UPGRADE FROM VPI SCOUTMASTER


Is the vpi prime a significant upgrade from the Scoutmaster.
digital3
In its basics it may not be.

The base of the Scoutmaster is much heavier than the Prime.  It has the 300 rpm motor, same as the Prime.  It comes with an acrylic platter.  Some, but not all, prefer the acrylic platter to the aluminum one on the Prime.  Though the aluminum platter is the same size, it is heavier.

The Prime has a better arm.  It's a 3D arm with easier VTA adjustment.

Try the VPI Forum.  You'll probably get a lot more comments.
I had VPI's many years ago and while I found them good tables they IMHO were just that good tables. I'd look at any of the Kuzma tables they will not disappoint. Not as well know here in the States but once heard there's no going back.
Turntables as a category are very small production run items. As such they absolutely have to command really good profit margins to be worth making at all. This explains why if you look back across the whole field you find the best most highly regarded makers only make a very few models. Kuzma would be one. Linn. Basis. 

The problem is that people coming into it, they rely on what they see right now, which is VPI and Rega ads and reviews (but, I repeat myself) plastered everywhere. Takes a very long time to realize they are the Bose of turntables. Apply a little logic. It takes a lot of advertising to get the word out at that level. Money spent on ads cannot be spent developing product. This makes it a lot harder to even find the really good stuff. Explains perfectly why people like rsf507 who went to the trouble speak so highly.

The best advertising is the customers. Assuming of course you listen to them.
This explains why if you look back across the whole field you find the best most highly regarded makers only make a very few models. Kuzma would be one.

I like Kuzma products but the last time I looked they had 5 tables, 11 tonearms, 6 cartridges and a bunch of accessories in their 2019 line up.  Rega has 8 tables, 4 tonearms and 9 cartridges in their line up.
Hey Millercarbon, you sucked yourself into that one. However I would much rather own a Kuzma than any of those others. He is a brilliant engineer. The Kuzma 4pt 9 is the best tonearm for the money you can buy (big period)
The George Merrill REAL at around $8500 sounded very good, and was in use by a number of exhibitors, at AXPONA. Not sure how many versions there are!

I am another former VPI owner who thinks they are good, not great. I am sure that the new DD with "Fatboy" gimbled arm at 30K is a great deck. But at the price points of everything below that deck, there are better alternatives. I have said it before and I will say it again-the VPI unipivot arms are a pain to set up and even when set up properly they are not great. VPI has never gotten vibration control down to a science; their footers look fancy but are pos, their base/plinths are haphazardly designed for looks and not based on science, and to top it all off, they have a penchant for cobbling together a new design every six months based on the "let's take the platter from bin number 5 and combine it with the plinth from bin number 4 and the tonearm from bin number 2 and call it this cute name". They ought to be called VPEye. They are designed in my humble opinion for people who don't know better and shop with their eyes, much like successful speaker manufacturers. At the end of the day, managing motor noise and having a well thought-out, precision, easily adjustable great-sounding tonearm are paramount. Once you have had the pleasure of using a really top-grade tonearm, well, there is no going back. With VPEye, the tonearm adjustments are awkward to access at best, the tiny set screws are easily stripped, the antiskate is a joke, and there is something very peculiar about the unipivot design in which the sound just never gets to the great level. It is virtually impossible to extract the true potential of the better MC cartridges on the market with a VPEye unipivot arm. 
Since I am on a rant/roll, try replacing the motor pulley sometime. What a joke. Your expensive "precision lathed motor pulley" will likely take so much force to get onto the motor shaft that your motor will be damaged. And then it won't even spin without some wobble. That was my experience when I tried to replace my motor pulley on my Prime in order to use two belts rather than one. I had all kinds of other similar issues with any attempt to replace parts. Teutonic precision is missing. VPEye uses a host of vendors to machine the various parts their McDonald's McNuggets are conglomerated with that often just don't comply with spec. 
I have a good local friend who’s a smart, cautious guy. He’s owned a Scoutmaster for some years now. He’s very thoroughly explored the Scoutmaster-to-Prime option, and conclusively settled on sticking with the Scoutmaster. From what I understand of his findings - the S.M. is a solid table, and there’s no reason to execute a potentially lateral move to the Prime. I think if his findings were at all in favor of the Prime, he’s have done it. But he did upgrade to the 3D arm, and likes it. Seems to be a good arm for MC carts - but I told him to consider the Gimbal fatboy if he wants to run Koetsu in the future (they need good rigid bearings).

When it’s time for the REAL upgrade a few years from now, he’ll certainly be exploring other brands too (e.g. Brinkmann).
Easy. Get a Technics SL-1200G and replace the platter pad with an Oracle platter pad.

The Technics is more speed stable than the VPI (being one of the most speed stable turntables made at any price), and employs six different damping mechanisms, including a damped platter, quite unlike the older SL1200s. If you don't like the arm, which is pretty competent, you can replace that with a Triplanar and have state of the art. Not bad price-wise, which is why Technics has most of the high end turntable industry shaking in their boots. We used to sell a very nice turntable (Atma-Sphere 208, which looks like the old Empire 208 but with a highly damped platter and plinth) but IMO the Technics is a better machine.
I have a Superscoutmaster/3D 2nd pivot/Classic Platter/replaced the feet with Bearpaws (very large brass cones).....haven't heard better.  Was just listening to Moody Blues - Days of Future Passed, and enjoying the lyrics.
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I am sure that the new DD with "Fatboy" gimbled arm at 30K is a great deck.


Small correction. Pretty sure the HW40 (if that's what you're referring to) with the Fatboy gimbal can be had for $15K, less with a trade in. Still not cheap by any means, but it takes a few of the competitive tables out of the equation.

Hey all, just to pop in real fast... totally agree about how a uni-pivot can be that is why we put a lot of time into the development of our Gimbal Fatboy. 

@tonyptony  has it correct, the HW-40 is 15K.  We learned a lot, have improved on our manufacturing and assembly process and were ale to drastically reduce the price of the deck.  The main saver was in the volume of parts.  Regardless, if we save money than I believe in passing that on to the end user the best we can.

Also @fsonicsmith  I agree with you about our former vibration control engineering... I think my dad did the work back in the day but then re-used the same concepts without re-analyzing the approach for different materials/models.  Not the case anymore, the feet that are on the HW-40 have been researched, measured, and tested by my in house engineer Mike Bettinger.  We have a video up called "the bottle test" where we beat the heck out of the platform while the turntable is playing.

https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=335742833641928

At the moment, the HW-40 Direct Drive is the must current and efficient in regards to technology.  We also have a full white paper on it to learn more:

https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/5e0564_6dd7041af16e4823b3279a521f15aba6.pdf

We aren't perfect, but we will always try to step up our game :) 
I can tell you that while at AXPONA I was in the Credo Audio / EMM / VPI room where the HW-40 was being used. While in there HW, at an opportune moment, started pounding on the rack the HW-40 was sitting on while it was playing. Not a ripple in the music. I'll be the first to admit I wish my Avenger was that good at isolating from external structure borne vibrations.
What is with the vpi bashing? I owned a prime scout and now a prime signature. Both tables are incredible value for the price, but more importantly they sound amazing. I was an lp12 user for the last twenty years and when that died my daughter and I went on an almost four year journey. Listening to Brinkman, well tempered, clearaudio and technics tables. The prototype of the vpi prime scout that we listened to which was less than half the price of some others we listened to stood out. We used it for a year and upgraded to the prime signature which gave us some more but the law of diminishing returns always apolies. This is the last table anyone needs. I like the unipivot. I am an engineer by profession and like what it does. No album is perfect from a flat surface or how the grooves are cut. The 2 side weights on the unipivot rock back and forth on some less than perfect records. I always wonder if that was a fixed bearing how much stress and twist that creates for the cantilever thereby straining the suspension and innards of the cartridge. Additionally with a fixed bearing when the cantilever twists how it might cause the stylus to damage the sidewall of the record groove. Finally the tonearm bearing would eventually loosen from the stress.

Mat at vpi has some solid engineers behind him that are veterans of the industry like Mike Bettinger. The new prime line are engineering marvels.

This is not only my opinion but those of many happy users like myself that are seasoned audiophiles for decades. Look at some of the reviews. 

It is maddening when people just trash a brand with no research or proof behind it just that they might have had an issue at one time it another. Vpi is second to none in customer care,dont care what industry you are in vpi should be used as the model. In the end its your ears and wallet that should prevail. 
I just noticed the OP was a month ago. A one-liner. The OP didn’t even bother to use a question mark. He hasn’t posted since. And his name is digital.

Well, digital3. I guess digitalTroll was taken.
@soundwatts perhaps your reading comprehension is not the best. Your writing skills are not so hot either. I didn't have "and issue or two". I lived with multiple VPI unipivots for almost ten years. You went from one fiddly table-the LP12-to another. Have you ever lived with a deck that had a top tonearm like a Graham, Reed, Moerch, or SME? Once you have, you see how crude the VPI unipivots are by comparison. Yes, for the money they are very very good-unipivots afford a means of providing minimal friction/stiction at low cost. 
You are an engineer and yet your total conjecture is laughable;
I always wonder if that was a fixed bearing how much stress and twist that creates for the cantilever thereby straining the suspension and innards of the cartridge. 
Oh yeah, those "innards"! Is that an engineering term? 
I must say that Mat is a gentleman of the rarest order. His response causes me to think very highly of VPI and I myself would love to have the HW-40. But I have about the price of two HW-40's invested in my TD124 and Garrard 301 so I am simply not in the market for another deck. 
If anyone has an issue with the "wiggle" of the unipivot on a VPI arm...for 150 you can install the 2nd pivot which eliminates the wiggle, and provides better sound for the arm.  Highly recommended.
And of course there’s no reason one cannot mount any arm one prefers on any VPI table if he or she so chooses. I don’t know, I still like my HW-19 Mk.3, and now an Aries 1. Great values used (the only way you can buy them, of course). I anxiously await the next iteration of the Townshend Rock, an Elite Mk.2 version of which remains the center of my LP playing system.
nd of course there’s no reason one cannot mount any arm one prefers on any VPI table if he or she so chooses.

This is why up around this level it pays to start looking at each component and not lump it all into "turntable". I just think in many cases it makes a lot more sense to focus on improving one part at a time. Arm or table, could do either one first, hardly matters which. For most of us that means being able to afford an arm of a level that would be too expensive if included with a turntable. Don't even have to sell the one you replace, keep it and put it back on when its time to sell. At which time between what you saved and what you'll get selling you can afford a really good table. Its more work, takes a little longer, but a whole lot better in the end.
I agree with you millercarbon. At first, it seems daunting, but adding the arm of one's choice to a motor unit is not that difficult when the deck is designed with arm options in mind. 
And Stingreen, once again we disagree. The mis-named second pivot (actually an outrigger on a crude skid plate) does little to push the unipivot to the sound quality level of a top gimbaled arm. I know from first-hand experience. 
My first serious table was a Thorens TD-125 Mk.2, and back then (in the early-mid 70's) no one bought one with the arm Thorens offered for it. I had an SME 3009 Mk.2 Improved mounted on mine, as did many others.
@fsonicsmith You know when a person starts a personal attack on the other it is usually to cover up statements that have no substance.

I have owned an SME tonearm on an ariston and my opinion is that the VPI unipivot betters it or the Ittok or about half a dozen other gimbal arms I have owned.  Again this is my OPINION just as your argument is no more than YOUR opinion.  Give us something besides an opinion.
Unipivot arms don't. They are a cheap and easy way to build a tonearm. No bearings to adjust no tolerances to meet. Too many degrees of freedom when you only want two. Even Graham has to resort to an array of magnets to stabilize his. A stiff arm tube is not good with a sloppy bearing. 
Atmasphere, IMHO I do not think speed stability is an issue with most modern turntables. I think isolation is significantly more important along with mechanical stability under the conditions that most of these units operate. Flash idea! As you know I am fond of suspended turntables like SOTA and SME. Why don't we engineer a turntable suspension that is tunable and can be modded for use with most unsuspended turntables. I do not know of an effective one and I am sure there has to be a patent in there somewhere.
VPI lost me with Unipivots, no anti skating, idler wheels and looks over performance. I do not want to spend money on jewelry. I want performance. Having said that they are coming around. Their new Direct drive table is handsome and you can get it with a gimbaled arm. Bravo. Now engineer it with an effective suspension, give it a dust cover and you are getting me interested. 
Atmasphere, IMHO I do not think speed stability is an issue with most modern turntables. I think isolation is significantly more important along with mechanical stability under the conditions that most of these units operate
Get a Sutherland Time Line and place it on the turntable in question, then see how long the dots stay put. Place record with some bass impact- watch what happens with the dots when you set the arm on the LP.

The dots should not drift.

All radial tracking arms have some skating forces. As the speed varies so does the skating force. This causes the arm to oscillate slightly over the stylus, altering its left to right tracking force slightly. You certainly can't hear the variance in pitch, but you can hear the stability of the sound stage when the speed is locked in.
My 2cents, VPI makes a great product at reasonable cost, I find it easy to set up and the Unipivot arm is great IMO. Are there better out there, of course but not everyone wants to sell a kidney. For myself I'm very much pleased with my VPI and cannot see any reason to want/need any other. As to the bashers, keep on bashing while I keep on listening to whatever may be playing on my VPI.
Enjoy the music!
I have had the 1200G for a little over a year.  It takes a while to figure out what works best.  Its a great table even without upgrading the arm which I am sure takes it to a completely different level.  I like mine with torque turned down completely and stock arm with original headshell.  I would like to try that oracle mat. I am currently using the older Boston audio "The Mat" and a Lyra Delos at 1.72 grams with matching anti skate.  Sounds pretty good to me
I also like the ortofon LH-4000 with the Delos lol