Best tweak for all VPI turntables by Votan

Re: Best tweak for all VPI turntables by Votan

Postby Ayre Conditioned » Thu Nov 07, 2019 4:02 pm

Stringreen wrote:In my explorations of "tuning".....everything makes a difference. I'm a violinist...when I install different strings on my instrument there is a difference.....if I move the bridge 1/2mm in either direction there is a difference....if I play my instrument in my living room, there is a big difference than in my practice room, it sounds different in every venue I play in...different again when there are people there. I've tried all kinds of things replacing the feet on my turntable... every mat sounds different, even when the setup is adjusted in each case. Everyone has to find their own sweet spot... the sweet spot would be different for each of us. I used to manufacture resonance control devices. On my (then) music system I thought they were wonderful...a well known manufacturer evaluated them to produce them as a licensed product. (in the end they thought it too variable). On some systems, the product increased air, separated instruments and produced the "wow" factor...on other systems, they were too bright. ...so on to the glorious quest.

In evaluating the BluTac, I raised the tonearm, put the putty around and under the supporting structure....then lowered the arm for the proper VTA, squishing the putty.

I'd be open for experimenting with a solid connection (thinking brass would be where I'd start)


Hey Stringreen,
I tried various metals including brass all with the same result- harsh dynamics. I went to my local Hobby Slobby and picked up some black modeling clay. Cut off a section and put it in the microwave for 10 seconds. Knead it and roll it into a line long enough to go around and adjust to your correct height. I'm not hearing any downsides- just good stuff. If you try this I would be interested in your opinion.
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Re: Best tweak for all VPI turntables by Votan

Postby Votan » Thu Nov 07, 2019 5:41 pm

Hi Ayre Conditioned,
Thanks for the very interesting feedback.
It is obvious that the behavior of each material-and not only in this mod-depends on the individual character of each setup.
Also, sometimes, when entering a new device in our system, a total update of the entire setup may be required for best results, but all of this may be very complex and laborious and not infrequently, of questionable results.
BTW, I've tried brass too and found it a bit warm for my tastes and at the same time too bright. Stainless Steel as well was a bit bold in LF and a bit too forward in HF and overdynamic. In my setup aluminum fits best so far. But everybody's MMV.
Let's hope that VA will manage to find titanium (which btw is too much expensive) for the ultimate test on the subject.
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Re: Best tweak for all VPI turntables by Votan

Postby Stringreen » Thu Nov 07, 2019 11:39 pm

Ayre Conditioned......I tried that (though not microwaved).....I doubt that would make such an improvement (when cool). Interesting that brass wasn't good for Votan...I tried so many different materials for feet replacement, and brass did it for my system...just shows to go ya.....
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Re: Best tweak for all VPI turntables by Votan

Postby Waxxy » Fri Nov 08, 2019 11:01 am

I always liked the simplicity of the non-vta tonearm mount supplied with the JMW-9 and also on the 10 1/2 inch tonearm that came with the original Classic (1). It made sense to me that the simpler, more rigid connection would allow the tonearm to perform better...theoretically at least.

I've been using the tweak pictured below for a few years now, trying to approximate the rigid coupling / mechanical grounding of the simpler tonearm base by using a cone to directly couple the arm bearing to the arm-board...

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I started off with a brass cone coupled to a quartz disc. Neither of these items is bonded to the arm / arm-board, but simply 'clamped' in place by lowing the VTA tower until snug. I had several thicknesses of the quartz disc, allowing for a certain amount of VTA adjustability.

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Eventually i needed a shorter version so i removed the brass / quartz combo and replaced it with an ebony wood cone. The ebony is handy because one can sand down the tip to the exact correct height needed to achieve proper VTA. I have three different sizes which can be easily swapped depending on the armwand / cartridge combination. I can't honestly say I heard any real improvements with either combination, but I like the theory of rigid coupling.

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Note the dust on my Aries...I expect this will sicken some of you.
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Re: Best tweak for all VPI turntables by Votan

Postby Ayre Conditioned » Fri Nov 08, 2019 9:38 pm

Inspired by Waxxy's setup, I cobbled this together from my stash of junk. I believe that giving the energy a direct path to the plinth is the way to go with this tweak. This is the best sound yet from everything I've tried.
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Re: Best tweak for all VPI turntables by Votan

Postby vienna acoustics » Sat Nov 09, 2019 12:58 am

I think that both Ayre Conditioned and Waxxy have implemented this tweak in a very neat and clean way. Nice ideas both! I like the idea of the cone.
Amplifiers:Gryphon Pandora,Gryphon Mephisto Stereo,Gryphon Legato Legacy
Speakers;Tidal Contriva G2 SE, VPI Avenger Reference/FatBoy12” Gimbal&Fatboy 12” unip/LPI Stillpoints,Lyra Etna, Airtight Opus 1DigitalAurenderN10, EMM DA2, Torus AVR
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Re: Best tweak for all VPI turntables by Votan

Postby Votan » Sat Nov 09, 2019 1:54 am

Hi Waxxy,
Without wanting to derail the thread, but observing your counterweight, I would like to ask-observe this:
VPI is supposed to use tear drop counterweights in order to lower as much low as possible the centre of gravity of the total arm-cart system (from the tonearm’s support point to the pivot needle), wanting to increase the stability of the Unipivot tonearm and reduce as far as possible its transverse wobble.
The half-moon counterweight that you use which instead holds the center of gravity up (which is not a good thing), but - on the other hand - it has markedly more mass on its more extensive side edgess (which is a good thing as it increases the transverse moment of inertia, thus stability*) has finally some other sonic advantages compared to the factory one?

*This is a point that VPI obviously has alternatively addressed by having significantly increased the mass of azimuth side weights in the latest batches of their 3DR unipivots, which additionally lowers the centre of gravity even further.
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Re: Best tweak for all VPI turntables by Votan

Postby vienna acoustics » Sat Nov 09, 2019 6:23 am

Further to my very positive experience with the aluminum rings at the VTA tower and the beyond any expectation improvement I had experienced , I wanted to complete the Votan’s tweak by coupling the Tonearm’s bottom with the outrigger platform.

I liked the Waxxy and Ayre Conditioned ideas with the cones; and I thought that it would be time for me, to visit the workshop of a very good friend and associate who happens to own a well equipped workshop.

My idea was to machine stainless steel, thick, hex screws in a similar to the dual pivot pattern which would be then secured in position with the use of a hex nut at their top.

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The screws were machined and one of them is now installed at the gimbal arm of my Avenger reference.

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I decided to do the evaluation with a big band orchestra pressing and since the last record I listened yesterday evening was: ‘Duke Ellington And His Orchestra ‎– "...And His Mother Called Him Bill" -RCA ‎– PG-32- Japan 1977, it would be the one.

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I love the specific pressing and recording. It is a tribute of Duke Ellington to his closest friend and arranger Billy Strayhorn who died early. It’s a very emotional album with amazing Sonics and sense of the real actual venue. Outstanding realism. Unbelievable tunes and performance.

With the the screw secured under the Tonearm’s bottom I noticed:

1. The micro dynamics and bass are amazingly improved-in a crazy level
2. The sense of the instruments placing/spacing and separation are witnessed and felt way better
3. the stage dimensions are increased (width, depth ) and the feeling of the venue is amazingly real- I thought that it couldn’t get any be better
4. Oh the Duke’s piano is so brilliantly natural and dynamic.
5. sound weight and overall presence are improved.

This latest modification is associated with the dramatic improvement of the holographic stage I am now experiencing

Very satisfied with this inexpensive yet so brilliantly effective tweak. Once again thank you Votan.
Amplifiers:Gryphon Pandora,Gryphon Mephisto Stereo,Gryphon Legato Legacy
Speakers;Tidal Contriva G2 SE, VPI Avenger Reference/FatBoy12” Gimbal&Fatboy 12” unip/LPI Stillpoints,Lyra Etna, Airtight Opus 1DigitalAurenderN10, EMM DA2, Torus AVR
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Re: Best tweak for all VPI turntables by Votan

Postby tony22 » Sat Nov 09, 2019 9:00 am

I’ve been watching all this carefully with great interest. Nothing to add yet myself, but you all have me thinking. :geek:
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Re: Best tweak for all VPI turntables by Votan

Postby vienna acoustics » Sat Nov 09, 2019 9:52 am

Dear Tony,

Since I know you a bit, I am sure that it will be your next project.

In case that you will try this tweak - which I confidently recommend -, remember two things : 1. do not apply excessive torque on tightening either the VTA tower or on securing the nut (or a cone) under the Tonearm’s bottom, just enough torque is needed and 2. Take precise measurements before you will fabricate the rings for the VTA tower, after the ring installation check the VTF to ensure that you haven’t changed the VTA.

The beauty of this tweak, besides the improvement on sound , is that is totally inexpensive, takes a minute to install and one more to uninstall having the turntable in the exact initial condition and state.
Amplifiers:Gryphon Pandora,Gryphon Mephisto Stereo,Gryphon Legato Legacy
Speakers;Tidal Contriva G2 SE, VPI Avenger Reference/FatBoy12” Gimbal&Fatboy 12” unip/LPI Stillpoints,Lyra Etna, Airtight Opus 1DigitalAurenderN10, EMM DA2, Torus AVR
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