Good luck & happy listening!
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I have the VPI Prime and love mine. Sound wise I would say all the reviews are accurate.
I have heard a few projects but not the model you are looking at buying and thought they were always kinda of dark sounding for my taste.
VPI, Clear Audio, Sota, Rega and Well tempered Labs. Basis is out of mine and your price point for the most part.
People are always talking up the Amadeus by well tempered labs and I would love to hear one.
Sadly you probably won't get to listen to all these tables. I would pick something I know I like and heard if buying new. If used I would familiarize yourself on the models and prices of prospects and if the deal came up I would buy blind knowing that I could flip it for little loss.
Also what are you using as a pre-amp. You may need to upgrade to take advantage of the new tables performance.
I would be ok with a lesser cart to buy a better Table/Arm and phono. A lesser cart will sound much better on a good setup up. Plus eventually carts wear out so you will have plenty of time in the future to spend more on a cart. Spent the bulk of you money on the table and phono for now IMO.
I have only heard the clear audio concept, their entry level table. I found it dark and analytical. Of course some people love them. Lucky we have a lot of companies to choose from to meet our preferences.
I would definitely listen to everything you can before putting your cash down. Prime's do come up for sale used but they are so new that there not for sale all the time. I did find a crazy deal on a barely used one. Best advice is to be on top of the audio sites and be ready to pull the trigger quick on a good deal. You can save yourself a lot of money. Use pay pal and only buy from people with very positive transactions and its hard to go wrong. Worth the risk IMO.
There are some pretty good deals on Well Tempered Labs table on the net right now. I have not heard them but the prices are pretty good on the two I have seen. They don't seem to sell as quick as the used VPI tables. I would be surprised if you spent 4k on Table and you were not happy.
Upside with the Prime are as follow: sounds great, very good support thru VPI Forum users and VPI, Holds value and easy to sell, looks nice, Repair and support is in the US, upgrades are available.
Downside: They sound great with a pretty average setup up, but you can get them to sound MUCH better with a good setup. I can liteterally play trashed records and they sound almost dead quite once I got azimuth dialed in. You really can go down a rabbit hole to get these tables sounding there best, but again it really sounded quite good with a pretty quick setup. I will probblay go down the raibbit hole in the future because I think its worth it.
Best of luck.
Holding value is only important if this is a temporary stepping stone to a better table in the future.
Both the VPI Prime and Project Extension are both very good tables. You should listen in your system in your room with the cartridge you intend to use.
I typically recommend VPI, but in this case, you should try both.
I'm awaiting delivery of my Prime turntable to replace a Scout.
As for cartridges, Lyra and Dynavector are always popular choices for VPI tables, though many others work well also. Typically, you want to make sure the cartridge has a body weight greater than 7 grams, and a compliance higher than 10.
Currently I am using a Ortofon Cadenza Bronze on my Scout. I enjoy it, and plan to keep it on my Prime.
I haven't heard the Pro-ject tables, but I have heard a few Regas. How did you like the P3?
I'm guessing you did not care for it that much, or else you would be asking about a P8/9/10 in this conversation.
As for trying these tables, well good luck with that. Even if you are lucky enough to find a local dealer who carries both, odds are his room and ancillary gear will be different from your own. I've found that there is no substitute for listening in your own room with your own gear. I doubt you will find a dealer who will let you try both in your own system.
So just read some threads and pick the one you think will sound best. In the end, I don't think you can lose, as they are both fine turntables.
I have a Dynavector 10x5. Its a hold over from my Scout. It sounds amazing on the prime. In fact it sounded like a entirely different cart.
I did have a friends 20x2 on the Prime. It sounds a little more detailed and refined. The same or bigger sound stage on everything. The bass is not as punchy. I have to admit I like the 10x5 better. More musical and fun. A lot of people would disagree with me but that is how I feel. Six moons agreed with me on a cart shoot out.
This review suggest the Audio Technica AT33PTG/II is amazing cart on the prime. There has also been much talk of ART9 which cost 1000 bucks on audiogon. If the cheaper AT is a good match I am very curious to put the ART9 on the Prime.
VPI has cart suggestions on their website. They like MC ortofon cadenza series. They also have other brands listed on their website under the prime. You can also look at their user forum. Its filled with threads talking about what carts are being used on VPI tables.
Hope this helps. Don’t think you will go wrong with AT or Dynavector. Have fun
Very happy with my Pro Ject Extension 10. Not heard the others in my system but I'd bet all great tables. The Extension 10 is a very impressive and solid built table. Anyone who thinks less hasn't probably seen or heard one in person. I think Fremer did a review on it which is pretty dead on. Solid performer that delivers far beyond its price. I'm using a Parks Audio Budgie PP and granted it's not a mega buck PP but the Pro Ject still sounds fabulous and I dare say the Budgie is a great piece as well but not up to the Pro Ject. Only complaint is the finger lift stinks so you have to use the cue which I still don't have any regrets. Great table. Good luck dragging one home to demo as it is a heavy beast. There's not much press out there so I bet you can pick one up at a great price; isn't there a dealer selling one here at a nice price? Also if you want to upgrade the cable you have to pull the arm to get to the DIN connector, but still not a big deal. Good luck.
Many good responses, just had to put my thought in... Above all trust your ears. Having heard BOTH the Project and the VPI Prime I love them both, but the things that led me to the VPI was the outstanding customer support, upgradable features that table has such as the SDS, outer ring and pulley changes that make it put it on IMHO as a poor man's HRX. They are now over 10k.
As far as sound if you haven't heard the Project, expect a very good wide deep soundstage and very warm articulate sound if you use the package that includes the very good Blackbird or celebration cartridge. The very rich sound is also complemented by the very classy wood plinth and built in speed control. The Project offers more of a closed end upgrade path than the VPI. Still a solid choice but I hated the wall wart power supply( sonically reasonable but seems cheap for a 4K turntable). All other things equal, it is otherwise well deserving of a very fine rig.
I fell in love with the Prime after owning a Classic 1 and wanting the 3D arm. IMHO the VPI arm blows away the Project arm that comes on the Extension table in every way in terms of resolution extension and outright liquidity of the music flow. I heard the Blackbird on that table too. Add the SDS or Eagle power supply and your rig will be in the same class as setups costing 10k or more. The VPI will have an even bigger soundstage and more slam in the lower registers without any bloat at all. The Project will sound a little more rounded but still full and slightly warmer. VPI is even working on options of adding a second arm on this table just like the newly released Avenger. I think you would have a hard time going wrong with either one. Which ever one you choose enlist the help of a decent dealer, they will know how to get the most music out of your investment. Hope this helps🎶🎶🎶
Not even sure how much to spend on a cartridge but it will definitely be under a grand.
The Rega P3 was fine but a stop gap. I wanted to pick up a good table and just be done. I enjoy vinyl and want to start including it. I guess it takes me back to my youth. And, is supposed to sound better than digital - right? :/)
I have the Prime with the Ortofon Quintet Black MC catridge. About 6 months old with 75 - 100 hours on it. It is really smooth, great soundstage, but wouldn't say punchy with the Quintet Black. The Quintet Black does everything well, but there are more expensive options that are much better at punch, dynamics, but maybe not as smooth. Depends on your taste. I really love the Ortofon's midrange and outstanding on vocals in particular. The soundstage and detail is excellent.
I am actually thinking of selling it or trading it in for a two armed table very soon, as I think I want to get into a mono and stereo cartridge on the two arms. Can't complain though and highly recommend the Prime. It is way above its price point and a super value (if you can consider $4000 a value). I haven't heard a bad review on the Prime, including the forums. The other good thing about the Prime is there are so many upgrades you can do to it - you'd probably be set for a very long time.