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REVIEW: VPI Industries Traveler Turntables

Model: Traveler
Category: Turntables
Suggested Retail Price: $1299
Description: VPI Traveler Turntable
Manufacturer URL: VPI Industries
Model Picture: View

Review by JimOfOakCreek on January 24, 2013 at 14:48:59
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The Traveler (Newest Version) After a Month:

The VPI Traveler has changed since its first release. I know since I went through two of them. The first, the original Traveler, was returned to VPI. The second Traveler was shipped to me by my dealer and is the ‘upgraded’ version. This new version of the Traveler has been bullet proof for a month.

The original had issues with the detachment of the tonearm for me. Although I’m not the only user that has had that problem, many users have not had that problem. The other issue was the stalling of the motor due to a bad capacitor. This motor issue was a fluke.

If you’re in the market for a Traveler it would be prudent know if your dealer is selling the newer version. Having said that, there are many satisfied owners of the original Traveler that did not have issues with tonearm detachment. I am only relating my experience. The following are the changes between the two versions that I observed.

1. The tonearm on the Traveler is a gimbal design using spring loaded pins on sapphire bearings. The original had shorter pins. If the tonearm was compressed against the gimbal on one side, the pin the opposite side could release from the hole in the gimbal so that the tonearm would detach. This happened to me twice and I was being careful. The new version addresses that problem with longer pins. The tonearm on my newer version has been bullet proof. I have no doubt that the detachment issue is solved. Still I am careful to always use a twist tie to secure the tonearm to the arm rest when removing the tonearm to change cartridges.
2. The paint job on the original blue, red or white Travelers was glossy. The blue, red or white paint job on the new version is textured. VPI says this to reduce finger prints. I say this is a cost cutting move. It’s easier to do texture than a flawless gloss finish. I like the look of the textured. It’s not bad. But I liked the flawless gloss a little better.
3. The mat on the original platter was a cloth material. The mat on the new platter is Sorbothane. The original mat looked better. The new Sorbothane mat may perform better as a vibration reduction layer.
4. The “VPI Traveler” logo was a badge on the front edge on the original. The new logo is silk screened on top of the plinth which is also an indicator of the presence of longer tonearm pins.



Plinth: The plinth is a two layer construction about 7/8” thick, an 11/16” Delrin layer, 3/16” aluminum top layer. VPI claims this combination self-damps vibrations. The new blue textured paint job is a matter of taste. I like it but not as much as the original gloss finish.

Feet: The feet are aluminum cones with rubber tips. Isolation seems to be respectable. I can walk on my laminate floors without any noticeable vibration disrupting the turntable.

Platter: The impressive platter is a combination of aluminum and stainless steel. It’s heavy, about 10 lbs. It’s machined to within 0.003” per VPI specs. Groves are machined into the platter that capture and hold the round drive belt. The platter is not suspended.

Cueing: The integrated cueing device is a high quality machined piece held in place with a single set screw. After unloosening the set screw it can be rotated and the height can be adjusted.

Tonearm: The tonearm is a machined stainless steel gimbal design with sapphire bearings. The arm is mounted to the twin gimbals by spring loaded pins. It looks awesome. I can track badly warped records with the Traveler noiselessly that my vintage Kenwood KD-2070 cannot. I use an AT95e @ 2.25 grams or M97XE @ 2 grams. The height of the tonearm can be easily adjusted using a large thumbscrew at the base of the tonearm. The arm rest is also held in place with a set screw and can be adjusted. The tonearm assembly is detachable for cartridge mounting. I recommend securing the arm to the rest with a twist tie when removing it from the plinth.

Motor: The AC synchronous motor is built into the plinth. It has two drive pulleys, one for 45 RPM and one for 33 RPM. The motor has a lot of torque. It does not slow down when running my Audioquest brush across a record. There is a slight chirp from the belt when starting up. This is considered normal with VPI tables.

Sound: I can track anything with the Traveler. Using the same cartridge I was able to hear improved bass response over my vintage Kenwood immediately. I know this was not my imagination. I have a subwoofer with the variable x-over set at 45 Hz. It stays in sleep mode until it receives a signal at or below 45 Hz. With my vintage Kenwood that sub rarely engaged. With the Traveler the sub is usually working, similar to my DAC.

I cannot hear any hum or rumble with the volume on my Marantz PM8004 nearly maxed out. The Traveler is very quiet. The over all presentation is clear crisp reminiscent of good digital music with the added magic of vinyl. I believe a solid plinth, a heavy platter and a well designed tonearm contribute to the presentation of the music.

After a month I have become very fond of using the Traveler. This is an all manual turntable. You set the arm down to begin. You pick the tonearm up at the end. The fit and finish are first rate. The cueing is slow and steady. To change speeds use your fingers to roll the round belt from one pulley to another. It has one on-off push button that activates the motor. In actual use it’s joyously simple.

The Traveler is supposed to be VPI’s “entry level” turntable. But this is not your typical consumer level toy. In terms of build quality the Traveler is light years beyond entry level turntables from Rega or Pro-Ject and the like. The Traveler is built like a piece of machinery made in the USA.

Product Weakness: Changing Cartridges Is Not Convenient
Product Strengths: Solid Construction, Excellent Support, Great Sound

Associated Equipment for this Review:

Amplifier: Marantz PM8004
Preamplifier (or None if Integrated): None
Sources (CDP/Turntable): Traveler
Speakers: DIY (Seas 27TDFC, RS180)
Cables/Interconnects: Generic
Music Used (Genre/Selections): Jazz, Rock
Room Size (LxWxH): 24 x 18 x 8
Room Comments/Treatments: Rug Over Hardwood
Time Period/Length of Audition: 1.5 Months
Type of Audition/Review: Product Owner
Your System (if other than home audition): Shure M97XE

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Topic - REVIEW: VPI Industries Traveler Turntables - JimOfOakCreek 14:48:59 01/24/13 (9)


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