Stereophile's Products of 2011 ANALOG SOURCE COMPONENT OF THE YEAR

2011 ANALOG SOURCE COMPONENT OF THE YEAR

VPI Classic 3 turntable ($6000; reviewed by Michael Fremer, Vol.34 No.10 Review)

2011 RUNNERS-UP (in alphabetical order)
Brinkmann Bardo turntable ($7990; reviewed by Michael Fremer, Vol.34 No.5 Review)
Clearaudio Concept turntable ($1400; reviewed by Michael Fremer, Vol.34 No.6 Review)
EMT TSD 15 phono cartridge ($1950; reviewed by Art Dudley, Vol.34 Nos. 5 & 9 Review)
Kuzma 4Point tonearm ($6500; reviewed by Michael Fremer, Vol.34 Nos. 9 & 10 Review)
Linn Radikal Sondek LP12 motor upgrade ($4250; reviewed by Art Dudley, Vol.34 No.6 Review)
Lyra Kleos MC phono cartridge ($2995; reviewed by Michael Fremer, Vol.34 No.1)
Rega RP1 turntable ($445; reviewed by Stephen Mejias and Art Dudley, Vol.34 Nos. 2, 4 & 5 Review)

With his original Classic turntable, VPI's Harry Weisfeld surprised everyone (including himself) by returning to an old way of thinking. Instead of using an outboard motor to isolate the turntable's plinth from vibrations and noise, Weisfeld built a turntable whose motor was properly isolated within the plinth. The Classic became one of VPI's best-selling products. Never one to rest on his laurels (or his plinth), Weisfeld developed the Classic 2, which enables on-the-fly adjustment of vertical tracking angle (VTA). Still not satisfied, Weisfeld developed the Classic 3, our Analog Source Component of the Year.

The Classic 3's massive, 60-lb plinth combines a ½"-thick plate of machined aluminum, a 1/8"-thick steel subplate, and 2" of MDF. A well-damped, 18-lb aluminum platter rides on a prelubricated inverted ball bearing and contributes to the Classic 3's solid look and feel. In addition, VPI's JMW-Classic tonearm has been upgraded with a new stainless-steel armtube, a more rigid bearing assembly, and Nordost Valhalla wiring. Also new are the turntable's four large, attractive feet, designed for increased stability and isolation. To top it all off, the Classic 3 is made entirely in the US—a characteristic increasingly rare among hi-fi components.

In Mikey's listening room, the Classic 3 produced a clean and lively overall sound, with excellent soundstaging and dimensionality, startling attacks, lovely decays, and deathly silent backgrounds. Still not satisfied? Consider this: In terms of nuance and microdynamics, the Classic 3 rivaled Mikey's longtime reference, the $150,000 Continuum Audio Labs Caliburn. Suddenly, $6000 seems like a bargain.

Indeed, Harry Weisfeld's latest Classic is one of today's great values in analog audio; it should deliver at least a lifetime of musical pleasure. "I don't hear how you can go wrong buying one," Mikey concluded. Have you bought one yet? What are you waiting for?

Honorable mention goes to the Brinkman Bardo turntable (three first-place votes), and to the Linn Radikal LP12 motor upgrade and my own favorite, the Rega RP1 turntable (two first-place votes each).

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COMMENTS
soulful.terrain's picture

Never would have guessed the Voxativ Ampeggio would have garnered this awarding from Stereophile. Especially since this speaker is a single driver unit. Who'd a thunk it?

I too, was fortunate enough to hear them at Axpona in Atlanta this year. I remember saying to a buddy of mine that attended with me, "I can't believe the level of musicality I'm hearing from this somewhat minimalist speaker"?

If you take a look at all the German engineered speaker systems, the question begs to be asked: Are there any German made products that fall short of the sublime? If so, I haven't encountered any.

FranklinFQ's picture

Interesting choices in your headphone category. Among users on HeadFi as well as other headphone enthusiast circles the UE18 is seen as somewhat of an Also-Ran product, released as a response to the JH Audio JH13 and the "driver wars". Very few people who have experience with the category would choose the UE18 as their top choice. 

There have been lots of significant advances in the headphone world of late. Audeze LCD-2 and now the new LCD-3. HiFiMAN HE-6 and HE-500. Westone ES5. Unique Melody Miracle and Merlin. Even UE's own Reference Monitor is more highly regarded than the UE18. I really can't see why you chose it. 

Regarding your comment about the "True Blood" headphones. Those are the V-MODA V-80 headphones, and are actually very highly regarded. You might check with your own headphone expert Tyll Herstens - he recently gave them a rave review, as have many other HeadFi members. I agree that the marketing seems goofy but you might want to look into things a bit before commenting. And speaking of Tyll - why wasn't he involved in this? You have one of the world's foremost experts in the field of headphones on your staff, and you don't bother to consult him?

Stephen Mejias's picture

 Regarding your comment about the "True Blood" headphones. Those are the V-MODA V-80 headphones, and are actually very highly regarded.

I know what they are and I've read Tyll's review. I was just making a joke. I do, however, think it's funny to market a headphone around an HBO show about sex-starved vampires and mind-reading fairies. (Yes, I watch every Sunday night with the girls.) The press releases for the headphones do include the bit about "supernatural sound" and "immortal durability," so, they're clearly having fun with it, too.

And if audiophiles start wearing True Blood headphones, I will laugh. A lot.

And speaking of Tyll - why wasn't he involved in this? You have one of the world's foremost experts in the field of headphones on your staff, and you don't bother to consult him?

Something to consider for next year. 

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