By Lam Seng Fatt
VPI returned to making belt-driven turntables simply because Mathew Weisfeld (popularly known as Mat), the younger son of VPI Industries Inc founders Sheila and Harry Weisfeld, does not know how to service the Classic Direct Drive turntable.
“Only my father and the engineer who built the direct-drive turntables know how to service them,” said Mat, who has taken over as president of the company.
“Actually my father has retired, but he has not retired, you know. He is still tinkering around and is making the direct-drive turntables on a bespoke basis.”
Mat decided to return to making belt drives because he knows how to build and service them. He did not want a situation in the future when an owner sends in a direct drive VPI for repair and he cannot do it because does not know how to do it.
It is not because the direct drive turntable is inferior to belt-driven ones, he said. In fact, it is the best-sounding VPI and will only be surpassed in sound quality by the latest VPI turntable, the Titan, which will be launched soon.
On the VPI Avenger Reference turntable, he said it has a magnetic suspension and is magnetically driven.
“The belt drives the bottom platter. Can you see the air gap between the bottom and the upper platter? The upper platter does not touch the bottom platter. No vibration is transmitted.
“We use a combination of magnets that attract and oppose each other. These magnets are built into the platters in the circle around the spindle where the paper record label of the LP is. There is no magnetic interference on the cartridge. We have measured it,” he said.
There is some interesting information on the origin of the Avenger on audiogon. Mat himself had posted on the audiogon forum last year: “That brings us to the Avenger. The Avenger technically started as a design concept over 10 years ago and Harry had worked on the project as a different shape version of the HR-X. He had the Magnetic Drive in mind, but never finished it because, you guessed it, he made the Classic Turntable instead. The Classic overwhelmed the production pipelines and essentially killed all design work on the “Tripod Project” (the original name). Last year at our dealer Training event I found the dust caked original chassis while we started our renovations. With the binder identifying it as the Tripod and a very early stage design for what would be the Mag Drive. We dug it out, cleaned it up, Harry finished it, and the prototype gave the Direct Drive a serious run for its money. (See https://forum.audiogon.com/discussions/vpi-avenger)
At the Kuala Lumpur International AV Show, Mat told me the Avenger Reference comes close to the Classic Direct Drive in terms of sound quality.
But the soon-to-be-launched top model, the Titan, which will also have the magnetic drive, will have the best sound quality. VPI Avenger turntables can be upgraded to Titan status.
VPI’s tonearms are now 3D printed and according to Mat, they are superior to the normal ones.
“Currently, we are using 3D printing using polymer to make our tonearms. There are no resonances at all. Later, when the technology is available, we may use 3D printing with metals,” he said.
I told Mat that other companies also have magnetic suspensions, such as Clearaudio.
“Yes, there are other companies offering magnetic suspension, but they can’t do it at our price,” he said.