Upgrade to a Lenco. You'll save money AND enjoy the music more.
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I think a fairly lateral move, from a strictly financial viewpoint. I think Avid's Volvere would be a big step up, but the price jump is pretty crazy. I think the VPI upgrades will maybe give you more bang for your buck, if you're already invested in the VPI. Sonic benefits also depend on what else is in your system and what you feel is missing, etc.
Well, the Scoutmaster is a great turntable and reasonably priced. I think you might have to go quite a bit higher in price to substantially upgrade the table. You might consider sticking with the Scoutmaster and buying a Graham or Schroeder tonearm, or upgrading your cartridge, or buying some alignment tools and see if you can get more out of what you already have.
Otherwise, I would guess that you'll get more table for your money if you buy American, because of the exchange rate these days. There are some other excellent TT makers in America besides VPI. Galibier, Immedia, etc.
The audio rule of upgrading holds true. If you want to substantially increase performance, you ususally have to double the money spent. So if your table is in the $5K range, look to spend $10K to really get the jump in performance. In the meantime, check out what you can do to your table to improve performance. Is the arm and cartridge really set up as well as they can be? Are you changing VTA for different records? Adjusting VTA for different recordings is crucial to get top shelf performance. Have you experimented with tracking at different tracking forces? Is the table on a first class stand? If you do not have VPI's motor controller, get it. This would be a huge step forward in performance. Are you using the best tonearm VPI makes? How about using VPI's ring weight? How about their new rim drive if it is available for the scout? Could you be using a better cartridge? There is lots you can do to optimize the very table you now have before you move on to a more expensive rig. By the way, if you buy a new table and it is not truly set up really well, it won;t give you the performance you want regardless of the price tag. Oh yes, one last thing, are you using a really good phono stage or preamp with an integrated phono stage? Does your phono stage enable you to adjust cartidge loading? Does it have adequate gain for the cartridge you are using?
I have to respectfully disagree. The correlation between price and performance in audio isn't that obvious. To get better performance we have to pay a lot more is what magazines and dealers want us to believe. Does an $1,000 amp sound better than an $500 amp? Most likely. Does an $3,000 amp sound better than an $1,000 amp? Probably. Does an $8,000 amp sound better than an $3,000 amp? It is hard to say.
I have heard many modest priced well matched systems sound considerably better than mega-buck super systems.
As far as TT goes, in my experience, price is even less relevant. I had done a side-by-side comparison between an Aries 2- (an upgraded Aries to 2 status) and a Scoutmaster. Aries had the 10.5 arm, Scoutmaster had the 9 arm, both had Helikon cart installed. My friends and I all found that Scoutmaster sounded better than the Aries for much lower price. Well, it didn't go well with me because I was the one who own the Aries.
The point is, don't assume higher price means better performance. The overall system synergy is far more important.
If I implied that there was an absolute in quality v/s price levels regarding equipment, it was not my intention. You are correct, many costly components don't live up to the price point. If you read my comments, I am clearly trying to keep this fellow A-Goner from leaving the VPI and encouraging experimentation with set-up and all other parts of the TT chain including the phono section. I have heard the Scout in its most advanced set-up, i.e. motor controller, periphery ring, etc. and it is an outstanding performer. Add a first class cartridge and phono section and it will satisfy you for a long time. Oh yes, if you add all the after market features, your simple little Scout will have cost you at least double the price of the original.