I was in the same place with my VPI Scout (Superplatter, upgraded motor, SDS, signature arm) and Benz Ruby3. When I discovered that my Modwright Transporter allowed me to enjoy my music better than the VPI, I knew it was time for a change. I ended up keeping the Ruby but using a Clearaudio Performance TT. This TT is quick and lively but still has a great midrange and bass. It serves all kinds of music well.
I might also suggest that you change out the Benz and try a Lyra Dorian or Argo on the VPI. The Lyra cartridges might be just what you are looking for without having to change TT's. I heard an Aries with the Dorian recently and was shocked at how good they sounded together.
Without a doubt.... Lenco!
Yeah go Lenco, you go Lenco...I am amazed at some of the Lenco converts on the Gon, and yet not one converted Lenco and Arm combo sells? What gives here, I thought once you have purchased a Lenco you should have the equivalent of audio Nirvana. I would like to hear from others about this Lenco fantasy and I admit with all honesty, that I have not heard or made a side by side comparison.
Dear Taters: Maybe is a better idea to up-grade your Aries, talk with the people on VPI about.
A cartridge change like Joey54 posted is a good alternative, as a fact you can have the VPI up-grade and a new cartridge and thesechanges can make the analog " magic " for you.
Regards and enjoy the music.
A couple of thoughts. Perhaps the cartridge is worn out or the table is running slow. Do you have the SDS or is the motor straight into the wall? I assume it did not always sound this way or you wouldn't have kept it for three years.
In my opinion, the Aries is a great table. Good luck.
I'm plugging the table right into the wall. I do have 4 dedicated lines. I would like to try an SDS to see if that would help.
Have you checked the speed and condition of the cartridge?
The cartridge is fine. I haven't checked the speed yet. What would I need to check the speed?
You need a strobe and a light source.
Where can I purchase the strobe and light source?
Taters, The KAB Strobe is pretty much the gold standard to have for Belt Drive Tables. Without some form of Motor Controller, (PLC-SDS, or Walker) the Stobe might show you have a +- error, but you won't be able to do much about it. Belts need to be periodically changed, it's the nature of the beast.
Are you absolutely sure your Stylus is clean? What do you use? If not the Mr Clean Magic Eraser, you might want to read up on some of Doug Deacon's methods for using this tool in the archives.
I personally think the original Aries is a fantastic Table, and a very pretty one as well, but with any table, there has to be synergy of Table-Arm-Cartridge-Pholo Stage, and even Cabling, and also as important, critical, proper set-up of Arm-Cartridge.
The Benz's are very good Cartridges, very versatile IMO, work well with virtually any Arm, and I've had two in my lifetime, the Glider, and still have the Ruby 3, with almost no use on it.
They're warm, smooth, nice mids, nothing seems to be lacking, relative quiet in the groove, but......
When I swapped to a new ZYX Airy 3X, this was a Cartridge I liked better than the Ruby 3, seemed to have better speed (If you wanna call it PRAT?) detail, less bloat without the sacrifice of any bass response, cyrstalline highs, and a Cartridge that I found was even quieter in the groove. (All were used on a VPI Modded HW-19 MK-IV Table)
We of course cannot perhaps persuade you, if you have the bug to upgrade to another Table, that must ultimately be your decision. A mint condition, used VPI SDS could be gotten, and if you decided to still then sell the Table, the SDS could probably be sold again, without any loss of money.
taters-You don't need to buy anything to check the speed. A download-and-print strobe is available here:
and any light source will work-fluorescent works best, but incandescent works also. The main advantage of the 100.00 KAB is that it doesn't rely on your home AC-generated 60hz frequency which may be (very) slightly off. If the strobe shows that the speed is off, you can make slight corrections without a SDS by moviing the belt up or down the motor pulley-it's slightly graduated in size for this specific purpose.
***The cartridge is fine. I haven't checked the speed yet. What would I need to check the speed?***
As a VPI Aries II owner, I concur with the other suggestions made about checking the speed of your turntable. For what it's worth, I've found the following to be excellent upgrades to my Aries: SDS and Ginkgo Cloud 11 isolation platform. The SDS really is critical for best performance on VPI tables. The Dynavector Karat 17d2 cartridge seems to match very well with this rig.
It's the table and it's inherent design. You can buy any cartridge you can afford and might sound good on your VPI, try it on a Lenco and it will sound better. Had a direct access to my friend's VPI Superscoutmaster for 3 months. He never like the sound even with Koetsu, Dynavector, and Airtight. He bought a Rek-O-Kut and move on to the Garrard 401.
Just my experience.
It's possible that an 'idler' might be more to the OP's liking, but I'd sure not recommend a Lenco, if for no other reason he'll be forever linked to 'Jean Nantais-The Analog Blowhard', and his crew of toadies over on Home Despot-but then there's also the Lenco's stamped steel chassis, cheap build quality, etc. to further disqualify it.
Your friend's order of progression is the correct one-start with Rek-O-Kut, end with Garrard (or a Saskia, if the OP is wealthy).
Taters, I said earlier that you must have enjoyed the table at one time. If so, that means something has changed. Sometimes we just want to make a change. There is certainly nothing wrong with that. My advice is to be sure it is working properly before throwing money and going on the quest for something different. Good luck.
I happen to agree very much with the poster Johnbrown. When it comes to Lenco and what is being called the greatest phenomenon in turntable history bs. If only by building a bomb proof plinth,you then shall have what we all are trying to attain, musical bliss?
I changed belts about 6 months ago so I don't think that is the problem. My cartridge has less than 500 hours and the stylus is cleaned every time I use the table. I'm currently using disc doctor products. I really think the problem is the speed control. Do you think I should buy the KAB strobe and check the speed or just buy a used SDS and if I'm not happy with it just resell it.
The SDS will improve the performance. I have no idea if if will solve your problem. They are easy to resell.
Are there different types of SDS units. I see some advertised with universal voltage.
Check out the vpiindustries website for the SDS.