New Air Suspension Footers for VPI TNT

During November of last year, I ordered the air suspension footers for my VPI TNT Mk. 3.5 turntable, and I patiently awaited the arrival of the upgraded footers until they finally arrived yesterday. As has been rumored here in this forum, the design of the footers has been upgraded to a sealed design that no longer requires air to be pumped into the footers. The new design should solve the tweaky issues relating to air leakage, periodic re-inflation and periodic re-leveling adjustments. So, for all who are interested, I think you will find that VPI now has the upgraded air suspension footers in stock and available to ship.
Thanks. I have not gotten those footers for that very reason of varying air pressure and leaky valves at low pressures. No I might get them.
How do they perform? I heard a rumor that they don't do as good an isolation job as the reflatables. Would you refute this?
I installed the footers on my turntable this morning, but I have not yet had a chance to listen to my system since the installation. Maybe this evening...

I will update this thread with my listening impressions once I have a chance to get a handle on the changes in the sound. I should note that, like Rives, I never took the plunge on the previous model air suspension footers. So I will not be able to provide any comments comparing the new footers to the now superceded air suspension model. I would also be interested in observations from anyone who has heard an A/B comparison of the old and new model air suspension footers.
I went ahead and ordered these new ones. They are back ordered by a few weeks, so it may be a while for me to respond. I think they are actually some type of silicon or other gel substance rather than air, that's what I gathered talking to Harry through Sheila.
Rives, the suspension mechanism in the new VPI footers is compressed air in the form of a paddleball. The paddleball sits in a cradle atop the footer, and the four stainless steel cylindrical corner posts that are attached to the plinth envelop and rest atop the paddleballs.
Cincy bob....are there the same air footers that are uased in the new VPI HR-X????
Rwd, I believe that the new TNT footers are a newly engineered design that VPI just finished within the past month. I was told that the footers I received this week were from the very first production run of the new parts. I don't know if the HRX air suspension footers are similar to the now superseded TNT design (i.e., require manual inflation, prone to leakage, etc.) or if the HRX footers have always involved a sealed ball design similar to the new footers for the TNT. Maybe someone who has assembled or disassembled an HRX can chime in here on this topic.
The stock HRX footers have been the leaky inflatables. They require reflation every several months. Perhaps VPI will make the sealed ball standard equipment going forward? If the sealed ball configuration offers same or better performance (vibration isolation), it would be a very popular upgrade since regular reflation is a dreadful chore.
Well, I have managed to do some listening since putting the new air suspension footers into my system. The improvements in sound were:

1. Lower noise floor - I should note that, while I had the turntable dissassembled, I took the opportunity to clean and re-lubricate the bearing, bearing shaft and bearing well. This might have contributed significantly to the lower noise floor. Whatever the underlying cause, it surely is a welcome improvement.

2. Stability in Peak Passages - In peak orchestral passages when the typmani or tom-tom is struck, the sound is now tighter and more stable with no sign of "cracking up." With hindsight, I would say that the vibration from these sorts of musical passages was previously causing the plinth of the turntable to move slightly on the spring suspension, thus causing the sound to "crack up" a bit particularly in trailing edge transients.

3. Treble Extension - Again, apparently due to the pneumatic air suspension footers providing more stability than the old model spring suspension footers, there is noticeably better air and treble extension with the new footers in place.

Overall, I would say the new air suspension footers are definitely a worthwhile upgrade from the old spring suspension footers.
I just exchanged e-mails with Vihn Vu at Gingko Audio. The new VPI TNT footers utilize Vihn's squishy balls. A mini-review of the new footers on Arthur Salvatore's website ( said the following:

"VPI TNT HR-X- One of my associates recently received the new (Gingko, modified, 'squash-type balls') "footers", which directly replace the original air suspension inserts within the four posts, that are used for isolation. He informed me that they definitely made some sonic improvements*, along with eliminating the annoying requirement to regularly pump-up the air isolators, which inevitably leaked a tiny amount of air over time. I don't know the cost and/or availability of the "footers" at this time.

*My associate felt the sound was "rock solid"; with greater "purity"; as well as more "impactful", "punchier" and "tighter bass"; and had a "more open and focused soundstage". He used the expression "greater solidity" more than once."

FYI, the "squishy balls" that VPI is using in the new air suspension footers are paddleballs - specifically Reactor brand paddleballs:

Reactor Paddleballs

The good news is that replacements should be readily available at your local sporting goods store in the event paddleballs supplied with the footers were to gradually lose pressure.
With these new balls. How do you balance the table considering the additional weight where the arm sits?.
That has significantly more weight the the other 3 legs.
With the air bladders you pump up the bladder to a higher air pressure to balance it.
Do one of the balls have a higher air pressure to cope with the additional weight at the arm?.

Or do you then have to screw the back right leg up higher?
The paddleballs are all the same - they are literally the balls that are used in the paddle sport. Given that the paddleballs come packaged in the original Reactor canister, I don't believe VPI has modified them at all.

The pressurized balls provide suspension that is quite firm in comparison the spring suspension of my previous footers. Because of the firmness, the added weight of the tonearm does not cause the right rear corner of the turntable to be out of level my much at all. Unless your shelf (or isolation base) is perfectly level, I think you will find yourself using the leveling adjustments to correct the leveling of your shelf more so than to correct for the effect of the weight distribution on the plinth.

Balancing of the turntable is accomplished through the leveling adjustments on the four footers. The new leveling adjustment is in the form of a ring around the base of each footer that is rotated clockwise or counterclockwise in order to lower or raise the respective corner of the turntable. I like the new leveling adjustments better than the ones on my previous footers that required the use of an allen wrench to adjust screws at the top of the four footers.
I put in the balls on the HR-X. They work--more dynamic, snappier, better controlled bass.
Hi Gladstone,

Are the paddleballs a direct drop-in replacement for the air bladders, or are other changes needed. I have a TNT-V with the inflatable bladders. It would be nice if I could just buy the paddleballs, remove the bladders, and drop-in the paddleballs.

Thanks for your comments.
Nope, you need the little support base that screws into the plastic foot. The ball rests in this cup-like device that screws into the foot. Just call VPI to obtain it.
Gladstone, I also own a HRX, so interested to see that in your system they add dynamics and tigher bass. have you noticed any downsides compared to the air bladders?

What happens with the holes on top of the 4 towers after you fit the balls in??. I hope VPI provide some nice looking cap or something.
How does the ball under the extra weight of the tonearm cope?. Is it the same pressure as the rest of the balls?.

looks like I need to contact VPI to get some.

cheers Shane
VPI is coming out with some black plugs for the holes. It would be better if they simply eliminated the silver towers...but that would require attacking the plinth.
I didn't notice any downsides. In any case, the firestone plugs contain a lot of metal and other parts that must be resonating.
I got the new suspension. Here are my experiences with the upgrade:

I ordered the HRX Footers from the Elusive Disc, a reputable retailer. They took a long time to come; availability was subject to VPI’s production schedule. Bob at Elusive was good at keeping me abreast of the ETA. Eventually, a box arrived with no instructions. This was apparently the kit for earlier, pre-HRX versions of the TNT, and it included everything I would need for the HRX as well. Each new footer came as three components, a rubber ball, a “tower,” and a “footer” with a cup for the ball on its top and a screwjack for making it taller or shorter for leveling the plinth.

The tower is shaped like a cylindrical tube with a dome on one end. The dome is dark grey plastic, although the cylindrical tube is covered by a silvery metal. Inside the tower, at its deep end, is a cup-shaped insert (cupped for the ball, of course). The insert is press fitted or very lightly glued into a cylindrical well drilled into the inside of the plastic dome. A modest tug on the cup shape (using needle-nosed pliers) was sufficient to pull the insert out of the cylindrical well in the plastic dome. After removing this cup-shaped insert, the rest of the tower was discarded. The cup-shape insert is to be installed into the existing HRX tower.

The existing HRX tower is integrally built into the HRX plinth, and there appears to be no way to remove it. Shape-wise, it is very similar to the tower component that came with the new kit – it is a cylindrical tube with a plastic dome on one end. In addition, it has a silvery metal surface that covers the plastic dome. There is a small hole drilled at the top of the metal surface, through which extends the air valve nipple for the existing air bladder suspension. The little metal cap that screws onto the nipple is all that holds the air bladder and footer assembly to the existing tower. (Without the metal cap, the footer falls out when the plinth is lifted off its shelf.)

After unscrewing the little metal cap and then removing the old footer, I let the air out and unscrewed and removed the metal valve assembly from the old air bladder (which was still attached to the old footer). The air bladder and the old footer were then discarded. I reinserted the valve stem through the hole in the metal surface and screwed the little metal cap onto it to secure it in place, so the tower’s appearance was preserved. (Could the metal cap and valve assembly be potential sources of noise/grundge? I haven't heard any so far.) I found that a bent and kinked coat hanger wire was useful for inserting into a hole in the valve assembly bottom to facilitate handling it while doing this.

The inside of the existing tower has a cylindrical well into which the cup-shaped insert can be located. Notably, the well is slightly too big for the insert. I wrapped black electrical tape around the insert three or four times to get a good press fit into the cylindrical well of this old tower. The coat hanger wire was useful for handling the insert as well, making use of a hole drilled through the insert. (Note the well is deep enough to accommodate the valve assembly without interfering with the press-fitted insert.) After that, all that remained was to put the ball on the upward facing cup on top of the new footer and insert this up into the interior of the old tower until the ball was captured by the downward-facing cup-shaped insert at the top.

After all four feet were refitted this way, I taped the footers to the towers so I could lift and replace the turntable back onto its shelf. After removing the tape, I adjusted the height screwjacks in each new footer to make sure the platter was level, using a bubble level.

I find that I am happier with the sound, although it is beyond my perceptivity and vocabulary to describe or quantify exactly how it has changed. Accordingly, I would describe the sound as the same or slightly better than before, without further expansion. For the record, my installation is well-braced in a corner and never had a resonance problem. I noticed a surprising degree of mental relief at never having to worry about bladder inflation again. I am also very pleased from a technical design-aesthetics perspective to be able to level the table reliably. In all, I thought it was a worthwhile upgrade, despite the cost.
Jameswei, I assume this is what was supplied.

I would think that for HRX owners that you would not need the 4 steel towers and feet, just the cup and balls - at a considerably lower price than $799. Do you know if this is possible?.

Does the additional weight at the right corner due to the arm place any undue pressure or lopsided effect with the four balls?.

Yiou are right, not having to pump up the air bladders must be great. I pump up the back right corner where the arm is every two weeks!

Your link is correct. That was what I bought. Clearly, it SHOULD be possible to buy a kit for the HRX without the towers for less cost. Bob at Elusive told me that what I got was the only kit available at the time of my order. I think VPI COULD eventually offer the HRX upgrade for less; I would recommend inquiring about it directly. If you do, please let us know what they say!

I didn't find a lopsided effect at the right rear corner. The balls are reasonably stiff and don't give a whole lot unless the weight differential is really excessive. Also, I am using the Graham Phantom arm, which appears to weigh less than the stock JMW, not that the difference would be really noticeable with these balls. Lastly, the new towers have screwjacks that adjust for height, so any sag can be offset by jacking the sagging corner up a little.

Best Regards, James Wei
James. thanks for the info, I would go back to Bob at elusive disc and ask for a part refund. He clearly has not bothered to treat you as a good customer and ask VPI to supply the upgrade for the HRX only. That is bollocks stating that was/is the only kit available to order.

It is a bit of a pain now ringing VPI as Mike has almost retired so is never in the office, whoever(female) answers the phone just asks you to send an email. a bit frustrating, especially from Australia.

Anyway, you and gladstone say the balls work better than the leaking valves, so that is the main thing I guess.
How long are the balls supposed to last for - Mike mentioned last year about 12 mnths??
The truth is that the whole suspension could still be reworked. I don't think the bulky, black plastic feet are ideal. In any case: all you need are the balls and the cup that holds them.
I don't know how long the balls are supposed to last. Estimates as to their longevity may be based on their use as paddleballs, which may be a harder use with a shorter life than in a table suspension. The good news is that they are off-the-shelf paddleballs that are commonly available and shouldn't cost a lot.

I would emphasize that a complete HRX kit should include at least both the upper and lower cup-shaped inserts and the footer foot with screwjacks for plinth leveling, as well as the paddle balls. (You all know the old footers have no screwjacks. If one subscribes to the view that leveling is not necessary, then using the old footers would be OK.} Black plugs for the tower top holes, as Gladstone mentioned, would be a better solution than re-installing the valve assemblies and metal caps, as I did.
Yes, it's critical to be able to level it properly. In fact the screwjack makes it possible, I think, to align about as precisely as theoretically possible, in contrast to the air bladders, which were inherently more imprecise.
James or Cincy_bob,

Can you tell us if the Reactor balls are the blue ones or the green ones?

Also, did the directions that accompanied them indicate if they should be replaced after a period of time? If they are the blue ones and came in a pressurized cannister (I think), then they may lose their pressure over time in the normal atmosphere.

Thanks for any info you can provide.

The Reactor paddleballs that came with my new suspension footers are blue. I do expect that the balls will gradually lose their pressurization and I expect they will need to be replaced periodically. However, VPI did not provide any product literature on this topic, and I have not inquired of VPI whether they have any experience that would suggest an average estimated lifespan for the balls in this particular use.
When I spoke to Mike at VPI a little while ago, he said the balls would need to be replaced once a year. I would guess this would have been a pretty wide guestimate as they have not even been out for a year yet.
He seemed to think given thye low cost of the balls, it was easier to replace all the balls every 12 mnths.

Not sure if this advise has changed recently

Does anyone know how much the upgrade is for the HRX??
I received my kit about a week ago. No instructions supplied so I put it together. I was worried about very little clearance bewteen the cradle and the corner cups. Frankly the upgrade did not sound better, it was leaner in the bass and seemed to emhasis the treble slightly.

I was talking an audiophile buddy of mine yesterday and he mentioned he had also upgraded to the ball suspension but VPI did not send out the black foam inserts that go up inside the corner cups so it stops the suspension ball from going up where the valve stem went previously, so he was waiting for some to be sent out. he told me to look at elusive disc web site to explain what the black foam inserts were, see link.

Guess what, I did not receive the foam inserts either, I guess if some instructions like the one on elusive disc web site had been sent I would have realised that I had not received the full kit.
Well I dismantled the ball suspension and re installed the air bladders. The paddle balls had big circle cuts into them where it had been pressing against the small opening at the top of the inside of the cup. Well it sound a whole lot better now back with the air bladders.

I guess something as simple as black foam inserts can stuff up the sound of your TT and that also explains the lack of leeway between the footer and cup.

Anyway, this is a word of warning for anyone upgrading their air bladders to the ball suspension to make sure they receive everything before installing.

hopefully when I receive the replacement stk I will be able to advise if it was a positive change.
Got my suspension "upgrade" a month ago or so. Had to insert a stiff felt pad above the foam inserts as otherwise there was not enough clearance. This may be because my platter is the original TNT platter, which was heavier. Mike was good about sending out more of the foam inserts, but turns out I didn't need them after putting in the felt.

Is this really an upgrade? Hard to say. More of an upgrade IMO was removing the tripulley assembly, which I finally got around to doing after Mike sent the plugs for the holes in the table. This produces a quieter, more stable sound. But the suspension upgrade is worth it just to avoid having to fiddle with pumping up your bladders every month!

I have a TNT V HR
& My Original Air bladders have been leak free for
3 months since installing a 2nd set of O rings in the
bleeder caps. (dual o rings per cap).
BEFORE installing the extra o rings, The caps would
bottom out on the threads. & there would be no preassure
against the o rings for sealing.

The Bleeder screws WILL leak over time at the rubber seal, So it is important to have the caps act as a secondary seal. I also applied a small amount of silicone
spray to the bleeder screws (rubber seal) & I think this
will help them seal a little better.

I used to have to refill my TNT with Air every 2 weeks,
so far they are holding and it's been 3 months! total
cost for the remedy is under 5 bucks.
a little cheaper than the VPI upgrade.
Socoaste, Could you please provide a little bit more information on how you did this.

What do you mean a 2nd set of O rings in the bleeder caps?.
I know you can replace the tire valve cores.

thanks Shane
My TNT has Metal caps (like the ones used on tires, but
made of metal not plastic).
Instead of just a single o ring inside of the cap, I use
two o rings per cap. Before with just 1 o ring, the threads would bottom out before any pressure could be put
against the o ring. Also applying a rubber conditioner to
the bleeder screw seals should keep them fron drying out &
hardening which would make them prone to leakage.

The main reason I like the stock TNT air suspension is that
it is adjustable. The height can be matched on all 4 legs
AND the amount of air used can be set as needed.