Anyone NOT like the sound of VPI?

I'm wondering if I'm just not a VPI guy. Bought a Scoutmaster with signature JMW arm and a Shelter 501 MKII cartridge. This was after buying a Rega P3-24 with an Elys II cartridge. Thought the Rega was very dark sounding (at least with that cartridge).

The VPI sounded unnatural to me (no midbass whatsoever). Thought it was a bad cartridge, but recently heard a Scout (with signature arm) equipped with a Dynavector cartridge. This was on a system at a retailer where I was auditioning speakers and I didn't think it sounded much different from what I have at home.

While I hate overdone midbass, I certainly miss it if it's absent. I'm wondering if I'm just not a VPI guy and should try something else - maybe a Rega (P5?) with a different cartridge...

Some info about my setup:

- It's sitting on a heavy makeshift platform consisting of several layers of MDF glued and screwed together resting on top of a stereo rack. The rack sits on very spongy carpet on top of a cement floor.

I ordered a Target shelf so I can wall mount it, but my tiny brain finds it hard to believe this will make a significant difference tonally.

I had the turntable professionally setup recently. it does sound much more musical, but it lacks bass. This is ironic, because I have speakers that are way too bass heavy (Aerial Model 9's) in my particular room (soundproofed, retains bass energy). If I play a CD of the same material I play on the TT, it sounds completely different. Tried Steely Dan last night - same thing. I almost benefit from the weaker bass of the VPI because of my speaker issue, but I am going to change my speakers for a pair that is leaner in the midbass ... then I'll really have a problem with the VPI.

I'm using various interconnects (Audioquest, Monster). I'm making sure NOT to use my Nordost (because they typically thin out the bass).

Currently going into a Pro-ject Tube Box SE II (which was also adjusted in terms of jumpers etc) by my dealer.

After the phono stage, it does to a Audio Research REF III.

Amplifiers are Theta Citadels (monoblocks).
Well, I'm not familiar with the Pro-ject so I've got nothing relevant to say about that. The fact that your vinyl rig "sounds completely different" from your cd makes me suspect the cartridge and/or preamp are your problem though. When I play my vinyl rig, I've occasionally had to stop and look up to see whether or not the turntable is spinning because it sounds so similar to my Marantz Sa11S1. From what others have said in past threads, I doubt you're going to be very happy with a target wall mount shelf either unless you replace the mdf shelf with something like a Neuance drop-in replacement. Mdf sounds like mud from my experience under the VPI. I know that it seems hard to believe that the support substrate can have such a substantial impact, you'll just have to try this for yourself and see. Still, I wouldn't let this aspect sidetrack you from the bigger issue, optimizing the phono preamp chain and getting a cartridge that works better with the VPI arm.
What speaker were you thinking of changing to? If you don't mind the suggestion, your system seems to be almost tailor made for a pair of Vandersteens. The Quatros and 5As both incorporate powered base modules with room correction EQ. I use the 5As as does Stringreen which may explain why neither of us complain of low frequency problems with our VPI tables. You have a good table(I didn't say the world's best)and should be able to get very good results with it. Audio Research and Theta(citadels in particular) are widely reguarded to be great matches for Vandersteen. Just one idea from one guy who's happy with his system.
Your bass response issues being resolved by the digital makes the tt setup the obvious culprit. Attending to other issues will only delay your getting the tt setup right.

The wall shelf will make little or no difference in the bass, I've tried both wall and floor setups, the wall setup is much better overall in other sonic aspects. I suspect the fact your setup sits on a cement slab will make even less difference vs. the wall setup. I highly doubt it is your tt isolation.

I had the Pro-ject Tube box in a former tt setup, I doubt that is the culprit. I actually found it to be somewhat dark sounding in that setup, it probably doesn't have the bass impact of the highest quality phono stages.

You may also want to try an armwand with the standard Discovery cable, more even tonal balance in my setup. My only problem with that cable is it seemed a little closed in on top, it also doesn't have the resolution, air and spaciousness of the Valhalla cable. I also think it may be worth considering a custom wired armwand with Cardas, Purist or some other wiring, this could make a worthwhile difference. The Purist will definitely take the bass up a notch.

It would also be enlightening to audition a higher end phono stage, I've tried this path with no success to this point. Based on my experience you may have a long road to go in getting the VPI to sound the way you want, on the other hand, perhaps the next upgrade and/or tweak could solve the problem. Kind of exasperating not knowing how far or close one can be to solving audio problems.
The SDS should be your next purchase. They're commonly available used here for +/- 700.00, and will have an immediate, and positive effect.

As an experiment, try using carpet thread instead of the rubber belt from your motor assembly to the platter. Helps to tighten up the musical presentation. Do a search at
VA for different knot-tying methods.