View Full Version : Turntable review

14-12-2008, 13:29
I appologise for my self indulgence but have wriiten a review around my new turntable I had now for the last 2 to 3 months

Turntable Upgrade
About 3 months ago I upgraded my deck from a VPI HW19 mk4 to the Super scoutmaster with rim drive The only items I kept from my original set up was the platter including the bearing (this is the lead version) and the arm and cartridge I also had my PS30r upgraded even further by Whest adding in a duel transformer to the unit which takes it closer to the reference model, so the review needs to be taken into context with all the changes that have taken place.
The items I purchased
Super scoutmaster chassis with a hole cut for the arm I use. 250
SDS 1000
Rim Drive with Duel motor assembly 1000
Mini Feet 115
Turntables VPI HW19 mk4 and the Super Scoutmaster
Arm Trans-Fi Terminator
Cartridge ZYX R100H
Phonostage Whest PS30r Modified to duel transformer
VPI SDS for motor
Pre amp Music First and Stax SRA-125
Power Amp SAC Glowmaster KT88
Loudspeakers Wharfedale Opus 3

Changing the unit over was a relative simple job
I liked my HW19 mk4 it was capable of producing some great sounds.
Reasons why I decided to go down the Rim Drive path
I heard my friends Garrad 401 and was blown away by how dynamic it was and was going to go down the path of getting a 401 with a slate plinth. A conversation with James from Whest got me thinking he said the VPI platter and bearing I am using would be so much better, so why not go for the rim drive, it made sense to me. I liked the idea of a modern plinth I was originally going to get a plinth made for me in acrylic but spoke to VPI who were willing to cut out for the arm I use and the price of the plinth was reasonable.
My musical taste are mostly rock however I do have quite wide taste. Over the years I heard a number of truly high end turntable, including the Raven AC the Brinkmann LaGrange and the 401 it was my hope that I have a turntable that would live up with such esteem tables but at a more affordable price.
Set Up
Replacing the parts was a straight forward process; however get the rim drive to work properly is more complex. You have to turn on the rim without the platter touching then slowly move the table over to the rim drive by tapping with you arm (this is almost like a slap in strength) once the platter starts up you should check how quickly the platter stops; its better if the platter continues for a few seconds, getting this right is fiddly but offers the best performance and once right no need to readjust. The speed of the rim drive is controlled by the SDS (Synchronous Drive System) and you need a strobe mark to adjust.
The rim drive sits in the middle of motors, everything fits in one housing and when all put together becomes extremely heavy to lift. The rim drive is connected by two soft belts that drive the rim the rim itself is attached to a heavy flywheel.
Over the period of time I have listened to wide variety of music on the turntable and its still impress me with just how real the music sounds. Instruments all have there place, it’s easy to hear where bass lines are in the mix, I can hear harmonics come thru fully. Notes are clean no sense of overhang the timing is spot on, musicians feel like they are in the room. The music has depth but does not feel artificial.
Roy Clarke Clarence and Gatemouth Brown: Making Music
Two great players enjoying playing together the music has a real honesty to it. Gatemouth Brown comes across with that natural distortion; you can hear he is going through a Fender amp and Roy’s country playing is clean and tight. The brass section has air and the musicians are almost n your room.
Gamalon: Aerial View
This is a great Fusion recording with excellent production values. This record will really test just how dynamic the system is. The guitar really cuts through, you can hear so much into the mix the music is so powerful it’s almost scary how real this is. But the best thing I can say is the smile on my face when I am listening to this LP. On The Lost Ghost the music really drives and the guitars really cut through, drums are so solid the rhythms are crashing through, just so much energy and none appears to be lost.
Jeff Buckley Grace
Listening to Lover You Should Of Come Over I feel something stirred inside this seems to amplify when going through the TT If anyone was to ask why I spend so much money on HIFI I think the answer for me is to bring me closer to the music and feel its emotional impact and perhaps I would use this tune to demonstrate the difference hearing music played back can make through a good system makes.
Keith Jarrett Koln Concert
The leading and closes edges around each note is precise and full there is no sense of overhang each note stops and starts where it should. Its like I am at the concert the music has a realness to it.
Peter Gabriel: Passion
Oh my god this table is cable of being so explosive it really allows you to feel the dynamic force of the music and yet on Passion it also seduces you into the music. Listening to passion I am just listening to music with a big smile on my face just thinking wowwww!
Listening to Diana Krell there is not a trace of Sibilance and the double bass on Temptation just fills the room, notes vibrate the double bass resonates within the room the way a double bass should.
I remember reading on various forums about the rim drive there was a lot of negative views saying it would create rumble the belts would defeat the object of using the rim etc I have none of these issues. What I have is a turntable that is capable of creating music that explodes in the room and yet is capable of seducing you, a tricky feet. It’s a very different turntable to something like a Brinkmann or Raven It has more in common with the 401 but no issues around the top end being veiled Cymbals crash where they should and brass has plenty of air. It will certainly tell you the difference between good and poor production but will not make an average produced LP sound bad what it does do is highlight a well recorded LP in a way that makes you take notice and smile.
What I have is a turntable that would have cost around the same price as a Orbe but punches its weight at the very highest level. I even still got room for a few more improvements for instance at some point I will buy the Airy 3 and will also wall mount the turntable, but that is for the future! The quest for great sounds never truly stops.
I used to be a digital man and still enjoy listening to music via this medium but my playback system of choice is now my Turntable set up.
I feel I finally got that explosive feel of music captured and yet put on something more subtle that is more intimate and the table still manages to seduce. So after so many weeks pondering if i made the right decision while waiting for the table I am finally there and happy with the choices I made.

Peter Stockwell
14-12-2008, 16:03
Nice Review John, I always did like the looks of those scout derived TTs from VPI, looks like you have a really nice rig :-)


14-12-2008, 16:15
Sounds fantastic, John. I'd love to see some pictures of the rim drive mechanism and the mods they did to the TT chassis for your tonearm. You should add them to your Gallery post!

14-12-2008, 17:10
Thanks Peter yes very happy with what I got
The alteration to the TT plinth is just a simple drill hole to allow the arm to fit the plinth; it is usually designed for there own arms I will add some more pics of the rim mechanism latter