Just one man's opinion, but if you add the new flywheel/ motor ($900 retail); the SDS; the ring clamp and the center weight, I have to believe the Aries 3 will best the Super Scoutmaster. The Aries 3 has the new sandwich plinth (acrylic/aluminum); can be purchased with the 10.5 arm. Logically, the only advantage the SSM has over the A3 is the HR-X motor. By upgrading to the flywheel/motor, you essentially equal the performance of the HR-X motor. I have the A2 with a 10.5 arm; flywheel/motor; ring clamp and center weight and I am in vinyl heaven. The only advantage the HR-x has over my rig is the suspension, but I am on a cement slab (basement) and I have the table on a custom made 4 1/2" maple butcher block. Not to mention, in my humble opinion, the Aries is nicer looking than the SSM.
Stew3859...I too have the Aries 2 w/10.5 tonearm with the periphery clamp, SDS and center weight, but didn't know that I could add the flywheel motor. If you put it outside the frame on the left side of the original cutout, is the platter belt from the motor spindle the right length on the Aries 2?
Kjl- the Aries 2 is one killer table without the expense of the HRX (sameplatter and inverted bearing, but without getting the extended, you can't get a 12.6 tonearm.
I also have the JMW 9 on a separate TT (Acoustic Sig Final Tool) and the 10.5 is clearly superior.
I wholeheartedly echo Stew's comments re the Aries 2. I have an Aries 2 rig almost identical to Stew's: Aries 2, flywheel/motor, periphery ring, center weight, JMW 10.5 "plus" (with Valhalla wiring upgrade), and SDS. My cartridge is a Helikon. I have not heard a HR-X, but I bet that this comes very close. Stew, where did you get that 4-1/2" maple butcher block that was big enough for your Aries 2 with the flywheel/motor?
FWIW, Harry Pearson of TAS chose the Super Scoutmaster (SSM) and the TNT HR-X for "Golden Ear" awards. He chose the SSM over the various Aries tables, which I thought interesting. You might want to look at the article that Pearson wrote about the SSM before you make your buying decision.
Folks should keep in mind that when the first Scout was issued they were marketed as "Aries Scouts". They are part of the Aries family with a smaller footprint. The Aries 3 is coming out with a plinth design based on the Scoutmaster/Super Scoutmaster plinth. Both have as stock the same 300 rpm motor, they both offer variations on the theme of flywheel, no flywheel, dual HRX motor, etc. The Aries Black Knight (someone correct me if I am wrong) cannot accept the periphery ring. The larger clear acrylic platter of the Scoutmaster/Aries 2 can. The major difference between the Aries and the Scout/Master/SSM is the gloss black of the Aries, the larger footprint of the Aries and the ability to take the JMW 10.5 arm where the Scout series uses the JMW 9/9 Signature. people can argue all day as to which of the two is the better arm and both would be right.
I've just sent my 300 rpm motor from my ScoutMaster that is "tricked out" (JMW 9 Sig arm, SDS, center weight, outer ring) to VPI to be upgraded to their new single fly wheel motor combo. (see their web page for details). Mr. W told me that it will work with any VPI table that has a cut out for motor; Scouts, ScoutMasters and Aries.
I thought about selling table and upgrading to a Super ScoutMaster or Aries 3 but decided to upgrade the motor and spend the rest on all the vinyl I can get my hands on instead.
The motor/flywheel comes with a pair of belts, one from the motor pulley to the flywheel and a second from the flywheel to the platter. In fact, VPI will send you a second belt for the platter just for the asking as they find a second belt provides greater speed stability. Keep in mind gentlemen, and this is important, if you are going to add a flywheel, you MUST use some kind of speed controller. It is for this reason that any table VPI sells with the HR-x motor, i.e. SSM or HR-x comes with an SDS as stock. I use a PS Audio P500 for speed control. With the new upgrade, it is adjustable to a 1/16 of a Hz. Without a speed controller, the table will run slow. So anyone contemplating the motor/flywheel upgrade better account for a speed controller in the equation.
The butcher block was custom made for me. Truth be told, it was made before I went with the motor/flywheel upgrade and now the rubber feet of the motor on the left side extend out slightly over the beveled edge. I can only hope it is not affecting the performance of the table. The motor is quite stable so I tend to doubt it.
Joneill.. Did VPI discount the cost of the flywheel combo in exchange for your 300rpm motor? I haven't found an upgrade path other than purchasing the combo.
Stew3859...I have both the SDS controller and the P500 set to 60 htz for all of my other components. If I wanted to run it alone with the P500 I guess I could see what htz the SDS uses for 45 and set it, but I assume that would mess up the rest of the components attached to the regulated outlets, so I guess I am better just using the SDS.
I am currently using a Ginko Cloud 10 which just holds the Aries 2 so if I wanted to add the better motor, I would need a bigger platform. I just didn't know if the belt for the HRX would be the same distance for the Aries 2 at the end of the left side of the plinth.
Paul McGowan @ PS Audio recently tackled your issue , but as to a P300. I presume the same applies to the P500. Bottom line: Not to worry. See below.
VPI staff does favor JMW-9 over all other arms they make because it's more rigidly coupled to base and arm tube is more rigid as well. And that's the reason they spend more time and effort on improving the JMW-9 instead of their longer arms. Not my opinion, just stating what they told me over the phone.
Don't forget the JMW-9 Signature option. Short arm has its advantage, think SME V or IV.Vi. SME used to make long arms like 3012, but when they introduced the new generation arm (309, IV, V), they kept IV & V short.
Actually, SME is introducing a new 12" arm, the SME 312S. See excerpt from Stereophile newsletter:
But the allure of a 12" arm was too strong to deter Robertson-Aikman. He extended the magnesium barrel of an SME Series V arm to 12", along with careful sleeving, superb pressure fitting, the right touch of adhesive, and that inimitable SME finish. The result is the SME Model 312S, which probably has the lowest mass of any 12" arm ever made. It can be used with cartridges in the normal weight range of 6-15gm, and with compliances not deemed too low or too high by most makers.
In a word....yes.
Call Sheila Weisfield or Email factory for upgrade pricing.