What you are hearing here is the product of clearer separation of the instruments and clearer definition of the relationship between them. It’s all about placement, in time and space. The Classic 4 is simply letting you hear that much more clearly what the players are doing and exactly when they are doing it. The when is down to the speed stability and that’s what defines the internal chemistry within the band – but the what comes from the lower noise floor and more positive dynamic definition of the 4 and it’s that that adds the expressive power to the piece, adding the emotional flesh to the musical bones. The fact that you can hear that slight delay before the bass note, the pause before the drum pattern is what gives the track shape, accent and impact. This is what hi-fi is all about – cutting right to the core of the performance. It’s not about the detail as such, but the sense the player makes of that detail, and in this regard the Classic 4 is a whole step up from both the 3 and most other ‘tables I’ve used.
Of course, the 12” JMW also has its part to play, with its natural sense of ebb and flow, its stability and expansive soundstage, all characteristics of the reduced tracking error. But these are niceties that build on the foundation provided by the 4’s substantial plinth. Mounting the Triplanar on the second armboard proves the point, that arm’s articulation and rhythmic agility benefitting just as obviously from the super stable environment.
The fully loaded VPI Classic 4, paired with the JMW 12.7 is a versatile and incredibly communicative and engaging performer. In terms of sheer musical bang for your buck I’m not sure it need fear any competition, and certainly not at its price. Like any ‘table, it’s a mechanical device and precision set-up will reap major dividends. The beauty of the 4 is just how clearly it lets you hear those benefits – which is exactly where we’re going next time. What do you use as a support, as coupling and to optimise set-up and replay? Just how far can you take the Classic 4? With a second arm, two clamp options, a motor and power supply upgrade and more, the answer is surprisingly very far. The Classic 4 is the deck that grows with your vinyl maturity and few decks that offer this kind of versatile platform for replay have anything like the Classic’s ease of use... and even fewer offer such benefits on the right side of £10,000.
But perhaps the best bit of all for a real turntable enthusiast is that many of the lessons learned on the VPI Classic will apply equally to every other deck; let the tweaking (I mean fine tuning) begin...
Type: Belt drive, solid-plinth record player
Platter: High-mass, cast aluminium
Main Bearing: Inverted with Teflon thrust pad
Speed Adjustment: Electronic via separate SDS power supply
Tonearm: JMW 12.7
Effective Length: 308mm
Armwands: Interchangable without adjusting azimuth or VTF
VTA/SRA: Vernier scale, adjustable while playing
Prices: £7,950 Classic 4 with JMW 12.7 £9,850 Classic 4 with JMW 12.7 & 10.4 £1.340 SDS power supply/110v motor kit
Tel: +44 131 555 3922