Update on VPI and classic rock lps

Well, after listening for a few days with further tweaks, I can report the Scoutmaster can play classic rock lps.

I have played quite a few of the lps I previously complained about being overly compressed and lifeless. The improvement with these tweaks is much larger than I would have expected.

1. I had my amp on BDR cones, switched to two sets of Aurios Pro Max. Much more air and spaciousness, and at the same time more detail and precision, less smearing.
2. Thread drive on Scoutmaster. More impact, dynamics improved, again more precision, less smearing.
3. Cayin phono came with the metal shrouded tube dampers with springs. Took those tube dampers off, replaced with Herbies. Wow, opened up the sound by a large margin! Those metal cages were obviously damping down the sound something terrible.

Taken together, these three changes have allowed me to enjoy my large collection of classic rock lps again! I'm still looking for a bit more bass impact, and there is a bit of hardness in the mids and lower highs. I suspect a change to Mullard 12ax7's from the present Sovteks will alleviate that bit of dryness. As for bass impact, I'm still trying to figure that one out.

At last I'm hearing at least a bit of that magic I remember from back in the day, when listening to these records on my Dynaco system. I suspect a whole lot more of these recording are going to prove to be satisfying in the future!

I guess I have to eat crow now, I may have mislead some in criticizing these recordings. I now realize they weren't as bad as I believed. Sometimes even an old dog can learn new tricks, and I haven't even listened to my good recordings with the new setup!
You don't have to eat crow as far as I'm concerned. I'm glad you're enjoying these more. Some will sound better than others to be sure but I listen on a SSM with 10.5i and rim drive with what I consider to be great results 80-90% of the time. In my opinion, music from this era is among the best ever created. I hope my system never gets so "good" that I can't enjoy listening to it. I have nothing against playing things like Eleanor McCovey and Patricia Barber on sonic merits but 90% of the time I'd rather play good old classic rock. If that makes me a "bad" audiophile then so be it. I wouldn't want it any other way.
Nice to hear there are still more than a few of us who love to listen to good old rock'n'roll. I enjoy alot of the jazz classics, newer jazz and the occasional female vocalist. But for just plain fun listening, fire up the Eagles, Styx, Journey, Steely Dan, Traffic, Hendrix, AC/DC, etc, etc, etc!
Hi Sns,
I've been following your thread with some interest since you initiated it. I have noticed a wide range of recording quality on lp's, too. I'm glad to hear things are improving. I have a Signature Scout, on Brightstar Bigrock, suspended on springs (ala Dave Garrettson). I'm using a Dynavector XX2MKII, which you might want to consider. Superb bass, great balance all the way through. Some of the tweaks I've found very effective are the Mapleshade Nanomount System (remarkable), and for set-up, the Mintlp BestTractor, custom-made set-up tool. Extremely accurate, easy to use, made a world of difference in how my Scout sounded on all recordings. I also use a modded Simaudio Moon LP 5.3 for phono stage. It all adds up to a front end that is very satisfying, but I went through a lot of analog frustration to get here, and thought I'd have to give it up for a while. Now I'm glad I didn't.
I'd like to try the string drive, I might try to find some appropriate string this week end to give it a try.
Again, congratulations on better listening. It takes time and tenacity to get to the best of what your vinyl rig can give, but so satisfying when it does.
Enjoy, Dan
Tabl10s questions why I have my amp sitting on a combo of Aurios, sorbothane and BDR pucks on bricks.

That picture (in my system listing) was taken previous to my latest tweaks. The amp's four outboard legs now sit on 2 Aurios Pro Max (rear legs) and 2 Finite Elemente Cerapucs (front legs), these sit on the amp platform, the platform's spikes sit on 4 Aurios Pro Max, these sit on about 70lbs of brick. The reasoning and listening tests that went into this:
My system is situated on suspended flooring, any and all equipment stands spiked directly to this floor create an overly resonant sound, mushy bass, smeared and confused mids and highs, squashed macro and micro dynamics. I now have most of my system (exception of amp and tt setup[on wall shelves]) on a large concrete platform that weighs, probably, 400-500lbs (was a fireplace threshold), this has markedly improved the sound. Much more articulation throughout frequency spectrum, greater spaciousness, air, increased detail, transparency, and macro and micro dynamics. The amp, due to space constraints has to go on a seperate brick platform, thus only about 70 lbs of cement. This has the exact same sonic benefits for the amp. Eventually, I will get a larger, heavier concrete pad for the amp as well, expect more of the same benefits listed above.

As for the Aurios/Finite Elemente combo. I've found these add another level of the sonic benefits listed above, spiking directly to concrete and/or using other isolation devices dampens the sound to some degree. The only reason I have the two Cerapucs, is that the Aurios come in sets of three, I now have two sets, I need eight individual Aurios. I've been slowly introducing these in order to determine sonic benefits, another set is on the way as we speak. Eventually, I will be trying the Aurios under the other three racks in my system (between the bottom spikes and concrete slab), I expect the same sonic benefits here.
Islandmandan, the Dynavector XX-2 is at the top of my list for further upgrades. Both you and Tvad mention the MintLP, I will go with this as well, can't hurt to have cartridge setup exact as possible.

As for the springs under the Bright Star, I may go with this, or I might go with Aurios Pro Max. I suspect the benefits are similar, I just think the Pro Max would be more stable, my setup on springs scares me a little bit.

Speaking of Dave, I'm in the process of working with him on building the Superbam SLA battery mod for my Merlins. I expect this will be major upgrade!
If you try the big springs, be aware that they bounce all over the place, but in benign LF oscillations. (Of course they settle down after you cue up the record.) The more mass-loading you give the springs, the lower the oscillating frequency. A heavy sandbox on top of the springs is therefore complementary. Since the entire assembly of motor & suspensionless TT plinth are floated together, the geometry between outboard motor and platter remains stable & fixed. This contrasts to a conventionally sprung suspension such as TNT or HRX. With those sprung plinths and outboard motors, the drive geometry and speed keeps changing with transients of vibration generated from earth and forces of stylus drag, motor noise, and platter bearing friction.

The purpose & effect of the big springs is very different from a conventional lightly-sprung TT plinth. What's particularly surprising is that even with the isolation of a wall-mounted shelf or solid cement flooring, the sandbox set-up still benefits from springs. My theory is that the springs are effective not only in decoupling from earth, but also in dissipating as benign mechanical energy, any vibration generated by stylus, motor, and platter bearing, that is not captured in the sand. I have a custom sandbox much deeper than Bright Star, and yet when lightly tapped on the frame, audible vibration passes through sand to stylus. TT-generated vibration that is not absorbed returns to the stylus.

I think where you'll hear improvement most is in treble resolution, purity & smoothness, which seems still to be lacking after your latest round of tweaks.
Sns, one other free tweak I forgot to mention is cutting free from the rest of the top of the Brightstar the section of lid that supports the motor. It completely eliminates motor noise and vibration back to the plinth through the turntable legs. That was Dave G's idea, too. Good man, that Dave.
Best, Dan
OK Dave, you've convinced me to go with the springs.

Islandmandan, glad you reminded me of cutting the Bright Star plinth, forgot about that one.
Now that you're "dialed in" put on Bad Company, self titled debut. You should be blown away. If not it's back to the drawing board.
One other thing that I don't think has been mentioned yet. Not to state the obvious but these classic rock recordings were all mastered by people who intended for them to be played loud. Don't kill your ears but make sure the volume is high enough to hit 85 db or so at least. Many of these recordings open up substantially when supplied enough juice. If it doesn't, it may truly be a dog.
Ehaller, that is a damn good album, I'll have to search to see if I have it. I still have about half my albums (aprox. 1,000) in storage, I hand clean each thoroughly, a very time consuming project, hard to even get 100 in a full day. I recall seeing some Bad Company, not sure its that first album. With all the lps I have yet to play, or even gotten out, sometimes it seems I have way too much music (at least 5,000 cds as well), some of it may never be listened to again, kind of sad!

As for Bad Company, you should hear the some of the "Free" albums (precursor to Bad Company), the albums, Free, Fire and Water, Highway, Free Live, and even their later albums are damn nice. Some cuts may be the most well recorded rock I've ever heard, transparency in spades, not much reverb, very closely mike, yet sounds awesome! If the Bad Company sounds anything like these it should be a winner.

Just checking those albums, Chris Blackwell produced the first, later on self produced. Chris Blackwell tought these guys a thing or two about sound quality. Remember, Chris is the founder of Island Records, every Island record I've heard has pretty damn good sonics.

SonofJim, I have to listen at least that volume, as my Art Audio doesn't really open up until that volume. SET's in general don't bloom until you hit a certain db.

I suspect I'll still have dogs, my pressings of Roxy Music, not the original ATCO label and Bee Gees, 2 Year On have got to be two of the worst dogs. If these dogs now sound good, I'll have to eat a dog!

By the way, Atmasphere and Tom at Better Records have differing opinions about the sonic merits of various pressings of ELP's first album. I played my orignal Cotillion pressing Thursday night. On Tank there is a bass drum solo that should shake the foundations of your house, my bass was shy there, don't know if its my pressing or my vinyl setup, anyway I definitely need more impact there. Otherwise the album sounded very good, transparent/detailed and nice micro dynamics, not too much compression here.