a cool Saturday just this side of Spring, several New York
area audio clubs were treated to a tour of the expanded VPI
Industries in Cliffwood, NJ, hosted by Harry and Mathew
Weisfeld, as well as Steven Leung, owner of Valve Audio
Systems (VAS). As soon as I walked in the door, I was met by
a fleet of the company’s turntables and supporting flotilla
of VAS electronics sitting single file along a long wall.
For any vinyl and tube junkie this was like being in heaven.
After the assemblage had their fill of the fine food and
drinks, Harry and Mathew Weisfeld introduced two new
products to the company lineup. The first, and still in
prototype form, is the new top-of-the-line turntable called
the Vanquish. This new turntable is a major departure from
their existing lineup, as it is a direct drive table, that’s
right as in not belt drive. The direct drive motor is
military grade (supposedly used in the Trident submarine)
and therefore, absolutely silent with perfect speed and
non-cogging rotation. Harry Weisfeld had borrowed a sample
motor before deciding on purchasing it, and in his own
words, “after two grooves, it sounded like a master tape.”
Even at a wholesale price, the motor is very expensive.
The second new product is a composite
unipivot tonearm, designed and manufactured using a $350,000
3D object modeling machine. Comparing VPI’s existing arms
with the new composite tonearm, Weisfeld said, “everything
sounds good, and then we put the new arm in and the focus
becomes pinpoint, because nothing is resonating.” The arm is
produced by a laser printer drawing lines using epoxy and is
layered by spreading the initial layers, and drawing the
lines over and over again until the plastic arm is fully
formed. At the pivot point the arm is round and at the head
it is triangular, thus preventing any resonances from
traveling down the tube. The result is a very stiff but
light weight arm. This is a labor intensive process and each
arm takes approximately 27 hours to make.
Although not as earth moving as the aforementioned two new
products, Weisfeld also announced the Scout 1.1 is getting
an aluminum platter. In the near future, the Traveler arm
will be modified and will replace the JMW-9T arm on the
Scout because some customers do not like the unipivot arm.
The modified Traveler arm has a sapphire gimbaled bearing
This was not just an ordinary audio
meeting. Harry Weisfeld acted like a ringmaster conducting a
multi-ring circus extravaganza. Attendees were able to
meander from room to room as their fancy struck. In one
room, Peter Ledermann of Soundsmith was giving a seminar on
his highly regarded phonograph cartridges and afterwards
played some LPs. Peter brought an entire system (except of
course, a VPI turntable) of Soundsmith electronics and
speakers to demonstrate. The system with the VPI turntable
sounded excellent. I think the majority of attendees agreed,
as many of them had their eyes closed while listening but I
didn’t detect any snoring so I gather they were enjoying
what they heard.
In the main listening room, attendees
were treated to a Classic 4 turntable, Aries 3 turntable and
the new Vanquish (temporary housed in a Classic plinth)
McIntosh amp, Harmon Kardon Citation One vintage preamp and
vintage JBL loudspeakers (with a Vandersteen as a middle
channel). Harry Weisfeld and staff compared both the
Vanquish and the new plastic arm with the Aries and Classic
tables to interested listeners. In my opinion, both new
items offer a significant improvement in sound quality over
their existing products. In an open area, a Traveler
turntable and Martin Logan were featured playing Ricky Lee
Jones while I was there, and which got my toes tapping. In
one of the back rooms, a blues band was satisfying those who
wanted to groove to live music. Yeah baby, live music! In
yet still another room there were static displays of a vast
array of vintage amplifiers, reel-to-reel tape recorders,
turntables, etc. It was like an audio museum with lots of my
favorite equipment from back in the day.
Judging by a multitude of questions and happy, smiling
faces, I would guess everyone had a great time!
I want to thank Harry and Mathew Wesifeld, Steven Leung,
Peter Ledermann and the entire staff at VPI Industries for
hosting such a fun and enjoyable meeting.
I would also like to thank Daniel Bernauer and Shek Mark for
Until next time, I wish you happy listening!