VPI questions Aries - Scout - Hot Rod

Hi folks.

Great fan of these tables and hopefully will be an owner soon. Cutting to the chase; here are some questions that, if answered, will really help set my final purchase decision:

Supposing that the front end and cartridges stay the same:

1. What are the biggest sonic differences btw Scout and Aries? (Considering the purchase of extended version with 12.5 arm and sds)

2. How close does the Hot Rod perform in comparison to the tables that are even more money (Walker, Rockport etc)?

3. Applying the law of diminishing returns, do any of the differences btw Scout and Aries warrant the considerable increase in dollars if you are on a "limited budget"?

4. Since I collect vintage recordings, how do 78's translate on them with the proper associated equipment?
(I know that Technics and Esoteric Sound really corner the market on that niche, but since VPI is so good on modern pressings, I'd love to use it for all of my records without having to get a separate table)

Cartridges that I am seriously considering are the Dynavector 10x4, 20XL, Benz Glider and Lyra Helikon.

Thank you as always.

Hi Danhirsh....this looks like a great thread. Do you, however, mean Hot Rod or the new HR-X???
I currently have the Aries and I am quite happy with it. It replaced a Linn TT which, I must say was also quite good with the Lingo mod. I currently use the 10.5 are and I did hear, from a reliable source, that this arm is BETTER then the 12.5 (anyone else heard this) ??? Can that be true?
Have a HR and have used with and without flywheel and the difference is incredible! Have used with and without powerconditioner and the difference is noticable! Flywheel and powerconditioner extract more information. I understand the 12.5 tracks not only better, than the 10.5, but closer to the way records are cut therefore I assume the reproduction is better. The Helikon is a very solid performer, just like everyone says, VERY neutral.

I use 33 & 45 speed only, don't know if a 78 version is avaiable.

Good luck finding the balance in your system and enjoy the music.
Regarding JMW 10.5 and 12.5, I have tried both. I used to have and Aries with JMW 10.5 and then upgraded to extended Aries with 12.5. JMW 12.5 sounds smoother, better presence, quieter, and just more musical. My cartridge is Koetsu Rosewood.