to do with their money. Thanks.
Dear Dreadhead: ++++ " the difference between the two is vast. The belt drive is superior in speed stability and overall sound quality... " ++++++

could you share with us which kind of tests or measure you already did it and with which DD and belt drive units you made your comparisons where I assume belongs the foundations for your statements?

Thank you in advance, as you I alwys am willing to learn.

Regards and enjoy the music,
Dear friends: The price on audio items is probably the main marketing tool for success.

On the VPI, do you think that if the unit came with a 5k tag instead of 30K Sutteat or gentleamns like him even turn around his face to " see " it?, certainly not VPI is a clever company and knows perfectly what they want it even if the item can't " honor " those 30K dollars.

Regards and enjoy the music,
Dreadhead, I understand that you think $30k for a turntable is outrageous (as do I), but I think you're failing to realize that this is all relative. By looking at your system, I wouldn't say yours is very "modest." So who are you to say that someone who spends $30k on a turntable should be considering "how the other half lives", when the cost of your system could probably feed 20 people for an entire year in a poor country? I'm sorry, but I just find it offensive that you try to attach a double standard here, when in fact any money that any of us spend on this hobby is all for luxury. We all know that.

I'm not trying to say that I think $30k is a "value" for the VPI Classic DD. But if you really think about it, how can any of this stuff have "value" to a starving family, since you seem to want to make that comparison?
I am not a scientist so no "tests" we're performed on my end to back up my above statement. If you can please turn to page 30 of your current issue of Audio Advisor, paragraph five, and I quote,
"the best-sounding turntables are belt-driven with and elastic belt between the motor pulley and the platter". Also stated in What To Look For: on the same page,
Belt-drive System,
Belt-drive turntables sound quieter and smoother because motor vibrations are decoupled from the tone arm/platter assembly.
I thought everyone knew this.
You can Consult With An Expert! By calling the toll free number provided and hopefully they can help you better understand " the foundations of my statements".
Thanks. Rick
It feels good to smile. Thanks Dreadhead.
Dear Raul, I have a Classic 3 with SDS in my system!
Why would you think that I would not pay attention to $5000?
Micro Seiki SX-777Air does not cost much more than that either. Let just leave our spending habit alone as you obviously know nothing much about my personal life so why don't you just stick to what you know instead? Those, I certainly can appreciate more and find helpful from time to time.
Folks, as a fellow VPI customer, I think you're being hard on HW. I read that a submarine motor is being used because the Classic DD can spin discs under water. Now ... if I can waterproof the rest of my rig, I can move the whole shebang into a hot tub and listen to music under water. Just saying ....

Kinda reminds me of an old Three Stooges short where the Stooges were trying to invent a fountain pen that would write under whipped cream.

So ... today the magic fountain pen, tomorrow the underwater stereo.

Did you have to bring up such an unimpeachable source of audio wisdom as The Audio Advisor? I am overwhelmed. In your spare time, leaf through their catalog and count the number of belt-drive turntables they SELL, as compared to the number of direct-drives they sell. Could it be that their "advice" is tilted to influence the reader to buy their products?

I have no bone to pick. Certainly there are excellent belt-drive turntables out there. And certainly many of them are superior to many direct-drive turntables. I don't argue that all DDs are superior to all BD's, but don't come to a discussion in this forum armed with such patent bullshit. Educate yourself first.
Dear Suteetat: I think I did not explain very well ( as often happen with me. ).

What I mean is that against all those " heavy " price today DD designs that are over 25K whom could " move " his face for a 5K one?, I mean you, me or whatever.

Yes, we can be interested for such kind of unit to that nice price ( 5K ) but some of us could think that can't compete with those $$$pricey units.

I took your moniker and I can see was my mistake. Don't worry I don't did it to disturb you. I only wanted to put an example of the importance of price on marketing in the audiophile market niche where several persons spended big money on $$$$ items to show that they " cares " about MUSIC and for their friends look at those $$$$$ items. Please, I'm not saying that you are one of those persons.

Suteetat, I'm not against you but in favor as I'm with almos any MUSIC lover and audiophile.

Regards and enjoy the music,
C'mon Lew.....
Tell us what you really think....:-)

Guess I went over the top. It was more for the thrill of it than to put down Dreadhead. Sorry, Dreadhead. But thanks for the chance to exorcise some undifferentiated anger.
Dear Raul, don't worry, things are rather worrisome over here currently and lots of emotion and anger flying around! So I am not the most civil person right now.
Anyhow, VPI DD should be available here sometimes next month and I definitely am looking forward to hear it. Want to hear about this $4000 motor. I guess if parts cost 5-6000, technically $30,000 would be a relatively standard MSRP pricing.
Remember, coming out with something new is FAR more important than coming out with something better. Sad but true, manufacturers have learned that doing something new, whether it's not quite as good, or as good, or better, will generate interest and sales. So many just keep spitting out new things, often with no logical progression apparent. One motor, then one motor with multiple pulleys, claiming progress. Then one motor, no extra pulleys, saying that's simpler and better sounding. Then flywheel. Then no flywheel. Then rim drive. Oops, then the "best we've ever made" comes out with no rim drive. Now direct drive.

If you think that represents a lack of clear thinking proper research before putting things out, don't be fooled. It's very clear thinking - ABOUT MAKING MORE MONEY!

More changes, more self-proclaimed breakthroughs = more sales to the guys who always fall for a new idea, always hoping for progress, always believing new is better.
+1 Kiddman
Thanks Don. I hate the reality of my statements, it makes it hard to be in the hobby and business knowing so many are just milking and bilking consumers.
A successful American manufacturing co. coming out with expensive new products with the hopes of making profits for their efforts.
To this point they haven't forced this product on the public nor asked the government to subsidize their company.

I have come across many snakes and crooked dealers in this hobby but VPI has always treated me with respect and I have always felt I got a fair deal.
Maybe just different ways of skinning the same cat, and HW is willing to try them all to see what works best, or sells best or whatever. He's not in the business to lose money. He can do that sitting on the beach if so inclined. Why he seems to be the butt of disdain is beyond me.
It will be interesting to hear how this compares to other expensive DD tables: a reconditioned SP10 Mk3 and the Dobbin's "The Beat."
+1 to Zenblaster and Manitunic's comments. I have followed this thread scratching my head. So VPI is coming out with a new 30K turntable. Whats the big deal? As was astutely pointed out, VPI received no government subsidies (to eventually be paid by us) to bring this unit to market and save the great American turntable market. Nor have any wild claims been made by VPI that we MUST have this turntable, in an effort to pick our pockets.

If you don't want one, aren't interested or think its too expensive, just move on but don't bash Harry. He also brought us the Traveler, that IMO is a remarkable made in America value.

BTW, a quick look at the Audiogon turntable classifieds show at 4-5 other tables exceeding the cost of VPI's latest. This includes the 170K Clearaudio Statement. And its not even made in America. Should a thread be started bashing them?
Several of you may know quite a bit about record players, I'd bet less than you imagine, but when it comes to economics you are less well armed.

Bernard Madoff milked and bilked customers. Obamacare (hell the whole government) milks and bilks its customers.

When the customer happily turns over their money and is happy with what they received, that is called a successful business transaction (on both sides). When a company does several of these win/win transactions while making a profit it becomes a trusted and successful company.

Some of you have a personal problem with HW and VPI, that's fine, but to accuse VPI of milking and bilking customers is ignorant of the facts.
Obviously the Right leaning conservatives here are itching for some kind of political debate if not an argument regarding VPI's "right" to manufacture such a product and our "right" to purchase said item. I have been personally insulted and my experience has been put into question on this thread and I have been content to be the better man. I will not engage in such a meaningless dialogue. I have been in manufacturing most of my adult life and do not need to be lectured on how the free trade works. VPI had it right many years ago, now there just trying to reinvent the wheel, over and over again.
Dear Deadhead, for the record I am a liberal in more ways than you can imagine, so you are wrong again.

being an expert on Free Trade you also must know that it has no bearing on VPI or any other company selling products in the country of origin. Free Trade applies to import and export taxation.

VPI had it right many years ago, now there just trying to reinvent the wheel, over and over again.

The same could be said for a '63 Ferrari

I'll guarantee VPI's Volume and margins have tripled over the last 10 years. I have bought and sold over 20 companies in my lifetime, VPI is one the only companies in this hobby that I would consider investing in.
Zenblaster, you my friend are a bully. Your browbeating and condescending tone, not to mention your superiority complex make this a no win conversation.
"....Obamacare milks and bilks it's customers. Anyone who accuses VPI of milking and bilking is ignorant of the facts." First off, that doesn't sound very liberal to me but I don't care what your political belief is, how does that make me wrong again? Your statement is that because I believe VPI has milked the Classic dry, that I am ignorant? This is a company in business to make money so a certain amount of milking is required. Unfortunately I do not know what bilk means. I'm sure you will define that in your next reply. I never said I was an "expert of free trade" and no one here suggested that this product was "forced on the public nor asked the government to subsidize their company" where do you come up with this stuff? Seriously. It seems that having "bought and sold over 20 companies in my life time" has made you somewhat of an arrogant and obnoxious audiophile. That's what your money does for you.