Typical upgrade path from VPI?

I've had my Scoutmaster w/Sig arm for a couple months. It came with a Shelter 501 MkII cartridge setup by Elusive Disc. I've since had it re-setup and between that and break in, it improved.

I've recently added a 3g headshell weight (as per suggestions). Unfortunately, my main complaint still lingers: lack of midbass. I can switch to a CD (Benchmark DAC among others) and midbass seems fine, but absent on the TT. I get LOW bass (if there's low bass on the recording, I hear it as if I have a subwoofer), but mid-upper bass is weak.

It could be the Shelter, I realize this. I am willing to try another cartridge, and in searching threads on this, I read a lot of comments suggesting that the JMW tonearm (even sig version) is only so good (i.e. don't buy an expensive cartridge).

If one wants to bring things to the next level, are there compatible tone-arms? I also read complaints about the pivot tech of VPI, which suggests another TT may be something to consider.

So I'm curious as to what other brands of TT I should consider.

My system:
Rhea Signature phono
ARC Ref 3 preamp
Theta Citadel 1.5 amps
Speakers are still being auditioned (Dynaudio, Rockport in the running).

I am not sure where your problem is, but I own a VPI Aries 2 Extended with a JMW 12.5 arm and ZYX Atmos cartridge. I disagree with those who think the JMW arm is only so so. The sound I am getting is great. Mid bass and lower mid range has plenty of weight and body. Low bass is very accurate and powerful. The top end is crystal clear with no glare or smearing. I have found this combo to produce a very live sound with a huge sound stage and great depth. I have heard many very good turntable/arm combos, and I continue to be very happy with my VPI. I went to the RMAF last year and heard many very expensive turntables, but I enjoy the music from my VPI.
I say this with no disrespect, but you've been soliciting advice about this for some time and haven't done any of the suggested system adjustments and now seem ready to go down an even more complicated path before trying simpler solutions. Your previous thread solicited near unanimous opinion that a properly set up VPI is not deficient in mid-bass, so why are you ready to throw out the baby with the bathwater and install a new tonearm when a simpler solution will solve your problem in all likelihood? Not to say that there aren't better tonearms, of course there are. Try what the manufacturer sells and recommends, the 1.0 mv output Dynavector. Or try the Reson Reca moving magnet for sale on this site for $425( or a Grado.) If you try that cartridge (or a similar warm sounding moving magnet design) and you still feel your rig lacks midbass, you're never likely to care for the sound of your VPI. Why worry about the the next level when you don't have things set up well enough now to establish a proper ground floor? I know getting all this sorted out is a pain, best of luck.
It's not the arm or the table and shouldn't be the cartridge unless there is something amiss. In your previous thread I suggested trying another cartridge, even a cheap one, to see if you still experience the same problem. The arm, while not my favorite, is fine and works
quite well with expensive cartriges. I've owned the arm and heard it many times, in many systems, and never experienced what you are hearing. You may not care for VPI but that setup does not lack for mid-bass.
I'm not giving up on the VPI that quickly. It has truly opened my eyes to the amount of detail you can get with LPs. I'm still enjoying it, and I do love the fact that it can be upgraded, tweaked, etc.

Up until recently, I didn't have the confidence to consider changing the cartridge myself and my dealer talked me out of doing that in the short term (I'm auditioning speakers and the advice was to wait until that was sorted). However, when Harry from VPI mentioned that I really needed the 3g weight with my cartridge, it seemed like the right thing to do, although it necessitated re-setting up the TT. A good thing probably as it got me to take the do-it-myself plunge.

I now would like to try a different cartridge. I am still confused as to which one to get. In one of the other threads I asked but didn't get a response. I don't understand the dif between H and L or M models and there seemed to be some confusion over whether you can get the VPI-specific Dynavector separately (my dealer says it needs to come pre-installed on a tonearm).

So when searching today for cartridge suggestions I accidently dug up a few threads on how the VPI may not be right for classic rock, or anything less than perfect recordings, etc etc and it got me wondering what another TT choice would be - IF I decided to give up on the VPI. Again, I'm not there yet - I would be crazy to do so without swapping cartridges (in the very least).

Sorry if I'm frustrating anyone. The more I learn the more I realize how much there IS to learn about analog - and how little I know.
Madfloyd, just by a $50 cartridge and give it a try. If you're still hearing the same thing you will, at least, know your cartridge is OK. In more than 40 years I've never heard a set up that had good bass and no mid-bass. Your description confuses me. If your cartridge is OK then you simply don't like the VPI sound. I love it but we all here differently and like different presentations. Finally, what is the point of evaluating speakers if your source isn't performing to your satisfaction? How can you evaluate anything? Resist throwing money at a problem where you have not isolated the cause.
Many variables affect the sound. What about the phono preamp, have you tried different load settings?
What I might try if I were you is this...

Just get a $50 Audio-Technica cartridge and see if it sounds better. If it does, then there's something very wrong with your cartridge or MC phono stage.

There are just too many of us VPI owners who know that your problem isn't with the table itself. When I compare my table to CD, it outperforms in virtually every category.


Just to answer a few questions:

- I'm not auditioning speakers with the TT, I'm using various sources (CDs etc)

- I'm currently using a Tube Box SE II while my Rhea is being repaired. My dealer adjusted the load settings.

Thanks again for the advice. I'll look into sourcing a cheap cartridge; that's a good idea.
Anyone who says the VPI doesn't play rock well has theirs set up wrong, crazy bad system synergy, or has most unusual perspectives on sound. Hopefully, your Aesthetix will be back soon and you can try different load settings. I'd think it's possible your Pro-ject is a culprit here. It sounds possible that your dealer is on a power trip and is trying to make their customers too dependent on their expertise. You can look up the Dynavector on VPI's accessories section of their website and order it yourself. If you were able to reinstall your Shelter without grief, you can install the Dynavector fine also. One last word of advice, you'll find detractors and irrational enthusiasts giving their opinions about every manner of product out there. When a product has sold well and the numbers are there, I look for a consensus opinion and ignore the fringes.
What's under the turntable? I just did the "full Pierre (Sprey)" under my 70 lb replinthed Lenco and have been amazed at the improvement, though I can't single out the mid-bass region specifically.

This setup calls for very heavy Mapleshade brass cones under the turntable, a 20x24x2" maple platform under the cones, and four double IsoBlocks (rubber-cork things) between the maple platform and the equipment rack. I had something similar before, but the difference is not subtle. Good luck, Dave
VPI's do not lack mid-bass, IME. I used to have an Aries 2 for about 3 years in my system and really liked it. I ran it with the JMW 9 and later an SME IV, both tonearms set up with a Benz Micro Reference cartridge. Mid-bass was quite tuneful and satisfying with either tonearm. Upgrading to another table, arm, and cartridge combo brought a much quieter background and more image focus and detail, but the mid-bass has not been dramatically different.

One way to improve mid-bass, perhaps, is to tweak the isolation under the table. I have a solid mass rack from Billy Bags (I like how it looks). I recently added a Grand Prix Monaco stand with Apex footers under my turntable and I noticed a significant improvement in the mid-bass. That was an eye opener, as I thought the sound was already suberb before the Grand Prix stand. The mid-bass is where I really noticed the difference.

Also, is your subwoofer properly integrated with your main speakers? Perhaps try auditioning your speakers without the subwoofer and see if the mid and low bass are integrated better.

Bottom line is I wouldn't give up on the VPI if the problem is mid-bass. I think the problem is elsewhere.
Glad you're staring to adjust things yourself. It will take practice but eventually you'll get much better results that way because you'll be willing to put in the time. It's kind of like washing your car. No one else will do it as thoroughly as you will. If you want it done right, do it yourself. In this case there's a learning curve though. I said this, sort of, in your other thread accidently but it is absolutely ridiculous for anyone to say that a VPI table can't play this or that kind of music well or don't put an expensive cartridge on a VPI. You can play or do anything you want to with a VPI. You can also get wonderful results. Buy whatever table you want but don't take the opinion of every nay sayer out there as fact. It's mostly a matter of preference. Set up is everything. There's more than one way to skin a cat.
I'd bet you have a sub speaker integration problem.I would vary my crossover points.Probably up.No higher than 60 Hz if you only have one sub.Higher if you have two.I own several subs they all collect dust now.I never got them to give as good base as i could get with full range speakers.
That vpi is a good deck.You have a good cart.Unless something is broke id say check the subs or maybe you don't like(taste) the mix of components you have.
My third idea is could it be your room?Your room is half your sound.
Hi Redtop.

I don't use a sub. My room is soundproofed and retains bass energy. My current speakers are Aerial Model 9s - a bad match as these are bass heavy speakers that overload the room. So when playing any other source besides my turntable, I get way too much bass (working on that problem - auditioning other speakers etc). So I know that problem is isolated to the TT somehow (I've swapped amps, preamp etc).

I'll have my Rhea back tomorrow as well as a new cartridge to try out. I've pretty convinced that it's not the actual turntable, but the cartridge. We'll soon see.

Madfloyd, I think that you just nailed the problem with you latest responce. If your speakers are overloading the room in the deep bass, then I bet that your are getting a bunch of mid bass suck outs due to various node multibles. These suck outs can be 15-25db deep and are caused by the dimensions of the room and its effect on the nodes.
I can speak from experience because I have sub woofers and had room node peaks at 80,160 cycles and a 18db suck out at 40hz.I installed 8 basstraps in my room and that not only brought the suck out up,but brought the peaks down.
You say that your room is soundproofed, but that is a lot different than treated acousticaly. I would bet that a whole lot of bass traps like the panels from RealTraps would cure 95% of your problem. Without an acousticaly treated room it is useless to audition any other speakers in that room.IMO if the Ariel 9s are loading up the room, the ones that you are considering would be worse.Not only that, without a treated room you cannot know what any component of your system is capable of.
I would suggest that you either borrow a Real Time Analyzer, or find someone that has one and will help you with it, and take a sound profile of your room and I think that you will be surprised at what you see.
Like others have said on this thread, I have a VPI Scout and I get all of the low and mid bass that I need now, but not before I treated the room.
Good Luck
Thanks for the response, Carter.

I did purchase quite a few RealTraps (too much actually, have to sell a bunch). I have only 4 of them in place - they turned out to be too cumbersome - my room looked like a junkyard with more of them. They didn't solve the problem (helped somewhat though).

I have tried other speakers in the room without the same issues. I have a pair of Genesis 6.1s in another system that I tried - worked great. My old speakers (which I still have) are Von Schweikert and I've always thought that they had pretty flat bass response and they work in the room (I don't like their lack of high freq detail though). Also have auditioned Rockport Miras which didn't overload the room either.

I too have a spike around 80hz. I'm auditioning Dynaudio C2s over the next couple days (receive them tomorrow). My guess is that they will be a tad anemic in the midbass, but I do like the detail so I'm going to try them anyway.

All this to say that you are right about soundproofing not being sound treatment, but while my room is not perfect, it's not that bad either - the Aerials have 4 bass drivers per speaker - simply a crazy amount of bass for my situation.
without knowing what the actual response is from your TT you are just guessing. Buy a NAB broadcast test disc, play it back and measure the output voltage from your pre amp at each test frequency. Once you know what the response is, then you can figure out what is needed to solve your problem.
Umm, that just went over my head. What's a NAB test disc, and how do you measure output voltage from a preamp?
Don't worry about it. You don't need to do any of that to set up your system. It helps but is not essential. If you are not hearing the mid-bass problem with your digital but do hear it with your analog it is not a room issue. Fix the core problem and then consider your room. It will only make things better.
From Narrod's post: "If you are not hearing the mid-bass problem with your digital, but do hear it with your analog, it is not a room issue."

BOOM! Exactly correct. Thank you for saying what I was thinking.

Madfloyd: you said, "I can switch to a CD and midbass seems fine, but absent on the TT."

So let's stop talking about basstraps. Madfloyd, have you purchased a cheap cartridge yet? You have been well-advised to check the performance of your Shelter with this simple action. You have me interested now. I look forward to hearding your result.
Your original comment stated you had lack of mid bass or bass. Before you begin working on your room or speakers, you need to make sure your TT is getting it off the record first. This can not be done by listening. NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) used to use a frequency response test disc when Setting up a table for Broadcast use. What I was suggesting was obtaining one of these discs, or a similar disc, play it back on your current TT configuration, and measure the output at each frequency the test disc has. The easiest way to measure this is by connecting a volt meter to your pre amp out puts. Set the voltmeter on AC volts 2 volt range. Play the first track on the test disc. Record the out put voltage. Play the second track on the disc, record the output voltage, and so on.
At the end of all this, you will have a range of frequencies from the disc (they are identified on the LP label) and the measurement you took with the voltmeter. If you want to get fancy, you can transfer this information into Excel and generate a plot, but what you are basically looking for, is at each test frequency, was the voltage you were measuring at your preamp, the same or close to the same. If it was then your problem is elsewhere. If the measurements are different, then you have work to do on your phono stage, TT or cartridge. Hope that helps. While the ear is quite good at picking up slight differences, quantifying those differences is not as easy, that is why the suggestion for taking the measurements. If you want, contact me off line, and I can talk you through it.