VPI Adds Classic 4 With 12" 3D Printed Arm to Its Turntable Lineup

VPI introduced the $10,000 Classic 4 turntable, complete with 12" 3D tonearm for the tidy sum of $10,000. The new 'table appears to use the same (or similar) chassis to the new $30,000 direct drive 'table but in a belt drive format.

kimi imacman's picture

as I agree with you, the design of the C3 and C4 seem to be the same other than motor and arm. They claim the DD motor cost $4K so where does $30K come from? One might conclude you're paying for the performance increase not the cost to manufacture increase. I guess people will vote with their feet/wallet here.

Michael Fremer's picture

It took FOUR YEARS of R&D to perfect this design. Do you think that's "free"? Of course you could doubt the four year claim but when the DD turntable arrived at my home, so did Continuum Caliburn turntable designer/project manager Mark Doehmann who happened to be in NYC. The Continuum uses a similar motor from the same company (Thingap), and Mark was impressed that VPI's engineer was able to get the motor to run effectively at 33 and 45. 

Everything is "easy" after the fact. 

Doehmann's picture

Hi Michael,

It sounded great!

kimi imacman's picture

When I suggest paying for performance I meant over and beyond the relative costs including the margins along the way, I understand how that works. The same goes for the improved arm. A C4 with the 3D arm is $10K, $4K more than the C3 that's cool but the DD is 3 times the C4! That's what I'm struggling with regardless of the sonic difference which I'm sure could well sound like $30K compared to its competitors in the end but does a $4k motor at cost minus the cost of the standard motor/ belt justify $20k more? Maybe there are some other significant and costly improvements not shown in the specs?

I'm not putting the deck down, I've never heard one (yet), I'm sure it's great and I look forward to Mikey's review. 

rlw3's picture

Have read that many products in high end land are prices at 5x the parts cost. 6k in parts causes 30k retail price perhaps.

rlw3's picture

Have read that many products in high end land are prices at 5x the parts cost. 6k in parts causes 30k retail price perhaps.

Fsonicsmith's picture

Why would someone play a 10" EP and use the periphery ring?

I just looked at Harry's (Matt's?) current website and they need to clean things up, IMHO. The current VPI site shows the "Classic 4" as being an entirely different rig with two aluminum arms mounted. Mikey-I would love to hear your assessment one day of the relative sound differences (if any) between the various incarnations of the current Classic line-up which amounts to 6 different tables including the "Companion" with gimbled arm. I bought the original Classic back when there was only 1 "Classic". Mine even has the original square cornered base. I have no itch right now to move to something more current, but I might get that itch if I were told from a reliable source that I would likely hear something superior.

avrcguy's picture

"Why would someone play a 10" EP and use the periphery?"

Consistent speed. If the table's speed was set-up with the ring in place, removing it would likely cause the platter to run slightly faster.

Michael T's picture

I have followed the evolution of the VPI Classic Direct very closely because I am fascinated with the development of a new direct drive turntable.

Michael Fremer is completely right - Four years of R&D to create a non-cogging motor is not cheap.  

The last previous attempt at a direct drive table that I am aware of was the Rockport, and that cost well over $100,000.

I cannot afford the VPI Direct, but I praise VPI for making it.

I do love the sound of a well-built direct drive turntable. I have a Technics SP10MKII in a custom Corian base I made, and I use it with a VPI JMW tonearm, along with a Benz H2 top end rebuilt by Soundsmith.  For the cost, the combination sounds fantastic.

After a 6-7 year 'trip' into the CD world (forgive me, I was only 18 when it started), I returned to analog in 1994 with a VPI HW-19JR/Rega RB300/Benz Micro Silver.  It sounds outsanding compared to CD's.  At the time, I also had an SP10 that was radio station surplus (I used to work in broadcasting).  I primarily used the SP10 for 78's.  One evening I was playing a 78, and even with that old technology, something about the playback suddenly phased me.  There was a rhythm, punch, drive and even low end that I was simply not hearing with the belt drive VPI.  

In an interview I read in another magazine, they quote Harry from VPI as saying that if Technics developed the SP10 today it would probably sell for close to what the Direct goes for.  Think of it:  in 1978, that table retailed for $1,500 without an arm or base.  According to the inflaction calculator, today that would be $5,362.  Keep in mind that Technics surely sold tens of thousands of this turntable - it was the industry standard for the whole world in the 70's through mid-80's.  VPI will not be selling 20,000 or 30,000 units of the Classic Direct, so that has to be taken into account  also when you factor in the $30,000 price tag.

l5chambre's picture

You are paying to feel upscale that you just spent 10k on a table. No doubt, there is some added quality, but it is a markup industry. They run the price up insanely and never sell more than a half dozen This might get a few buyers that enjoy the old fashioned classic look.

stewart0722's picture

The 3d arm wand to retrofit a Classic 3 is 2495 retail

I think I can get one for around 1800 and sell my old one for 500 or so.  I think this is the way I will go since I'd lose that same 1300 to sell my C3 and then I would spend an additional 5 or 6 grand to go to the C4 3D

The C4 by the way is 8 grand with a single arm in standard form....so 2k more is very reasonable, but for me it would just gain me a larger plinth with more mass since I'd never run two tonearms on it, although some might.

Has anyone noticed that VPI:

dropped the ring on the C3, left the price the same

made some changed to the HRX, called it the HRX1 and dropped price 2K

In the case of the price of the 3d direct:

Go to youtube and find Fremer's tour of VPI part 3.  Harry confirms the 5x multiplier (he has a big mouth, but he's honest)

That means that if VPI dropped distribution and dealers, that table would be 15 grand and let's face it, dealers are an endangered species across a lot of the U.S. and now most of them are providing telephone advice out of their markets while never providing in home setup like the good old days....

If that was the case, there would be a 3d direct sitting on my rack TODAY (NO JOKE!)

Michael even asked Harry why "Can't I just buy it from you" and Harry's response was "It might happen, you never know".....Maybe it will come to pass because VPI would simply sell more stuff......along with my 15K 3d direct, I need them to also ship me a thousand dollar ultrasonic record cleaner that does both sides simultaneously........

jkingtut's picture

While cleaning yet another record much earlier this evening with the HP17F and VPI record cleaner fluid I had the sudden longing for the same thing. Maybe because it is time to order more fluid and brushes.