Analog Selection Dilemma: Aries V. Scout

I'm looking to upgrade my analog rig (Pro-Ject Wood Classic with Dynavector 20XH cartridge and McCormak Phono Microdrive. Due to funding restrictions, I'm wondering what will get me the best sound. Looking for opinions. My choices are:

Choice 1. Aries 2 with JMW 9 arm and using my existing Dynavector as it is only two months old.

Choice 2. VPI Aries Scout with JMW 9 arm and Lyra Helikon SL or Sumiko Celebration.

I'm also going with a Pass Labs Xono, as I'm getting a great deal on a new unit.

My question is which of the above will produce the best sound? Am I better off with the better TT (Aries 2) and lower end cartridge, or is the Scout that good of a table that paring it with the Lyra Helikon will be a better match?

Both setups are about the same cost, give or take a couple of hundred.

Thanks, Al
This one is a tough call, but I think you would be better advised to go with the best TT (the Aries), and then upgrade your cartridge at some later date. The Scout is a very good, entry-level high end TT, but the Aries offers better performance. Generally speaking, your turntable / tonearm combo needs to be top-notch to justify using one of the best cartridges.
I would also suggest the better table. It will make a difference.

The cartridges though are another issue. You can get a better cartridge for less money by going with the Shelter 901, or possibly even the 501. Lyra makes a good product, but they get A LOT of money for it. Shelter is arguably as good for less. The 901 is the better of the two models, and many people think the 501 is nearly as good as the Helikon.

Check them out if you can.
i too suggest getting the "better" table, but in my case, i'd consider the SCOUT to be the BETTER table. it has energy, drive, pace, timing, and excitement, whereas the aries puts forth a "prettier" presentation at the expense of all of the afforementioned items.

to me, no contest. the Aries puts me to sleep, whereas the Scout MOVES me.

btw, why are these the only two choices you are selecting from?

Like "Bruckner9", I ask "only 2 tables you are considering?"

IMHO, get rid of VPI altogether! They are very average TTs! I'm going to duck now as the lynch-mob comes by!!

If you want a much better TT go w/ the Nottingham Spacedeck with Spacearm. Retain that DV20X-H. Save up for a better cart. (the DV20X-H is very good, mind you). The Nottingham is much more 'alive' & dynamic. It represents the music far better than any VPI 'table can.
Another very worthy recommendation is the Teres Audio 150 model. The Teres will allow you to upgrade as funds become available.
A 3rd excellent recommendation is Bluenote(Italian) 'tables such as the Bellavista Signature/Borghese tonearm.
Of course, JMHO. FWIW. YMMV.
I would think that the "better" table would be the Aries 2. Apparently the recent changes to this table make it more like a Scout on steroids (per HW).

The Helikon is a STEAL at it's price IMHO. Having said that, I would suggest you consider the new Lyra Argo priced at $1200. Match this with the Aries 2 and you should be very pleased.

I am a HUGE fan of Lyra. They are nice guys and they make a great product at a great price. I have both a Helikon and a Helikon Mono. I haven't heard the Argo, but I would suspect that it would also be a STEAL.

I am also a HUGE fan of VPI. They are great as well. I imagine that I will be a customer of both VPI and Lyra for life.

I use an Aries 1 (soon to be upgraded to 2) with a JMW-10.5. The phono stage is an Pass Xono. The combo works out very well IMHO. No way that it puts me to sleep -- although I wish it would some time. There is definitely no lack of excitement and energy. (Adding an SDS really helped improve pace and timing. The Xono really helped here as well.)

With the Xono, be sure to investigate the proper cartridge loading. I believe that my Helikon is loaded at somewhere around 850 ohms.


P.S. I just re-read your note. I actually think that choice 2 will produce the better sound providing that you have placed the table on a good support. I think that cartridges play a much more significant role than most people suggest. Lesser cartridges impart a grainy, metallic edge that really gets in the way of the music. The Helikon sounds completely grain free to me -- and this is one of the many things that make this cartridge very special.
FWIW, my recent experience also suggests buying the best table you can afford now and upgrading the cartridge later if need be. I just got a whole new analog rig and by chance the cartridge came in first. Naturally I couldn't wait, so I mounted it on my very inferior old TT/arm. It certainly was a nice improvement, but the new TT/arm took it to an unimaginably higher level.

I'm also wondering why you're restricted to the two alternatives you listed. I believe you can do much better for the money. Assuming list prices, you'd pay about $3,800 for a Scout/JMW-9/Helikon SL setup. For similar money you could get a Teres 245/Origin Live Silver/Shelter 501. Many ears-on reports confirm what's pretty obvious on paper: a Teres 245 will just destroy a Scout, or an Aries or even a TNT for that matter. The OL Silver equals or betters the JMW-9, and a Shelter 501 is far more musical than the Helikon.

Another option would be to get a Teres 255/Origin Live Silver and keep your current cartridge. That would give you a near world-class base, a table and arm for life. You could upgrade the cartridge later if and when you felt the need.

Somebody shoot me if I'm steering him wrong.
A decenting opinion on your VPI selection. I would choose a fully TNT dressed HW-19 mk4. There is no need for a better table- especially if you tweak it out.
All IMO of course.
Thanks for everyone's advice. The reason I was going with VPI is that my dealer can give me a very good deal on either combination, as well as I like the fact that they are based in New Jersey where I live and can benefit from their proximity to me, if I need to repair or upgrade. Having said that, I would consider other tables. I also like the Origin Live, the Nottingham Space Deck and the Well-tempered Classic. Any opinions on any of these tables.