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VPI (turntables) Visits Pacific Northwest Audiophile Society

amirm

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#1
I am part of a wonderful audiophile society here and there is no better example of this month's meeting. VPI the makers of high-end turntables, was invited to come and show their wares. Normally the manufacturer does all the work but in this case, our local group and especially friend and member Gary Koh and Joe Pittman went all out, setting up a fantastic afternoon of listening and evaluating. Lots of gear and content including some "unobtanium" was brought over to make this meeting just a joy. Tons of work went into its organization for which I am super appreciative.

Here is the invite for the meeting:

Pacific Northwest Audio Society: Sat May 6th 2017 1:30 PM at our Mercer Island location.

Guest Speaker, Mat Weisfeld, President of VPI Industries will talk about VPI and demonstrate three tables

VPI Industries Inc. is a family owned high-end audio manufacturer that was started by Sheila and Harry Weisfeld, the founders of VPI 35 years ago. Still family owned, it is run by Harry and his son Mat. Since taking over the day-to-day management of the company, Mat has redesigned the VPI lineup and introduced the Prime table and 3D printed tonearms and other significant business additions like the Shinola and Mark Levinson tables. Should be an interesting meeting, don’t miss it.

Gary Koh and Joe Pittman will set-up three VPI tables. This demo will include three of VPI’s latest tables including the $2K Scout, $10K Avenger and $40K Vanquish. The 3D arms on the Avenger and Vanquish will have the new Dual Pivot bearing. We will also have three Genesis Phono preamps and sets of three identical LP’s so we can switch between each table in real time. A demo doesn’t get any better than this.

As an additional listening treat, Gary will play a real lacquer from his recent direct-to-disc recording of Anne Bisson’s new album, “Four Seasons in Jazz”, recorded at Bernie Grundman Mastering. This is true unobtainium.

 

amirm

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#2
As mentioned, there were three configurations: "good, better, and best."

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VPI Scout turntable (the arm wound up being a 3-D printed one that cost $800 more):
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VPI Avenger turntable:
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VPI Vanquish turntable. This direct-drive unit is not available for sale. Gary got one from the owner/founder. Apparently it is difficult to manufacture and support. This is apparently the only public showing of it:
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So yes, the price goes up rapidly. :) The three systems were configured with price-equiv. components, i.e. different cartridges and Phonostages. This made any direct comparison of the three turntable chassis impossible but did give an idea of what you could do in each price range.
 
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amirm

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VPI president, Mat Weisfeld gave a great overview of the company and how he eventually took over the company operation from his parents. Sad story of family members passing away but Mat's jovial attitude got us through it. In any other life he could be a stand-up comic and a good one at that!

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amirm

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Three identical, new LPs were purchased for the demonstrations and Gary switched between them using the remote.

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Music list to come....

It got kind of confusing at first without us knowing which table was playing at any one time. So Mat volunteered to be a moving sign, standing behind the table playing.

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amirm

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#14
At the end, I helped with take down, packing and returning the goods to Joe's home.

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Here is a low-cost new table but we could not play it since we did not have a phonostage for it:
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amirm

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#16
Here is the preface to music played and my listening impressions. Having this digital guy write about LP sound is like having a steak eater try to rate different grades of Tofu! :D So please read them with grain of salt. And again remember that this was not a comparison of tables but complete systems at different price points.

Also, the output level of the Transfiguration cartridges were different and to my ears the Avenger had the loudest volume. As such it also had more punchy sound. Gary said its output level was four times higher than the cartridge on the Vanquish. He said he had compensated to within 1 db but to my ear, the Vanquish was held back due to lower volume.
 

amirm

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#17
Walk Away by Holly Cole. https://shz.am/t67654502

Holly used to be such a standard for audio demos years ago. Good to see the fidelity still holds:

Avenger sounded best to me due to reasons I gave before: more detailed and lively than the Scout and Vanquish.
 

amirm

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#19
This was an LP mortal men cannot get: You Came A Long Way From St. Louis by JImmy Smith. https://shz.am/t10852162

This time the Scout sounded better to me. Very dynamic and open sound. Excellent overall.
 

amirm

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#20
Dance Of The Tumblers From The Snow Maiden by Minnesota Orchestra. https://shz.am/t56701766


This time I liked the Vanquish turntable better with good dynamics and detail.
 
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