While there’s no shortage of talented kit – just as you’d hope for at such elevated price levels - it was a difficult choice, not least because we had to decide a winner across all the product types we cover. After much deliberation it was the excellent VPI Prime turntable that got the nod.
At £3750, while clearly not cheap, this deck and arm combination represents excellent value as far as high-end turntables are concerned. It’s beautifully engineered, with a curved MDF chassis that’s reinforced with a thick steel plate to control resonance and improve feedback rejection. The company doesn’t stop there.
MORE: VPI Prime review
The Prime sits on complex feet assemblies - four of them – made of Delrin (an acetal homopolymer resin made by DuPont), and ball bearings to further improve isolation. An outboard motor reduces the amount of vibration fed into the turntable structure while a chunky (9kg) aluminium platter is designed to have high inertia to help maintain speed stability.
That platter – there’s no mat, the record sits straight on the carefully machined top surface – spins on a nicely-engineered main bearing. It’s an inverted design with a phosphor bronze bushing and PEEK thrust disc. Who said turntables couldn't be technologically advanced? And there's more...
The arm is, unusually, a 3D-printed unit. It’s a unipivot design, which may take a little time to get used to, as it wobbles around the pivot point quite strongly when handled. But there’s no need to worry, as this instability quickly settles once placed on the record.
Sound quality is excellent, delivering a combination of dynamics, rhythmic drive and insight that better most alternatives - even at double the price. It’s a solid, big-boned sound, one that’s likely to satisfy for years to come. That makes it a worthy Award-winner in our books.
MORE: Awards 2015: Temptation
See all the What Hi-Fi? Awards winners