Vyger anyone?

Vyger Indian Signature Turntable with Vision HP arm

Associated equipment: Dynavector Karat 17D2(as modified by Vyger), Ikeda EMPL cartridge, Aesthetix IO Signature phono stage, Wavac 833 mono amps, Quad 989 speake, CEC TL-0 II transport, Wright modified Bidat Dac. All cables: Silversmith Palladium.

I have been living with this turntable for approx 12months now and belive that this is an extraordinary piece of equipment in all respects. First I will address its physical features and then its sonic attributes

The Indian Signature (IS) is a massively engineered table. It is an air bearing table and air bearing tangential (linear) tonearm. All components are custom machined aluminum with most tolerances in the 1.5 -3 micron range meaning they are between 1/30 and 1/70 of the thickness of a human hair. These extremely fine tolerances combined with the Vyger’s massive construction give its components a very smooth, silky operating ‘feel’.
The solid aluminium plinth is filled with lead and weights about 110 lbs. The platter; a precision lathed affair, adds another 40 lbs, or so, of mass. The platter has an additional ‘ring’ of lead poured into a channel in the outer diameter to further increase rotational inertia.. So the IS combines very precise engineering with large amounts of physical mass. The whole table is then supported by 3 custom lathed aluminium pillars which contain a suspension made of a special gum rubber o-rings. Once resting on this suspension the inherent resonance is a very low 1.5 Hz.
It is quite clear that Vyger’s designer; Giuseppe (Pino) Viola, is both an accomplished machinist as well as engineer. His knowledge of basic phyics and how it relates to turntable construction is very impressive and explains a great deal about the design of the table itself. For instance the tonearm is made of magnesium which was selected both for rigidity, low mass and low resonance modulus.
The key feature of the table is the air bearing. For the first time to my knowledge we have a platter that is completely free floating. In other words the entire platter floats on a cushion of air with NO physical contact other than the stylus and the o-ring ‘belt’ drive. This feature is part of what gives IS its impressive sonic characteristics. According to Pino the platter will spin for nearly an hour before the air resistance slows it down to zero.
A second unique feature is the vacuum platter. The platter is made of a special metal-acrylic matrix which has the exact same mechnical impedence as vinyl. It is permanently bonded to the platter and uses an integral clamp which further dampens out record resonance. The key feature to the vacuum platter is that it only is active long enough to suck the record down onto the platter. It then disengages and the record stays ‘clamped’ for up to 2 hrs before the vacuum seal weakens. Thus there is no vacuum induced noise during play since it is passive at that point.
The Vision tonearm is similar in principal to other air bearing arms such as the Air Tangent, ET and Forsell. Like the rest of the table the Vison’s construction is of very close tolerance and over built quality. It has VTA adjustable while playing the record and is relatively easy to set up (as opposed to the tables itself which, due to its weight is a decidedly two person affair) with th proper tools ( the use of many of the ‘Wally’ tools is highly recommended)
The air/vacuum pump, platter motor and control unit are equally and massively over engineered. The pump itself is extremely quiet and of incredible construction. The pump rests in an oil bath inside a hermetically sealed chassis. Cooling fins give hints as to the heat the pump generates after an hour or more of steady use. The pump weighs well over 50 lbs and makes the pumps employed by the other manufacturers seem like toys.


The most striking sonic characteristics of the IS are:

Transient attack – simply stated the music ‘explodes’ off the record. With the proper cartridge and source material your ear can easily and often be ‘fooled’ into believing the sound is coming from inside the room. I often find myself glancing around to see if , just for a moment, there is some one behind the speakers making a noise. Its that good! On DTD records such as the Sheffield’s the attack is downright scary. You worry whether your speakers and amps can take it. Prior to Vyger I had only once tripped the protective circuit on my Quad 989’s. With Vyger I have tripped them over a dozen times.

Dynamic range – once thought to be the best feature of the digital realm Vyger shows just how dynamic analog can be. One of Vygers more interesting benefits is that it minimizes the surface noise on records. It does require that you keep your records very clean but you are rewarded with a background that is only slightly noiser than cd’s. In truth the most offensive background noise is the thermal noise from the Aesthetix IO. This combined with IS’s outstanding transient properties produces a sound that is what I consider the ‘best of both worlds’ . I mean that it has the silence and attack of digital but the subtle detail, 3-dimensional imaging and air of analog. Especially with the Ikeda cartridge it also has the elusive ‘clarity’ that attracted so many of us initially to digital (good digital sound has a crystalline clarity to it that is missing in most analog playback, until now)

Bass – here again what was thought to be the advantage of digital is seen to be better rendered in analog especially when using the Vyger IS. Bass is not only rendered with all the authority of digital , it is also FAR better in terms of texture and detail. In fact ALL areas of the frequency spectrum are related with far more subtly and delicacy with Vyger. I find myself marvelling at records I thought I knew intimately but now find there was information ‘missing’ in my previous experiences. Subtle inflections, nuance and sound come out where there was none before. With both the Vyger modified Karat and the Ikeda there is a layer of veiling lifted that has never been lifted before,in my experience. On the best recordings this has the effect of sounding like ‘live’ music. The Ikeda being particularly good in this regard.

Imaging/soundstage – the IS’s ability to extract ambient information must be heard to be believed. Not only is there ‘air’ in the upper frequencies but this sort of ambient information extends well down into the lower midrange/upper bass region. On well recorded symphony material you will hear the ‘hall’ outlined like never before. What is also quite fascinating is how well the IS/Karat or Ikeda can highlight instruments at the rear of the soundstage. This is something I have noticed that only the very best components seem to do which is to make the rear of the soundstage fully transparent to the listener; just like in real life. Both the Karat and the Ikeda are very good at resolving instrument location in the sound field. The Karat is somewhat better but the Ikeda has the edge in terms of being able to separate a complex passage with many instruments and follow each instrument individually.

Caveat – Vyger IS is a precision instrument that requires very good components both before and after to suitably take advantage of what I think are its unprecedented strengths. It should be used with low output MC cartridges as they are the most sensitive and able to benefit most. Equally important is that the components downstream are equally matched and of high quality. Vyger is revealing of whatever strength or weakness exists in the recording and/or cartridge. It is not euphonic or romantic unless the source material is. It does not haze over nuance and detail in order to produce a nice ‘warm’ sound. Many seem to like this but it is not true of live music.
Weakness – there are still some mechanical issues which could be further improved on IS. One is the air tube feeding the tonearm and the tonearm wires. Both of these exert a small but noticeable ‘skating’ force on the tonearm which can cause a subtle shift in center image to one side or the other. While it is possible to minimize these forces by playing with the tonearm wires it is not possible to eliminate them.
Also the on/off switch for both the turntable motor and the vacuum give off some sort of static spark which send a large noisy spike thru the speakers. Thus you have to turn the volume all the way down when changing records.
Being an air bearing the platter and arm are EXTREMELY sensitive to being level. Only a precision digital level gauge (such as sold by the Cartridge Man) is capable of getting the platter level to within 1/10 of a a degree. But the resulting soundstage is worth it! Leveling the tonearm is made simple by suspending an extra counterweight to ‘zero balance’ the arm and then observe which way it slides. When perfectly level it will simply ‘hover’ in one place.

Summary – The Vyger Indian Signature and Vision high pressure tonearm are a remarkable combination. Capable of advancing the listening experince to a new level of fidelity but only if used with other very high quality, precision components. Pino Viola has created an Italian masterpiece of both engineering and sound reproduction. I hope he is given the credit he is due for this ground breaking design.
The Indian Vyger is one of my favorite works of art. Unfortunately, I can't afford one. But I'm pleased to hear that it sounds almost as good as it looks and that even at it's lofty price it still has areas that could be improved.

I'll be buying a new home soon, so perhaps I could work a Vyger into the financing, hmmmm....

I presently own a Michell Orbe SE, with a Wilson Benesch Act 0.5 arm and a Shelter 501 II cartridge. I've defeated its suspension with BDR cones and pucks and have it mounted on a Black Diamond Source Shelf, which works great to sink unwanted resonances. I've noticed some of the same kinds of improvements you have mentioned of the Vyger, though probably not to the same degree.

I like your choice in speakers too, being an ESL fan for many years now. I was using the InnerSound Eros Mk-II until recently, and am not sure yet as to what I will buy when I move to my new home. For the interim, I bought the Stax 4040 Signature headphone system, with the 006t direct-drive tube amp and I like it very much. It has a very nice frequency balance, is very musical and yet delivers more fine details and delicate nuances than is possible with speakers.

Hey, if you live anywhere near central NJ, or Tucson, AZ, let me know. I'd really enjoy inviting myself over to your place to spin some great vinyl. Thanks for posting your thoughts on the Vyger/Vision combo; as they were most informative and interesting. Captain Kirk would be proud that you have gone where very few men have gone before. :)
Thanks for a nice review. I have been intrigued by the Indian Vyger, but have never had an opportunity to listen to one. I'm sure it is a nice sounding TT. Congratulations on having a very exotic piece of analog gear.

If I had not made the trek to the San Remo at CES this year I would have missed the chance to see/hear this
marvelous turntable. They had one in the Acoustic Dreams room, using Ayon monoblocks and Lumen White speakers.
I'm not a big fan of Norah Jones, but I became one that
day! Phenomenal sound and fab fit/finish. The Vyger is
truly a work of art. But at $25K, a bit of a reach for
many of us. And then there's the wife-factor ... :-)
i've bought the latest version of this masterpiece, now all the functions are controlled by a remote unit and is possible to adjust indipendently either the pressure of the arm and the suction of the record on the plate.
this second aspect was well enginered by Pino, infact the suction is now constant and much softener so that the record is not deforming by a too much higher depression.
Also the arm himself was upgraded with a new carbon fiber pole wich enhances the qualities of transparency and neutrality.
This turntable is by far the best player i've heard and for shure a magnificent piece of modern art.