VPI Fatboys versus others in its' tonearm weight class.

In their never ending quest to push fiscally responsible audiophiles into bankruptcy, site members have succeeded in making me consider a new gimbaled tonearm to keep a Lyra Kleos company on a VPI Classic 2 turntable. Dover, on my previous thread, pointed out most other tonearm options would be limited on the Classic 2 short of major surgery to it. So here I am considering keeping the tonearm upgrade in the VPI family. Their gimbaled Fatboy, will readily fit onto the VPI Classic 2’s tonearm base without any fuss.

Here’s my question after reading up on the Fatboy. How does the Fatboy compare with other tonearms in it’s $4500 price range? Is it about average in that class, which would be acceptable, or is it much better or worse than its’ peers?. If you.ve had any chance to compare the Fatboy with other tonearms in the same price range, what is your impression? I don’t want to spend that much money on one if the consensus is that it’s at the bottom of its class, which hopefully it isn’t.

I haven’t had an opportunity to listen to one, or any other tonearm as expensive. I would likely need to arrange a two day road trip to accomplish that. In lieu, I’m soliciting your impressions as to whether the Fatboy is worth that much compared to others in it’s price range. I guessing it will be okay, but don’t want to spend $4500 if the consensus is it’s at the bottom of its’ class just because it fits easily on my turntable. So what do you think? I’m all ears.

I’m not looking here for alternative solutions to a Fatboy. That was the topic of my recent thread, I’m only soliciting your impressions of the Fatboy compared to other similarly priced tonearms, and why I should or shouldn’t take a chance on it. Thanks all,



Gimbal, 2nd pivot, pointed.....they sound different from each other but not by much.  Harry himself said that the 2nd pivot addition is between the sound of the others. That's what I did

Stringreen, I meant to ask for comparisons of the Fatboy to other similarly priced brands of tonearms. I’m hoping for comparison to gimbaled tonearms only amongst those. I should have been clearer.

Fuzztone, you’re so right. The last time I tried to stay in a hotel on Long Island some fitfeen yeats ago, a hotel we stopped at asked for a thousand dollars for one nights stay. It wasn’t the Ritz either. At least we could afford the gas to get there then. Haven’t slept in the car since traveling cross country as a young man, but may have to take your advice if hotels in D.C. are anyway near that price nowadays.


I hope you get some input on this. I've found that tonearm knowledge to be the most difficult to come by.

Noromance, me too. I’ve found vey few reviews online about Fatboys either. One review was more or less glowing, the other more reserved in its’ praise, Other were more short and sweet, along the lines of "Here’s a great new product". I’ve yet to look through the annual product reviews or "Best of" lists like Stereophile or other audio mags run, so maybe something will show up there.I’ve also found a little bit in Audiogon and other audio forums, but not a great deal.

The VPI Fatboys have been out at least a few years now, so somebody must have noticed them and have an opinion, Or maybe this thread can turn into a definitive exposition on Fatboys and their ilk in this price range. We’ll see.

There’s a lot of expertise here, So hopefully this thread on Fatboys will take off tomorrow and we can both learn something here. I’d really welcome peoples advice on a major purchase like this. On the other hand I may get lucky and make an uninformed, but fortuitous decision. More likely not.


What Harry says should be discounted. This is the guy that said anti skating was detrimental.

@skyscraper , It is a run of the mill gimbal arm certainly better than what you have and an easy swap but, it has deficiencies that would keep it from being an arm I would consider. If you want a more accurate assessment of what can me mounted on your table without much surgery take close up pictures of your tonearm base and if you can, the bottom side of the turntable and closeup of the area underlying the arm. The only measurement I need is your current spindle to pivot distance in mm please.  Send them to me and I will give you a good idea of what can be done.  From pictures I have seen It looks like it has a small removable tonearm board, very easy to copy. An ebony board would look killer. Any surface mount arm like the Reeds or the Tri Planar will mount easily if the length is right. It also looks to me like your current tonearm board is simply screwed down to the surface of the turntable. This means you can easily mount boards of various sizes and mount them using the same holes so no modification need to be done to the plinth itself. If you were to send me the old tonearm board it would take me about 30 minutes to make a new one. Shop time is $140/hour. The ebony would cost you another $30.00

I have never seen a VPI Classic but if what Mijo says is true, if you do have a removable mount, then why are we even here? You can have any tonearm you want provided the P2S distance is not crazily different from the OEM tonearm, simply by replacing the mount. You can probably acquire a replacement from VPI, or Mijo, or a sympathetic local machinist. And you won’t have to compromise the originality of the deck itself.

Well, if you look at around 2”00 and 2”45 in the video, you can clearly see the tonearm’s mounting hole at the bottom and at the top. So, if the Classic 2 is similar to the Classic in this video, it should be easy to make a mounting collar for another arm (if the tonearm’s shaft is of a small enough diameter), or for surface mount. Spindle to pivot distance also looks to be similar to other arms of same length. 

Gentlemen, below are a couple of pictures, front and back, of the model VPI Classic 2 I own. To me this tonearm set up looks like a fairly complex mechanism in total, that I’d be afraid to mess with. For those of you with expertise in this field, it may be easy pickings to deal with. But I’m not at the place where this is somewhere I want to go.

It is doubtless you could getter a better tonearm onto the Classic 2 readily with your admirable knowledge and skills, but please understand that process is more than I want to deal with now. So I’ll have to settle for less than the best, as long as the Fatboy is a reasonable choice.

At this point I’d like to find out if the Fatboy would be a a good replacement for my current tonearm, maybe not the best, but hopefully not the worst in it’s class. I am hoping this thread might address that concern. Mike’s suggestion the Fatboy is run of the mill, but certainly better than what I have now is more the type input I’m looking for right now.



if the Classic 2 is similar to the Classic in this video, it should be easy to make a mounting collar for another arm.

Its not - the Classic 2 has a surface mounted arm with the VTA adjuster. The basic Classic in the video has a conventional arm pillar - hence the armband hole.

My VPI is mounted on the base with screws .....there is no cutout.   In all the arms I've worked with there was a cutout in the table to acomodate it. Another arm would require you or someone else to cut it out.

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Thekong and stringreen- Thanks for your clarifications.

Anybody have any thoughts on the Fatboy’s performance versus it’s peers? Love to hear some .of your thoughts on that. Why did you get your Fatboy if you have one.


I prefer the VPI unipivot for its speed and clarity in the midrange-- although not quite as strong in the bass as the fatboy.

Gbg4blu, I did read a similar observation in one review abut the unipivot Fatboy having a cleaner midrange, versus a stronger base response with the gimbal version. Lyra recommends a gimbaled tonearm so i guess i’d have to be happy with the better bass response.



I got out of the VPI parade last year, so my opinion is that no matter what you change in the VPI universe the house sound is kind of the house sound.  A little more of this vs a little more of that.  If you like the Classic 2, stay with your current arm.  If you are really looking to upgrade go hear some other arms on other tables.

Badgerdms, so would it be wrong to think you don’t feel the Fatboy would be that much of an improvement over the current JMW 10.5i SE, as it’s limited by the VPI "house sound"? I’d be horrified if I spent $4500 on one and couldn’t hear a substantial performance difference. I don’t mind the sound of the current VPI tonearm, having nothing to compare it to. I’m only getting convinced it wouldn’t be up to the performance level of the Lyra Kleos.I really wish there was any place near here to go and listen to other possible choices as you suggest. But that would be too easy. Thanks for your input,



Based on the recent threads/posts, you may be under the spell of uncurbable audio neurosis.

The Kleos will be a substantial sonic upgrade on the stock arm. Since you won't have another identical table next to it to compare with a "better" arm, you simply won't know just what the upgrade is really worth. The Kleos potential wont be fully realized until one has at least  $10-15K table/arm setup WITH an equally competent phonostage.

Your existing setup will however, present an enjoyable listening experience.

You could always sell your table and get this. Keep the Classic look, get accurate speed(The Classic series without speed control just aren't accurate) and the gimbal arm. Not a bad price for what's offered. With negotiation, someone could get a nice setup for a reasonable price.


Tablejockey, enjoyable is what I’ll likely end up settling on rather than optimum performance. The turntable you linked to is certainly a nice one, but realistically out of the picture due to its’ price tag. I put a bundle into a whole new system a couple or so years ago and don’t wish to continue spending on it.

However I think I underspent on a cartridge when I originally laid out a budget for my new system. So primarily I’m looking to make up for that oversight. I’m not thrilled that I should be looking for a new tonearm for my new Lyra Kleos cartridge on order. But I am willing to consider the possibilities if it would truly enhance my system’s performance, and fit my budget down the road. With the stock market tanking, inflation and other unrelated expenses, that may be down the road a good piece.

It’s interesting listening to folks opinions which are all over the place. But not to worry, I’ve a level head when it comes to making choices and spending resources. It doesn’t hurt to ask though, and doesn’t cost a thing. Since it’s a mutual interest, I enjoy hearing what you all have to say too. It’s not like anybody I usually run into would know anything about this stuff. Take it easy.



Agon is a great place to gain knowledge. Unfortunately, it does nothing to temper audio nervosa and wallet atrophy.

Your upgrade will more than a "settling" experience. 

Dover, thanks , I’ll check out your linked discussion straight away.

Tablejockey, so true. I do hear what you’re sayiing, loud and clear. Thanks. I’m forewarned.. It is all too easy to get caught up in this stuff. Especially when enabled here and you’ve a few bucks in your pocket. Three thousand for a cartridge has already certainly been enough of an expense. You can see how I miss the tempering influence of my late wife, who’d have shared your assessment, not to mention was feisty enough to have laid down the law. Good couple of posts. Made me laugh too.



I would recommend that you contact the analogue team at Upscale Audio, either Kat or Sean-Paul.  Upscale is the largest VPI authorized dealer in the country and really know much in the way of maximizing performance from VPI products.  They will know best about what to do in order to maximize the SQ of your Kleos cartridge and offer solid advice, within your budget.  I hope this helps.

From skyscraper’s photos and Dover’s post, it does seem that the tonearm is "surface-mounted" on the plinth. Apparently there is a wide diameter hole that can’t be seen in photos, which permits the vertical shaft of the VPI tonearm to penetrate the surface of the plinth. This arrangement does not at all preclude the possibility that another true surface-mounted tonearm, like a Triplanar or any Reed tonearm could be mounted, if skyscraper is willing to drill three very small screw holes needed to fasten any of the named tonearms in place. The TP, the Reeds (and the Dynavector DV505) reside entirely on the top side of the deck; they have no vertical shaft that needs to penetrate its surface. In my book, drilling the small screw holes for fasteners does not damage or de-value the turntable any more than its age, place in the VPI pecking order (it’s not the latest version of the Classic, after all), and general desirability. Anyway, I apologize for being one of the protagonists for changing the brand of the tonearm. As to the Fatboy, there seems to be general consensus that it is superior to the original. Plus, the mating between tonearm and cartridge (not tonearm and turntable) is the major determinant of "success", which really boils down to a matter of opinion. So, given skyscraper’s reluctance to do any mods, why not buy the Fatboy and then take care to mate it to a cartridge that complements the characteristics of a Fatboy, and then listen. This is how one grows as an audiophile, not by asking advice from we who are strangers.

Lewm. The VPI Classic 2’s tonearm is composed of a number of interconnected platforms, arranged somewhat in the manner of how you might picture a split level house.is constructed. All the various platforms sit on a fair sized round disk attached to the plinth.

Its not readily apparent how the lowest disk is attached to the plinth, or how easily it could be removed to retrofit another tonearm. Could be it’s sitting in a big round hole, or screwed in from underneath, or some other arrangement. It would take some exploratory surgery to figure this out to see if another tonearm mechanism could be attached to the plinth. Might turn out to be something simple, might not.

It might be possible drill. three holes in the uppermost platform where the JMW 10.5i arm sits on it’s pivot to place another tonearm mechanism, but this is unlikely as the new tonearm would probably sit way too high.

If the Fatboy sounds a bit worse than any of the tonearms you mentioned, I’ll live with it, rather than take a chance on mutilating the Classic 2 turntable or otherwise making a mess. I’m either being realistic about my DIY skills, or simply. too lily livered. Appreciate your thoughtful suggestion anyway.



If you find a good match to a cartridge, it will sound fine.  Maybe some other VPI fans here can suggest a good choice. For me, unless the tonearm is grossly bad in terms of design and build, the important thing is that match to a cartridge.

Lewm, the more I look into it, the more the VPI Fatboy seems to be the logical choice. I’ve emailed VPI a week ago to see if they feel the Fatboy is compatible with the Lyra Kleos cartridge I have on order, but haven’t heard back yet. I think I read a Lyra cartridge was used to demo the Fatboy at an audio show when first introduced. But I would like to get that match confirmed by them with the current iteration of the gimbaled Fatboy. 

They offer the Fatboy in three different lengths, 9’, !0" and 12".. It would be nice if they answered to be able to figure out which to choose.


I’ve had my share of VPI tables and have upgraded arms within the brand BUT never got to a fat boy—only to a hot rod version of the 3D gimble. That said, in my experience the two most significant changes you can make sonically is going 3D from aluminum and going gimbal from unipivot. IME the 3D arm provides a much smoother and more natural sound than the aluminum tube. This is very easy to hear and welcome. The gimbal arm is easier to handle but does not extract as much detail from the grooves, leaving some realism on the table. If it were me and I had the table in the pictures you provided I’d slap the Kleos on the existing arm and see what happens before changing the arm. Part of the fun is in the learning so see what a nice cart does compared to your Ortofon Quintet Red which is vastly inferior to the Lyra. 

Dodgealum, when it arrives, I’ll be putting the Lyra Kleos on my current tonearm. The VPI Fatboy is going to be a future purchase for budgetary reasons.

Thanks for describing the way the sound improved with your 3D arm. the Fatboy likely delivers more of the same since it’s also 3D printed, along with other improvements. I read one review that said the same thing you described with your 3D unipivot arm. That is there is a more detailed performance than you ger with the gimbaled arm, With the gimbaled Fatboy the trade off is described is a more solid base response than you get with he unipivot. Guess you can’t have both..

Did your 3D come with a choice of arm lengths? I was reading up yesterday on why you might chose one length over the other of the three different lengths VPI offers the Fatboy in of 9", !0" or 12". It’s another complexity to try and understand.


@skyscraper , measure the distance from the spindle to the center of the VTA tower. If it is anywhere near 222 mm you are in business. Even if not, you have a very thick platter and there is loads of space to mount an accessory arm board. The unit I saw had one mounted. If you want to mount another tonearm it is child's play to do so, it not then we can end this thread here.

Spindle to Pivot. If VTA tower is centered over the pivot point then measuring to the center of the VTA tower is ok. Measure in the plane of the platter surface.

Mijostyn and lewm . For the reasons mentioned a few posts back, I’ve decided not to perform any major or minor surgery on the turntable to install another tonearm. I will instead wait until I feel comfortable budgeting the resources to purchase the gimbaled VPI Fatboy, which drops right into the current tonearm’s base as an upgrade..

Although it would be easy for either of you to do otherwise it this was your turntable, it’s more involved than I’d like to get. I do most things on a DIY basis, right down to building my own home, but I’m not going to mess with this. In any event this thread is about how the VPT Fatboy performs relative to other tonearms in it's price range.


Lewm, if the consensus was the Fatboy performs way worse than other cartridges in its’ price range, then i would reconsider going that direction. That’s why i started this thread. I do appreciate you and others taking your time to make suggestions to help me figure out the best way to proceed.. Thanks again,


I have a Fatboy on my HW40.  It is a very good arm.  The previous Prime had two arms, a 3D with the Unipivot and a metal arm.  They were good too, but the Fatboy is better than either.  Easier to set up, greater clarity and depth.  The principal cartridge has been an Experion.  I can't fault the sonic performance of the HW40 with Fatboy, which is quite satisfactory.  It gets a lot of use and has proven to be reliable too.

Thank you Bill, that's encouraging to hear. Glad yours' has been reliable too. So many products aren't,


Honestly I would be shocked if VPI would produce an expensive arm like the Fatboy and have it perform at a level appropriate with the price. No reputable company would… and high end audio is highly competitive. But the user community is highly varied in skill and experience.

Took the plunge today. One gimbaled VPI Fatboy is now on order. Hopefully it will sound great coupled with a Lyra Kleos cartridge also on order. What a splurge to get both. See you all in bankruptcy court. 

Thank you all for your advice, encouragement and occasional lambasting. Couldn't have figured out what to do without your guidance over three threads. I learned a lot in the process 


@skyscraper , bankruptcy court is Alcoholics Anonymous for audiophiles. When your wife complains tell her it's better than buying prostitutes. My newest trick is threatening to buy a motorcycle. No, really you are in for a treat. Mike

Thanks mijostyn. I’m thinking you made a good recommendation on the Lyra Kleos cartridge from the research I did. Hopefully the gimbaled Fatboy will nicely complement it, even though it might not measure up to the quality of your tonearm.

Did you have to wait a while to get your Lyra cartridge when you purchased yours? The seller was guesstimating three months to be built and shipped from Japan, but another person online said he had to wait five. At least the Fatboy should get here quickly as it’s only coming from VPI in New Jersey. With any luck the. Kleos will be here June 1.

Did it take long for your Lyra to break in once you started using it? One thread here claimed it took 50-100 hours for an MC cartridge to fully do so.


We are gonna be on  this planet  only once(depending on you beliefs.)

You deserve getting what you want. Enjoy the beautiful music once it's setup.

Looks like a very simple installation.  Get a decent jig if you don't already have one.

There are plenty of what's "best" threads for more confusion on that.

When I got my VPI arm, they also sent me a metal guide that when placed on the spindle, the exact placement of the 3 attachment screws of the arm was accurate and obvious.  There is no hole to drill.

Tablejockey- luckily the dealer selling me the Fatboy will be doing the installation and setup once the new Lyra Kleos arrives, so I’m in luck there.

Stringreen, I think the gimbaled Fatboy will bolt on with a single nut into the hole where the unipivot point currently resides, once removed. So it should be quite simple to install..

Below is a VPI Youtube video on how this is done for anyone's reference. The simplicity of this install was a big reason I ended up choosing the Fatboy. Videos like this are computer age equivalents to the "Volkswagen Repair for Idiots" book that got me through four years of college with my '59 Beetle. 




Congratulations, may you derive great joy from your new arm and cartridge.  Please keep us posted once you are up and running.


"dealer selling me the Fatboy will be doing the installation and setup once the new Lyra Kleos arrives, so I’m in luck there."


You may want to make note of what alignment method  dealer is using, along with brand protractor for reference. You can then do a future setup yourself.

I'm a little envious- would love to put a Lyra/Fatboy on my Classic. 

Tablejockey, I’d like be able to watch how he does the setup to see what can be learned, I will note the brand protractor as you suggest, and if possible, see how he does the alignment. He mentioned he uses a computer program during the set-up process, so that would be interesting. I did the set-up on my current tonearm and cartridge, but have no idea if it could have been done better.

If you haven’t mentioned it already and I've shamefully forgotten, what cartridge and arm do you have on your Classic? I’ll let you know here once the Lyra Kleos comes in how it sounds in tandem with a Fatboy, compared to the current Ortofon 2M Black on my JMW 10.5i. tonearm. Hopefully the improvement will justify the cost and be worthy of some envy.

I need to find out how long the Lyra Kleos takes to break in or begin to start sounding as it should. My Magico A3’ speakers sounded just awful the first few times they were used. Luckily they blossomed shortly thereafter, and relieved the equally awful feeling in the pit of my stomach. Does anyone know if tonearms have to break in as well? I can’t imagine why that might be, but that doesn’t mean it’s not the case.