Anyone NOT like the sound of VPI?

I'm wondering if I'm just not a VPI guy. Bought a Scoutmaster with signature JMW arm and a Shelter 501 MKII cartridge. This was after buying a Rega P3-24 with an Elys II cartridge. Thought the Rega was very dark sounding (at least with that cartridge).

The VPI sounded unnatural to me (no midbass whatsoever). Thought it was a bad cartridge, but recently heard a Scout (with signature arm) equipped with a Dynavector cartridge. This was on a system at a retailer where I was auditioning speakers and I didn't think it sounded much different from what I have at home.

While I hate overdone midbass, I certainly miss it if it's absent. I'm wondering if I'm just not a VPI guy and should try something else - maybe a Rega (P5?) with a different cartridge...

Differnt tastes. There is nothing wrong with the frequency response of the VPI line. I've never heard a Rega described as dark. You might try a Michel Gyrodec SE
or a Linn LP12. They both sound quite different from VPI and Rega.
Everyone has their preferences. Did you give your Scoutmaster enough time to break in that Valhalla wiring? There are a great many audiophiles that think your table is the cats pajamas..make sure the warts are indeed from the table and not elsewhere in the system. One upside is that your table is very sellable. ..just thinking.. you might want to try damping if you haven't and/or the VPI weght for the headshell to increase mass there...
Try Nottingham. I think you might find what you're looking for on a similar budget.
Maybe it is the signature Nordost wiring. I have Scout w/out sig arm and does not have what you describe
i'm not a vpi 'cheerleader', but the 501 cartridge can be outdone by lots of mm's. especially on warmth and dynamics....before you go chasing other tt's, try a different cartridge.
First thing I'd be suspicious of is the obvious, you are comparing a moving coil cartridge to a very high output moving magnet. Are you sure the phono preamplification chain is optimized for the new cartridge? Or perhaps, you just don't care for the sound of these particular cartridges or inexpensive moving coils in general. I'm using a moving magnet Garrott Optim FGS and have used several other moving magnet designs. None suffer from any hint of lean midbass.
What is your phono stage and the rest of your system? There's not enough information here to help without knowing the system context.
Hi Madfloyd

Something like "no midbass whatsoever" means you've got a problem somewhere. This would also be very clearly measurable. Have you tried taking RTA measurements of the turntable? Pink noise on a test LP works for this.

I upgrade from a tweaked Rega P25 (used Dynavector carts and Denon 103 / 103R) to a Scoutmaster (Shelter 901), and it was a substantial improvement in every way. Bass in particular (low bass and mid bass) was more tight and dynamic than the Rega. The table is more musical than the Rega was in general.
I really don't care for the sound of VPI turntables, and for that matter, most tables, that I have heard with plastic, or plastic composite, platters don't cut it for me. To each his own though, one cannot downplay the excellent material value of the VPI players. Unfortunately, we don't listen to material value.
I really agree with Stringreen that personal taste has everything to do with it. Probably is somewhat system dependent too. I have a VPI and have never been more satisfied with what I'm hearing though I don't deny there's many other great tables out there I have yet to experience.
Cmon guys....., this is most likely a cart loading problem... We need to know the values set on ur phonostage... If I were to venture a guess, I'd say the rega issue was a loading problem as midbass whatsoever ain't the tt in itself....
The tables are ok; I wouldn't take one of their tonearms if given to me.

Speaking of which, the Shelter to which the OP alludes is a relatively low compliance cartridge. Generally speaking they do not fare well in low mass unipivot arms such as the JMW-9. The Shelter will work but not perform optimally.

Higher compliance cartridges are better choices in that arm.
I am a Rega owner (P5) and would indeed describe them as being dark, especially in comparison to most American made tables I have heard. I would also agree with the Nottingham suggestion, though their famous "black background" perhaps takes a little too much away from the original recording.
I think Audiofeil is on to something.
I've got quite a few audio pals who have gotten superb results from VPI tables,over the years.I've heard them over a long period of time,and concur they are just fine!

I've been able to A/B the Super Platter against the "Regular" plexi platter.This in a friend's superb,full range system,using revealing first pressing EMI's,Decca's,Mercury Lp's etc.Other components were first rate(CJ ART,Lyra Titan I,etc)So I have a very good handle on the differences.

Yes,the Super Platter was decidedly better in bass and dynamics,and overall tonal issues....BUT...the regular platter was still quite convincing!There are many other system areas that make a far bigger difference.

You could easily decide to "not like" a specific tube brand,which is FAR more audible than the differences between some of the "material choices" in the "better" tables,speakers,or any other component.

There is a plethora of great tables out there,but if you "think" any well regarded table is "that" colored,or can hear a fairly significant frequency aberration,I'd look elsewhere.'cause it's "not" the table!!

Good luck
Is it just me or does Sirpeedy always seem to nail things right on the head?
Yes, it's just you.
The tables are probably fine. I heard an entry level model recently and it sounded fine. Probably just need to match the cartridge, as Audiofeil indicated. The Unipivot design is new to me and not sure what to make of it yet, but it would not surprise me if bass was impacted with a low compliance cartridge in the Unipivot.
So, is it fair to say then that MM sounds darker than MC?

As I mentioned, I've heard two different VPI tables with different cartridges in different systems and they both seemed to be bright sounding. Only thing in common was the Signature arm.
Nordost wiring is awesome, but is also very revealing of problems in your system. It takes time and patience to find the sources of any problems in your system and eliminate them.

My current setup comprising a Scoutmaster with a JMW 10.5i has no problems with bass or treble. Bass is deep, controlled and solid. High notes are silky smooth.

I wouldn’t consider switching turntables because as good as my system sounds now, I’m still not done. Turntables are mechanical devices and it is very easy to change the sound of your turntable.

A friend of mine was having trouble with a Technics and fixed his problem by putting it on a more solid foundation.

My Scoutmaster sits on a Gingko Cloud 11 with Herbie’s 2” grungebuster balls. I placed 15 lbs on the Gingko Cloud 11 underneath the Scoutmaster, which dramatically increased the soundstage and eliminated almost all the noise.

The point is, it doesn’t really sound like your system has been correctly set up. If you experiment with your system, you may be able to isolate the real cause of any problems in your system and come up with your own solutions to fix them.
Madfloyd, I've complained about a similar problem on these forums as well. Specifically, a relatively lightweight tonal balance, the bass doesn't have enough impact or fullness for me.

I'm not ready to give up on my Scoutmaster with 10.5i arm at this point, however. Many on this forum feel VPI's sound fine, so I'm willing to do further work on my setup.

As for the problem, I suspect the relatively low mass of the VPI arms could be part of the problem, you do have to use a fairly high compliance cartridge with these arms, particularly the 9" arms. Changing my 9 arm to the 10.5 arm helped out the bass to some extent, the higher mass of this arm is likely helping here. I also recently added about 40 lbs of lead weight to the Bright Star Big Rock under my tt, this further helped out the bass.

Beyond this, who knows where the problem lies. It could be cartridge alignment, the platter, rubber belt (I changed to thread drive), acrylic platter, tt isolation, cartridge, my phono stage. Every one of these things has been mentioned as possible culprits by audiogon members answering my posts. There are so many variables in tt setups, its difficult to pin it down to any one thing.

I've also heard from some who don't care for the VPI sound, it seems they think the VPI lacks musicality. I wonder if this is a lack of satisfying warmth in the lower frequencies.

I next move will be replacing the Sovtech 12ax7s in my phono stage with Mullards, then a different cartridge alignment with the Mint Lp. If I'm still not there, I will be changing out the capacitors in my phono stage to Mundorf Silver/Golds or VH Audio TFTFs. If the bass is still lightweight after these mods I will be much further inclined to blame the VPI. Still, a better cartridge and the super platter may be needed to complete the setup.

Based on my experience with my VPI to this point, I would have to say the VPI Scoutmaster is not a plug and play unit, its simply not a finished product without all the upgrades. The upgrade path VPI offers makes it easier to get started, but it sure sucks to think you aren't getting all the turntable has to offer without those upgrades. I have a feeling the Scoutmaster is going to end up being at least a 6.5k investment rather than the 2.5k investment I initially thought it would be.
Josephtorres brought up another aspect of Scout ownership that's not been discussed yet. The Scout is VERY dependent on a good platform of some sort to flesh our it's sonic signature IMO. I'd forgotten that when I first set up my Scout and listened to it, it did lack some mid bass weight and disappointed me a bit. At present, I'm using a thick maple platform which totally cured the perceived lack of balance. The Gingko is another route I'd definitely consider. All this said, the Scout still didn't sound bright without a platform. It still sounds like you've not optimized the cartridge for the rest of your system. What sort of phono preamplification and phono interconnects are you using?
Some info about my setup:

- It's sitting on a heavy makeshift platform consisting of several layers of MDF glued and screwed together resting on top of a stereo rack. The rack sits on very spongy carpet on top of a cement floor.

I ordered a Target shelf so I can wall mount it, but my tiny brain finds it hard to believe this will make a significant difference tonally.

I had the turntable professionally setup recently. it does sound much more musical, but it lacks bass. This is ironic, because I have speakers that are way too bass heavy (Aerial Model 9's) in my particular room (soundproofed, retains bass energy). If I play a CD of the same material I play on the TT, it sounds completely different. Tried Steely Dan last night - same thing. I almost benefit from the weaker bass of the VPI because of my speaker issue, but I am going to change my speakers for a pair that is leaner in the midbass ... then I'll really have a problem with the VPI.

I'm using various interconnects (Audioquest, Monster). I'm making sure NOT to use my Nordost (because they typically thin out the bass).

Currently going into a Pro-ject Tube Box SE II (which was also adjusted in terms of jumpers etc) by my dealer.

After the phono stage, it does to a Audio Research REF III.

Amplifiers are Theta Citadels (monoblocks).
Well, I'm not familiar with the Pro-ject so I've got nothing relevant to say about that. The fact that your vinyl rig "sounds completely different" from your cd makes me suspect the cartridge and/or preamp are your problem though. When I play my vinyl rig, I've occasionally had to stop and look up to see whether or not the turntable is spinning because it sounds so similar to my Marantz Sa11S1. From what others have said in past threads, I doubt you're going to be very happy with a target wall mount shelf either unless you replace the mdf shelf with something like a Neuance drop-in replacement. Mdf sounds like mud from my experience under the VPI. I know that it seems hard to believe that the support substrate can have such a substantial impact, you'll just have to try this for yourself and see. Still, I wouldn't let this aspect sidetrack you from the bigger issue, optimizing the phono preamp chain and getting a cartridge that works better with the VPI arm.
What speaker were you thinking of changing to? If you don't mind the suggestion, your system seems to be almost tailor made for a pair of Vandersteens. The Quatros and 5As both incorporate powered base modules with room correction EQ. I use the 5As as does Stringreen which may explain why neither of us complain of low frequency problems with our VPI tables. You have a good table(I didn't say the world's best)and should be able to get very good results with it. Audio Research and Theta(citadels in particular) are widely reguarded to be great matches for Vandersteen. Just one idea from one guy who's happy with his system.
Your bass response issues being resolved by the digital makes the tt setup the obvious culprit. Attending to other issues will only delay your getting the tt setup right.

The wall shelf will make little or no difference in the bass, I've tried both wall and floor setups, the wall setup is much better overall in other sonic aspects. I suspect the fact your setup sits on a cement slab will make even less difference vs. the wall setup. I highly doubt it is your tt isolation.

I had the Pro-ject Tube box in a former tt setup, I doubt that is the culprit. I actually found it to be somewhat dark sounding in that setup, it probably doesn't have the bass impact of the highest quality phono stages.

You may also want to try an armwand with the standard Discovery cable, more even tonal balance in my setup. My only problem with that cable is it seemed a little closed in on top, it also doesn't have the resolution, air and spaciousness of the Valhalla cable. I also think it may be worth considering a custom wired armwand with Cardas, Purist or some other wiring, this could make a worthwhile difference. The Purist will definitely take the bass up a notch.

It would also be enlightening to audition a higher end phono stage, I've tried this path with no success to this point. Based on my experience you may have a long road to go in getting the VPI to sound the way you want, on the other hand, perhaps the next upgrade and/or tweak could solve the problem. Kind of exasperating not knowing how far or close one can be to solving audio problems.
The SDS should be your next purchase. They're commonly available used here for +/- 700.00, and will have an immediate, and positive effect.

As an experiment, try using carpet thread instead of the rubber belt from your motor assembly to the platter. Helps to tighten up the musical presentation. Do a search at
VA for different knot-tying methods.
Johnbrown, I have the SDS and converted to thread drive. This did not greatly change my perception of a relatively lightweight bass. YMMV
Madfloyd, I sort of missed it, but you're wondering about the Rega. I formerly had a Rega P25 with Grado Sonata, Sumiko Blue Point Special, ARC SP9 MKII, Pro-ject Tube Box, always thought that bass somewhat lightweight as well. The Tube Box improved that deficiency to some extent, in the end I blamed the tt.

I also currently have a highly modified Thorens TD160, this does give me a more satisfactory tonal balance. Unfortunately, it not in the same class as the VPI in the resolution department. Still, I would describe it as more musical than the VPI in it's current state.
I urge you to give that Nordost wire more time to break in. Get back in 6 takes a very long time. The notion that the VPI table is inherently bass light is ludicrous. I have bass on mine that can shake the house. I doubt if wall mounting will make any difference for you. The VPI benefits from the SDS, the heavy platter, the ring clamp, the MInt protractor etc...however these just make it better. The table you have is quite wonderful if set up correctly. Call VPI and get their take on this. They have always been responsive and excellent for me.
Madfloyd, MDF does not make a very good platform, though I doubt it would suck the bass out of the system. It will make for an uninvolving sound however. Maple makes for a good platform. I use a maple platform on a sandbox with a separate platform for the motor. I agree that the platform material makes a difference in sound.
I do not agree that the upgrades are necessary to get good sound from the ScoutMaster. Mine is relatively stripped down except for the signature arm and I have never had the bass problems you are having. AAMOF, the bass response with the Dyna 20xl was superior to that of my cdp which is known for its bass qualities. This is what makes your problem hard to diagnose.
There are those who do not like the VPI sound. But it is usually a PRAT issue rather than bass or midbass. AAMOF, I think that VPI is somewhat known for its bass response.
I've had my Sota Cosmos on a few different platforms....ALL affected the sound differently.

The MDF was quite poor,in that the sound was rather "MDF'Y"-:)It was sort of deadened,and diffuse compared to my second move,which was a pricey air bladder design.

I have my table mounted on a superb wall shelf,mounted into two by six beams.I am talking of the actual shelving material,and how it clearly affected the sonic spectrum,in my set-up only.

The air bladder design,allowed me to disengage the Cosmos' sprung suspension.I was quite happy with this configuration until Sota did a complete redo of the springs.My friend got "these" new suspension springs first,and they were quite different from what folks knew the older Sotas to be like.Formerly they were way too springy,but now they were quite stiff,with almost NO bounce.

I still seemed happy, the old air bladder way,until I decided to get the new sprung suspension,and "this" made me try it with a Symposium Ultra Shelf,instead of the air bladder.Of course I now disengaged the locked up springs,and went the normal way of using "this" new suspension.

The difference,to me,with my usual LP suspects was absolutely dramatic!!Now it appeared I had a "serious" and well tuned suspension,that did not bounce around,and allowed for the Ultra Shelf to do it's job.The Ultra Shelf is a fabulous support,and significantly outperformed the air bladder(both not cheap,btw)in this new configuration.I had a significant increase in bass performance,and focus.

One thing(my opinion) about all this business of "perceived differences",whether they be material choices in products,or set up choices made by the hobbyist.....

You'd be very well off to make a serious attempt to hear/listen carefully to your "best" LP's on a multitude of top systems(not really hard if you make the attempt to bring them along to the "few' better dealers,trade shows,and especially fellow hobbyists' homes)in an effort to absolutely know how "music' is presented with such a plethora of sonic viewpoints,from different components.

Now you'll have a better idea of how the different instrument combinations should sound,and if a future component is not up to snoff,it will be very obvious.

You'll know for sure,without having to post a question on an audio forum.

Viridian...Hope this makes some sense -:)

Wow... thanks for all the responses, guys. I feel disappointed that I ordered the Target shelf (it was suggested in another thread).

What is SDS?

Someone asked about speakers, I auditioned a couple Verity models, a Rockport Mira and, for fun, the Magico V3s (which is what I heard the other VPI with).

I liked the Rockports; next step is to audition them in my home.

I am considering purchasing a Rega P5/Exact to see if I can get better bass without sacrificing detail (which is what happened with the P3/Elys II), but I realize that I'd be taking a chance...
That's weird. I auditioned a Rega P3/24 with Elys II going into an all-Rega chain--Brio driving the R5 floorstanders, and I thought the detail was unnatural and overdone. Maybe the Brio was clipping or there was feedback or the system was overloading the room, but it sounded sort of phasey and unnaturally detailed, sort of like it was underwater. Drowning in detail at the expense of the fundamentals and melody lines. Maybe the VTA and azimuth (Rega tonearm vulnerabilities) were off.

I smell asystem-matching and setup issues.

Say what you want about my "DJ" table, but when I got home and spun the same LP on my Technics SL1210 M5G with fluid damper and AT150MLX cartridge, it sounded so much more musical, clean, and balanced. There was plenty of detail, but it wasn't overwhelming the music.
I listened some more last night. I think the setup is fine - It all sounds good except for the lack of bass. I guess another thing to to consider is getting a non-signature tonearm with a Dynavector cartridge.
..actually the Signature has better bass (midrange, highs, dynamics, etc) than the regular 9...and its just "wrong" to go backwards.
I have a "budget buster" set-up, with a Scoutmaster as my turntable. I don't have SDS, I don't have the periphial ring, I don't have the super platter and I don't have any measuring gadgets to analyze the sound spectrum, save for my ears. I run the tt through a Sonic Frontiers SFP 1 that I had a techie adjust to match my Benz Glider medium output cart. It feeds an Adcom GFP 750 pre-amp, to a Krell KAV 250A amp, to a pair of Dunlavy SC 3's. The tt is sitting on a 35 dollar boos butcher block.

My ass falls off every time I spin vinyl: plenty of bass, slam, seperation, midrange, and nice sweet highs. I even set the cart up myself, which is a miracle because I can barely change a light bulb.

This Scoutmaster owner is very happy.

Nice job!
I'm surprised that nobody, from a quick look, has suggested what seems to be the obvious problem: VTA. Lower the base of the tonearm a little and see if you get your bass back.



I think you mentioned that you had a professional setup of the table. Who did this and have you actually tinkered with the parameters much if at all? Sorry if I've missed something mentioned before. My Super Scoutmaster was set up by the dealer I bought it from. For a long time I was afraid to mess it up by changing anything. It wasn't until I started messing with the settings myself that I discovered the true joy of vinyl. Don't be afraid to mess with any of the settings the others have recommended. This professional setup is obviously not satisfying you. I know you don't need a different table or arm to get results you'll like. I've used the 90x with great results for a long time. I'm not sure about your particular Shelter but others have been happy with it.
A solid phono stage with easy adjustments for gain and loading is a must. Your preamp and amp are very solid if not among the very best around. You've auditioned some good speakers but I would again advise you to look at Vandersteen before you take that plunge. The Citadels have been on my short list of amps to try with my 5As. The lack of global negative feedback synergizes very well with a time and phase coherent speaker. Your fat midbass/room problems would be solved as well by the base EQ adjustments. Don't go with any ported speaker if you want to avoid fat midbase. If you were anywhere near Des Moines, I would invite you to audition my system to see if it was any closer to what you're looking for. I have no shortage of strong bass and no boominess. Sorry for a long winded post and I know it's just my opinion but it looks to me like you're on the right track and probably a lot closer than you realize.
"Don't go with any ported speaker if you want to avoid fat midbase."

I know this can be a general tendency for ported speakers, but not always. There are many good ported designs (front, back, or bottom) each of which provides good advantage when applied properly.

If you like full, extended, bass t go along with detail and clarity in the upper ranges as well, in lieu of a ported design, your options may be only bigger more expensive speakers (that are also harder to place practically) location closer to walls and/or corners, which often negatively impacts imaging accuracy and soundstage, or use of tone controls or equalization (ouch).
Oh , and with a ported design, you can also always plug the port to various degrees to lessen the bass if that is an issue.

Also for good clear bass with a ported speak or any speak for that matter, make sure you have good amplification that is ably capable of driving the speakers load.
Stop thinking of spending on ANYTHING until you figure out what's wrong.

Tfkaudio & Sonofjim are likely correct. Lower the VTA so the tonearmis lower than parallel at its base. This should increase bass. Make sure your VTF is set a the highest weight end of the manufs' recommended range or even .1-.2g higher, as often recommended by VPI. Don't be afraid to mess up the setup, you will learn to hear what each change sounds like. Your dealer could easily have botched the setup.

Try measuring in room response w/test record and a mic. Tell us what the results are.

VPI "house sound" has been characterized by many as "beefy American mid bass heavy", etc. not light in bass at all. Something is wrong with your setup. BORROW another turntable and see what it does before you buy anything at all. Cheers,

Spencer is absolutely correct, as well as some others along the same lines.
Ain't it fun figuring out exactly why a turntable ain't performing as it should when it don't?

One of the reason's surely that vinyl pilfered out of the mainstream way back when and most sane people (save us) just go for the ease of digital. Less moving parts to tend to and relatively cheap to replace when it breaks.

Of course, watch out when a digital format is not compatible....

If only they stuck the well made CDs in full sized record sleeves with cover art and text like LPs that I could read without a magnifying glass, I think I might be happy. I would probably have bought more CDs because maybe the cover art would have caught my eye in the store as happened in so many cases for me with LPs, so the record companies would be happier than they are these days too!

Progress, right?
I respect your opinion but the Vandersteens solve all of the size and room placement problems of which you speak without the use of ports and with flat in room response custom tailored to your room. Equalization in the lower frequencies is not deletorious(below about 150 hz) which is why Vandersteen does this. That's all I'll say about speakers. Sorry everyone. I realize this is not the loudspeaker forum.
Dealer set ups are always questionable. I have never had a dealer set mine up correctly. Chances are you have a new cartridge and even if it was set up perfectly, it will change as it breaks in. I don't know any dealer that is willing to put in the hours necessary to properly adjust a turntable. Many of you know just how much time doing an overhang adjust with the Mint requires. Next comes Azimuth, VTA, etc....tooooooooooo much
"Equalization in the lower frequencies is not deletorious(below about 150 hz) which is why Vandersteen does this."

That's fine. I think I said equalization was one possible solution.

But my assertion is that there are many good ported speaker designs that do not have "fat mid bass".

I'd assert I own 4 designs that do not and one older design I've owned for years (Ohm L, front ported) that perhaps does to some extent.

One of the ported designs I own (Ohm 5s, bottom ported)also has equalization adjustments (2 bass, 1 mid, 1 treble) to help match to room acoustics on board. Some like that feature and some do not. It works very well for me in that I want to be able to adjust those speakers to different rooms and acoustics without having to rely on an external solution.

Aren't room acoustics a common determining factor for frequency response with most any speaker and placement? This can affect ported and non ported designs as well.

I have a nice budget set up with a scoutmaster TT and a stock JMW 9. No problems with low bass. I'm using a dynavector 20XL and a Sutherland Ph3D phono pre.
Wow... so much info. You guys definitely give me hope. I know that the dealer who setup my tt the other day chose the heaviest VTF possible (2.0). I don't have any turntable tools; I need to invest in some.

So, trying to summarize what I've learned from you guys:

- VPI is not known for anemic bass; something in my cartridge or setup must be the culprit.

- A wall shelf may not make that much difference, but that the MDF platform that my TT is sitting on is not ideal and I should get a maple platform of some kind (even if it sits on the MDF platform?)

- Lowering the tonearm so that at the base it is lower than the cartridge will help bass

- I can even increase the VTF so that it goes beyond the recommended value for my cartridge (2.0) and increase bass.

I still haven't figured out what SDS is - can someone enlighten me?

Thanks for all the speaker tips.