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PostPosted: Mon Feb 15, 2021 8:32 pm
by jpb6061
FWIW, my personal odyssey with SSM upgrades.

I purchased a Super Scoutmaster upon the recommendation of my late friend Harry Pearson some years ago. I became a somewhat desultory vinyl listener, even though I have several thousand LP's, many as yet uncleaned and unlistened; probably another thousand or so I have been gifted or acquired through my association with Audio Dimensions in Royal Oak, MI over the years. I use the word desultory because after acquiring a PS Audio PerfectWave Dac and PerfectWave transport, the thrill of vinyl just wasn't there, particularly after upgrading to the DirectStream Dac which IMHO is about as revolutionary a value as is the Stellar Phono that Harry has been going on about!

Not to be deterred, because as we all know "vinyl is superior", but it just wasn't giving me the goosebump experience I sought. I have periodically and somewhat methodically upgraded my SSM over the years in hopes of "getting there"!

Recently, after several years of searching, I finally found Rim Drive flywheel and pulleys on eBay! I bid and Sniped my way to victory and after a wait for the belts to come from Acoustic Sounds (with their usual great service) I rewired the motors and installed it on Saturday.

All I can say is wow. To me it's the single best upgrade I've made to the SSM, with perhaps the exception being upgrading from Dynavector VPI DV20X (med. output)to the wonderful (to me) Ortofon MC A90 cartridge. SuperPlatter, MEH quieter than the stock acrylic platter, a little more dynamic. 3D tonearm, not an earth-shattering difference over the JMW 9. VPI tonearm cable to Audio Sensability to Weisline... subtle to me but I do struggle to hear "major" differences in cables. I know I "should" but the differences (to me) are relatively subtle. Three drive belts made a nice change in impact and bass. I tried Edensound Bearpaws and now have the HW-40 feet with some Herbie's thingies under the motor (major improvement made necessary with the addition of the third belt, to eliminate motor noise being transmitted into the plinth.)

Back to the Rim Drive... I snuggled it up to the Super Platter and set the speeds with KAB strobe disc and strobe. Very easy! I was almost disappointed after reading about some of the travails of those on here trying to get it to work. I had a little thump at one spot on the rim drive belt, but that went away after about two hours of 45 RPM rotation. I was worried, having read all the posts on here about the Super Platter's lack of concentricity etc.,but it is dead quiet now.

The sound went from VG but somewhat "polite' to Spectacular. Dynamics, air, depth, transient response, impact, PRAT, and a perceived additional octave or so of bass with visceral feel. It is perhaps the least subtle upgrade I've ever made to my system. I just cannot believe what resides in the grooves on some, no make that most of my albums, many of which have years of use on some pretty sketchy setups starting in my High School days, through some marginal tables (even one "changer") through Phillips, Micro Seiki, Oracle, and finally VPI.

I guess what I'm trying to get across, and feel free to judge my acuity with a grain of salt, is that the Rim Drive is the real deal. If I can't have that, I guess I'll have to hold out for Direct Drive because I'm not going back to belts! I still just cannot believe the magnitude of change that the thing has wrought in my system.

I've read posts calling the Rim Drive a "kluge" and disparaging the price and execution of same, but being in a manufacturing business, after hefting that flywheel/pulley assembly and dropping it onto the spindle of the motor housing, all I can say is Kudos to VPI for making this available and giving an upgrade path!


PostPosted: Mon Feb 15, 2021 11:20 pm
by Stringreen
I too have a superscoutmaster with rim drive....have the classic platter though (my preference)...3D 10 with 2nd pivot. Harry too said the super scout as we have it set up is less than a hair off the ultimate mag.


PostPosted: Tue Feb 16, 2021 1:04 am
by seamonster
I really like reading about good experiences in this forum. Aside from that, and coincidentally, I've got Herbie's Grungebusters under my motor.


PostPosted: Tue Feb 16, 2021 7:40 am
by Brf
Great post jpb6061, and a very enjoyable read.

I have been a rim drive user since the first day VPI launch it. On occasion, I revert back to flywheel with belts just to reaffirm the sonic benefits of the rim drive.


PostPosted: Fri Feb 19, 2021 5:23 pm
by Harry
If Covid ever ends we will do a BLDC Rim Drive with feedback to set speed and what has to be the best motor controller we have ever seen. We have not given up on Rim Drive just the impossibilities of getting anything new done this year that requires more than one supplier.