VPI Scout Vibration Conquered with Home Brew Tweak
I often wondered if the turntable Tweaks that are advertised really works, or some of them are just “Snake Oil”. But it’s hard to say without testing them out to see if they work for you. Since I got my turntable I hardly listen to CD unless I am in my car or in my bedroom. I usually listen to vinyl, which I picked up from the Good Will store and a used music store near by. I have just learned about Steam Cleaning vinyl records, and I have been trying it out with a hand held steamer that I picked up from Kmart. After steaming, I use my Nitty Gritty cleaning machine to vacuum it. I must say the result is great. There is a good thread on Audiogon about Steam Cleaning vinyl records.
Earlier this week while listening to a Michael Franks LP, I noticed that when he hit the high notes it sounded like he was choking; so I cleaned the record again, and nothing changed. I tried another record with vocals and the same thing happened. I checked all the connections in my system but everything was fine.
I have a VPI Scout turntable and I remembered sometime ago I read a review on the Scout, by The Audiopile Voice (http://vpiindustries.com/pdf/4-C_REPRINT_VPI-Cordesman.pdf) that was posted on VPI website. So I revisited the article and read the tips that were given on turntable vibration. I then called up VPI and spoke to one of their technician about vibration, and he told me that all I should do is to get two pieces of Berch Plywood from Home Depot and glue them together with GE silicone glue, get three racquet balls, ash trays to put the palls into, and a .25” thick mouse pad to rest the turntable motor on. Then I should lay the plywood on top of the balls in the ash tray, then put the turntable on top. He said that should eliminate most of the vibration. The plywood should measure: 20”x15”, it fits perfectly on my stereo rack. This tip was very helpful because when I play the LPs again, I no longer hear Michael Franks choking and the soundstage was completely transformed. I had no idea that these tweaks would work, and plus mine is a home brew tweak. But that does not mean I am to spend bid $ to get the same result with the high end tweaks like this one. My home made tweak cost less than $40.00. I picked up the racquet balls and the ash trays (a very small acrylic ashtray that the ball fits in perfectly) at Wal-Mart for about $12.00, and the plywood cost $16.00 at Home Depot. I tried using three balls at first, as recommended by the VIP Technician, but the load was too heavy and it was hard to get the turntable level, so I bought three more balls and put all six balls under the plywood. The turntable leveled out perfectly.
Before installing the home brewed tweak, I followed the tips in the VPI Scout review on the VPI website. I turned on my system and put the tone arm on the record after removing the belt. I then turned up the level on the preamp, and I heard a loud sound coming from the woofers, as they vibrated wildly. When I tapped on the turntable, the equipment rack, or stomped on the floor the speakers picked up all the vibrations. But after I installed my home brewed tweak, and repeated the tapping and stomping; the speakers were silent, no big bursting sound as before, and no wild vibration from the woofers even when I turned the preamp level up 100%. Only when I tapped hard on the turntable itself, I could hear a slight difference in sound from the speaker. But over all the sound was gone and the playing the records was a pleasure: the soundstage, balancing, and imaging were sweet sounding to my ears. This thing really works. All I have left to do now is to paint the plywood “black”.
I am Bi-Amping my system.
The System consists of the following:
McIntosh: MC 402 amp, MC 7270 amp, C2200 pre amp, MCD205 CD changer, MR7083 tuner. Dahlquist crossover filter, VPI scout turntable with Ortofon 2M Black cartridge, Graham Slee – Era Gold MK V phono preamp, Exact Power SP15A and Exact Power EP 15A power conditioners. Audio Art interconnect, and Signal Cable power cords. Legacy Audio Focus 20/20 speakers and Lovan Sovereign Classic equipment rack.
I would like to say thanks to the VPI technician for the tips in putting my home brewed vibration rig together, and also to the writer from “The Audiophile Voice” for his review and tips on how to conquer turntable vibration at a “Rock bottom” price.