My advice is to search for an un-sprung table.My friend had the MKIII and moved to another that was un-sprung and his sound improved drastically.With the economy as it is,there will be plenty of deals to be had.
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You do NOT have to use the springs that come with the MKIII or MKIV VPI! One of the best mods you can do is use either the sorbothane pucks from the VPI Junior or try to find a set of SIMS Navcomm Silencers. I use the SIMS on my MKIII and LOVE what this table does. There are several other "puck type" units you can use. Try Audio Asylum for MANY mods for the HW series of VPI tables.
VPI still supports the HW series, but with limited parts. Here is the link:
I disagree about buying an unsprung table. In my experience, wether you like the sound of the HW19 with springs or not completely depends on what you are sitting the table on, and wether your floors are springy or not etc. Much harder to come by a set of springs after the fact than to get (or constuct) something to use instead of springs. So, if you have the option, get one with springs. That way you have the option to experiment. I owned one for many years, and switched from springs to pucks to cones and back at least four times; all depending on the setup.
The HW19 is a terrific table, and for the money just about impossible to beat IMO. Many upgrade options available. The HW19Jr is not in the same class as the regular HW19, specially the MK4 with heavier platter. The standard lead filled/cork bottom platter of the HW19 is very good.
As far as the bearing goes, this is a simple test that has worked for me: disengage the belt and give the platter a good spin. Put your ear close to the platter. You should hear NO grinding or swishing noises at all. The platter should take at least a solid minute to come to a complete stop; two minutes or more is ideal. Feel free to email me for more personal experiences.
If you're seeking a VPI HW-19 without being previously drilled for an Arm, it will be an easier matter seeking a version that has the Steel Sub-Chassis, and seperate Armboard. A new Black Acrylic Armboard can be dupicated-copied, and re-drilled for whatever Arm you like, by either you, or a competent machinist-carpenter.
Basically, there's only three things that might wear on the non-inverted older VPI Bearings, the Bottom Thrust Plate, the Upper Bushing, and the little 1/2" Ball Bearing that resides on the bottom of Bearing Shaft.
As for what services VPI now presently provides, these may be good questions to pose them. I would suspect that the little screw in Thrust Plates are available, and VPI may still offer Platter Bearing repair if it is needed.
Bushing materials for the Bearing Well could've consisted of a number of materials over the years, Bronze, Nylon, Rulon. Again, if VPI no longer does such work, this is not beyond a competent machinist.
Lack of lubrication, meaning a neglected Bearing would of course show more wear to Thrust Plate, and Bushing Surface. These should of course wear first. if there's wear on the Bearing Shaft, this would probably tell me that the Bearing was indeed severely neglected.
Te MK-IV version would be ideally the one to get, and can come with either the original MK-IV all Acrylic Lead filled Platter, or a combination of Acrylic-Aluminum, most likely meaning its the older TNT Platter. With these heavier Platters, I'm sort of doubting how well "Pool Noodles" will support a heavy Plinth with Subchassis, and a heavy Platter.
The stock Motor is still available, is nothing more than a 600 rpm Hurst AC Synchronous, and the SAMA I undserstand is available as well.
If you browse the list, you'll see what still can be gotten, but there may be a number of little parts, whatnot, that might still be gotten? Mark
If possible, try to buy the HW-19 Mk 4, which was the last incarnation of the TT. It has an improved bearing and platter, and also allows for further upgrade to several of the earlier TNT platters. I have owned the HW-19 TT for nearly 20 years, and have continually upgraded it by: 1. getting better tonearms (I finally settled on the Rega RB-900, which I modified as well); 2. upgrading to a TNT platter; 3. removing the original plinthe suspension springs and replacing them with the Sorbothane pucks; 4. adding the SAMA. Each of these upgrades made audible improvements to the overall sound quality of my LP's. I also made a home-built TT platform filled with 40 pounds of lead/sand mix, which provided a subtle but helpful improvement to reducing vibration feedback. Several years ago I was considering selling my HW-19 on consignment thru a local high-end dealer, and then replacing it with the VPI Scoutmaster with JMW-19 arm. Interestingly, the dealer actually talked me out of this, saying that the HW-19 Mk4 -- as I had modified it -- was at least the equal of the newer Scoutmaster (in sound quality, although not necessarily in appearance). I subsequently took my HW-19 to his store and did some A/B comparisons against the Scoutmaster and a Nottingham Space Deck, and his judgment proved correct -- my HW-19 stacked up very well. So, until such time as I have a LOT of spare income, I'm quite content to live with my HW-19 Mk4. The one precaution I have is to provide regular maintenance to the HW-19's thrust bearing and well. If you use your TT a lot, then I suggest you replace the bearing grease/oil every 6 months or so. With moderate use of the TT, then annual maintenance should be sufficient.
I really appreciate everyone's response. I'm still in exploratory mode right now, but the HW-19 Mk 4 is on my radar. The big unknown is how I'll mount the Hadcock. It has an unusual pivot to stylus distance of 228 mm. Most 9" arms are 222. If I go with VPI, will I have to drill a new mounting hole? Or should I use a third-party armboard?
Mounting Hole Diameter 3/8" (15.87 mm)
Overall Length 289.6 mm (11.4")
Height - 43 mm (1.70") - 90 mm (3.5")
Pivot Stem Length to Top of Arm 86.4 mm (3.4")
Pivot to Stylus Point 228.6 mm (9.0")
Pivot To Centre of Turntable 212.85 mm (8.38")
Offset Angle 23°
Rear Overhang 60.9 mm (2.40") maximum
Mingles, Finding a Table used such as the HW-19 MK-IV used would then more than likely need an entirely new Armboard fabricated ala third party as you suggest, and would need to be drilled for the Hadcock Arm-Armbase.
The Spindle to Pivot Distance is very very close to the AQ PT Arm's specs, and since the Hadcock's Mounting Shaft Diameter is very thin, only requiring a hole diameter of 3/8", it may be possible to superimpose the new Hadcock Arm Base over the existing hole, re-drill-tap holes for the Hadcock Arm Base, and possibly "hide" the existing hole from the previous AQ Arm Mounting Base? This is a big "maybe" though?
The Arm Board is a seperate piece on the better HW-19 Tables which possess the Steel Sub-Chassis, which attaches via screws to the Sub-Chassis. There were two version Armboards, one was the standard .500" thick, which was at the same height-level as the Acrylic Plinth, and then there was the Super Armboard, being 1.00" thick, and did sit higher than the Acrylic Plinth itself.
VPI's literature back in the day usually touted the thicker Super Armboard as a sonic upgrade to the table, but there was another reason for the "requirement" of the thicker Armboard.
That reason was, the MK-III Platter, and particularly, the MK-IV-TNT Platters were much thicker and were higher in height versus lesser HW-19 Platters, and thus needed the Super Armboard to better correctly attain correct VTA height with an Arm. Without going to a thicker Armboard, the other option would be a custom made spacer between Tonearm Mounting Base, and Armboard. Mark
Tough to say? The VPI HW-19 Series (although I own one) is sort of a dated design, being introduced well over 25 years ago. This doesn't mean its a bad Table, but hard to tell you what Table you should be using-buying to fit this Arm to? Much depends upon the amount of money you wish to spend?
One could also simply buy a VPI HW-19 Jr, the least expensive of them all, and re-construct the Table with a new custom Plinth, which could be made of various substances, MDF, Corian, Acrylic, and even Aluminum if one chose to. This then means labor, or labor costs. Any-All Parts used on the Jr can be sold seperately on this forum to offset any incurred costs. Parts such as Platter, Plinth, Tonearm, Dustcover, etc, etc.
The question is, is it worth it for you to go this far, taking a simpler Table, and doing all this to it?
Since the HW-19 is very modular by design, one can upgrade to a variety of VPI Platters, bought used, or new, including the newest $1200 MSRP 25lb Super Platter, the Stand Alone Motor Assembly (SAMA) can still be gotten, the VPI SDS Speed Controller works will all VPI Tables as far as I know. Some physical issues will be encountered going to thicker-heavier Platters, such as attaining proper Arm-VTA Height, and Dustcover clearance issues with Clamping systems. The Taller HW-19 Clear Acrylic Dusctovers are still available through VPI.
This was how my HW-19 started life, as a Jr model being upgraded over a 2-year period, with Better Cone Feet, MK-IV Platter, new Acrylic Plinth, another Tonearm, Custom machined Parts, such as Platter Clamp. I only went this route, because it was what I had on hand, and seemed to be the most cost effective, and the easiest for me to do.
No, the HW-19 is not the lastest, and greatest, won't win any beauty pageants, and rank comparably to a Aries 3, HR-X, and of course doesn't cost what these Tables do, but it is a good design, that can sound very good, dependent upon components (Arms-Platters-etc) used in the build up-modification.
There's countless ways one can go, one can also buy a complete table, with a good, comparable, or even better Arm than the Hadcock, and sell the Hadcock to offset costs? Tonearms are somthing that sell very well here, so that can be another option? Of course, how much is willing to spend will be a very important consideration? Again, hope this helps you. Mark
The HW19, while an aesthetically "dated" design, is performance-wise, not a dated design at all. The Jr.'s main liability was it's inferior bearing/platter assembly. The original acrylic/lead/cork platter (not the Jr.) of the true HW19 is an excellent platter. Much superior to the Jr.'s lighter frosted acrylic platter. The bearing is also much better than the Jr.'s. While reconstructing the Jr. with a better plinth will most definitely improve the table, the improvement will not be nearly as sinificant as upgrading the original Jr. platter on the original Jr. plinth. The very best possible plinth material will do nothing to improve the Jr.'s problem with pitch instability, and PRAT as compared to the HW19 MK1,2,3,4. This problem had everything to do with the inferior platter/bearing. The upgrade to heavier TNT platter, combined with steel/acrylic plinth of the MK4 take the table to a level which makes it competive with many much higher priced tables. Not to mention additional possible improvements by way of SAMA, flywheel, SDS etc.
I started with a HW19 MK2 then upgraded the platter (very good in it's own right) to the heavier original TNT platter/bearing: tremendous improvement in solidity, pitch stability, PRAT.
Then to a full blown MK4 (acrylic plate) with the same platter/bearing and SAMA: nice improvement. Slightly faster, yet richer sound. But relatively subtle, and not nearly as great as the platter upgrade to the MK2.
Then I added a SDS: greatest improvement of all. Much better sense of control, improved soundstage.
Then to a hybrid TNT6. TNT6 plinth, Ginko ball suspension towers, TNT5 acrylic/steel platter, SAMA, single flywheel, SDS. More refined sound still. Quieter, improved soundstaging, slightly better bass extension.
The moral of the story (to me, based on my experience)is that if you accept that the VPI TNT is a contender for being one of the better tables around, a HW19 MK4 with SAMA, and ideally with SDS, when well situated and suspended, is not nearly as far behind as one would think given the price difference. BTW, tonearm was always the same ET2, and a variety of cartridges.
Mark and Frogman, thank you for the detailed info! I really appreciate your replies.
How does the Scout compare to the MKIV? Is the JMW-9 arm equal to, better than, or inferior to the Hadcock GH228? Buying a table that's ready to go out of the box would be soooo much easier than anything else I've considered. Tweaking an HW-19, and mounting the Hadcock, will be time consuming. That doesn't rule it out, but it's a factor. If I'm not mistaken, an MKIV with TNT heavy plater, SAMA and no arm will cost in the neighborhood of $1000. A Scout with JMW-9 can be found for about the same price. It makes me wonder why I'd want the fuss of a project.
All bias aside, I like the way the HW19 looks. The platter on the MKIV is a better platter than on the Scout, for better rotational inertia. The 19 accomodates more tonearms than the Scout (try putting a linear tracker on a Scout), and allows you the flexibility of experimenting with different types of suspensions. Reread Sdcampbell's and note that his comparison was to the more expensive Scout Master. By many accounts the 19 gives a fuller, warmer, more musically involving sound (this part obviously a subjective thing), than the leaner sounding Scout.
Good luck with your decision.
This is all good advice and as a current HW19jr owner, I orginally purchased the table with the intent of upgrading over time. Since I have neither the skills or time to perform these upgrades today, can anyone tell me who still is modifying them/upgrading them? VPI has very little in the way of parts?
This is a great discussion about a fine table. VPI's Harry Weisfeld was asked over at VinylAsylum how the 19IV ranks with VPI's current tables and he had this answer:
The 19 MK-4 was one of my favorite tables, I would put it between a Scoutmaster and an Aries 3 but in someways as good as or better than either. Tt has a great soundstage and really takes the walls down when listening.
Basically nobody out there in audio-land is doing any mods, or selling any upgrade parts, as far as new Plinths, Armboards, or fabricating such are concerned. Some months back, I contacted VPI, as I had heard they may have had some HW-19 Steel Sub-Chassis left, an important component, if you wanted to take the Jr, to a
legit MK-III, or MK-IV Status, but alas the folks at VPI claimed there were none left. As far as I know, neither ar Armboards, Sorbo Pucks, Suspension Springs.
Very little left I'm afraid, maybe the Oak Bases, Dustcovers, Motors, maybe Hinges, and an On/Off Switch, but that's about it.
If you wanted to take a Jr to a higher level, like I did some months back, I had to get the raw materials (Acrylic Plinth) and have the Plinth Drilled by a local Machinist. A couple of the older VPI Platters (TNT, and MK-IV) will fit the Jr, it's a quick swap, but one might then encounter Tonearm Height problems.
Again, I had a custom, taller Arm-Base fabricated to accomodate a taller 16lb MK-IV Lead Filled Platter. Same would be true with the current all acrylic MK-IV Platter, or Super Platter, in that Tonearm Height might be a problem without some mods to raise its height.
I believe the SAMA is still available, but appears to always be a back-order item with VPI. One can make a "poor man's SAMA", by supporting-isolating the Plinth from Base. I've heard some have done it quite simply with something like 4 tomato cans under the Plinth.
The VPI SDS will work with any VPI Table, past, or present. Hope this helps. Mark
I just made some 1 inch think armboards from Michigan hard maple. They are stained gloss black with at least 3 coats of glossy urethane. I made 4 of them and used one for my audioquest tonearm. I have to say the sound is more controlled and carries a slightly warmer tone than the skinny acrylic arm board. I am using the springs and the table have cone feet sits on a slab of 3 inch think michigan hard maple as well. All is good and I am liking it.
I recently picked up a HW19 Mk3 for a aux. system. I was really suprised by how good it sounds. Why look for one if this is your feeling, "I'm not married to the idea of a VPI HW-19." Does that mean your open to others or your only considering it since it's affordable and available?
Parts are still available from VPI, maybe not the armboard, or plinth, or sub chassis but the bearing is since it was used on many other older models. I had an armboard made up by someone on A-gon but they can be had used as well. You can also put the newer bearing on there with the newer acrylic platter. My friend did this and it's a great sounding deck.
I think for the price it's really the way to go. If you plan on buying used lp's it's a great match especially with a Rega arm.