Coffee-nudge is at disadvantage because he added SDS first.Call Mike head tech at VPI and I'll bet dollars to doughnuts that he'll say SDS.Sandwich is a must.But here's another wrinkle or two.How about keep the arm (latter to have it upgraded.You should have no problem selling old deck and motor to some A'gonner/ebayer for $800.The get a Blacknight from VPI and send them your arm to put on it.Definetely more mass than Scoutmater.I am in your boat.I have extended Aries/12.5 and trying to decide to keep even though it's to big and expensive to upgrade.)Platter upgrade (I coul on Blackknight would be first care less about new platter and bearing but you can't use outter ring without it.Might as well get a Aries 3w/a 9" arm.Pisses me off they didn't allow owners of older Aries and TNT's the outter ring clamp option. I think one I have with acrylic/lead is fine and don't feel need for "newer btter"(hah!) bearing).I am trying to decide between Blackknight with better platter or Scoutmaster for same.But want 9" arm so main body canb be re-wired to signature and my main MC cart can use it and second tube will use a Grado Mono.(All Grado models come in stereo or mono and outputs of .5/1.5 (VPI model)/4.5 (standard HO MM).Maybe I'll get a third tube for trash cartidge to play scratched LP's.It would be too expensive at $1200 or $800 to get 12" tubes where 9" arms are $400.I have a lot of stereo and a lot of mono LP's from 50's era.
So first decide if to upgrade Scout to master with sandwhich and 300 rpm thata's high enough for Scoutmaste and come standard with Blackknight(Latter would allow getting a 10 or 10.5/.6).Never adjust my VTA unless presing is super thin 70's peice of junk.After this get SDS.Next get signature wirring,anti skate (no matter what Hary say's ALL tables need it as I was told by Wally of Wallytools fame (and of course site unseen what VPI would make get HIS because for sure it will be better.It's needed not only to prevent stylus wear but LP wear and I have heard this many places.After eight deck,SDS,signature wirring,anti skate,get a Black Diamond Racing one piece clamp.Expensive but worth it(I have two piece model and worth evry penny but two piece is a pain).Hope you have 16.5 cleaning machine.Get extra tube for fistrt pass or Alsop Orbitrac ($40) with $2 theow away pads.May seem anal but all that smoke,gummy crap on LP's if used with only one tube on 16.5 get's pased down Lp to Lp like herpes.Not cheap but Ginkgko platform or just the single Gihnk single balls for vibe killing are very good.NBext is good stiff rack.Lastly get the LAST line of products or just the Record Preservative.Absurdly expensive but Mike at VPI who has no finacial interest or allegiance to them other than he loves the stuff told me a story while hile gving me the recipie for some home brew cleaner.He me told that folks had approached him at shows and had used LAST after first cleaning (right after it came out of cover since there is a residue present of releasing compunds you don't want ground into the grooves).But he told me that when he asked how many times an LP had been played the person said "hundreds" (but again treated it from the get go with LAST Preservative) Mikes swears he heard what he thought sounded like half a dozen times.So in a way put Alsop $40 cleaner if you can't affgord VPI 16.5 (or even if you can)before anything else.I also use the LAST Power Cleaner for really stubborn stains.Kepp this all straight there will be a quiz.And next semester I will tell you that no matter the tbale and arm (within reason-matched to your budget and set up) the turntabl;e /arm is no where near important in the sound of LP playback as the cartridge and the pohno section it's all fed into.Recap.Get sandwhich or Blackknight,SDS,16.5 cleaning machine,signature arm an extra $400 arm tube or two,Stereo and if not just a rocker (play 50's LP's a Grado mono)BDR clamp and Last prservative then drive yourself crzy about what phono section to buy.Have fun!!!!!!!!!