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|Suggested Retail Price:||$1,500|
|Description:||Aries Scout TT w/JMW 0 Tonearm|
|Manufacturer URL:||VPI Industries|
|Review by JBasham (A) on October 29, 2004 at 10:06:02|
IP Address: 184.108.40.206
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for the Scout
I bought a VPI Scout in August. I had wanted one for a while, and Music Direct made me a screaming deal on a NIB model that supposedly used the old plinth, which they said had really minor cosmetic differences from the current plinth. What do I know? It looks fine.
I had to order a new counterweight from VPI before I could mount my Ortofon X-5, which is a really light cart. They will exchange the existing counterweight for $10, or sell a whole new one for $60.
OMG, does it sound good. The X-5 on my Music Hall MMF-5 could sound a little tipped up, and I've heard other X-5 users describe it similarly. But the bass with the Scout is dead on. The bass drum on "Filipino Box Spring Hog" makes my living room groan.
I'm getting so much more air and nuance with the Scout than I did with the MMF-5. Attacks and decays on notes are tons better. Plucked upright bass notes sound really ripe and rich. Treble detail is much enhanced. And the soundstage is beautiful; the speakers just disappear and everything sounds right there. As a bonus, surface noise is down some too.
It's really nice to be able to use my own interconnects, too.
The only possible downside is the unipivot arm seems less tolerant of edge warps than the MMF-5 was (at least with this cart, anyway). It takes some fiddling to get used to the VPI clamp and figure out how to minimize edge warp with it. If you cue the stylus right to the beginning of the first cut, rather than farther out on the lead-in groove, everything usually tracks okay on a moderate edge warp.
I bought the $60 VPI dustcover that you clamp on the spindle. It covers everything adequately, but it's not as attractive as the $250+ plinth-top units available from other suppliers.
It's really nice to be able to take the arm off and put it away on Maid Day, just to make sure the cart doesn't die an early death from somebody's feather duster.
The VTA adjustment is slick and incremental -- much better than I expected. Levelling the unit with the adjustible cone footers is also very easy and intuitive. Setting the azimuth with the counterweight takes 30 seconds to get used to, but works fine. I also love the setup protractor that comes with the Scout. It's really easy to get the overhang set right. I have the Turntable Basics mirror unit also, which I liked better than anything I used before the VPI protractor. The only problem with the mirror unit is getting it oriented properly to the arm pivot -- if it's the least bit off, the overhang will be off too. After I use the VPI unit, the mirror unit is still useful to confirm I have the lateral alignment of the cart squared up properly (not that the VPI unit is bad for this either -- it just never hurts to double-check).
If you're looking to upgrade an MMF-5, all I can tell you is I'm really happy I finally got off the fence and bought the Scout. Even with a budget cart like the X-5, it sounds awesome.
|Product Weakness:||None at this price.|
|Product Strengths:||Bang for the buck!|
|Associated Equipment for this Review:|
|Amplifier:||DIY 300B monoblocks, parafeed with Magnequest output iron|
|Preamplifier (or None if Integrated):||DIY 12AU7 OTL|
|Sources (CDP/Turntable):||VPI Scout, AH! Tjoeb CDP|
|Speakers:||Adire HE 10.1 DIY cabinets, Parts Express/Vance Dickinson 10|
|Cables/Interconnects:||Audioquest Type 6 speaker cables, DIY 89259 interconnects|
|Music Used (Genre/Selections):||JJ Cale, Tom Waits, Isaac Hayes, Brubeck, Monk|
|Room Size (LxWxH):||~35 ft. x ~20 ft. x ~8.5 ft.|
|Room Comments/Treatments:||Oak flooring, plaster walls, standard living room decor|
|Time Period/Length of Audition:||In-home.|
|Other (Power Conditioner etc.):||Bottlehead Seduction phono stage with DIY power supply|
|Type of Audition/Review:||Product Owner|
Great review. Have you picked up the new Tom Waits record. It's incredible, very much like Bone Machine. Good luck with the scout I've had zero problems with mine.
I've never seen or used a JMW, but I'll bet the TTB protractor is easier to align with the pivot point if you take the armwand off. Am I right?
I agree that's a great feature for cleaning day, not to mention easy cartridge swapping for those so inclined.
Thanks, Doug. I don't think I've added much to the body of knowledge, but I think a lot of guys with MMF-5s wonder what they'd get by going to the Scout, so I thought I'd add my views.
I've tried the TTB alignment with the wand off, or with string to make a straight line to align the TTB, or citing it from eye level, or using a ruler. Thing is, if I line it up, install the cart, then go back and line it up again just as carefully, it suggests a slighly different overhang the second time -- I'm never able to line it up perfect. I'm not dissing the TTB - this is the same as any other protractor I've used, and I like the TTB better than anything I've tried but the VPI. The VPI unit is built for the table and locks between the spindle and the pivot, so there's no doubt about it.
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