VPI HR-X vs SME 20

Hi all,
I’m on market for new turntable and can't decide between two: SME20/A
and new VPI HR-X, I had a chance to listen to SME20/2A and I was impressed it had great bottom end and good control, overall presentation was good, build quality also very good, you sort of get filling that will last for ever, but somehow I fill that its not as musical as I would like. Unfortunately not much info on new VPI as it is so new, wonder if anyone here have chance to listen to above two TT's and can share experience. I’m in Sydney so demo on VPI hot rod is difficult.
Best regards,
I heard the HR-X at the C.E.S. it sounded very musical.
I cannot give you a direct comparison between the TT.
The few times that i have heard SME tables i found them
to be more on the analytical side.It is also possible
it might be the setup.AS far as build quality you cannot
beat the SME tables.Good luck in your quest!
I have a SME 20/2a with SME IV.Vi arm. It's just about perfect in everyway. If you want a different sound, change the cartridge, the table/arm is very neutral and will absolutely show you anything a cartrige has to offer.

I'm sure the VPI is great to.
Both TTs are very good, and both will show good deep bass quality. What you probably were hearing is that the SME table was probably equipped with an SME tonearm, which are noted for their excellent bass response. The HRX was equipped with the JMW arms, a unipivot, which is known more for midrange liquidity and musicality, and does not have the bass qualities of the SME arm. You would not be disappointed with either selection, it is more a matter of choice.
I would go for the SME 20. It is a more finished product. The VPI HRX is having all sorts of problems. The SME 20 is reliable, ready for market and marvelous.
Jtinn, HRX problems? Please elaborate on what you know. Email me if you are uncomfortable posting.
Yes...I too am interested in hearing of any problems with the HR-X????

Tks Rick
Jonathan, to post that a product is having problems without going into any details borders on irrisponsibility. What are you basing your comments on? I ordered my HR-X during the HE 2002 show when the prototype was first shown. The table was delivered in December, 2002 and has operated flawlessly since delivery. During the interim period and since delivery, I had many conversations with Harry Weisfeld regarding the table and its design. Never once was there any mention of problems with the design. I have also heard from a couple of owners in the meantime and there has been no mention of problems. Just what problems are you talking about?

Jonathan, I also find it interesting that you did not mention the fact that you are carry the SME turntable. Given the fact that you did not mention that is also not good form.

Jonathan, I have a lot of respect for you but you are way out of line on this one my friend.

Rufus Smith
Before I bought my Basis TT, I checked lots of other Designs and beside the sound quality,
my other priority was the built quality
and how reliable they are.

I did like the SME TT, it was one in my top list beside Basis Ovation or Debut and Simon Yorke, I wasn't mad about the Arm, but it is a good one and can be replaced with a Graham, when using heavy cartridges.
At that time only the TNT was ready to listen to, and one of my friends owned the TNT HR.
To make the story short, the VPI was never on my list, there are some better out there .....
many thanks to all for your opinions and advise.
Rufus: I am NOT a dealer for either product, although I have owned turntables from both companies. Specifically, there ARE problems with the motor and the arm. I have a friend who has been waiting forever for the replacemet motor and arm. If you are uncomfortable with my statement, I will put you directly in touch with him. As an owner of this table, I can understand why my statement would make you feel the way you do and I am sorry for that.

I too respect you and we have a mutual friend who has my highest regard. I have no motivation here other than giving Andski a "heads up" on what I know.
Jonathan, let me make sure I have got my facts straight here. Is it correct to assume that your assertions regarding problems with the motor and arm on the HR-X are based on one friend’s experiences? If that is indeed the case, to make a blanket statement that all of the motors and arms are defective is grossly unfair and misleading. Let me illustrate my point. A mutual friend of ours bought an Audio Aero Capitole Mk. II CD Player. As you are well aware, his experiences with the player have been a nightmare. Let’s assume I posted the following on the bulletin board in response to a question regarding the Capitole and another player:

“I would go for the XXXX CD Player. It is a more finished product. The Capitole Mk. II is having all sorts of problems. The XXXX is reliable, ready for market and marvelous.”

How would you have responded to the post? Given that you probably have sold more of these players than any dealer in the country, I imagine you would have been defending the product and calling me on the carpet for doing so. This post is no different than what you posted about the HR-X. Do you now know what I am trying to say here? While your friend may be having problems with his table, to make a blanket condemnation of all of them is way off base.

I am sorry for my confusion over you being an SME dealer. I could have sworn that I saw on the Chambers Audio website that you were a dealer. I would also like to take you up on your offer to contact your friend. I find it very hard to believe his problems have not been addressed by VPI given their reputation in the industry for customer service. I have a suspicion here that we are not getting the whole story on the situation. My motivation for responding to this has nothing to do with me owning one of these tables. I don’t care what you or anyone else thinks about my purchasing decisions. I know my experience with the product and it goes counter to what you have stated. I just don’t like to see one of the truly nice people in this industry getting unfairly slammed.

All the best,

Rufus, can you keep us all posted on this? I am very interested in the outcome. I too am interested in the VPI HR-X TT and would like to know the potential problems.
I currently own an Aries and I have not had any problems with the motor. Although, the Aries does not use a flywheel. Jtinn's comment about the arm (12.5) could be with regard to the anti-skate? If so, he may be correct in his concern. However, with (very) carful playing around with the cable you can get it correct (if not close), and Wally has a new anti-skate device that may do the trick!
Rufus, your assumptions are incorrect. My friend has not had the chance to try the table, which has been sitting in his house for four months, because both his dealer and the VPI factory said they were having problems.

When you speak with my friend, who is an Audiogon member, you will certainly feel differently about the "reputation in the industry for customer service" statement.

When I sell the Audio Aero, I let everyone know about the problems that have arisen. I also suggest for these reasons that they buy new so they have the warranty. I do not always suggest buying new to my customers.

My friend is out of town, but I will put you in touch with him. He will be visiting me during the weekend of the 21st. Please ask our mutual friend for my phone number and I will put you in touch with him.

Let us get another thing straight, I never slammed anyone and maybe you need to re-read these posts. The other thing you need to be aware of is as a reviewer, you think anyone is going to share with you info about problems they are having with a product you will be reviewing? Please.
Time to jump in and clear this up.

There were three HR-X motor assemblies shipped with only one capacitor in the assembly instead of two. Our mistake. Both assemblies were immediately replaced to the customers and the old assemblies were sent back in the new assemblies box. No down time at all.

One motor assembly had too close a tolerance between the flywheel bottom and the assembly and the flywheel over a period of time settled down and touched the base. Same action, same result. All flywheels raised by .030 inches.

These are normal teething problems in the startup of a new product. Anyone who tells you differently is lying through his teeth. We cannot foresee every possible thing that can go wrong in a product from day one. That's it, finished, end of story.

VPI has been making turntables for 25 years, the TNT version for 15 years. The HR-X is the final evolution of a product that has won Stereophile Mag. "Analog Product of the Year" 3 times. Is used by more manufacturers than any other table in the high end and has an amazing record of longevity.

BTW, VPI has won the "Analog Product of the Year" 4 times total, The TNT HR was HI Fi Plus Analog Product of the Year and Editors Choice.

I will tell you that after hearing the difference the periphery record clamp makes, I feel any expensive challenger in this arena that doesn't have one cannot hold up sonically. It is a real and constant improvement across the board and negates the use of vacuum and its associated problems. The same holds true for the flywheel and it's sonic results.

As far as Jtinn is concerened, you should really tell this customer to call VPI not you. What will you do for him, sell him an amplifier, hold his weiner!! That's all you could do for him because you can't solve his problem, real or imaginary. His problem is with his dealer and VPI. When I find out who it is I will post a full explaination. I am really pissed at this. We have the best service in the business and when things like this get posted I feel it is all for nothing and a huge waste of energy!!!!!!!!!!!

If you think it is easy making things for reasonable prices in the US why don't you try doing it. Oh yes, the HR-X is cheap compared to what other compaies would charge for this level of engineering and manufacturing. The SME has no periphery ring clamp, no flywheel, no air suspension, and is $12,500.00 retail. Do you get what I am saying.
Jonathon, I don't think you understand the point I am trying to make here. Your blanket statement that the HR-X has problems appears to be based upon one person's experience. To say that all of the tables have problems based upon one person's experience does not make sense (at least not to me). All I was trying to do was trying to get that point across using the Audio Aero our friend has as an example. If I based my opinion of the AA on his experiences, I wouldn't touch one with a 10 foot pole and I would be wrong as it is an excellent player in spite of its teething problems, which you have been upfront about. I really do feel that if I had made a post about the AA like you did about the HR-X, I would be called on it. That is just my perception based on other posts regarding the AA.

I felt your comment was a slam in an offhand and around the bush way. That may not be what you meant, but that is the way it came across to me and others.

And yes, I do agree with your comment that most manufacturer's probably would not share information about a product that was having problems with a reviewer who was about to review that product. However, that does not apply in this case, as I told Harry up front when I ordered the table in May that I did not want to review it. I bought it solely for my own pleasure to replace a TNT Mk. V HR. The only VPI table I have ever discussed reviewing with the Weisfeld's has been the Scout. As I consider Harry and Shelia good friends, should I review the Scout, that point will be disclosed in the review.

Harry has been very upfront with me about the VPI during the entire design process of the HR-X. He and I talked at least twice a month from the time the table was ordered until it was delivered about how the process was coming. I was made aware of the three tables Jonmatd mentions in his comments by Harry awhile back. Harry has hid nothing from me that I know of.

Assuming your friend has indeed poor service from VPI, it appears to be the exception rather than the rule as evidenced by the posts on this board and AudioAsylum. I just find it hard to believe knowing what I know of VPI that anyone could get bad service from them. But I also realize you are not going to make everyone happy.

Looking forward to talking with you next week and I hope this dialog has not caused any problems between us.

My question is who the hell is Jonmatd???? I surely hope that's not ANYONE from VPI asking Jtinn to hold his clients weiner(that's a disturbing picture)!
Jonmatd: This customer, who is a personal friend of mine, has called and written VPI countless times, upon my suggestions, and has had

little satisfaction. He feels it is almost impossible to reach you guys with the limited hours that you provide (Tuesday through

Thursday). He felt he bought what was, supposedly, the "top of the line", "best there is" VPI product and within one month, there is a

new "top of the line", "best there is" VPI product in the HR-X. Great customer service and loyalty, in this case, questionable.

Now I make this statement on this one case. In the past I have heard many customers state, that once they can actually speak with

someone, they receive full satisfaction. For that VPI is to be commended. Phone service, maybe not.

Many problems do not show up until many hours of use and that is quite understandable. Admitting this, is nothing to be embarrased about

and certainly an explanation, not an excuse, can easily eleviate customer insecurities.

Have you ever heard the expression "Don't shoot the messenger"? I am not stating that VPI is a bad company or makes bad turntables and

tonearms. All I said was that "I would go for the SME 20. It is a more finished product. The VPI HRX is having all sorts of problems.

The SME 20 is reliable, ready for market and marvelous." Maybe in hind sight I was a bit vague and the word "all" is improper, but I

told the truth. You are attacking me in a childish manner for sharing information that has already been publicized. No secrets here.

Customers who purchased early, trusted that everything was fine. Maybe this is isolated to just a few units, maybe more than a few, but

they should be handled with the highest priority. A company is truly judged by the way they handle problems. Great customer service is

done after the sale.

These "real" problems are yours (admitted to him by your company,) not his and maybe you should, humbly, show a bit of professionalism

and refrain from the insulting remarks. You certainly have a lot more to lose than he or I.

Also, most of your post sounds like an advertisement in Stereophile.

BTW, Do you want to also explain the issue concerning the tonearm?

Rufus: Please, lets you and I take this off line and deal with our concerns via phone. I am going to ask our mutual friend for your phone number and I will call you. First Root Beer is on me!
this has become a disturbing thread. Jonathan is my good friend, i have had some very positive communications with Rufus, VPI has taken great care of me personally and earned a great reputation for customer care, and Jonathan's friend with the VPI HR-X is also a friend of mine and long time VPI owner.

and yet it has become personal and nasty.

Jonmatd, assuming you represent VPI, your nasty comments toward Jonathan will not help VPI's reputation. whether Jonathan is right or wrong your approach is inappropriate. i know about this problem but not in the detail that Jonathan does. Jonathan was wrong to generalize about our friend's problem with his HR-X without more information......but i personally know he had nothing to gain by it....he just likes SME. at one point he considered becoming an SME dealer but never did.

since the person with the problem is not availible i strongly suggest that we roll up this thread and put it to bed before any more dirt is thrown.

is VPI perfect? no. do they care? of course. would it be better if they were availible 5 days a week instead of 3? yes. did some HR-X tt's get sold with problems? it appears, yes. is our friend's HR-X fixed? not yet. is VPI doing what it can to fix the problem? probably.

everyone needs to give one another the benefit of the doubt until all the facts are in.

let's all go enjoy our Saturday.
Mike, I had a great Saturday....I saw "Oklahoma"!!! Great idea and great show.

Boy, another interesting post. Anyway, since I have had no personal experience with this particular situation, I cannot add anything. However, I am VERY interested in this new VPI table. So, Rufus, Jonmatd,
Mikelavigne please keep me posted via e-mail or this thread.
I just love a happy ending!
Many thanks all for the input it was heated discussion, think I will take chance with new HR-X, as I sad before SME20 is very good but really is not as exiting as my old LP12, I was impress with great control from top to bottom and specially bottom end. I have also order new Aesthetix Signature to go with HR-X/ DV XX2 and considering now what interconnects to use, my all other interconnects are Valhalla's so it would make sense to go with the same.
I will let you know more about VPI when I get it here in Oz.
Any recommendation on support for HR-X? my walls are double brick so maybe wall mounted shelf?
All the best,