I have an Aries 1 and have no desire to "upgrade".
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Not sure there are any current mods-parts available currently off the shelf that would significantly take the HW-19 beyond what Harry W. done 12 years ago with the HW-19 MK-IV Model, with SAMA-TNT/MK-IV Platter.
Virtually any Arm your heart desires could be mounted up on a MK-III/MK-IV Model, with a new Armboard made. Or a new MK-IV one Piece Acrylic Plinth, with Steel Subchassis can be bought from VPI, and drilled for an Arm of choice.
Question is, how deep are your pockets? Let's take this to the extreme, with the TriPlanar Arm as an example. A gorgeous, and fantastic Arm, as its price commands, but some would probably say placing an Arm such as this on a HW-19 might be akin to placing a silk hat on a pig? Not that it wouldn't work, I'm sure the combination could be fantastic, just that others would probably correctly say the HW-19 in any iteration may be a lacking platform for such a world class Arm.
One could easily slap an 18lb Classic Platter onto any HW-19 Table, and same with the 25lb Super Platter if, and when they pop up for sale. (which isn't too often lately)
All sorts of custom 3rd party work can be done to such a Table without too much cash outlay, such as I've done with my own HW-19, but I think there comes a point where the Table may sound "different", but is it substantially "better"?
An example, is my HW-19 now uses a solid 1.00" thick sheet of Black Acrylic as a Plinth, the underside was of course routed for Motor Clearance, and one has to wonder, is/was this actually better than a 1.00" thick MDF Plinth?
Not that the HW-19 is a bad table, but some may say as you've commented, that you're taking a step backwards.
After the smoke clears, you may have invested an amount of money that could've placed you into a better table? Since any HW-19 you may consider will of course be a used Table, one may be wiser considering something else instead? Mark
I would look (listen) before jumping to the Classic. HW himself has stated that the Scout and Classic are comparable in many ways, one dong some aspects of vinyl playback better than the other. So it's a lateral move.
You'll have to find the post to know how tricked out the Scout was (sorry....) It might have been here or AA.....????
I know there is a lot of positive chatter about the Classic but I cannot for the life of me see where the supposed improvement comes from over the Aries/Scout designs. I'll admit, I have not heard it but I just don't get it and am inclined to agree with Greggdeering. I think the limitations of my little Scout are several but perhaps most significant is the arm and the failure to isolate given it's rigid plinth design. My thinking is that a HW-19 with a suspended chassis and a much better arm may provide significant improvement over my Scout assuming the motor and bearing are at least as good. Just speculating here though Markd51 does raise some good points--how much money do I want to throw at an antiquated design?
On my Scout, I have conquered all of the problems you have cited. Target wall mount, spring suspension Brightstar Audio platform, Solid brass spikes on table and motor, cutaway portion of lid supporting motor, Mapleshade NanoMount System drains vibration away from cartridge into arm, and also directs it into the plinth, where it goes into the sand box. A 300 RPM motor and PS Audio P 300 Power Plant steadies the voltage to the motor.
A TTW copper mat and heavy brass clamp securely holds the lp to the Mapleshade Integrated Record Coupling System. Arm is the JMW Signature. Dyna XX2MKII gets everything that is possible out of the grooves for this cartridge. How does it sound? Unlike most any Scout you are likely to encounter, that is, amazing. Credit also goes to the MintLP Tractor, all the upgrades would count for nothing without its contribution.
I know from my experience that the Scout can give you far more than you are currently getting from it. It has come a very, very, long way without dropping thousands into $1200 plinths, $1000 controllers, and $4500 arms.
Hope this helps. It surely helped me.
I agree with much of what you say Islandmandan, the tweaks, attention paid to great set-up (BestTractor) does help. I think I'd be correct saying that every Table Harry W ever made was "tweakable", and ole Harry must be a tweaker at heart, never resting to find different, and more ways to extract fine sound.
I certainly don't see the Classic as the "end all", and wouldn't surprise me in the slightest, that in time, Harry will be selling a "Super Classic", or "Classic II". Only a matter of time, and perhaps part of that driving force is a natural desire-commitment to continue on in business, so that VPI as a company-brand will prosper, not wither.
I think my "forum fathers" here would tend to agree with me, that a great Table-Arm-Cartridge combination, and the sound it can produce usually doesn't come from a hit and miss guess.
That good design logic, high quality parts, the proper combination of parts-materials help vastly to hopefully combine to achieve hamony, and synergy with any given Table, whether it be a Linn, SME, Galibier, Clearaudio, VPI, etc.
There's lot of nice Tables to play with out there, and many from the VPI line that I'd be proud to have-own. I for many years was quite enamored with a Table such as the VPI TNT Mk V. And I always liked the original Aries 1. Mark
I've owned my HW-19 MkIV for almost 20 years, started it's life as a Jr. I'm stubborn probably to my detriment but I seem to want to get the most out of my components (partly for financial reasons and partly for the fun of it) instead of swapping to the next best thing. I admit I've stuck with this table also because I'm committed to my ET arm (which is upgraded as far as is possible, w/ the latest carbon fiber armwand). I have considerable funds tied up in isolation,( MANA Reference Wall shelf, BDR shelves, TNT bearing and TNT II platter etc. I can't use a periphery ring because of my arm, but what I've read and feel confident in saying, is that a TT Weights ring would be far superior to VPI's. My latest upgrade to the table was to modify it for Symposium Rollerblock Jrs. and Precision Supercouplers in place of the springs, (you have to use a SAMA) and taller feet for the TT and motor. This was a major upgrade. I had to make a custom tool to slip down beside the plinth so as to be able to lift it off and on (this upgrade isn't possible without this). Whether all of this is worth it to you, only you can decide. I know that my table and arm aren't state of the art, but I feel that they are good enough to allow me to experiment with better speakers etc. Good luck!