VPI Aries 1 upgrades?

I had a conversation earlier today about upgrading my original Aries + JMW 10.

It was recommended that the biggest upgrades (bang for the $) would be:
1) Platter, bearing + periphery ring (@ approx $1300)
2) JMW 10.5i (@ $1200)

Other possibilities include the single motor+flywheel ($700, i think), just the lower noise motor (~$140), and/or the forthcoming new hr-x style feet ($200).

I already have the SDS.

I started to add up the costs of the upgrades and realized that we're approaching the price of the ScoutMaster Signature (esp if you subtract the SDS). I started to think that the decision is really whether to perform the upgrades, or to attempt to sell the Aries/JMW combo and pump the money I would have spent on upgrades into a new unit.

I asked the man himself about making the choice, and he could only say that they sound a bit different (and that the Aries does look a little better, but that's not a big concern to me).

I have enjoyed the Aries tremendously, and I think that any shortcomings I notice are probably more related to the fact that I moved somewhere and have not been able to properly stabilize the rack on which it sits.

Does anyone have any thoughts on the above upgrades? They are pretty pricey for me, but I'm thinking about what I want to do next/strive for.

Do my existing platter + bearing have any value to offset the new platter/bearing/periphery ring? How much?

Has anyone compared the Scoutmaster Signature to the Aries?

What would you do?

Thank you in advance for your thoughts!
I would be very carefull about 'upgrading' your Aries 1 with the lighter platter and periphery ring. There are many that do not consider this an upgrade at all. The sound is considerably lighter, which gives the impression of more detail, but you lose dynamics and bass. It is a matter of personnel taste, of course, but I do not care as much for the new design. Do you have the Mk5 platter and bearing?
Thanks for the response. I do not know if I have the Mk 5 platter or not, but I have not made any upgrades since the purchase some time ago (I am the original owner).

It was the stock Aries platter & bearing.

To be clear, Harry recommended the HRX bearing, platter and periphery ring as a single upgrade "package" -- and that does not necessarily mean that he would recommend doing the bearing/platter w/o the periphery ring.

He did say that it is the #1 priority upgrade for the original.

Losing dynamics and bass is not something I want to happen, of course. I wouldn't mind a bit more detail, and I'd like a little more of a "forward" presentation (sitting closer to the first row, rather than all the way in the back).

Thank you!
I'll add my 2cents as a former Aries/JMW 10 owner who upgraded to the Aries 2 platter and bearing. HUGE difference for the better. I did not go with the periphery ring..so cant comment on its use.

You will gain everything your looking for with this upgrade. Much better bass, a quieter, blacker background and a more seamless,coherent,slightly more forward, yet focused sound.

I'd start with this upgrade, then you can upgrade to the 10.5i arm later. Also, make sure you have the 300 rpm motor..thats also key to the upgraded sonics.

FWIW..I regret selling my Aries 2 last year, but have since found a deal on a SM table with 9 Sig arm. I think its every bit as good as what I had in the Aries 2.

Good listening!..
Thanks for the input, Ken!

Was the Aries 2 platter all acrylic? I imagine it is different from the latest HRX bearing/platter.

I figured out that the version I have is the Mk. 4 acrylic/steel/lead version.

Thank you!

Yes, the all acrylic platter. The Aries 2 bearing is the inverted type and based on the HRX design. I believe the new HRX platter/bearing is different as well.

Believe me, you will hear the difference with the Aries 2 acrylic platter and bearing installed.
thanks again. sounds like this $600 bearing/platter upgrade goes beyond the aries 2 platter all the way to the hrx...unless i'm misunderstanding something.

do you know what year the hrx came out? VPI made no mention of the bearing/platter upgrade for my aries 1 brining it to the aries 2 level.

anxious to try it out.
The upgrade im speaking of.... IS.... the Aries 2 platter/bearing.Thats the combo you want.

The Aries 2/ Scoutmaster is the same platter/bearing and is not the actual HRX combo..but is similar and based on the HRX...Hope this clears up any misunderstanding.

The Aries 2 platter/bearing fits your Aries 1 as a replacement. The 2's platter is thicker and thus makes the platter higher up..so you will need to use the newer motor and a spacer(avail from VPI) for your armboard to compensate for the height increase..

As for your original Aries 1 MkIV or 5 lead/aluminum/acrylic pla/bearing set.. you can always sell it on Audiogon. Guys with HW-19 tables are always looking to upgrade to this combo.

You did not mention what pre amp or phono stage you are running. I'd be careful of the upgrades. I have the same VPI system you do. orig. Aries with JMW 10 arm. I got a bigger bang for the buck going through my phono stage with all Vishay resistors, new caps, and building a beefer power supply.

I am not so sure the newer versions are better; but def. are different. too many times people fail to distinguish between the two.

thanks so much Johnss--
i think you have a very good point: 'different' is not always 'better'.

i use an audionote m8 phono stage.
I have recently traded up from an original Aries to an Aries 3. There are 3 main differences: the platter/bearing, the arm (10.5 to 10.5i), and the plinth. I have added the periphery ring and center weight, by the way. I went through the same thought process that you are doing and came to the conclusion that buying a new unit rather than $2500 of upgrades (platter plus arm) was the way to go. After roughly 6 weeks, I can tell you that this was a MAJOR improvement in every regard. And, in a direct comparison with an HRX, I prefer the Aries 3. It is a bit lighter and 'faster' than the HRX. I have NOT heard it compared directly to the Scoutmaster Signature, and so cannot comment in that regard.