How do you like your VPI -Classic, Scout, Scoutmaster, Prime, TNT, ?


I’ve had J.A. Michell, and others; including SME V tone arms. Wanting to get into VPI and looking at Classic series, Scout, Scoutmaster, TNT, Prime tables and don’t know much about tone arm’s they use or which is best, better, etc? What to avoid...? What to gravitate to? I’m fairly good at dealing with mechanical set up. Have a nice system and pre right now. Pass Labs -XA-25, XP-22, XP-15, Wilson Audio Sophia II’s 
jahatl513
Nice system, I also have Sophia IIs. I went from a VPI Classic 1 to a Classic 3 and now I have a Spiral Groove SG2 with Spiral Groove Centroid Arm. I looked up my notes from 2012 when I upgraded from the Classic 1 to the 3.

"First thing you notice is the BASS, more bass, tighter, then everything seems more musical, all frequencies. Sounds like you upgraded the cartridge, all the frequencies are effected. Also the highs seem less harsh, especially on that first song from Beck. "

I really liked the upgrade from the 1 to the 3. At that time they didn't have the 3d arm.

You get used to putting that large stainless steel weight on the outside of the record, and it does really flatten the records. Btw, I also appreciate the fact I don't have to do that anymore with the Spiral Groove.

I really like uni-pivot arms, hence the Spiral Groove Centroid is also uni-pivot.

With the JWM arm the azimuth adjustment is based on rotating the counterweight. You get used to doing it pretty fast. But then again I appreciate that I don't have to do that on the Centroid Arm.

I probably would have been happy with the Classic 3 for a lot longer, it sounded fantastic with my Lyra Delos cartridge. It would be unfair to compare it to the Spiral Groove, since it is almost 3x the price. I do like the Spiral Groove table and arm considerably more than the Classic 3, but as I said the price difference makes it a unfair comparison. I also like the uni-pivot execution better in the Centroid Arm.

All in all I still consider the Classic 3 a very good value, even though I don't own one anymore and I bought it new. On the secondary market it is even a better value.
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Several years ago I picked up a Scout here on audiogon for 1 grand.  I wanted to try VPI and a unipivot arm.   I use it in my second basement system near my records so it gets a lot of play.  I am quite pleased with it running a Denon 103r.

captain_winters  so I take it that your $25k Spiral is just too far out of the park to compare but on the other hand you liked the VPI Classic. 


flatblackround - What arm length comes with the version you own. 
Thanks for the responses, both of you.

Since you asked, her are some very unique attributes to Spiral Groove SG2 with Spiral Groove Centroid Arm that really attracted my interest, and kept my interest for a number of years while I was looking to acquire one. I put in quotes words from Spiral Groove or other reviews that are not my words.
1. The design of the plinth. The feet, motor, platter bearing and arm mount are all isolated from each other by aluminum plates separated by Sorbothane pads. So any vibrations are damped.
Thanks
2. The platter bearing uses an inverted sapphire disc and precision ball bearing. The bearing includes a sleeve with three rings whose gap is machined to 0.0003" tolerance. So the sapphire disc presses against the hardened steel ball which is sitting in the bearing. The three bearing rings contact the sleeve. There is a pair of ring magnets at the bottom of the bearing sleeve and on the plinth which repel each other, which greatly reduces the weight on the bearing from the 22 pound platter. "Everything is in the same rotational plane, the middle shaft ring, the ball and disc contact point and drive belt. Therefore it is not susceptible to rocking or oscillation."

3. The spindle on the platter is NOT the bearing shaft like on almost every other turntable. The spindle is aligned to the platter and bearing to one center with very high accuracy. This prevents any noise from the bearing reaching the record. "Since the spindle is not in contact with the bearing and any noise is damped by the platter before reaching the spindle."
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4. "The 20 volt, AC synchronous motor driven by the outboard motor controller. The controller transforms AC wall current to DC and generates its own sine wave with switchable frequencies and adjustable phase to precisely control the motor. At startup the motor runs at full torque until it reaches speed when the current is reduced for smoother and quieter operation."

5. The 22 pound platter is made out of 4 materials. The top is graphite, then vinyl, then phenolic and finally the aluminum ring at the bottom, with groove for the drive belt. The materials of the platter damp any vibrations from the record and stylus from transmitting back into the stylus.

6. The uni-pivot Centroid arm bearing assembly consists of a single pin and cup. "The Centroid design puts the stylus tip and the single pivot point of the unipivot bearing on exactly the same plane, contributing elementally to the balance of the forces involved in the operation of the tonearm and drastically lowering the moment of inertia. "

7. "The patented counterweight takes further advantage of the unipivot design by being able to wrap down and around the bearing in a way that places the center of the arm mass, the centroid, at the optimal position in relation to the bearing. With the optimal placement of the centroid, and the pivot point and stylus tip in the groove being on the same plane, global moment of inertia becomes vanishingly low and the stability of the system in all planes is very high."

8. "The Centroid arm single bearing is composed of a complimentary set of Swiss sapphire jewel cup and bearing pin matched for “Zero Tolerance” precision. This builds upon a unipivot’s inherent advantage in providing a direct-coupled low impedance energy path from headshell to bearing for superior control of resonances."

9. "The design of the Centroid’s VTA adjustment mechanism takes furtheradvantage of a single point bearing by allowing for the raising and lowering of the arm without altering the relationship of the pivot point to the record plane."

10."The patent pending anti-skate system is equally unique. It may not be well known that skating force during playback is not constant. The design of the Centroid’s anti-skating force mechanism addresses this fact, in that it applies the exact inverse force to the skating force in order to position the stylus with uniformity in the groove regardless of its position on the record."

Some notes I made after my 2017 upgrade
The music comes out of pure blackness. The bass is super tight and punchy. Sound stage is outside the speakers. Music pace is perfect, very musical. Clearly an upgrade from my VPI Classic 3.
As an owner of my second VPI table I concur with the Captain's remarks about the Spiral Groove/Centroid combination. The best turntable I have ever heard. The combined effect of the design innovations present in that table/arm raises the performance to another level--beyond anything in a comparable package (size/cost) that I have heard.
I bought a Classic when it first came out and then traded it in for a Prime when it first came out. I believe VPI belt-drive decks are good but not great. The plinths are not a marvel of sophistication. VPI’s footers are very mediocre. The VPI unipivot design with the wire coming up out of the “bearing” housing is simply not wise.The arm is very prone to canting due to changing tension from the wire-even if you don’t twist the wire to obtain anti-skate. The rotating ring to adjust azimuth is terrible-coarse and not user-friendly. Most of the top cartridges just don’t sing with the VPI unipivot design. They can sound nice, but not at the true potential of the cartidge-I am talking the $1500 and up choices. When you have the pleasure of using a top tonearm you see the crude nature of VPI  unipivots. The adjustments are coarse and the small allen lockscrews are prone to stripping. I discovered the Reed 3P and it’s in a whole different world of ease of adjustment and joy to use. At a price, but life is short. I don’t mean to bash VPI-again they are good but not great. The sound character tends toward smooth but glossed over. You will never hear glorious soundstaging, dynamic punch, or detail retrieval with an under $5000 VPI unipivot deck imho. 
I have a Superscoutmaster/SDS/rim drive/3D arm/2nd pivot/Classic platter - replaced the feet with Bearpaws ...use it with peripheral clamp, and center weight with 2 dimes (check Harry's website re:2 dimes).....I haven't heard better....had questions to VPI which were answered promptly....never a problem.  
Not in the mood to get attacked for a long bashing rant, but I owned a TNT6HR with 12.7 arm for a number of years and moved on to a Technics SP10mk2 vintage restored table at less cost. It crushed the VPI in every way. Check my post history if you care to read longer descriptions on that.
Also led a local audio club for many years with over a dozen VPI owners of Classics, Primes, Scoutmasters and Scouts. In the last few years most owners moved elsewhere and none moved back to VPI tables. All are happier. 
I think the comment above "good, not great" would sum up most of our club member-owners thoughts. Cheers,
Spencer
I always thought the original scout was the best VPI. HW 19 and original Classic would be next.  The classic may do some things better than the scout but overall I preferred the scout.  Not a bad table at all.
Some more information FWIW from my Classic 3 ownership. I tried 4 cartridges on the table and ranked them. In my opinion they are also in my preference order from least to most preferable:

Dynavector 20x2 = 50 hours
Dynavector XX-2 MK II = 459 hours
Jan Allaerts MC1 Boron = 244 hours
Lyra Delos = 150 hours = 144 hours

So for me the Delos was an all around "best" to my ear cartridge on the Classic 3 in my system. I don't claim it will be that way in all systems. I am very meticulous about setup and the JWM arm synergized (in my opinion) with the Delos.
Also if you haven't read it Fremer has a review on the Classic 3.

Michael Fremer Stereophile Review, Oct 14, 2011
Conclusions:
"The Classic 3 is the fastest, most coherent-sounding VPI turntable I've ever heard. Its measured accuracy and consistency of speed were about as good as a belt-drive turntable can achieve, and its combination of a high-mass plinth, a superbly machined aluminum platter, a carefully damped and isolated motor, and the JMW-Classic—a fully realized version of VPI's JMW tonearm—make this remarkably compact, easy-to-set-up turntable one of today's great values in analog audio. I don't hear how you can go wrong buying one."
Read more at https://www.stereophile.com/content/vpi-classic-3-turntable-amp-classic-jmw-tonearm-page-2#s9dv2BgBd...

I agree about the Delos and the VPI JMW.