purchasing a Scout/Scoutmaster: need input please

hello analogers,

this will the first time i purchase a hi end TT. i've owned a couple of technics 1200 mk2 over the years. i've never owned a "hi end" system beyond an $800 denon 5.1 receiver with a parasound digital processor which is about 8 yrs old now. my front speakers are jbl studio (also 8yrs old) 3 way with a 10" driver. my 1200 is connected straight into the denon phono input.

for years i've been wanting to upgrade my TT.
i've also been wanting to "properly" archive my vinyl collection to a digital format so i can travel with my music. remastered cd's never sound as good as the original vinyl pressing. they sound good but not the same dynamics and they sound different..period. i'm a recording engineer and i have professional quality A/D convertors and software so i have that part covered. i'm a big analog fan and in the studio, i still record to 24trk tape machines (i have 2 studers) and have a huge collection of vintage mics, eq/pre's and compressors (while all my peers have completely embraced digital multitracks like pro tools or logic). i've purposely kept my home system moderate because i'll sometimes test my mixes at home and i wanted a system that would be like an average home theater set up. so i'll probably keep the setup for movies but i'm going to upgrade the phono section and eventually a seperate amp. the jbl's are efficient enough and actually sound great in the room and have a nice flat response which i prefer.

i've been researching and thinking of getting either a VPI SCOUT or scoutmaster W/JMW 9 TONEARM and going for a P75 mkll to start.
-elusive disc sells a scout with the dynavector 20xH (1mv) for $2250.

-there's a scoutmaster for sale here on audiogon with the jmw-9 signature and a 20xl cart (250hrs) for $2150. cart needs to be installed.

-and at better records a scout with the Anti-Skate Option and the Aries Stainless Steel Clamp for $2850.

-are the scouts/masters too much TT for my current system? or would i hear a clear difference with the scout paired with the P75 into the receiver? i plan to upgrade the amp stage later on down the line.
-is 250hrs low mileage for a cart?
-how long do good carts last anyway?
-is it hard to install and setup a cart and tonearm? i can do the wiring easily but i'm a stickler for perfect calibration and i know i won't have the time or instruments to do it perfectly. i do enough critical tweaking at the studio and it would bug me that i haven't gotten it perfectly and i could spend days tweaking it. if my schedule was 9 to 5 i wouldn't think twice but i simply don't have the time. so i would tend to go for a pre-installed cart. i know eventually i'd have to replace the cart but i'll cross that bridge...
-i've read the dynavector is a good match with the jmw but a lot of it were the 10x5. anyone recommend the 20x with the scout or scoutmaster?

i would like to stay under $3k including the p75 unless someone can convince me to go the extra mile with a new scoutmaster or convince me that it's okay to go with the used scoutmaster and install the cart myself.

sorry for the long post but i thought it appropriate to go into details. oh yes i will spend some money on a good record cleaner...yikes, there's another $400 or so.
If i were you, i would stretch a bit and get that Vpi Classic instead but you might have to wait a bit though.
I can imagine the much raved Classic cannibalising the sale of various Scouts from Vpi own stable.
Agypsy...the Dyna 20X is highly recommended by VPI and they actually sell it with their tables (http://www.vpiindustries.com/products_dyno1.htm) because of the synergy with JMW-9 tonearm. Good luck.
I say get what your budget allows. To be sure there is always better for more money. AND; sure the rest of the system could be better BUT; you will still get so much more than what you have now, you will be gaga.
There are some very "high end" audiophiles buying and upgrading The Technics 1200 MK II and MKIII, a Canadian friend of mine sold his $6000 Raven one and is putting together an upgraded Technics 1200 MKII. If I were you, I would look into this aspect of turntable upgrade first. Look at Albert Porter's Technics upgrade thread here on A'gon, he sold off his Walker Black Diamond in favor of the upgraded Technics 1200MK II (or maybe the III, I'm not sure). Anyway, check into it, you may be doing yourself a favor. I was tempted to offer to buy it from you, but chose to to do the honorable thing.

I am in the same boat. I have a new in the box Scoutmaster Sig, Benz Ace H, and Mint protractor ready to be set up. But I also have a Technics 1200 MKII with an At150 MLX, Mapleshade heavy footers, different mats and headshell.
Don't know whether to further mod the Technics or set up the VPI. I don't have the room for both.
IMO-I would focus on your system as a whole. I totally agree with upgrading your TT-and the VPIs are awesome TTs-I wish I had one. But for $2500 or so, I would opt for a gently used P3/Sota Comet/mmf so I could upgrade to a good quality integrated amp at the same time, or buy separate components 10-15 years old-like McCormack, Classe, Counterpoint, etc. Just food for thought.
I was a Technics dealer in the days when they made far better tables than they do now and am astounded at the vogue for the 1200, which the other experienced audiophiles of my acquaintance all regard as a DJ table. If any of you out there have a Raven or similar table you are tired of I will gladly send you a new 1200 in exchange. Actually, I wouldn't, i'd try to talk you out of getting rid of it. I suspect that they are popular with those who want their LPs to sound like their CDs.
I believe Albert Porter's project is based on the SP10, which is quite different from the current 1200 models. But perhaps the 1200 is unfairly damned as a DJ table.
hmmm, i browsed briefly on a couple of sites talking about a the 1200 upgrades but that's more research that i don't have time for. i've already got my hands full doing mods and refurbishing some of my studio gear and mics.
I own a VPI Scout TT and had it with the Dynavector 20XL cartridge. The sound was truly very fast, detailed and magical. Unfortunately, the suspension collapsed on the cartridge (I bought it used) so I changed to a ZU/Denon DL 103 cartridge. While very impressive, it isn't in the same league as the Dynavector. When finances permit, I will have the Dynavector repaired. I think the Scout with the Dynavector is the way to go. It's a lot of bang for the buck and the VPI has incredible build quality. Build quality is as good as your Studor tape decks.

I used to sell Studor many many years ago, great recorders.
hey stereo5,

thanks for the reply. well tape machines are ecoming more rare these days. very cool that you worked for the legendary company.

Sorry for going oftopic but I think it is great that you still record using tapemachines. I spoke with a recording engineer some time ago and he partly blamed many of todays bad cd productions on the abuse of pro-tools.

Ontopic. I would advise you to buy a second hand VPI scout, and a new cart. Depending on budget and taste a Benz, Lyra, Dynavector or Grado cart would do great. I have heard VPI wil Benz and Lyra, I prefer Lyra, Benz is more coloured I think, some people like the Benz sound but I don't think they are that neutral.

Don't buy your cart online, but go to a specialist and let them install the cart for you. I think installing a cart is not that hard but people who install cart once in a blue moon can get 90% out of the cart. A true specialist can set your table up so you can get 100% out of your cart, table arm combo.

In a studio where some I sometimes come with some other audiofiels uses to play with our audio.

OTARI MX 80 24 tracks 2 inch. Dolby A.
TASCAM MSR 24 S 24 tracks 1 inch Dolby S.
Studer B67
Telefunken M10.
FOSTEX B 16 16 sporen ½ inch Dolby C.
TASCAM synchronizer ( 48 tracks possible) .
hey Mordante,

cool, i see you have some tape machines as well! my friend has an M10 and it sounds wonderful. i did a special guest Q&A on gearslutz.com where i'm completely bashing pro tools. digital is great for editing but it will never sound like tape!

it's here if you're interested

ok back on topic :)

thanks for the advice, i agree with you. i will try and set up myself but i know i might now get it to 100%.
Looks like I gave some bum info on this thread. They say the mind is the first to go, or is it the eyesight? I forgot. I'm glad somebody set the record straight, (no pun intended).

Best to all,
Now that you are going to set it up yourself I will suggest you get a Mint Protractor. That will get your cartridge perfect and you'll mainly only have to worry about setting the tracking and rake. It's not that hard and is well worth the effort. I'm sure many will chime in on the merits of a Mint.

There is one currently listed here on the 'Gon with a mint:

SM/Mint LP
Agypsy, I am the owner of the Scoutmaster you listed and I can tell you I would not be selling that table if I had not run across my dream table.
My wife told me not to buy my new TT because the system sounded great with the Scoutmaster
Agypsy, I tried to edit my original post but another poster posted before i got it posted.
I asked some of the same questions before I bought the Scoutmaster. The answer I got then was that the Scoutmaster was a big upgrade over the Scout.I can assure you that the signature arm is no small upgrade either. Now obviously, I have a vested interest in which table you choose since I am the owner of the Scoutmaster you listed. The better table by far(the Scoutmaster) is $700 cheaper which IMO makes it a no brainer. There is nothing gained by speending $700 more for an inferior table, unless buying new is a necessity to you. However, a Scoutmaster and cartridge which has very few miles on it is a much better buy IMO. Now if a new SM and cart were $700 more, it may be a consideration. But I'd not pay $700 more for an inferior TT. But that's just me. I've bought new, used and demo and have not been disappointed with my purchases. But i did my homework and would urge you to do the same and make yourself comfortable with your decision.
This may seem like a shameless plug for my Scoutmaster. But I'd say the same about any SM which is in good shape. I'd urge you to do some research and read some reviews for yourself and make the decision which makes you happy.