VPI table, cart and phonostage? - Novice.

I am strongly considering getting back into vinyl. I've got 200+ lps in boxes, many relatively new.

My current digital setup is Bel Canto PL-1 Universal player, Krell HTS 7.1 prteamp, Bel Canto 6 channel amp, B & W N 805 speakers. I play mainly Classical and Jazz.

Houston has almost no high end TT dealers. The one store I went into had a Nottingham Spacedeck and I heard a 45 rpm Belafonte disc, and got the vinyl concept in my brain. Wow!

I probably will get a VPI, based mainly on reviews and reputation...also made in USA!

Scout or Scoutmaster? Is there that big a difference? Both are Stereophile Class B,I believe. Are there carts that are "wasted" by putting them on a scout, whereas on a scoutmaster you get that extra value you paid for? Basically, to what level of cart would you go on a scout or scoutmaster?

Should I get a aolid state or tube phono stage for these TTs? Any suggestions. I am somewhat open minded about budget, but I want to get components that are about in the same league. I mean, a $1.5K TT with a $5K cart and a $7K phono stage seems crazy, or does it?

Is the SDS worth getting for either of these?

Also, does anybody out there think I, a novice, can install a cart and set it up myself without an analog saavy compadre around? I've read the beginners guide to cart setup and its not rocket science, so I think I can.

Thanks for the input.
i had a scout for about a year, and then moved to a scoumaster, with the periphery ring and center weight. very huge difference in every way possible. the scout is very good. the scoutmaster with the extras is entirely in another league. i also have an sds and can't imagine not. i had it with the scout and it made a very nice improvement. as far as tube/ss phono goes, i guess it just depends on your system and what you want. i use a tube amp and preamp, but i use a dynavector p-75 phono pre. i like mixing ss with tubes, and the dynavector is a giant killer at $595 with low output mc's, which my sumiko celebration is. in terms of carts, i don't think you have to spend several thousand dollars to get a terrific cart. my celebration runs $1500(altough i got it used for $1000)and i like it a lot better than my previous, a benz micro ref 2 which goes for $2k. and there are certainly terrfic carts out there for a lot less(the sumiko blackbird comes to mind at $750).

as far as installing your cart, i'm sure you can probably do it yourself. however, you may want to buy a cheap cart to practice with. and having said this, i still think there's good reason to have an expert do it for you. it's nice to have a relationship with someone who does this for a living, especially when you're just starting out. but you're right, even though there's a lot of little details to learn about, it's not rocket science. plus, if you order your table online, the vendor will install a cart for you, assuming you buy it all from them.

well, hope that helps. i'm sure others much more qualified than me will chime in her. do some searches here and on the vinyl section of audioasylum.com and you'll get tons of info.

good luck!
I totally agree with Sberger that the Scoutmaster is much better, and even more so with the ring, which you can't use on the Scout.
As far as cartridges and phono amps go, you'll get a very wide and bewildering range of opinions. Best to narrow down exactly how much you want to spend. The Scoutmaster is certainly capable of revealing refined differences between them. Better to define what you want it to sound like, or match to your other components or room acoustics.
Myself, I'm using the Whest phono stage with a Shelter 501. I am happy with the combo, but also plan to upgrade to the new JMW 9 Signature arm when it becomes available soon. You might want to look into that too. It sounds like another killer upgrade from VPI.
For sure, though, you'll be happy with the table.
I am new to Vinyl as well and I am very happy that I settled on the Scoutmaster. Solidly built like a tank and quite revealing to my ears. The upgrade options are equally great.

I am using the Acoustech PH1P phono stage, a benz ace (m) and the SDS and it sounds great. Will be stepping up to the JMW 9 Signature arm as well with the ring clamps and weight, and the new motor/flywheel combo to get to the SuperScoutMaster sound.

I am also considering also a Shelter 901 or the Zyx Airy 3 cartridge to mate with the signature arm to complete the package. Will need to seek comments from fellow audiogoners if these carts will mate well with the JMW 9 arm tho.

Whatever you decide on, its good to have flexibility and upgrade options within the family rather than starting all over when you want to upgrade. The ScoutMaster offers that.

I am very happy with mine .
Go for the Space Deck; its' tonearm is markedly superior to the JMW-9.
If you can't go for the Spacedeck go for the Horizon SE and Ace-Space arm. The low torque motor on the Nottingham is superior to the VPI motor. Dynavector carts work well with Notts as well as VPIs, I have heard that the Dynavector phono preamp works well with the carts. I have not heard them myself though.

I jumped back into vinyl about eighteen months ago. I too had a modest lp collection. I bought a VPI Black Knight and fitted it with a Lyra Helikon cartridge. My phono stage was built in to my Spectron model 10 pre. I loved the performance of the Balck Knight/Helikon combo. The cartrige installation wasn't that difficult with the directions and hardware supplied by VPI. You'll need a stylus pressure guage to get the pressure right. I considered the SDS unit but never got around to buying one. After years and years with out a turntable. I thought jumping back would be very pleasurable. It was for the short term. There was no comparison in sound over cd. Vinyl just has that sweet,sweet sound! After about a year of intense labor of cleaning lps, changes lps, ect. I sold the complete unit but retained my collection of lps. I bought an Audio Aero Capitole MKII. This is really close to vinyl but not dead on. I'm happier as far as the labor load goes...............Good luck and enjoy!
I think the new JMW-9 signature tonearm is going to be awesome, i can't wait !!! I'd love to hear people's opinions once they start shipping.
Dear Dolifant: About the cartridge I agree with Sberger: Sumiko Celebration, great performance ( low price, too ) especially if you mate with the SME IV/V tonearm or a Moerch DP6/4.

For the turntable my advise is that go for the Acoustic Signature Final Tool. Beats any of the TTs named here. Awesome design and at its price: a real bargain !!!!

Btw, Ije: if you are thinking on the Shelther 901, don't do it ( it is on the hifi side ) and go better for the 90X that's hands down the ZYX 2/3. There will be no problem with your today tonearm. You can do an improvement here too: Moerch DP6.

Regards and enjoy the music.
The Shelter 90X is a cute cartridge but not in the same league as the Zyx Airy 3. No way, no how, not today, not tomorrow.
Dear Stanhifi: +++++ " The Shelter 90X is a cute cartridge but not in the same league as the Zyx Airy 3. " +++++

Of course it's not.

Maybe you like more the ZYX sound " presentation " and this is a very personal issue.
There is no single area where the ZYX beats the 90X, and this is a subjective issue too.
But there is a non subjective area where the 90X CRASH ZYX ( even a deaf man can hear it ): low bass performance.
The 90X has many bass characteristics that the ZYX miss: excellent control, excellent pitch, transparency, bass notes discrimination, etc, etc, ...

I don't want to start a debate here. Think what you want about, but that low bass ZYX problem is a fact.

Judy426: sorry to disturb you. No more.

Regards and enjoy the music.
>>I don't want to start a debate here<<
Yeah right!! LOL
I use Dynavector 17D2. I'll probably replace it with the same one when it wears out.
Raul sorry to break your heart but in no way, shape or form is the 90X superior to the Airy3 and UNIverse. Great bass does not make a great cartridge. As you develop more sophisticated listening skills and a better ear you'll realize why the Zyx line has received its' notoriety not only from owners here on Audiogon but professionals such as Arthur Salvatore.
As your ear becomes more trained you'll understand this. So relax and enjoy the music with a Zyx.
Stanhifi: +++++ " So my long-term project is to find a method to neutralize the frequency response problems of this transformer. I have a couple of ideas; one of them is simple- experimenting with the loading; the other is more complex-experiment by changing (slightly) the RIAA curve of my preamplifier. My friend has an equalizer, which may help us. (I have tried a slight VTA correction, but that does not work.) " +++++

This is what your " professionals " ( that I respect ) Mr. Salvatore post in his site.

" Changing the RIAA curve in his phono stage "???????? Can you beleive it?

The target on any phonopreamp designer is to mimic the RIAA eq. and this man want to chage it " (slightly)" or to use an external equalizer. Wow !!!!!! I know that this man is one of your references: God help you and help the music.

+++++ " As your ear becomes more trained you'll understand this. " ++++++

Stanhifi: as your brain becomes more trained you will......

Regards and enjoy the music.
Raul in the world of global feedback and RIAA equalization you know more than me. I am not a techhie. However, in a battle of wits and intellect you are severely overmatched.
Stanhifi: This is another post by your " professional reference " ,about a cartridge:

+++++ " A few things can be posted right now; my associate informs me that it requires 2.7 grams* of tracking force for optimum performance. The manufacturer recommends, at most, 2.2 grams,... " +++++

How can make and advise of this kind? .

The manufacturer VTF range were establish for many performance issues, between them: to centered the coils, to optimum record traking and do the less harm to the record itself, that VTF range has to be with the optimum cartridge suspension works, etc, etc.

You can find in the web site of Mr. Reference many many " great advises " like these two. And you are talking about: " overmatched " ?

+++++ " Raul in the world of global feedback and RIAA equalization you know more than me. I am not a techhie. " +++++

You don't have to be a " techhie ": I'm not.
If you can't understand nothing about RIAA eq ( with all my respect ): what are you doing in an analog forum?

Regards and enjoy the music.
Challenging folks with a know it all attitude who don't know it all.
You are a shame, Stanhifi.

Ouch that hurts. I really feel bad now.
You guys are hilarious. Good show!
You are right Plinko. Sorry.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Sorry? For what? Take your lumps and don't apologize for your inexperience.

I have a old tested and true table/cart combo. I have a Hw 19 Mk IV with an RB-250 and a Denon 301 Mk. IV cart. You can find all this for about $1,000 (hw 19's are discontinued). Nice sound and a bit cheaper than the Scout.

If you are looking into VPI, there are deals galore here and on Ebay for the Hw 19 series with tonearms to boot. For the price of a Scout, you could have a mk iii with a rega 300 with a Dynavector Karat and a Lehmann Black Cube.

How does that sound?

hey don't dismantle the poor guys thread

I'll second the spacedeck/spacearm for great performance at reasonable cost. plus these things are sexy

now who sells them in Houston?
I'm a Hurricane Katrina refugee who will be there 8 months
left my vinyl at home, but want to shop around a little in Houston

oops, now I'm sabotaging the thread

It is truly amazing to me that this ZYX Airy-3 versus Shelter 90x debate keeps cropping up in various different threads. The ugliness that this particular comparison inspires suggests to me that they are BOTH truly GREAT cartridges. So, what I have done is purchase one of each. Both are used, supposedly under 100 hours. I will compare the two cartridges IN MY SYSTEM, and I will decide FOR MYSELF which I prefer. Then it will be my turn to be harassed and insulted by whichever group of fans disagree with what I hear.

I'm not sure why you resurrected a two year old thread, but congrats on your new cartridges.

A word of caution about any used cartridge, especially one with a micro-ridge/line contact stylus like the ZYX: make sure the stylus is properly cleaned before doing any listening. I have rehabilitated no end of "defective" cartridges for friends by doing nothing more than removing layers of built up crud from their styli. Sometimes a Magic Erasering is enough. Occasionally I've had to resort to Linn's old trick, a bit of fine sandpaper.

If the stylus is gunked up, you won't hear what either cartridge can do.

Have fun!