Fremer/SSM w/Rim Drive

Any thoughts/opinions on his review in the latest Stereophile?
I let my subscription lapse. What did he say? Thumbs up? Notably, VPI's new classic, which does not seem able to use the rim drive, seems to imply that VPI is hedging its bets, or even moving in a diffrent direction. Not sure what to make of it, but the Rim drive sounds interesting, as does Teres Verus, which seems to get favorable reviews.
please tell us what He had to say?
Michael Fremer wrote, "Ultimately, what counts is how a product sounds, and the Super Scoutmaster Reference Rim Drive sounded in a word, fantastic." "...Unless you're willing to move into +$25,000 territory, you could buy one and be done -- but I'm not sure you'd gain much, if anything, until you hit a much higher price point,..."
I am also puzzled by VPIs new tables. The Classic has a fixed motor, I thought having an isolated motor was better and the reason they discontinued the HW-19. It is suppose to be better isolated than the other tables but I am not sure how. Apparently it is much easier to bring out new tables than to keep their dealers informed or update their web site. I am one of their dealers and I have no idea of the relative merits of the Scout 2, the Classic or the Scoutmaster. I suppose I could just order all of them but I am a small dealer with limited space and money.
I have a Shelter 501 cartridge. My hope is that I could get a new arm wand, like the one in the Scout II, plug and play, which would be a better match for my cartridge. Right now, I have a weight to help make for a better match. Also, I sprung for the Super Platter...about $800. Now they have a new aluminum platter,less than a year after the super platter came out. Maybe aluminum prices came down and made it more affordable. Anyway, I'd rather have seen VPI spend its R&D developing a Rim Drive for Aries / Scout, if its technically possible...the Verus works with the Scout, or so I hear.
Note the ad copy for the new VPI 'Classic':

*New investment cast aluminum high inertia platter with precision inverted bearing.*

-Acrylic platters now suck

*Speed stability on par with a master tape - Due to the rigid mounting of motor - platter - tonearm there isn't any random motion to cause speed instabilities.*

-SAMAs now suck, rim drives are irrelevant, SDS no longer necessary

*Absolutely solid, non-resonating laminated one-piece chassis holding all comonents(sic). This is not a wooden frame; it is a solid laminated 2.5" thick MDF block with 11 gauge steel attached to the top with silicone and long bolts through all the layers. The chassis weighs 30 pounds and is totally non-resonant.*

-Acrylic/steel-or-aluminum plinths now suck

It seems VPI, in it's attempt to be everything to everyone, keeps a firm finger on the diy/small manufacturer scene, and produces products designed not for a company 'sound', but to cash in on what's popular at the moment. 'Hey, idlers are a happening scene, let's copy Teres and produce a rim drive'. 'Oh, man, lot's of diy-ers building massy, CLD plinths-we'd better jump on that bandwagon'. Etc.

Looking at what Albert Porter et al are doing with the SP-10s, does anyone wonder if VPI isn't working on a direct drive?

As per the poster above, even the dealers don't know how to present this scatter-shot tt approach to a prospective customer. Even given the basketball-sized grain of salt one must take with the Fremer review, how does his analysis square with this VPI statement for the 'Classic':

*The sound of the “Classic Turntable” is fast, clean, wide open, with deep powerful bass, and unequalled in speed stability. The “Classic Turntable” gives any turntable made regardless of price a serious "run for the money." This completely new design has produced the simplest and one of the best sounding VPI tables to date.*

Strange stuff.
Give it 2 years or so and a new generation of belt drive tables will be introduced to address the perceived shortcomings of direct contact between the motor and platter.
I have not read the review yet but MF in the past has not been a big fan of the VPI truntables due to the acrylic platters.

Some here that I respect (DougDeacon for one) have tried the (Teres) rim drive, and found it lacking relative to their tape drive. What I'd like to see VPI produce is a motor pulley designed for tape drive, and a bearing system to wrap the tape around most of the circumference of the platter. This would be relatively inexpensive (well, by VPI/audiophile amounts) and would be a nice upgrade for those of us who a) have already invested heavily in VPI decks and b) don't have the alternative of the rim drive (Aries). Yes, this could be done *somewhat* diy, but the cost to have a machinist build you *at least* one iteration (due to design changes and teething issues, I'd assume you'd need more than one) is pretty prohibitive.
I guess he wants to tell us that a connection from motor vibration directly to the bearing is much better for sound than eliminating them via belt.
If you have an SDS or other speed controller available to you, you should try using a string drive. Get some non-stretch Rayon or silk thread, adjust the speed, and you will not need to look at the rim drive option again.

The tape drive idea sounds very interesting. Regarding Doug Deacon's posts, which I have read with interest, it seems that he had an earlier version of the Verus...not sure, but perhaps a prototype. The newer versions allow for more variation of speed. Apparantly, the Verus also has a superior ability to maintain a certain speed once dialed in, relative to other approaches (my source: other posts on this forum...take with a grain of salt). Also, DougDeacon apparently evaluated the Verus within the context of a megabuck analog front end ($25K? or so)...I would not dismiss this product as an upgrade for a Scout, for instance, based upon his qualified criticism.
I would also be concerned with people who constantly recommend, push and promote the gear they use. I have tremendous experience with lots of gear and have not promoted, pushed or recommended anything. I think the unusual post where someone experienced a piece of gear in which they do not own and praised it highly, would be more valuable to me. Obviously, do not factor in a reviewer's review. There seems to be too many underlying motives and frankly an enormous amount of gear is being praised when it should not. There are some reviewers trying to do things right. But I find most if not all reviews in major magazines worthless when trying to decide if this is a sonic avenue to explore. Cost is not being factored in and they are a major tool in inflating prices. They are only good for resale of an item you may have bought to try. These major mag reviews are good for those of us who want to try a unit and be able to re-sell if its not what we want. Items with lots of good major mag reviews are safe ventures. To me, the members who constantly praise the gear they own and recommend it to others every chance they get, are just as counter productive as most of the reviews from major mags, certainly, when one is trying to sonically improve there system. For example, a gentleman starts a thread asking about the sonic merits of two tonearms he is considering purchasing. And you have several members recommend the arms they are using, which subsequently are not one of the two arms mentioned, nor have they heard the two arms mentioned. Furthermore, its common for these members to have limited experience with tonearms and have no business recommending anything.

Now I have spent several years gathering as much experience as possible, so I could further improve my stereo and make certain that, the choices I have made are the right ones. The forums were a great help in that and I feel now its time I should share some of my discoveries. I would not do so before, because I felt I did not have enough experience to be recommending. Also, what ever experience I do decide to share, is subjective of my total experience, which should be defined to the reader, so the reader is informed of where I am coming from and can make his own decision as to the validity of my opinions. I would hope this type of shared experience would have significant value considering there are no underlying motives as with magazines. Now I am blabbering and should stop. Ive wanted to become more active in the forums for some time, but it is also very time consuming. All of the wonderful people who have contributed to this forum in the past and present really are giving something.

I have also found little clicks in the forums and to disagree or call out a member, when it should be done, can start a playground fight. This is a bit scary to me.

On the other hand, I have run into many people who praise highly equipment that they neither own nor have heard. In one case I had my subwoofers attacked by someone who had never heard them but who" could tell from the spec sheet" what they sounded like. If you do not own, have owned, or listen often to a component your advice is essentially worthless. I now try to confine my answers to things I use or have used. I am a VPI dealer but I do not sell new equipment on audiogon, nor do I think that they are the only good tables made. I sell them because they are good, they are not good because I sell them. There are many other good turntables out there and it is unnecessary for users of any of them to disparage other good ones. I have been around long enough to know that there are many roads to sonic bliss and the audio fundamentalists who suggest that theirs is the only way are the blight of these forums.
Stanwal, good point...I forgot about those people as well. I have owned a few VPI's myself.

"There are many other good turntables out there and it is unnecessary for users of any of them to disparage other good ones".

Well said-would that Jean Nantais and his cronies at 'Home Despot' shared the same logic and knowledge.

Good post.
I have been around long enough to know that there are many roads to sonic bliss and the audio fundamentalists who suggest that theirs is the only way are the blight of these forums.
Hear hear!!!