VPI upgrade?

I'd like to upgrade my turntable, a VPI Scout 1.1. w/ Ortofon 2M Black cart....

Question, staying with VPI, is  Prime a significant upgrade? Also, using a Channel Island phono pre...I'll be buying used, budget $3500.

I might regret this, any other sugestions?



I’ll be watching this thread but I’d like to ask why are you moving on? I too run a scout 1.1 but never had the urge to move it up. Just moved carts. ( side note: I went from the bronze to the black then to a Hana sl….I am staying in the Hana family) 


Assuming your rig is optimized, a LOMC alone can be a welcome upgrade.

The Prime will have the 3D arm, so depending on who you you ask, it is an upgrade.

Your budget with patience, could find something quite good. VPI or another brand.

I'd look for a  Classic 3 or late model Aries if staying VPI.

I will add to what @russ69 ​​​​@tablejockey said. Once I went to my Hagerman trumpet and then added the Hana everything changed with regard to the music sounding like music. No longer did I mess around with the Ortofons (always seemed to be listening to the gear and not the music) I would monkey with the Ortofon black (and bronze) too much to try and get it to sound decent on the vpi. I know there are a lot of people using them with great results but with my equipment they never did jive with the sound I wanted to hear.

I have never heard your pre and I certainly would never be able to tell you if changing your pre would help, but perhaps the table (unless you are ready to move on) could stay and different gear might help?

just my thought after going through my latest gear upgrades.




@larseand , No, it is not a significant up grade. Your best move is to replace that tonearm. I believe the VPI gimbal arm is a direct swap. Once you have swapped arms you can move up to less compliant cartridges if you like. I suggest an Ortofon Windfeld Ti or a Lyra Delos. If you do not want to go low output then a Soundsmith Voice would be perfect.

I almost never agree with mijostyn but this time I do in part and not in part. He is right, the VPI unipivot arm is a total pain for the average schmo, though my trusted set-up expert Brian Walsh says he can make them sound very good and he has no problem with them. Where I disagree with him is on the suggestion that you spend a lot of money on a VPI gimbaled arm and $5,500 or so on a Windfeld Ti or similar combined with a $2500 drive unit. I have about a dozen cartridges ranging in price from $1,000 to $9,000 and the qualitative difference, while real, is not proportionate to the cost compared to differences in tonearm and tonearm wiring quality. So I do agree with upgrading your tonearm (or moving to what imho is a better turntable/arm) but I would not sink more money on a VPI arm and a $5,500 cartridge. 

Where does VPI go wrong? I think they have never figured out how to engineer there decks to sound lively and not plodding/boring. They appeal to the eye but the high mass platter, unsophisticated bearing and low to mid-mass plinths are just not a good synergistic combination. The belt drive motors are nothing special and every few years VPI changes them. VPI is an enigma-on the one hand the decks are built to last compared to a Pro-Ject and on the other hand they are largely kluged together. The only VPI deck I would consider owning is an HW-40 and even then it would be with a non-VPI arm. But that is just me. 

There are lots of good turntables on the market but one I would take a hard look at is the Pure Fidelity Encore with the Origin Live Zephyr arm. 

I’ve owned three VPI tables over the years and for the money a Scout with the original unipivot arm loaded with an inexpensive cartridge like an AT OC 9 is a no brainer recommendation. The problem is that when you go higher up in the line the engineering and parts quality limitations become more pronounced. So I wouldn’t suggest staying with the line if you want a real jump in performance. I’d second @fsonicsmith suggestion and look at the Pure Fidelity line—very well designed with top quality parts and sonics. The OL arms are truly best in class at the lower end of the line so you can really end up with much better SQ for your dollars invested than upgrading the VPI

You can get the Prime 21 with a gimballed arm installed at no extra cost.  The bass response with the gimballed arm is amazing!.  But if you want to change cartridges, you are better off with unipivot.  You can get a separate arm with unipivot and mount a second cartridge on it (perhaps a mono) and make an easy swap.

I got a used Prime about a year ago. Amazing TT. I went with a Hana ML cart. 

I have a used Prime Signature in Rosewood with JMW 3-D printed uni-pivot arm. J.R. Bosclair of Wally Tools fame set it up with the second pivot so it was done right. It has also been calibrated by him for the Soundsmith Paua but the settings should still be correct for any Soundsmith of similar weight. It would cost you a considerable amount of $ to have this set up done. Pricing is in your ball park. Please message me if interested.

All of the information and expertise is greatly appreciated. Please remember that my budget is $3,500. Happy to buy used!

Perhaps, I'm dreaming to find a significant improvement.

I looked at the Pure Fidelity website and realized it's an $8K suggestion...They look like works of art.

Just found this at Upscale:

VPI Super Prime Scout 21 Turntable w/ 10.5" Tonearm & VTA On the Fly

$4800 list, sale, $3499...Thoughts?



I have the Aries Scout and changed the cart to AT 0C9XSL and recently swapped out the spike ft for the VPI classic signature feet. That update made the table a lot more stable with slightly improved sound. I think the AT cart sounds lively and full on that table. I use with the Parasound JC3jr stage. I’m happy. I play jazz and classical mostly. 

'Just found this at Upscale:

VPI Super Prime Scout 21 Turntable w/ 10.5" Tonearm & VTA On the Fly

$4800 list, sale, $3499...Thoughts?'

Get the exact table WITH a nice MC cartridge

VPI Super Scout w/ Kiseki Blue Cartridge For Sale - US Audio Mart


If you have a Scout 1.1, why not just upgrade to a better version of the Scout?  Call VPI and as them about your options.

I am also in the minority in that I believe that the tonearm contributes more to ultimate sound satisfaction than the drive unit or cartridge once a certain high level of overall quality and set-up is reached. Put differently, assuming that the foundation for the turntable is fundamentally solid, that the plinth is well chosen for the drive unit, that the drive unit has no glaring flaws, the choice and selection of the tonearm is the most important, critical aspect for overall sound. 
I have used this example before and it is an example that virtually no one would ever implement but, perhaps, me. If one were to take the highly lauded Merrill-Williams Gem Dandy turntable and mate it with any Reed tonearm and virtually any of the many good but moderately priced cartridges properly set up, I can assure you the sound would compete with anything else available. 

Besides Pure Fidelity, Merrill-Williams's range of turntables are worth a look. 

I'm going to grab that VPI Prime walnut B stock and enjoy a $1,000 discount. Also, plan to replace the 2M Black w a MC cart. Also will consider a phono pre upgrade...

Thanks for your input!

@larseand , I mentioned the VPI gimbal arm because it is a direct swap but you can, with a little creativity, mount just about any arm you can think of on that turntable. The Audiomods arm or a lesser Origin Live arm would do fine.  The Audiomods arm is $1000 and the Lyra Delos is $2000. There's your budget. 

I’m a VPI lover, VPIs love upgrades. I own a scout II, upgraded the feet, motor, and added a walker speed controller. Also put a Koetsu rosewood signature on it. It will take anything you throw at it and return the favor. In my opinion you can’t go wrong with this table. As for your question, the Prime would definitely be an upgrade, but be sure you’re doing all you can do as far as upgrades on your current scout….you might get away a lot cheaper and get the same benefits. Good luck!

VPI makes nice turntables. Always have.  I presently have an HW40 that is quite the berries and am resurrecting my old HW19MkIII bought new in 198?.  I have also owned but traded a fully pimped out Prime.  No regrets, they all work just fine.  My present decision is which arm to settle on for the old MkIII.  I have an SME Series III and an SME Series II Improved.  Both have been rebuilt by SME Canada. Anyway, to your question, if I were you I would go for an arm upgrade.  The VPI Unipivot works very nicely with Harry's stabilizer mod and that is the way to go for your turntable in my opinion.  When I was messing with my Prime, it came with a 3D arm or course, and Harry suggested that I try a metal arm, which I found used here at Audiogon for a very reasonable price.  After a lot of ABing, I grew to prefer the metal arm.  Go figure.  Try it, you can't go wrong and you can always resell it if you find something later that suits you better.  The thing is that new stuff is not necessarily better, just different.  And with VPI, well we are a bit of a cult it seems.  Have fun.

I have the exact same turntable and cartridge...Scout 1.1 w/ 2M Black, and have enjoyed since I bought it 1 yr used.

I have the itch to make some changes as well, but really do not know enough about attempting to align a cartridge on it and complete setup. I only have the paper template alignment jig, and really should consider buying the real thing.

MY initial upgrade will most likely be a phono preamp, as I'm using my Yamaha RX-A1030 receiver using its internal phono preamp. Once that is done I'll then have some flexibility as to direction for cartridge. 


With all the different motors, motor capacitors, motor housings, tonearm bases, various tonearm wands (including wire & junction box wire), platter materials, platter machining, footers (rubber tipped cones?!) to mention a few variables, I have no idea what a Scout 1.1 is.

Sort of makes it difficult to make an educated suggestion. Having said that, I think any Scout with the right assembly of parts is capable of tremendous performance and is a favorite of mine with a complimentary cartridge.

For a blind recommendation, the front motor position Classic variants seem to be consistently good.

For a blind recommendation, the front motor position Classic variants seem to be consistently good.

One exception, “Oh! You got one of those?!” I have run across a few very early (single shipping carton) Classics where the delrin tonearm base riser was too tall preventing proper arm height w/o a cartridge spacer - something you never want with their unipivot. Just swap the 3/4” delrin spacer for a 1/2” 👍


so if I upgrade to one of the Gimbal tone arms what am I getting? Direct swap meaning it fits? thanks 

You are getting an arm that is easier to use. Is more likely to maintain it's setting and has bass that is has more punch and definition. A good gimbal bearing will operate well for a lifetime. I hear of VPI tonearm owners replacing bearing needles all the time. I believe but am not 100 sure that VPI's gimbal arm has the same dimensions and will mount in the same pattern. You need to call and ask to make sure. Have your serial numbers handy. Good place to start. Next I would do the Isolation platform and finally the cartridge. I highly recommend the Soundsmith Voice and Sussurro, There are painfully few cartridges that will outperform them. I have the new Hyperion MR coming and I will remark on it.

I put the Sussurro back in today, on the end of the 309, for which I have a number of headshells. It sounds so much nicer through the SUT than it did via the MC input. I don't suppose I will ever buy a Hyperion, but I'll enjoy your reports vicariously!