$7K to spend on new turntable + arm

I have VPI Scout 1.0 turntable with a dynavector DV20X2m cartridge. I listen mainly to Jazz so this is my primary focus. What would you recommend as a turntable/tonearm upgrade as I have around $7K to spend. What sort of improvements in sound could I expect from your recommendation?

Note, I had ordered a VPI Classic 3 Rosewood, but for some reason VPI changed contents from what has been positively reviewed (no longer including Valhalla wire in tonearm and no periphery clamp).
Personally, if I had that kind of dough to sling around, I go after this Basis 2200 Signature Turntable - Vector 4 tonearm combo. I've owned both Basis and VPI tables, and for $7K you can do better than VPI. Happy hunting.

PS: I have no relationship with the seller.
If you don't mind buying used you can get a Basis 2500 with a Vector 4 arm for less than 7k. That table and arm combo is hard to beat. The vector 4 arm is a out performer in it's class and really lets you hear the music including well defined bass which is sorely lacking with other manufactures.

Agree with above. Many better options than VPI.

That is a tough question. I have found that the phono stage has a great deal to do with the overall sound. Of course the speakers do as well. The Dynavector cartridges to my ears can be a little bright. If you have really transparent speakers it might sound a little bright. Let us know what the rest of your system is and no doubt we can resolve this issue.
Jmcgrogan2, Thanks, I'll do some research.

On my short list so far...

Dr. Feickert Woodpecker 2
Sota Nova
Acoustic Solid
Ear Forte S
Reviewers love the Well-Tempered turntables.
I've never heard one but their designer is an
out-of-the-box thinker who uses simple, effective
solutions and they don't cost a fortune.
I'm very pleased with my Sota Sapphire. Bought it new back in 1984 and had it refurbished by Sota last year. $7K should get you a really, really nice rig going that route. Have fun!
Well Tempered Simplex Turntable..I had a chance listening to this design. I will say there is no reason to spend more for a table that will do less. Money saved buys more classic vinyl its a no brainer.
Im listening to a Origin Live Resolution with Illustrious tonearm and upgraded power supply. I'm using a dynavector 20x2 with excellent results. See Fremer's review of the same set up. It can be had for about 7k.
Upgrading my own Scout is well down the list of priorities, but the Dr.Feickert Woodpecker 2 is one I wouldn't mind auditioning; but no dealers in Toronto so far. I'm especially interested in how the delrin platter sounds. Adjustable tonearm length allows trying/using multiple arms; so I could geek out on that to my heart's content:)
In that price range, I settled on a Townshend Rock with a Moerch DP-8 tonearm. Great combo, and love the flexibility of the Moerch armwands that allow you to adjust the arm's effective mass and easily swap carts. And sonically a step up from the WTA I had previously. The Amadeus is a super table, too. But at your price point, there are other great contenders.
The first thing I would consider is upgrading your cartridge, perhaps a Dynavector XX2 mark II or the Ortofon bronze or black(both reviewed in The Absolute Sound.Then with the 5000.00 or so left over I would shop AudiogoN for the rig of your dreams.I am pretty sure that there is more to be heard with your current table then your present cartridge can deliver.
Just my thoughts....
+1 Jmcgrogan2 - that is a great analog setup and good price!
Great feedback. Thanks all, as I now have some more options to research.
My phono stage is Nova Phonomena. I like this phono stage because of its flexibility and battery capabilities. I have Wireworld Equinox cables for interconnects (amazing clarity) connected through a Cary Cinema 11 (analog pass-through, analog volume control). This connects to Theta Digital Dreadnaught II Solid State Amp. My speakers are Vienna Acoustic Strauss which are on the sweet side of neutral.

Overall, the system is excellent, but I think my table, though solid, is now the weakest link.
I owned the Nova Phenomina and would upgrade it first. Look into Pass XONO a very quiet competent phono that will do justice to a $7k or $5k after a phono upgrade, TT upgrade. If you choose to do the table first, as I did, you will be upgrading the Nova Phenomina very shortly, as I "had" to !!!!!!!!
I also like and recommend the Basis 2200 or the 2500 with a Vector 3 arm, great performers for the money !!!!!
12-14-13: Bpowers23
Overall, the system is excellent, but I think my table, though solid, is now the weakest link.

I don't know that I agree with you there. I wouldn't bother running a nice $7K table/arm like the Basis I recommended through a Pre-Pro and multi-channel amp. I think the VPI Scout/Dynavector is just fine for your current setup. If you upgrade the table/arm, then you will need to upgrade your electronics as well, IMHO.

Hmmm.. The Theta has the capability to go multichannel, yes. But it is a mono-Channel, fully balanced, Class A design. Each channel stands on it own. So I can simply switch to Stereo mode and only two channels are active. Its a completely black amp. No background noise whatsoever, In addition, My speakers are 4Ohm, full range. They need power.
To get "better" and a better fit for my speakers I'd have to invest 10k in the amp.

The prepro controls the volume. That's it. It's out of the way.

The turntable/cartridge are likely to have the greatest impact on my current system. With the phono amp possibly next as has been mentioned.
Bpowers23, per Jmcgrogan2's recommendation of a Basis 2200 with Vector 4 arm and your mention of doing research on those items. Paul Seydor reveiwed that very setup in tas a while ago. Found it on the tas website. There may be other reviews on the Basis website. I've not heard the 2200 but have owned other Basis 'tables which have been stellar and their support has been exceptional.
You've had your fun with the VPI Scout, now maybe go for something totally different.

That's what I did since I really couldn't stand their extremely wobble (unstable) VPI unipivot tonearm.

There are lots of good choices out there, so audition, have fun but most of all, take your time.

Some recommendations include:
- Linn Majik LP12
- Rega RP8
- Acoustic Signature Challenger
- Clearaudio Ovation
- Avid Diva II SP
- Oracle Paris
- Brinkmann Bardo (w/ Origin Live Encounter tonearm)

For a cart, you can stay with the Dynavector DV-20X2 MC or even a Clearaudio Maestro Wood V2 MM (excellent carts for the money).
12-15-13: Bpowers23
The prepro controls the volume. That's it. It's out of the way.

I would disagree with that statement. I gave up on trying to listen to music through a SSP and multi-channel amps over a decade ago. I tried many big name brands like Krell, Classe, and Mark Levinson. None of them satisfied me musically. Coincidentally, I believe I was running VA Strauss speakers at that time too. Since I was using my system for music over 80% of the time, and less than 20% for HT, I finally gave up on chasing the idea that it could be done. I found that equipment specifically designed for stereo to be much more satisfying sounding musically.

Now I have separate 2-channel system and HT system, though they are still joined through my Cary SLP-98P preamp with HT Bypass and a stereo amp. For HT I just use a Denon AVR. I use the FR and FL preamp outputs of the AVR to go through the Cary HT Bypass so that my stereo amp can drive my main speakers as FR & FL, while the AVR drives the center and surrounds. The AVR controls the volume for the whole 5.1 system then.

For me, music is so much more satisfying now, and I find that when watching movie a Denon AVR does just fine for dialog. I gotta have me some tubes to listen to music. As always, YMMV. I can't imagine that you would hear much of an improvement sonically by running a really good analog front end through a electronic rig set up for surround sound though. I think that your VPI Scout with Dynavector cartridge is just fine for your current electronics. It is your money though, and you are certainly free to do as you wish with it. Cheers.
I would highly recommend a TW Raven One and an Ortofon arm. Slightly above your budget but a very musical combination.
I wouldn't worry about the Valhalla wiring. Actually, although the Nordost is brighter, overall, the Discovery has a better midrange and bass...although I guess that depends on the overall character of your system.
Yes, the Raven one is highly regarded. I read about while researching.

I think I am down to two at this point:

Dr Feickert's Woodpecker 2 (or step up to Blackbird 2 if I sell my other TT)

EAT Forte S.

Unfortunately, I don't think I will be able to hear either prior to purchase. Anyone have any familiarity with these two tables? Are there any dealers in California?
The Raven is a terrific table. So are Basis tables. With all the choices available, I would never spend $7K on any VPI product.
TW Raven One Ortofon tonearm great recommendation.
What is the OPs phono stage? That's where money needs to be spent. I would second the WT Simplex because that's what I have. If it were my $7k I'd go Simplex/EMT TSD15/Allnic h1201. It'd be hard to beat that combo without spending twice that and even then you'd be getting something that sounds different but not necessarily better.
Angioccio.....It doesn't matter to me what you regard as good, bad, or indifferent, but to badmouth a product with misinformation does readers of these pages a disservice, and casts a shadow on you. The VPI arm is not at all unstable unless you set it up improperly. It is a very good arm that can compete with any tonearm. For some reason, VPI suffers the injustice of people like you, but takes away success in the industry. VPI offers performance and customer service like few others.
Stringreen, it may not matter to you but I was just stating my experience.

I lived with the VPI Scoutmaster for about 3 years and although it did sound good, I could never get used to the VPI unipivot tonearm (absolutley hated the feeling of handling that tonearm). Then I traded in my Scoutmaster for a Rega RP6 (using the same cart - Dynavector DV-20X2 low MC) and for about 1/3 of the money (Rega vs. VPI), I couldn't hear any differences but did not have to deal with that wobbly tonearm anymore.

Now I'm using a Brinkmann Bardo direct-drive turntable with Origin Live Encounter tonearm and this combo beats out both the VPI and the Rega, hands down. It's in a completely different league!

Just my 2 cents & experience.
Stringreen, no need to be so defensive all the time about VPI. They do make good products and they are competitive, but they can be bested too. For reference sake, what other high end tables have you owned that makes you feel that VPI is so wonderful, and compels you to perpetually defend them?

I agree with Agiaccio, I have owned VPI, Rega, Basis and SOTA tables with various arms. Yes, both Rega and VPI are very solid tables/arms, and great bang for the buck. However, when you go up the price scale, you will find that both can be beaten fairly easily. Due to economic issues, I am back to using a VPI Scoutmaster, my 4th VPI 'table, and it is a pretty solid investment. However, it is not nearly as good as my Basis 2500 Signature with Vector 3 tonearm was.

VPI is a solid performer, but they can be bested. Don't take criticism so personally. Someone else's disparaging remarks do not diminish your purchasing decisions.
Well said, Jmcgrogan2!
BPowers, I have read most of the posts here, and I see no recommendation for the Feickert turntable that you say is your current "favorite" in the race. Why and how did you come up with that idea? You would be taking a flyer on an unknown quantity that might be difficult to re-sell.

I don't own any of the tables under consideration and have never heard most of them, but based on my ideas of what constitutes good turntable design, I would cast my vote with Basis. And the Vector 4 arm is an excellent design. This is if you want to stay with belt drive. Otherwise, the Brinkmann Bardo direct drive, which could also be coupled with the Vector tonearm or any of several others, might knock your socks off, if you wear socks.
Stringgreen: "The VPI arm is not at all unstable unless you set it up improperly."

I recently purchased a VPI Classic II.
I've heard the term "Unipivot Arm" many times but
had never understood its meaning until the purchase.
A unipivot arm is balanced on the point of a small nail.
It is free to wobble to-and-fro and moves back and forth
(think of a rowboat on a wavy pond) until you set it in
the record groove.

It seems to seat itself well and is not producing distorted
sound so I'm satisfied it is working but I'm sure its
geometry is (slightly) different on every play.

Is this unstable? Hmmmmm...
Well said, Jmcgrogan2!
Correcting an earlier post by stringreen, the VPI arm will NOT compete with any tonearm.
No way, no how.
Dweller and others ... I own a "hot rodded" VPI Classic 2.5 (that is, a Classic 1/2 plinth with a Classic 3 tone arm and base). I am satisfied with the VPI's performance, but then again, I have no basis for, comparison as this has been my only high-end table. Previously owned an old vintage Thorens TD 160.

Just want to touch on the point mentioned above about uni-pivots. The VPI made me somewhat anxious on my first couple of set-ups. Also had some problems finding a cartridge that worked well with the uni-pivot system.

That's all behind me now. I can swap out cartridges pretty quickly now, in part, because I don't go OCD with set up.

As to the point about uni-pivot instability, I can only say that if there's a problem, I'm not aware about it. Also, I thought quite a few other TT/tonearm brands use a uni-pivot system. For some reason, I thought the Graham was a uni-pivot. Maybe the other uni-pivot brands are more stable. Dunno,' but the VPI suits me ok.
I will answer for Stringreen: A unipivot is less "stable" than a gimbal bearing or linear tracking tonearm with respect to azimuth. True, the action of the stylus tracing the groove can cause the azimuth to "creep" during play. However, none of the modern unipivots are without some mechanism or another to prevent or ameliorate that problem. I don't think your earlier statement that the "VPI tonearm" is "unstable" is quite fair, if this is what you were thinking about, because it infers that there is some unique problem with the VPI. The VPI tonearm is a unipivot and therefore it has to deal with that issue, just like any other unipivot. However, some of the finest tonearms ever made are in fact unipivots. All tonearm designs are compromised in one way or another.
Thanks Lewn, but just to clarify myself....I just think it is unjust for people to denigrate VPI or anyone without just cause. All you say is true about unipivots, however, I really never rock it. I shove it to the beginning of my LP, and use the cuing device to lower it. It is rock stable when playing a record. I raise it with the cuing device and move it to its rest. All arms, turntables, amps, cables et al have their own sound....one can like it or not. If one is better than another, we tend to respond to that particular sound. I have had many arms...they all sound different..some do their job better, some worse, but VPI ranks in the highest category with maybe 3 others.
"Ranks in the highest category with 3 others"
Man, that is really funny.
Lewm, good question.

During this thread I have spent more time reading articles and opinions regarding Dr. Feickert's tables. His tables seems to resolve two issues that I believe will technically lead to a better sounding table than the Scout that I own.
First, the Scout is susceptible to external vibrations. A small footfall and you have a 60Hz sound going through your speakers and low bass sounds from my speakers seem to find their way back through my system. Not frequently, but I just feel like there is better here. The VPI Classic 3 seemed to have mitigated the external resonance issue as well, hence the reason why I had chosen it first.

Second, Dr Feickert focused on speed stability as well. I measured the Scout and it was one to two revolutions slower than 33 RPM. I did this because some records sounded slow. I didn't noticed this when I first purchased it 4 years ago so I presumed it was due to necessary TT maintenance ( new grease, new belt, changing to a new 300 RPM motor). I felt like I had no recourse if the maintenance didn't fix the performance. Dr. Feickert's table allows more adjustment precision.

I put a high priority these areas of technical excellence. It has to be ultra quiet and ultra stable. I just want something that is rock solid as a platform, so I can the focus on upstream components. I may go to 10K for this very reason.

In addition, and probably equally important, I am looking for a classic looking table. Something that is technically excellent that looks too modern/technical is not going to work for my significant other. I've shown her pictures of the tables suggested here and she wasn't impressed by the aesthetics regardless of price or performance. I'm sure some of you understand. Besides, I like the classic look as well.

Once I decided I was not going to go VPI this time around, I wanted to commit to another brand. Why not hear all of my albums all over again through a different design ( a different ear). This is why I listed some suspended tables.

So in looking at my short list, you see two turntables that are classic looking and likely to be technically excellent. I hadn't heard any of my audio gear prior to purchasing. I've relied on recommendations and articles. I do like the setup that I have currently, but I would like to step up. There is a risk in that this will be my most expensive audio purchase to date and it could flop. I could fly to CES in Jan to listen to the table as Dr. Feickert with be there, but its bound to sound different than it would in my system/environment.
BPowers, I have no dog in this fight. I don't own any of the turntables under discussion, and none of them would interest me. However, when you say your VPI runs a bit slow, I hope you do realize that one of the tremendous benefits of a proper motor controller, first and foremost, is to allow you to adjust speed. If you are set on getting a belt-drive table, I very strongly recommend that you spend some additional money on a fine quality motor controller. I would even go so far as to say that you might compromise on the cost of the tt in order to be able to afford the controller. Many companies sell an optional accessory controller to go with their belt-drive product. If you can ascertain that said controller really works well, buy it. (But beware; there is some crap out there in controller world.) Some of the newest products "come with" a good motor controller. You want the capability of the controller to match the type of motor. For example, a 3-phase synchronous motor demands a complex controller that can supply the juice in phase, optimally.

The question should be not whether the platter spins at exactly 33.33 rpm with no load on the system (because that's usually fixable with a good controller) but how it acts when subjected to the constantly variable load seen while you play an LP. If you do some research on this forum, you can find some info on which turntables do that well and which do not.

Why should a footfall put spurious 60Hz signal on your speakers, unless that's the resonant frequency of your current set-up. "60Hz" is typically hum from improper grounding, and it's usually constant.
Lewn, I just chose 60hz since the turntable seems to be influenced by low frequency external sounds (knock on turntable, footfall, low bass from the record itself). No relationship whatsoever to the typical 60Hz ground hum. According to reviews, Dr. Feicker's tables do not exhibit this characteristic.

VPI has a controller, but I don't want to add a secondary solution to something that should work out of the box. Hopefully I won't need another controller solution with a new table, but I appreciate the information. I will read the other forums as recommended.
TW ACUSTIC TABLES run 100% on speed.
Dr. Feickert's tables exist in the real world, ergo they are as subject to footfalls,etc, as is anything else in the real world. I guess you have faith that they are well isolated from such external disturbances. That's fine; I wouldn't know about the Feickert table.

I was not inferring that the VPI Controller specifically is the best choice. However, I urge you to consider that a good controller is far far from a "secondary solution", especially with a belt-drive turntable. Adding a controller properly designed to supply the AC needs of your tt motor is a MAJOR upgrade, if you did not have one prior. It's tantamount to spending $10K on your tt when you actually spent $5K, altho the analogy is inadequate to describe the difference. One of the best of the "simple" controllers is the Walker Audio Precision Motor Controller. Most who have heard both say that the Walker is a bit better than the VPI. I refer to it as simple because it does not have the capability to split phase to supply a 3-phase AC synchronous motor optimally. However it will work with such motors. I used it on a Nottingham Analog Hyperspace (which also should be on your list, incidentally). It made a huge improvement in midrange and bass clarity, separating musical lines, etc. It also revealed the effect of AC phase on motor performance. (The Walker has a switch to reverse AC phase by 180 degrees.) I was shocked by the improvement.
Bpowers23, if you have issues with footfalls, invest in a good wall shelf. This will deal with the issue much better than any turntable design.
Mustang....that's exactly what I was talking about.... you're the joke after all
Used Sota Cosmos IV table, SME 309 or Helius Omega arm and Lyra Delos or better cartridge. The difference in every parameter is noticeable over much of what you can get for that price and it dead reliable
TW ACUSTIC TABLES run 100% on speed

They don't. Checked about 20 with Sutherland Strobe, not one was stable and the "motor controller" is useless.
Check out Triangle Art and their new Tonearm - work of art in my opinion: http://triangleart.net/turntables/osiris-tonearm/

Their Symphony Turntable is a good start - doesn't look it but weight 120lbs, rock solid Turntable at reasonable price!
The Rega RP10 will be unveiled at 2014 CES - MSRP of $5495; $6495 w/Apheta cartridge. Early reports are it is a much better table than the P9.