How does the VPI Aries II stand up to current mid priced tables?

I've always loved the elegant look of the Aries but never owned one. Well I have scratched that itch and purchased one right here on Agon and it's en route right now. Seems to be pretty stock with the 10.5 arm and a possible motor upgrade, excellent condition. Has this turntable aged well? All thoughts are welcome.


Nice table Imo. I like vpi. Add the speed control if you want. I'd be glad to own one

Congratulations @ozzy62, nice table!

I have an Aries 1, and the only difference between the 1 and 2 is in the platter and its bearing. The 1 is fitted with a 1" outer diameter, stainless steel bearing housing and threaded (for a reflex clamp) spindle. The platter is comprised of 1- a 7/8" thick bottom section of aluminum, with a sheet of cork-covered lead bonded to it’s underside; and 2- a 3/8" thick sheet of black Delrin bonded to its top, for mechanical impedance matching to the PVC of LP’s.

In the Aries 2, Harry Weisfeld switched from the aluminum/lead/Delrin "sandwich" platter to a solid frosted-acrylic platter (2" thick, I believe). He also dropped the "standard" bearing and went with an inverted bearing. VPI still uses inverted bearings in their current line-up, but Harry eventually decided the move to an acrylic platter was a mistake---a step back in terms of sound quality, and now use only metal platters (aluminum I believe, not stainless steel).

Some regular posters on the company’s forum site remain fans of the Aries 1/TNT-3 & 4 platter (all use the same aluminum/lead/Delrin platter described above), as well as the TNT-5 platter, which is a bottom section of 5/8" thick stainless steel (no lead) and a top section of 7/8" thick Delrin. But both platters use the standard 1" diameter bearing, so can’t be swapped for the inverted bearing of the Aries 2, whose housing has a larger outer diameter. But I believe a current VPI aluminum Classic platter can be used in place of the acrylic, as it too uses an inverted bearing

Then there are all the different versions of VPI motor pods, flywheels, and even a rim drive to replace the belt. As far as I know the Aries 1 & 2 had the same motor/pod, the motor itself the same Hurst used in the HW-19 table, and even the various iterations of the TNT.

As for the basic thrust of your post, that I can’t comment on. I’ve heard older tables like the Oracle Delphi in the same system as a TNT (it and the Aries are more alike than different), but that was a long time ago. There are now a lot of mid-priced tables available, all with their own sound it is said. You’re probably going to be hearing from owners of them ;-) .

Evidently VPI has unique ’twist the wire’ anti-skate method


"There is no anti-skating control on JMW arms. VPI advises twisting the hookup wire to provide anti-skating."

from this review

I like dangling weights myself, evidently others do as well

there is this, price very obtainable


check all details, end of description:

"If you have older scout/tonearm combo that has "silver" junction box, new mounting will be needed."

also from elusive disc



I use the blank side of this Hudson alignment disc to 'see' anti-skate, very accurate method.


You just spin the platter by hand while adjusting. 


Enjoy it.

If you get the itch, there's always the Sota/Phoenix speed control upgrade, 3d arm and mentioned Classic platter to add. I think you can just get the controller/tach since you have a current motor.

Antiskate is a never ending argument. I don't hear a difference on my Classic. Perhaps technically, the outer groove is wearing less along with the stylus, but I have other issues to obsess about.

I know you addressed the question to tablejockey, but the answer is emphatically "yes". Phoenix Engineering over VPI ADS.  Tablej will likely agree.

Post removed 

ADS initial adjustment seems archaic(strobe) compared to a simple sensor/magnet underneath the platter communicating to the controller in real time.

Disappointing VPI didn’t jump on it years ago. Strobe light necessary for initial ADS setup. Strobe light-very 1979!

VPI had the chance years ago. Harry and the owner/designer of Phoenix Engineering Bill Carlin were in discussions about working together, but it blew up. Carlin is not the diplomatic type, and said some things Harry took offense to. That was the end of their proposed collaboration.

The original Phoenix products are long out of production (I got the last 15 watt Eagle), but Carlin developed the current versions that SOTA are making and marketing. SOTA has worked with many VPI owners, advising them on how to install a SOTA motor into the stock VPI motor pods. That enables the current Phoenix products to be used with VPI tables, with excellent results. Audiogoner @slaw has done the install on his VPI, and is very satisfied. 

I think my first two moves (after living with it as is for a while) will be to replace the feet and the platter. That ought to reap quite an improvement.


@ozzy62 Nice turntable, congratulations!

But about the anti-skate, my Classic SE (3D uni-pivot) sounds best without using any which means no wire twisting or mono line to the counter weight. This is what Harry W. suggests. Also, because my motor has a single speed pulley it came supplied with a SDS and strobe disk. To read the disk speed I hold a pointed object (pencil) over the disk’s markings, no light needed.

Just picked up a set of the footers on audio mart. They’ll be here before the table arrives, lol.

I concur with the others who recommended the Phoenix Engineering stuff. I went for the complete SOTA Eclipse package on my Classic 3 Sig SE. Recently put on a custom length OL belt as well. 

(Note to self, Need to sell my ADS...)


If your table doesn't come with a Soundsmith Counterintuitive, it makes adjusting the counterweight easier for tracking/azimuth adjustment.  Not a must have, but eliminates a lot of setup grief.

A fresh belt is another inexpensive thing to consider.

No more neurosis enabling from me. Happy Listening!

The Aries !! is a quite good table.  The arm can be a bit tweaky, but once set up (not THAT hard), it can be very satisfying.  

The weakness in the table is the unipivot arm.  Gimballed arms seem to perform better, but the JMW arm will work well when it's set up properly.  It does like AT OC9/II carts.  Probably other OC9-series carts as well.



Use the Walker Speed Control. It works great on my VPI Scout II. Love VPI. The upgrade path on these is an audiophile tweeters dream.

The Aries 2 is a good table, but the cost to upgrade it with a current model platter and/or tonearm is cost prohibitive and would have been better served by investing in a more up to date model. A speed controller would be a worth while update. 

Just to ad to add to the conversation, in my speaking with both Harry and Matt at VPI when I was inquiring about moving from my VPI Aries 1 table to one of their newer ones  they both first asked what platter I had on mine and and the serial number, after that they said to keep the Aries 1 table as it has the best platter and combination of items that they cannot duplicate today and if so the table would cost in the $9-$12k range.

The VPI Aries 2 also was produced as a "Black Knight" edition, which is the one that I've been using for many years.  I've tweaked it a bit over time.  This one has a black acrylic platter that I think is a bit lighter than the standard Aries 2. It came with a 9 inch arm, but early on I switched it out for a JMW 10.5i Classic 3 tonearm with new custom arm board from VPI, which made a nice improvement. I consider the speed controller to be essential for this turntable. I use the VPI SDS version, although I've heard good things about Phoenix and Walker speed controllers, as others have mentioned.  Various Dynavectors worked well on this setup, although I've recently upgraded to a Lyra Kleos SL, which is outstanding.  Would be interested to know how you like your newly acquired Aries 2 . . .

"Is there a drop in platter upgrade for the Aries II?"

ozzy62-if you do the Classic platter, It may be  a R/R.It comes with bearing assembly.

Email to VPI to confirm.


@ozzy62, the upgraded platter cost $1500!  If you add that sum to your original used purchase price you could have bought a fully spec'd Aries 3. 

I get your point. But I have seen the platter for 1150.00. Still a lot of $$ I know. But an Aries III doesn't come around very often, not that I have seen.



"you could have bought a fully spec'd Aries 3."

As if one is one the shelf waiting to be purchased.  Useless post.

ozzy62-a couple of mods will still keep you ahead of buy something new at the same expense as far as performance. That of course, is depending on what you paid.

Ozzy, do not be surprised if you like the acrylic platter better after all is said and done, I do. Enjoy the music.

I just wanted to update this thread. I have been digging the Aries II all weekend. I am very pleased with the performance so far. I did swap out the cone footers with the mini HRX feet.  I will do more mods as time and finances allow, but this is a very capable rekkid spinner already.

The Aires has always been an elegant TT. Just for reference I run an original TNT with an acrylic-lead platter and a TNT V bearing with an upgrade that includes a ceramic bearing and sapphire thrust plate. Also a Roadrunner and Eagle, and a flywheel.

I don’t think there was ever an aluminum/lead/Delrin platter. The originals for the TNT and Aires were as I still have, acrylic-lead. IMO acrylic was dropped, not because of SQ reasons, but for reasons of price in the raw goods and in the fabrication. Aluminum is much easier, and less expensive. Of course, that’s not what they say.

If I were in your place I would do three things. I would get the motor, speed control and Roadrunner from SOTA. It’s a set-it-and-forget-it combo with real performance. It beats anything VPI has ever made available. They have promised more, but that turned out to be vaporware. I would get the VPI second pivot for your arm. It will then behave more like a bearing arm. That’s not particularly important to me, but it will then be very easy to control azimuth, perhaps the most important setting on a cartridge, and probably improve bass. Finally, the problem with the all acrylic platter IIRC was said to be that it lacks the weight of other VPI platters. Which is why VPI went to the Superplatter. The weight contributes to the all important speed stability, the flywheel, of the platter. Before giving up on it and looking at other possibilities, I would glue lead sheeting to its underside to the extent that clearance with the TT base allows.


The Aries tables are gorgeous. II probably being the best looking of all - congrats! If I had the room, a nice used deal on one would be hard to turn down. Agree with others you should explore the SOTA/Phoenix upgrades. The VPI tables since Aries/HR-X don’t really strike my fancy. But the 3D Reference arm sounds really nice, and could be another good upgrade option for your Aires.

@melm: Actually, the Aries 1 came with the aluminum/lead/Delrin platter I above described. Honest, I’m looking at mine right now! By the way, the TNT-3 and -4 came with the exact same platter (the TNT-1 and -2 came with the same Delrin platter as the Aries Black Knight). You will recognize Delrin by its black colour.

For the Aries 2, VPI switched to the frosted translucent-white Acrylic platter (and inverted bearing), which has fallen out of favour with both VPI fans and Harry Weisfeld himself.

For the TNT-5, VPI switched to the 15 lb. platter some hard-core VPI aficionados prefer above all others: a bottom layer of stainless steel (5/8" thick), topped with a 7/8" thick layer of Delrin. I know that for a fact: I have one installed on my HW-19 MK.3.

Neither of those two platters may be used on the Aries 2, as both had the non-inverted VPI bearing. The Aries 2 requires a platter employing the inverted bearing, like the Classic platter, or the platter that came after that stock in the TNT-5, the "Super Platter". It is comprised of a stainless steel center, with a layer of Delrin top and bottom. And an inverted bearing.

Well, you have jogged my memory and there was indeed a short-lived 3 part platter initially introduced in the TNT II and no doubt carried over to the Aires.  I do, though, remember the black plastic as acrylic including for the base of my TNT which is entirely of the black acrylic.  At least, the platter was always referred to as acrylic in the reviews and they could only have gotten that from HW.  The acrylic and lead platter was first introduced in the HW-19 as an upgrade to the original aluminum-lead platter.  That platter was very well received for its SQ in TAS.  In any event they stopped using lead shortly after the first Aires IIRC.  Perhaps I misunderstand something you wrote about the TNT V.  The platters in the TNT V used a non-inverted bearing so they could not be used in the Aires 2 if it is set up for inverted.  Or are you saying that the TNT-5 was changed to an inverted?

I believe there was a period during which they used the all acrylic (clear) platter on the TNT V and later offered the stainless-acrylic (black) as an upgrade.

As I wrote, I think they dropped acrylic for its cost and the original bearings for the same reason.

@melm: Yeah, a lot of people (including reviewers, some of whom are people ;-) think all plastic platters are Acrylic. Not so! If the "plastic" part of a VPI platter is black, it is Delrin, not Acrylic. Go ahead, ask VPI ;-) .

The "plinth" of the TNT tables is indeed black Acrylic, but not the black platters. Remember how shiny the TNT black plinth is, and how "matte" finish is the platter? That's because the plinth is Acrylic, the platter Delrin. You can go to any good plastics shop and compare the two, which I have done. By the way, the machinist in San Jose, Ca who offers those excellent replacement parts for the Rega tables offers both Acrylic and Delrin versions of his Rega platter. They sound different. Delrin is much denser, harder, and more non-resonant than Acrylic. VPI switched to Acrylic to save money, and soon regretted it.

I bought an original HW-19 ("Mk.1") with the original aluminum platter (with a layer of cork-covered lead bonded to its' bottom side) from Brooks Berdan (he preferred the VPI over the Oracle Delphi for the Eminent Technology arm he at the time favoured), and bought the aluminum/lead/Delrin Mk.2 platter when it was introduced in the HW-19 Mk.2. The HW-19 Mk.3 used the same platter, and the final Mk..4 version of the HW-19 had the same solid Delrin platter as the original TNT (and the Aries Black Knight). The Aries 1 platter is the same as that found on the TNT-3 and -4 (7/8" bottom of aluminum with cork-covered lead bonded to it, 3/8" top layer of Delrin). I don't know if the TNT-2 also had that platter, or the same as that of the TNT-1 and Aries Black Knight (solid Delrin).

The TNT-1 through TNT-5 all have a standard bearing, as does the Aries 1. VPI switched to an inverted bearing (and frosted translucent white Acrylic platter) for the Aries 2 and the TNT-6. Confusing, ain't it?  

Confusing, yes!

Thanks for all the replies and info. It looks like a Classic platter/bearing are in my future. Unless a used SDS pops up, that might be as far as I go.


 "Unless a used SDS pops up, that might be as far as I go."

ozzy62-if you do get the bug, look for a used  ADS(latest iteration)

Jump on a Phoenix  setup if you ever see one listed-rare.

You can buy the tach alone, to verify how stable/unstable your setup is. Might be good to NOT know, and simply enjoy it.

I don’t think the finish is determinative of the plastic content. What you acknowledge to be a clear acrylic platter also had a matte finish. The finish on the platters was likely due to the machining of them. They were machined for precision. They had to be more precise than the plinth. I also think that what you refer to as the "solid delrin" platter was acrylic with a lead insert at the bottom. HW commented on some of these reviews (especially on the superiority of the original acrylic-lead platter) and likely would have corrected the review if it were really Delrin, as that is a more expensive plastic, I think.

Finally, in an exchange on the Asylum HW wrote, "Changed to acrylic because I fell for the BS that the acrylic would work well with the vinyl as the impedence is similar and the vibrations would be grounded faster, quicker, and more effectively. Must admit it worked with the lead in the acrylic platter and we produced it. Made it for 18 years." and

"It is a series of compromises when making anything today. In an ideal world I would make lead filled acrylic platters from acrylic made by US manufacturers. Sadfully that is not the case and never will be again."

This is not to deny that VPI continues to make excellent products and support them as few other companies do. It does, however explain why I would not exchange my platter for anything that came later. And that’s why I made the platter recommendation to the OP.

@melm: When I used the term "solid Delrin" platter, it was in reference to not having a 2-layer construction (aluminum and Delrin, for instance). I’ve never seen the thick (2"?) black platter in person, and have suspected (but did not know for a fact) that THAT platter may have had the lead layer bonded onto its’ bottom.

The HW-19 Mk.4, Aries Black Knight, and and original TNT had that thick black platter, made of---sorry to insist---Delrin. I know Harry and lots of others used the term Acrylic interchangeably with Delrin, but I assure you the black platter material is in fact Delrin, not Acrylic.

At a big commercial plastics warehouse/machining facility in Portland Oregon I took my Aries 1 arm mounting plate into to have duplicated, and took along my aluminum/lead/Delrin platter. They confirmed that the black material was indeed Delrin. They brought out both black Acrylic and Delrin for me to look at, and the Delrin looked and sounded just like the Delrin on my Aries platter. Even raw Delrin has a completely different mass consistency and resonant sonic characteristic than Acrylic, which is inherently glossy and lower in mass. Delrin looks almost like stone, Acrylic obviously man-made.

All the long-time posters on the VPI Forum refer to the black VPI platter as Delrin, which is where I learned of the term. I really like the Delrin-topped VPI platters for their PVC/Delrin interface characteristics, and wouldn’t have a VPI without one. But there are lots of happy VPI owners with the current solid aluminum platters.



You write, "I know Harry . . . used the term Acrylic interchangeably with Delrin" And just how do you know this? He definitely knew the difference. His clamps were made of Delrin. He writes repeatedly and consistently of his acrylic lead platters as do all the reviewers. But for color his clear platters look just like the black ones. A review of his super platter here refers to its acrylic/stainless/acrylic sandwich. Where do you suppose they got that information from?

Has the rest of the world got it wrong? Believe what you wish. I’m done here.

Okay, I changed my mind ;-) .

This is of no consequence for @ozzy62, as the Aries 2 requires a platter using the inverted VPI bearing. For the rest of you, particularly those with a sense of intellectual curiosity and a burning desire to know the truth. I offer the following:


Way back on 1-23-2012 an Audiogon member posted a question to the community: "Which Is The Best VPI Platter?"


One respondent was "brf", well-known long-time VPI enthusiast/expert and moderator of the VPI Forum: Here is his response (posted on 1-25-2012), in his exact words:


1- TNT 5: 1/2 Delrin and 1/2 stainless steel (mine measures 7/8" Delrin and 5/8" stainless).

2- TNT Super Platter: 1/3 Delrin and 1/3 stainless steel and 1/3 Delrin.

3- TNT 4: 2/3 Delrin and 1/3 stainless steel (I believe brf meant to say aluminum, as that is what every TNT 4/Aries 1 platter I have seen, including mine, is made of).

4- New Classic Aluminum Platter.

5- TNT Early lead and cork combinations (here brf is referring---I believe---to the 2" Delrin/lead platter found on the TNT 1 and Aries Black Knight).

6- Frosted Acrylic.


So the question remains: Why does the VPI website contain mentions of the black "acrylic" platter that was introduced in the Mk.2 version of the HW-19? That question I can't answer.


Another question that all the above raises is this: If the black platters that we are discussing were indeed made not of Delrin but instead of Acrylic, why then would Harry eventually come to the conclusion that the "switch" to the frosted white Acrylic platter (introduced on the Aries 2 and TNT 6) was a step backwards in sound quality? If the black of the earlier plastic platter was Acrylic, the "switch" to the frosted white Acrylic platter would be in color only, surely not a cause for a difference in sound quality?


Here''s what I know:

1- At the Groovetracer shop in San Jose, CA (makers of excellent Rega upgrade parts) I compared his black Delrin, black Acrylic, and frosted white Acrylic Rega platters. The white Acrylic platter looked just like VPI's white Acrylic platter, the black Delrin platter just like the black plastic section of the VPI Aries 1/TNT 4/5 platters I own. The black Acrylic platter looked just like the acrylic top plate of the HW-19 Mk.3 I own,  and the plinth of the various iterations of the TNT's I have seen in person. Groovetracer makes and offers both Delrin and Acrylic platters because they sound different from one another.

Here's what Groovetracer states on their website about their Delrin platter:

"Delrin is considered the material of choice for record platters by many of today's high end turntable manufactures. There are several reasons for this but the primary consideration is that it shares many of the same properties of the vinyl record (please Groovetracer: LP's are made of PVC, not vinyl ;-). It also carries more mass than the majority of high performance thermoplastics available, which is important in terms of maintaining speed stability."

"The challenge in using Delrin is that it is quite expensive in raw material form and requires extra attention during the manufacturing process."


2- At the plastics plant/warehouse/fabricating shop in Portland Oregon I visited a few years back, I held in my hands samples of the raw sheets of the black Acrylic and Delrin they manufacture. The two plastics were VERY different from one another, easily distinguishable. It has nothing to do with any finishing operation: the two materials have very different compositions, textures (internal and external), weight, and sonic properties.

The technical adviser looked at my Aries 1 platter, and told me the black plastic top was made of Delrin. I was deciding whether to have him fabricate an arm mounting board out of Delrin or Acrylic, and decided to go with Acrylic, as that's what VPI used.


So, is this horse I've been beating dead yet? ;-)  

Late to this but I'm not really a VPI fan EXCEPT the Aries! I have an Aries 1 with a TNT platter that I upgraded with the SOTA Eclipse motor and controller which is a noticeable sound upgrade from any of the VPI controllers. SOTA retrofit the motor into the Aries pod. I also added a VPI Fatboy unipivot arm. Couldn't be happier. I've tried a bunch of other tables in the 10k range and there's nothing clearly better until you get into things like Techdas bottom of the line or the Kuzma Stabi R or Brinkmann. There are tables that are just as good and sound different, like a Garrard 301 or the Feickert tables.

Late to this as well, but I picked up an Aries 3 with a 10.5i arm, it does have the acrylic platter but I believe all the turntables in the Aries series are tanks.  The plinths are the best part of these tables, yes everything can be upgraded for a cost and I think it would rival any of the VPI turntables currently except the higher ones such as avenger and such.

Mount an ET 2.0 arm on that table with Stillpoints and Sota's total Eclipse. 

I finally did get an Aries 3, after admiring their aesthetic for so long. Pretty well upgraded with super platter, single-motor flywheel, ring clamp, and HW40 feet. Now added Fatboy gimbal 10 arm and SDS too.

They're absolutely great tables! And after 15+ years of owning tables with springs or magnetic levitation, I'm really enjoying a NON suspended table for a change. These suspended tables all have their problem resonant frequencies in the subsonic range - easily excited by footsteps or loud SPL playback (unless you're on solid concrete slab), and then the problem becomes HUGE because the energy level is so massive that nothing will fully mitigate it short of a steep electronic rumble filter. The Aries 3 has its "problem" resonance in the 100Hz "drum beat" range. In my setups, the 100Hz is now so much easier to deal with, basically because the energy level is lower. I had a problem with the 3D arm making it much worse. But the 10.5i metal arm and Fatboy arm are great. The 10.5i is the quietest wand at 100Hz, but the Fatboy in sounds particularly fantastic and even matches well to Koetsu.

VPI tables don't use super exotic materials, but they're very well built with sensible proven materials, and a very well thought-out design overall. I enjoyed their setup and learning about them. I enjoy the tweak-ability and endless upgrade options. I really do enjoy the sound! I was wrong about the VPI unipivot being scary all these years - they're fine (my resonance issue with the 3D aside), and the dual pivot works well if you require more stability.

I have a Superscoutmaster....when I changed to the super platter (all metal) it really opened up the sound.  There are 2 motors that oppose each other and put on a rim drive.  The table improved yet again...then mounted big brass cone feet under....all improvements. I use a 10 inch plastic (or something) vpi  arm with a 2nd pivot...all good.

1.5 yrs and still happy with my Aries. I think it’s one of the most beautiful tables available and by far the most attractive table VPI has ever built. I did upgrade the feet, but there are other things I should do, like the platter and maybe the fatboy arm.