VPI Prime or Scout or ???

Hi all,

I’m new to record players. I’ve always been a digital music person. That said, I’ve got s nice setup now and am looking for a record player for occasional records. I won’t be too serious about it and digital will remain my main source.

i know with some of the higher end players there is a learning curve but was hoping for something not too difficult to learn.

Being from NJ, I was pretty interested in VPI. I’m not sure I quite understand the differences between the Prime and Prime Scout. The Prime would probably be near the top of my budget. Also, I have no idea which cartridge to get. 

For context, I’ll mostly be listening to vintage jazz and rock. The turntable would feed into the Phono stage of my Mytek Manhattan. Any suggestions welcome! There is a pretty good deal on a Prime Scout I’m looking at so that’s why I figured I’d ask the experienced people here.
Ag insider logo xs@2xmayoradamwest
In my opinion....

Prime.  Might as well pop for the real package rather than paying more to upgrade in the future.  And you WILL want to upgrade eventually.
Any suggestions on a cartridge? Prime is already at the top of my budget and I don’t believe it comes with one?
Mytek Manhattan Phono Stage, to McIntosh C47 to McIntosh MC452 to B&W 802 D3. Looking for a nice warm sound (particularly for jazz). 
When starting out in analog, always go a level higher (or two!) than you initially planned for. Prime or Prime Signature.
My opinion....

Might want to consider a Soundsmith Otello.  I opine that you might want to be a little careful about "warm" sound.  It can get congested and mask some desirable detail and tight timing.  
What ever player you decide on, getting it from a retailer skilled in turntable/arm/cartridge assembly and set-up/adjustment/optimization is a real good idea.
Go for the Prime Scout. Add a Grado Sonata cartridge and you will have excellent enjoyable sound (longtime Grado user)! And you can do set up yourself. Plenty of videos on UTube about it (Analog Planet ... ). Buy a DiscWasher brush and D4 cleaning fluid (for use with brand-new LPs). Used LPs should always have a thorough cleaning before play (see UTube). Add a bottle of Stylast and a bit of Magic Eraser (stylus preservative and cleaner) and you will enjoy years of use from your TT system!
As an alternative to the VPI East End Hi Fi of Coram, NY has the Merrill GEM PolyTable with SA-750 arm available for $1795 + $60 shipping. This TT had an excellent review in TAS. And the arm is better than the VPI arm! This would be my choice! eastendhif.com and eastendhif on Audiogon

My opinion is that the SA-750 isn't even close to ANY VPI arms.  I have owned both.  The VPI is so much better as to defy casual comparison.

Which VPI arms have you owned and testes head-to-head with a SA-750?  
I have owned the older Koshin (Jelco) GST-1 (comparable to the 750). Bought new from American Audiophile (Madison Ave. NYC). Cost $219 (1978). Used it for years on an Ariston RDIIS (Linn's Scottish cousin). Cartridges included: GAS Sleeping Beauty, FR 1 mk3F, FR MC201, Dynavctor Ruby, Grado XCE ... All matched well and sounded fine! No longer have the GST-1. Bought an FR 29 and an FR 54 - older arms built by Mr.Ikeda-san! Awaiting installation and use with my mc cartridges.
I have an HW-19 awaiting assembly and installation. The Jelco (ne Koshin) arms look pretty good for the price! And they are gimbel pivots - unlike the (floppy) unipivots of the VPI arms! More precise tracking.
The other Koshin (ne Jelco) arm I contemplated buying back in '78 was the GST-801. That was about $500 then! So instead bought its cheaper brother. And was happy with it!
That Merrell GEM TT and arm looks like a nice product for the price! I'd probably buy one if I didn't already have way too many TT's!
I don't care much for unipivots. Had a JH Formula 4. Sold it. Bought a new-in-box Mayware Formula 4 from an EBay seller (couldn't resist!). Awaiting installation on my Sondek or pre-Linn Ariston.
So when did you compare the arms head-to-head?  Or are you just stating an opinion based on a lack of actual objectivity?
Our of curiosity I see conflicting info. If I got the Prime or Scout, do I need help setting it up? I’m still a bit split. I like the Grado suggestions as long as they aren’t too expensive. I’m feeling the the Prime might bust my budget. 
Your money, your call. The VERY BEST thing to do is listen to the tables and carts to determine what will be best for YOU.
I think that you will be happy with either.  I originally bought the Prime Scout and ended up upgrading.   The Ortofon Cadenza Bronze is a great cartridge for you considering the rest of your system.

Where in NJ are you?  Audio Nexus in Summit can demo the tables for you.

PM me and I can send you my cell phone.
Sorry to confuse. I’m in CA and I don’t see a place to demo. I’m from NJ originally. Also getting a VPI rack to round out my NJ components. Mytek is from nearby Brooklyn. The struggle I have it that I know the turntable will always be the secondary input to the digital. Thanks again so far for suggestions. Much appreciated. 
No Worries. I think you would be very happy with a Prime Scout and Ortofon Quintet Bronze since it is a bit on the warm side.

Had the Prime Scout for a year and was thrilled with it. I too was buying it as secondary to digital. But ended up not listening to digital for a year now.

Upscale Audio is in Cali and Kevin is a great VPI dealer.

He has a version of the scout that is in-between the prime and prime scout that will last you a lifetime and is a great deal. See the youtube link below

@soundwatts that cartridge is more expensive than the scout. Should I be spending more on the table or cartridge? Equal? 
Sorry I corrected it to quintet bronze which is around 700 dollars VS cadenza so for less than the price of the prime you will have an almost prime with a great cartridge and its a warm sounding combo 
Fwiw, I very recently purchased the VPI Prime Super Scout after many months of doing research and actual comparison with a number of other competitors product within my budget. This included the Prime, Prime Scout and Prime Signature. I purchased the Super Scout from Upscale audio, this scout has most upgrades incorporated and is mostly a prime at less cost. Super easy to set up by anyone. I also got the Ortophone 2m Black cartridge and could not be more satisfied. I do highly recommend adding the soundsmith counter intuitive as it helps make set up a breeze. Also real happy with the unipivot arm. Final cost was less than the prime including the cartridge. Hope this helps. I'm a very satisfied VPI listener
@gillatgh  It sounds like you basically have a Prime though. I’m just not sure if I’d notice or appreciate the differences between the prime and scout. Seems like mixed feedback this far. 
What bdp said.

A modestly priced, well set up TT will outperform a poorly set up high end unit.

I suggest that the order of priority should be: turntable (doesn't wear out), tonearm (aligns the cartridge to the vinyl, and doesn't wear out), and cartridge last (it does wear out). I did it the other way around, against expert advice, and ended up poorer.

For the turntable, think quiet bearing and isolation of the platter. For the tonearm, think stability and adjustability. There's a lot of hype out there - stay with the verifiable, the engineering, the science. Research alternatives until you can smell the hype, and you will be ahead of most.

Don't be afraid of small companies which you hadn't heard of. They can offer good value.

Good luck!
The Prime Super Scout is a upgraded Prime Scout sold by Upscale audio in California.  It upgrades the prime scout by adding the prime platter and the 10.5 inch memorial arm and motor. Go to their website and compare. It's only available thru Upscale in a number of plinth finishes. Mine is brushed magnesium. I have 0 regrets going this route. Have it now for about 3 months and am very happy with it. Upscale did install the cartrige perfectly aligned before shipping it to me.  All I had to do was final VTF, VTA and azimuth. Also got a discount on cartride. They may even be close to you. 
I'm not affiliated with them in any way. Just a really satisfied customer. 
Good luck in your hunt.
+1 for the Super Prime Scout from Upscale Audio. I’m loving mine with the Kiseki Blue cartridge. 

@gillatgh I thought UA was going to do the cartridge install, but it came separate. But I had no issues doing it myself. 
I have a vpi scout and the Hana SL works very well. Quiet background and very musical. Sounds warm but with detail. I think it will pair well with your mcintosh. 
It really depends on how serious you are?  If you have the cash, and you know you'll be upgrading eventually, Prime it.  If you are curious and just want to cruise with a solid table, knowing an upgrade is not in the future....Scout it.  If you are not sure how serious you are, that's when you are in trouble.  You may or may not get bit by the bug.

I had the bug, but 1st went with the Scout.  A year later, I went Prime.  The bug is still there, but the Prime will take me for a good ride for at least another 5 years.

Either way, you'll be pleased with VPI.   
this is a no-lose situation for you if you buy used from a reliable dealer. Recs:  

 Call VPI directly and tell them you are a fellow NJ-ersian waning to try vinyl and ask for any demo’s of the Prime or Scout. I called them some years ago, and they had a SCOUMASTER come back from a trade show.

They had also upgraded to the 10.5” arm (like Upscale) and also had an Ortofon cartridge on the arm. They set up the cartridge in NJ and shipped to me: a turnkey unit. I was lucky and am not saying they will have anything. But if you knew the discount I received, which I can’t share out of respect for VPI, you would definitely call them.

*call Upscale as well, they may give you discount. Kevin is the owner, and again, when I called him 2 years ago about a PrimaLuna amp, he sold me a demo at a discount.  

The point is, getting a reliable demo/used TT is safe b/c if you decide you don’t like it, you can just sell it for about the same or a little less than what you paid. So you will only lose a few hundred bucks, but will have scratched your itch for vinyl. 
I have the exact same setup as @gillatgh from Upscale Audio. Only addition after a year was an extra arm with a Ortofon quintet mono cartridge. If you purchase from UA, they'll give you a 15% discount on the cartridge and set it up for you. You won't be disappointed, it's an awesome setup! 
Agree with bigbobbydmoney. The scout is a great value table but for 700 dollars more you get a super scout from Kevin Deal at upscale audio with about 3400 of upgrades. The vta on the fly base a jmw10 tonearm and the 20 pound classic platter as well as the stainless steel and delrin clamp. Add an ortofon quintet bronze and you are at 3600 for a world class table. Probably the best deal in audio today.
AMEN to @1graber2 .  From personal experience, VPI is VERY good to work with and I live 1,000 miles away.  They do want customers to work with local dealers, but will make an "accommodation" to make sure customer's needs are met.
I recently bought the Prime signature from Upscale.  Still getting to know it.  there is a great video to help setup the prime turntables.  No problem!
@Pauleladue I just picked up the prime signature as well. What are your impressions? 
VPI owners trading in or up is why there are great deal to be had on older models. I got a Mint Aries 1 (still a fine player) for $750! No arm, but I don't use VPI's anyway.
For some reason I didn’t think Upscale Audio was in CA. I’m in SoCal pretty regularly so I may pop down there. The downside is paying an extra 9.5% sales tax though, which is quite a lot in this case. I 
+1 on the Grado MM cartridge. I had the best one he made circa 1986 (after ~5 yrs of struggling to get MCs to sound humane in my system). I never looked back.

I also had Grado's tonearm, a real thing of beauty that I bought used and installed on my VPI TT of the day. Sometimes good engineering can look & sound lovely.
As several have said. Align yourself with a local dealer that can help you with set up and some trouble shooting if necessary. Listen to a couple tables and have the dealer bring you up to speed on how vinyl chain works. 

VERY nice tables can be had for under $2000.
Many VERY nice carts are avail for under a $1000 including excellent vintage MM carts. 

Make sure your cartridge works well with your table, arm and phono pre. Pay a little extra to have someone show and help you set it up and you'll be listening to sweet music and not frustrated that everything sounds like crap. 
No to threadjack but does anyone here listen to punk and/or metal on a VPI? I was looking at used Scouts or maybe that Prime Scout but it seems like reviews say this not a good table if one is looking for a fast, dynamic sound with excellent bass extension.

I don't understand how a table can influence the sound like that to be honest. But I'm curious as its a table that elicits lustful glances but at the end of the day its about the sound I am wanting to achieve.
@gochurchgo - A VPI Prime Scout table will perform better than stock just by putting the plinth on solid cones or Bear Claw footers and getting the table OFF of the feet VPI provides.  VPI feet lower the performance of these otherwise very good tables.
bpoletti......they're called Bear Paws.....and you're right they make a very big jump in performance.
@gochurchgo, I listen to mostly rock of the 70s, 80s and 90s sprinkled with metal Ala Metallica, Sabath etc and punk such as Ramones and Sex Pistols. I have absolutely no complaints as to the sound of the Prime Scout. Rich lows, exquisite mids and highs, fast and tight. Don't know about the cone thing but the stock table as I purchased it works great for me. I do want to experiment with a mc cartridge eventually sometime down the road. Be aware my scout is somewhat supercharged.
To be honest, after watching numerous youtube videos on setup, and reading more reviews, I'm leaning towards just getting a Rega (RP8, RP10, or similar)
@gillatgh Good to know. Its been recommended I go with the 1200GR and while I have no doubt its good, and way cheaper, the thought of owning one doesn’t have the same......lustiness as a VPI. But yet I want a fast, dynamic sound.
@gochurchgo the 1200GR, to me, is not particularly attractive table. The SL-1200G is a little better, but still not as good looking as the VPI.