Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Audition struggles again - where can you actually hear the VPI Classic Direct?

I’ve been trying to find somewhere local and even not so local where I could hear the VPI Classic Direct table. The well-reviewed direct drive model is a change for VPI, not just in terms of technology but in terms of price, VPI not really known for $30,000 tables. I’ve seen the table at RMAF but given the circumstances of show conditions, I could not really say I ‘heard’ one so I thought I’d locate one somewhere in Texas and make an effort to hear it privately.

There are 4 listed dealers in Texas for VPI, a number that initially surprised me and suggested I’d find one to hear pretty conveniently. Turns out one of these dealers is no longer in business and none of the other three have the Classic Direct or even plan to have one in their store any time soon.  There are no dealers in Louisiana. In fact, it would appear that I’d have better luck if I flew to NJ to find a dealership where I could hear one. So, not only do I have to spend a fortune to get the table, I’d have to spend a small fortune just to have the option of auditioning it first. And we wonder why high end sales are threatened?


Curtis said...

Why not phone VPI and ask where the nearest stocking dealer is? There must be one closer to you than NJ.

You state, "... we wonder why high end sales are threatened." What makes you think the high end is threatened? Although the industry has experienced consolidation and there are fewer dealers, that hardly means the industry is "threatened."

Anonymous said...

For one thing it's crazy expensive for a VPI. For another you're pretty locked into the 3D tonearm. And it doesn't look the part -- it's pretty plain Jane. I don't buy the hype by the press.

PatrickD said...

Did contact and joined the owners forum to be told I should fly to HQ in NJ to audition....I suppose people imagine that once you show a willingness to spend large green, you should just spend more to make sure.....curious marketing model but it is what it is.

I do hear the view that VPI lacks track record at the uber-end but I also have a sense the parts here are expensive.

No threats to sales of high-end gear? Oh,....I should tell my friends who just closed their dealership or report slow business.

Robert H. said...

Music Direct has a 60 day return policy. If you are serious and not just kicking tires, order one.

I fail to see how the "appearance" of the 3D arm is particularly relevant unless you are buying audio gear based on how it looks and not on how it sounds.

PatrickD said...

Thanks Robert but are you seriously suggesting that anyone wishing to audition $30k components actually buy them with return rights just in order to hear them? And if not, they are just tire-kicking? Hum....not sure what dealers think of this but given my interest in hearing several top end tables before making what I would hope to be a final purchase, I'd have to float a lot of money up front just to hear the VPI and an SME 30/12. Sorry, I don't have that sort of money on hand. Guess I must be a kicker but I still want to audition.

And really -- appearance of any equipment is relevant when buying gear (especially expensive gear), it's just human nature. It may not be the deciding factor (is anyone here claiming it is?) but irrelevant it ain't, just ask product designers.

Robert H. said...

Patrick --

I was serious. It may be the easiest way to hear the Classic.

If $30,000 turntables were as common as $30,000 autos, I would agree with you. VPI makes the TT, but the dealer has to sell them. I have no idea how many $30k TT are sold in a year, but it is very few, and only a foolish or very well financed dealer would have one on demo. Hence your problem.

Want to compare to a Classic and a SME/12? I'm not sure such a dealer exists, but you will probably have to travel to get that audition. And then are you going to ask the dealer to set up the two TT exactly the same, to the extent that is possible? If so, they will probably be looking for some indication of seriousness. That is, no tire kicking.

I share your frustration, but for economic reasons, it is really difficult to hear much of the coolest (most expensive) audio equipment in a store. One of these days I may go to a show, but "listening" there has its own set of problems.

The arm was described dismissively as "plain jane" and "not looking the part." So what? The 3D arm is one piece of epoxy resin where the appearance is part and parcel of what is designed to do and how it is made. I buy audio equipment mostly based on how it sounds, and generally not how it looks? How buyers trade off "looks," "performance" and price is obviously very personal, but it seems reasonable to audition the 3D and worthy competitors and not dismiss one possibility or another based on appearance. That's all, not saying appearance is irrelevant, but certainly not paramount.

In any case, you are not locked into the 3D arm, buy the Classic TT without the tonearm and install your own.

Good luck in your search,


PatrickD said...

Thanks Rob -- those comments really help me understand what you are saying -- think most folks would agree.

Sort of broader issue -- but how is high end audio to work (as an industry) if the buyers for the products cannot audition. I've done the RMAF for years, great fun, but a lousy way to understand the qualities of specific component, a table in particular. From the way the media report new products, one imagines there's a steady group of buyers out there who have endless cash and can afford to purchase for audition, but I don't know any such people (other than audio writers ;) I know it's an old argument but I don't see new answers, and meanwhile we get more and more $30k plus components that we are told are vital. I'm not poor and am not a tire kicker, I genuinely would drop that on the table of my dreams, but I won't drop that money just to hear if it meets my needs. It's time for the industry to find some other means of sharing their products for audition. Yes, I can travel, but for the two tables I mention, that means a trip to Hew Jersey and Kansas just to audition, and then only in different contexts. No doubt, if I fancied a listen the the new Kronos or (you name it) I could drop another $1k on a trip to hear one....My real point is why are we supposed to tolerate this and retain support for the industry? No wonder A'gon thrives.