Kudos to Peter Ledermann at Soundsmith

Wanted to post a positive review of the Soundsmith organization, and Peter Ledermann in particular. As many who follow the various posts about the VPI Classic turntable and carty recommendations know, I have posted many positive comments about the SS VPI Zephyr.

About two or three weeks ago, the playback on the "vinyl side of the house" so to speak started to sound off to my ears. Loss of definition and imaging, music "congestion" on complex and dynamic record tracks, and so forth.

So, I sent the Zephyr back to Soundsmith for an evaluation. Peter called me back about a week or so later and advised me to replace the sylus. I guess my ears are still workin' ok. Anyway, Peter turned the job around in one day and I got the carty back the next day. Needless to say, it sounds good as new. Oh . . . and Peter was kind enogh to give me a "good customer" discount.

I hope this OP is helpful for those out there who may be on the fence about the Zephyr as a mid-level carty choice for the Classic. Don't know what it costs to retip other carties, but the Zephyr is like the energizer bunny. It keeps goin' as long as your willing to retip it, which is a "no big deal, low cost" matter.
Peter was amazing fixing my Airtight PC-1 for minimal $$ - very honest about doing just what needs to be done - not gouging customers. Very impressed!
How long did your have the Zephyr before it failed?
Brf, the word "failed" is a bit strong. I had about about 1500 hours on the Zephyr when I sent it in. There's a rub though. Peter told me that the wear pattern suggested the AS was off. For those who are familiar with the VPI Classic, it goes with the territory. VPI thinks AS is over-hyped. Peter disagrees.

I hooked up the VPI AS device (fish wire) that came with the TT. My sense is that less, way less, is more. What I mean is that when I set up the AS with what I thought was minimal AS force, based on a visual look-see, it appeared that the cantilever was deflecting in a way that suggested too much AS force was applied. I reduced the AS force to just about the absolute minimum I could. I'll see how well I fare.
Bifwynne, thanks for the clarification. I use the VPI AS without any of the little o-rings. I use just the weight of the metal rod. To be honest, with or w/o AS applied, I cannot see any cantilever deflection.
There was a good AS discussion thread going here recently. It appears a majority of audiophiles prefer no AS at all. It is especially true of VPI tables. I removed the AS device altogether from my Classic and never looked back. This was after a friend of mine told me he preferred the sound on his Classic without AS. Before removing the device, I tested different AS settings with a test record and honestly heard no difference whatsoever. Perhaps the Valhalla wiring in the tonearm provides just enough resistance to work as AS, I'm not sure, but the sound is more open and has more air with no AS.

My suggestion would be to at least give no AS a try while experimenting with different levels of AS. It seems that many people are reluctant to believe no AS at all can be the way to go.
Actureus, thanks for your comment. As I mentioned above, I've historically passed on using AS and Peter told me the Zephyr stylus was worn in a way that suggested an AS issue. As I also said, I'm using the least amount of weight possible - just one O-ring. Maybe I try what Brf is doing: not using any O-rings.
I want to add my kudos to SS. I sent off my Sumikp Blackbird with a bent cantilever to have him do his thing. About 1 week later I had my cart back with a straight cantilever for just the price of shipping. Nice work Peter! Saved me $250 bucks at least.