Aries, 10.5 arm, upgraded platter.
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Just a warning - having myself come from an Oracle Delphi Mk 1, make sure you've listened to VPI's sufficiently to determine that their sound - particularly the Scout/Aries series - is what you're looking for. It is very different from the sound that you are used to with Oracle.
I initially planned to go the route that you're going, but after auditions, determined that the VPI's weren't ideal for me.
I find the Oracle's to be fairly nimble-sounding, with good balance top to bottom. They are good at getting the timing/pace of the music "right". They also have fantastic detail and tone in the bass regions.
VPI's - Scout and Aries in particular, since they're the 2 I considered when changing my table - were much weightier in their presentation, and that weight in the bottom end gave the impression of being less open on top and thus a bit veiled.
2 things that may have contributed to that were the Scout's motor being fairly noisy (I could hear it during quiet passages), and the speed stability not being so good (though I presume an SDS would fix that).
Basically...I would classify the Oracle as being quick and balanced, whereas I'd say that the VPI's sounded slow.
It depends what type of music you listen to, I suppose, but for what I listen to (mostly rock/alternative), I didn't care for the VPI's presentation.
Obviously I like the Gyro in this pricerange (seeing as that's what I bought), but I just wanted to point out that while the VPI's are nice tables, they might not be ideal for someone looking to replace an older Delphi. If I had the funds, I'd just have gotten a Delphi Mk V - the sound is great on all levels and the speed stability is rock-solid.
I actually compared the Gyro with the VPI - was using the Benz L2 cartridge if I remember correctly. There were a few different cartridges at the time of that audition (some Ortofon's and Benz's), but the L2 was my favorite. The Gyro had an RB300 tonearm with the Tecnoweight and VTA adjustment sleeve, the VPI in that audition was an Aries Black Night, with the 9 inch VPI tonearm.
The Gyro was also compared to the Oracle (in my home), but that was a Mk I.
The Mk V Oracle I have heard in numerous different setups, but never with the L2 cartridge, and not in the same system that I listened to the VPI. I have also auditioned the VPI Scout with a Shelter cartridge, but in a completely different system.
As always, comparing different turntables is an imperfect science, and I don't pretend to have a perfect idea of all the details of how the different tables sound, but I have heard Oracles and VPI's in enough different setups to recognize the inherent differences in their sonic characters. What is clear to me is that someone who likes an Oracle table, might or might not like a VPI - they're very different.
This is all great info, thanks.
Another thing that I am learning, as I read the old posts here, is that my apartment on the third floor, with suspended wood floors, might favor a suspended TT, instead of a design such as the VPI.
Are there any of the VPI's that are less prone to vibration, or am I better off with a newer Oracle, Gyrodec, or Full Circle?