View Full Version : help me decide: vpi vs. project


brianlg
06-06-2013, 07:11 AM
Hi folks.

I currently have a technics sl1200 mkii with a grado prestige silver1 running through a marantz receiver. I finally got a job after graduating, and would like to up my setup.

Two tables that I have my eye on are :
VPI Traveler
Pro-ject xpression III

I would like to have the vpi obviously, but its basically double in price.

Also, would my silver1 cart sound fine on these, or should I upgrade that as well?

Is the vpi worth the extra cost?

What preamp should I be looking at for either of these?

##if it helps, I listen to experimental, modern classical, ambient, drone, noise, dub techno

Thanks fellas

KentTeffeteller
06-06-2013, 11:21 AM
VPI is nice, if possible I'd recommend a used Scout for that price if you can find one. The Scout was a more expensive table new and a great VPI. VPI support and customer service is also generally excellent. ProJect is also nice.

shelby1420
06-06-2013, 11:34 AM
Pro-ject fan here...... had the RPM -10 for 4 years or so before picking up a Garrard 301.......... Pro Ject stuff is reasonably priced and VPI I believe you are paying a good chunk for the name! Dollar for dollar side by side the Pro ject is a much better value for your money ( it will not give you the wow from fellow audiophiles but.......). At the time I bought the RPM - 10 I had a budget of 5k in mind including a cart so about 4k was alloted for the TT itself. My immediate must listen to's were of course all the big names including VPI, well after an exhaustive 18 month, multiple store search it was clear to me that the bigger names simply could not deliver everything the Pro ject did at the same price point! I would have had to spend at least double the cost of the Pro ject to get the same quality of sound from the others--VPI, Sota, Michell, Oracle, etc etc etc!!!

Garven
06-06-2013, 11:56 AM
If you go for the Pro-Ject, be sure you audition before buying. I've had two Pro-Ject turntables, a Debut III and an Xpression II. Both had that dreaded "humming bee" motor resonance problem resulting in a low-frequency hum around 60Hz (no, it's not an electrical grounding issue). If you look around online you'll find others with the same problem. You'd be better off staying with your SL-1200.

1tumbleweed
06-06-2013, 12:08 PM
I'd consider the Pro-Ject more of a sideways move than an upgrade. The VPI, OTOH, is more of a real upgrade. And you don't need the cartridge that comes in the Pro-Ject - the Grado is already a better cart than the Oyster.

What don't you like about the 1200? That's really a very decent table. Your dollars might be better spent on a cartridge upgrade instead of a 'table; although the Grado should do just fine in a VPI.

ambient
06-06-2013, 12:14 PM
If you get the vpi, what cart were you thinking about?

Bob_in_OKC
06-06-2013, 12:59 PM
Aside from the point above about motor vibration, a Grado Prestige Silver is likely to hum on an Xpression III, increasing as the cartridge gets closer to the motor. Many Pro-Ject turntables don't have motor vibration issues (mine doesn't), but any of the Debut and Xpression series, along with other turntables with an unshielded motor under the platter will likely cause a hum with the Grado.

rolltide
06-06-2013, 01:51 PM
Two things:

1) I bought a Pro-Ject deck once. I broke the stupid dangly anti-skate weight-on-a-string taking it out of its plastic bag. Sent the table back. I'm sure my experience is an outlier, but I'd point out every other brand seems to be able to find a way to address anti-skate without a stupid dangly ball on a string.

2) the Xpression III is a nice deck stupid dangly anti-skate not withstanding, but it's the sort of interim step that will make you wish you'd done it right the first time and went bigger. The VPI is much more of a potential lifetimer. If you don't want to spring for the VPI, you might be better off just getting a really nice cart and phono stage for your Technics vs. upgrading.

majick47
06-06-2013, 02:54 PM
Seeing the types of music the OP listens to IMO the OP is doing fine with his present turntable and cartridge. Plenty of SL-1200Mk2 upgrades available. Possible upgrade might be an 8MZ stylus for the Grado, also he might want to consider an upgraded phono preamp for his Marantz receiver. Between the two, the Project and VPI, the VPI is well worth the extra cost and it would be a much more long term solid investment over the Project. Kents suggestion of a used Scout also has a lot of merit. If it was me I'd stick with the 1200.

skriefal
06-06-2013, 03:19 PM
1) I bought a Pro-Ject deck once. I broke the stupid dangly anti-skate weight-on-a-string taking it out of its plastic bag. Sent the table back. I'm sure my experience is an outlier, but I'd point out every other brand seems to be able to find a way to address anti-skate without a stupid dangly ball on a string.


Placing a small weight on a string is a relatively common way to implement anti-skate and is used by many tonearms -- including well-liked arms from SME and other audiophile makers. It's simple, works fine, and is easily repairable. Sounds like you simply were unlucky enough to receive a defective part.

ambient
06-06-2013, 03:19 PM
Seeing the types of music the OP listens to IMO the OP is doing fine with his present turntable and cartridge. Plenty of SL-1200Mk2 upgrades available. Possible upgrade might be an 8MZ stylus for the Grado, also he might want to consider an upgraded phono preamp for his Marantz receiver. Between the two, the Project and VPI, the VPI is well worth the extra cost and it would be a much more long term solid investment over the Project. Kents suggestion of a used Scout also has a lot of merit. If it was me I'd stick with the 1200.

Please expand on how his preferred 'types of music' relate to turntable performance.

Ths364
06-06-2013, 03:24 PM
I say if you can swing it, go for the VPI. Nothing against the Project, they're good too. If it's fiscally irresponsible for you to get the VPI, get the Project or keep what you have and wait a bit.

Grbluen
06-06-2013, 03:27 PM
Please expand on how his preferred 'types of music' relate to turntable performance.

Good question.
I gotta admit, I don't get this either!

brianlg
06-06-2013, 04:04 PM
I'd consider the Pro-Ject more of a sideways move than an upgrade. The VPI, OTOH, is more of a real upgrade. And you don't need the cartridge that comes in the Pro-Ject - the Grado is already a better cart than the Oyster.

What don't you like about the 1200? That's really a very decent table. Your dollars might be better spent on a cartridge upgrade instead of a 'table; although the Grado should do just fine in a VPI.

I don't dislike it at all! I just want something less heavy and visually appealing.
I don't DJ, so its bulk isn't necessary

I have read some questionable comments about the projects. Vpi has always been the company that caught my eye

majick47
06-06-2013, 07:43 PM
If anything the OP should be looking at weight/bulk as a positive when considering a turntable. I don't DJ either, one of my turntables weighs at least 75 lbs, in comparison the 1200 would be considered average weight prior to the current crop of entry level minimalist tables made of MDF. Appearance does have it's place when considering a turntable but I would hardly consider a 1200 unappealing in the looks department. VPI has been mfg high end turntables in the USA since the early 1980s and has maintained an excellent reputation with solid, well built/designed turntables that will hold their value/performance for many years to come.

BrocLuno
06-06-2013, 09:30 PM
I'd save my money and get some headshells, SOAR wires, aluminum bolt kits, and a few more cartridges for your current TT. Having only one is not the way to listen to all LPs. Some are engineered and produced such that they sound best with a style of cartridge. Often it is the Stanton 680/681 series as they were used in many recording studios as the playback QC cartridge.

I'm not saying there is anything wrong with your Grado - hell I have 4 of them in my fleet. But there are many options you are missing. I'd have an AT440MLa as one choice. One of the Stantons mentioned previously (or the Pickering twin). I'd have a good Shure, and at least one Ortofon. most likely an older model. I'm just not too hot on the current models, but own three older ones and enjoy them a lot.

The 1200 is a great machine to base a swapping library around. Light headshells for those cartridges that want to track very lightly, more massive cast shells for MC cartridges to work against. You basically have it all, within reason :)

If visual presentation is an issue, there are folks that make fine wooden bases for the 1200 so that they can get right purdy :D

I'd take the $ you are thinking about and get a Nova Phonomena II or Project Phono box S (switchable loading) to go with that library. Be on the look-out for a good deal on an MC and be ready to try Moving Coil cartridges. Either box will allow enough gain to support a MC :)

ambient
06-06-2013, 10:11 PM
V p i

geturdone
06-06-2013, 10:12 PM
This may not be what you want to hear as upgrading can be fun in and of itself, but the 1200 with a MC cart like the Benz Silver or Denon DL 301 MK II is hard to beat without spending major bucks. I own both carts and the 1200 and it sounds fantastic.

I totally understand hating the DJ stigma these things have and the stupid sliding pitch thing for God and everyone to see. So much so that I too wanted to "upgrade".

I got a mint used Clearaudio CMB with satisfy tonearm and wood maestro cartridge and was prepared to be blown away but while the soundstage and separation was slightly better (you REALLY had to be doing some critical listening to notice and be listing to a track you have heard 100's of times), I was not impressed and sent it back.

My venerable 1200 is spinning Calexico as I write this.

I guess my point is you are going to have to go big, as in the VPI, if you are expecting to have any major improvement in SQ. I have never heard one but they are incredibly beautiful TTs.

JohnVF
06-06-2013, 10:21 PM
Given what you listen to and what you are looking at, I'd sink the $1300 or so price of the VPI into a phono stage for the SL-1200 or split between cartridge like a $450 Dynavector 10x5 and the remainder into a phono stage. If you listened to more acoustic jazz or vocal, chamber music, ets, I'd recommend a different route. I would not recommend splitting the cart budget into a bunch of mediocre carts. Just get one really good all-rounder, which the 10x5 is.

grottyash
06-06-2013, 10:41 PM
I agree with the above. Or get a decent CD player or streamer + DAC.

majick47
06-06-2013, 11:51 PM
JohnVF is spot on and seems to have about the same advice as I do for the OP based on his choice of music. As for the perceived image of the 1200 as a DJ turntable, in reality it's wannabe broadcast turntable, it's the consumer version of the Technics SP-25. Both the 1200 and the SP-25 share almost the exact same electronics/design which includes a pitch control. These days not many people are looking down their noses at broadcast turntables, the Technics SP-15/SP-25/SP-10Mk2 are highly desirable. Also a good recommendation if the OP wants to make it look less "industrial" KAB has solid wood plinths/bases for the 1200 that really dress it up.

brianlg
06-07-2013, 07:15 AM
Good question.
I gotta admit, I don't get this either!
that wouldn't concern the table.. more so advice on cart/preamp

If you get the vpi, what cart were you thinking about?
I have looked at Grado Reference Platinum1 / Sonata1
but want opinions

KOWHeigel
06-07-2013, 08:20 AM
The 1200 is a damn fine table and my feeling is that you probably will get a "bigger" updgrade if you get a new cart and a phono stage. I have a 10x5 and the Phonomena II and they play really well together. There are some really nice phono's stage in the 500 range, especially if you consider used.

If in a year's time or so you decide you want a new deck to go with your cart and stage you can sell the 1200 and get a VPI or something similar.

I think if you were to get the traveler and not updgrade at least your phono stage you would be underwhelmed with the differences.

Just my 2 cents.

sony6060
06-07-2013, 09:03 AM
I vote VPI Scout, look for a deal. I passed up a new open box VPI Scout on ebay for $1200. I had bought another brand used TT on ebay and this VPI Scout came up. As the seller jerked me around for two days, he decided not to ship & the Scout was gone- asshole seller!

However, a great condition Garrard 401 came up for only $900 BIN located in the USA. I jumped on it (see avatar).

GreatTone
06-07-2013, 09:33 AM
I don't have a 1200, but I do have an Audiomods arm, and can say that upgrading the arm to one of this quality was the single biggest improvement I've ever achieved. It's in the price range of what you're looking at. They make a version for the 1200:

http://www.audiomods.co.uk/technicsarm.html

brianlg
06-07-2013, 11:31 AM
The 1200 is a damn fine table and my feeling is that you probably will get a "bigger" updgrade if you get a new cart and a phono stage. I have a 10x5 and the Phonomena II and they play really well together. There are some really nice phono's stage in the 500 range, especially if you consider used.

If in a year's time or so you decide you want a new deck to go with your cart and stage you can sell the 1200 and get a VPI or something similar.

I think if you were to get the traveler and not updgrade at least your phono stage you would be underwhelmed with the differences.

Just my 2 cents.

This is great advice - thanks. I will look into those

IF I were to buy one before the other, which item (the 10x5 or Phenomena) should I buy first, and that would make a larger improvement to my current setup?

rolltide
06-07-2013, 12:55 PM
This is great advice - thanks. I will look into those

IF I were to buy one before the other, which item (the 10x5 or Phenomena) should I buy first, and that would make a larger improvement to my current setup?

Phono stage IMO. There's a current thread where the consensus seems to be in that direction, and the phono stage seems to be the weakest link in your current setup.

grinnell
06-08-2013, 08:39 AM
VPI a nice used HW-19 mk iii or iv

i had a project expression I and went with the VPI mkiv and huge difference, better bass cleaner trebles

brianlg
06-08-2013, 01:33 PM
Phono stage IMO. There's a current thread where the consensus seems to be in that direction, and the phono stage seems to be the weakest link in your current setup.

Thanks, I'll try to find the thread and look through it. And also I want to decide if the Phonomena II is the one for me

Also a good recommendation if the OP wants to make it look less "industrial" KAB has solid wood plinths/bases for the 1200 that really dress it up.



I've always wanted to find a place that does this. Thanks!!