Stereophile's Products of 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 USa 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).