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I have the SSM ref with rim drive and I really enjoy it but I am growing tired of being limitted to only one arm option. I am therefore planning to buy a multiarm capable table(likely Galibier). The SSM performs quite well. The build quality is good but others tables are built to tighter tolerances(albeit usually at a higher cost) One make to check out in a similar price range would be the Galibier Gavia or Serac with your choice of arms. Probably more table for the money though I'm by no means badmouthing the VPI.
"nothing on the planet"? better is "highly subjective"? THATS A BIG NO! when you compare a walker tt to any vpi tt. the walker is simply one of if not the best there is. just not in the price range of the vpi. i have owned several vpi's including their top of the line hrx. in their price range they make a very good unit. not a fan of the rim drive though, certainly not "the best on the planet". i would bet a few years from now they will be out of favor and no one will won't them. the arm is not a weak part either, it is a simple a direct aproach, not over complicated and for this set up, a good fit. you definitely could do a lot worse.
The rim drive's major advantage is that it gets you away from the nitrile belts VPI has been using and that is a significant improvement. Others have converted their VPIs to string or tape drive and acheive a similar advantage.
Koegz is right, you definitely could do a lot worse but when you get to this price point you owe it to yourself to check out other options. I mentioned the Galibiers. Another very good contender would be the TW Acustic Raven One. Both of these tables allow the flexibility to try one or more world class tonearms.
Having said all that, if you ended up with the SSM Ref you would have a thoroughly enjoyable source. I'm still playing mine every day and miss it when I don't get the chance.
I have the exact VPI you are referring to and I see two ways to "improve" the sound.
I don't like the fact VPI arm has to go thru many connections before reaching phono stage. I will be building a cable myslef with female Lemo on one end and male RCA on the other. simple to construct, doesn't cost much to build, should be a good upgrade in sound.
as to adding a 2nd arm, as long as your shelf is large enough you can "place" a 2nd arm on the back sitting in a heavy pod of some kind. German table Musical Life is built that way, the arm simply sits in a pod next to the table. another option is to build an arm board that's attached to the left rear feet or bearing nut.
if there are enough interest out there, we probably can get machine shop to build some at a discount.
I realy like the idea of a phono cable that can connect directly to the Lemo connection on the TT arm. One would just need something to securely hold the Lemo and RCA plug in place on the table. I wonder how much the extra connection from arm wire to the small box on the back of the VPI TT, to RCA connector, degrades the sound.
Connections always degrade sound, can be in the form of high freq distortion like brightness or edginess or as my friend called "coherence" which alter the phase/timing and make an instrument sounds "broken". I can attest to the first form of distortion, this can easily be heard especially if setup is not perfect.
I am surprise not many people are interested in this simple mod...
would be to just break into the junction box and reterminate leads to the female Lemo there. That will allow you to use the "twist" for AS and you don't need a different way to hold the connectors. You could be really tricky about it and keep the RCAs connected, giving you a way to add cartridge loads if your phono stage doesn't have that capability.