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

i have the VPI Prime with Bearpaws and a 1200gr TT. 

The VPI is  better, but not $2300 better. They are much closer than most would want to admit. 

The 1200GR is no looker, but it grows on you. 

The 1200 plus a Nagaoka MP-500 MM cart, $2300 +/ all in if you have the phono pre and your set for casual listening, plus you can change our headshells and try different carts. A set it and forget it set up that will last. 

@mayoradamwest I was previously using a Rega RP3 with Denon DL-110 for a few years.  Prior to that I had a VPI Classic 1 with Dynavector 20x2 L.  I sold the Classic 1 to fund the purchase of a PS Audio Direct Stream DAC (which is absolutely fantastic as far as digital goes).

I ended up with the Rega RP3 not long after buying the PS Audio DSD because I couldn't stay away from vinyl all that long.  I was amazed at the value it brought to the table, comparing it to my memory of the Classic/Dynavector combo.  

But, as things tend to go in this hobby, I was bit by the bug here recently and decided to upgrade to a Prime Scout.  The Prime was out of my reach at the moment.  I bought a Soundsmith Otello to go with it.  I am really enjoying the combination a lot.  It has fantastic dynamics, good transparency, tracking, and noise floor.  The one thing I do miss about the Rega compared to the Prime Scout is the Rega/Denon combo definitely brought more warmth and texture to the table.  I'm curious what your experience has been with the RP8 in that regards.  I had considered moving up the Rega line prior to buying the Prime Scout.
I’ve been using the Rega for a few days now and it sounds spectacular. I’m not sure what improvements I’d get with more expensive TTs, but I’m happy. I have a pretty amazing setup for digital, and most of the records I’ve played sound better than the digital version. I’m using the Phono stage in the Mytek Manhattan II so the path is exactly the same for digital, but the turntable path is 100% analog. Very impressed so far.
The Rega is great, especially if you can mount it to the wall.  It is a pretty light table but it sounds very good.
I have a Nottingham Analogue TT, which almost competes with my air bearing TT. I use it for mono. Both are clean, quiet, solid.

Consider a Tom Fletcher design: NA or Pear Audio. No hype, small production, no bragging rights. Just high value for money.
The Prime, The RP8, and the 1200G are all great tables.  I picked the 1200G.  It was just personal preference.  The RP8 was really great, if I could have mounted it to the wall that may have been my choice but that was not an option.  The Prime is a nice table as well.  tough choice.
thanks @mulveling it's the Quintet Black. I auditioned with the Quintet Bronze but figured why not spend an extra $150 for the Black. I'm not sure I really understand the sound difference between the different lines, but the owner of the shop seemed to prefer the Quintet pairing with the RP8.
Awesome! The RP8 looks great; good choice. The Ortofon black is a good start too - is that a 2M, Quintet, or Cadenza? All 3 are fine cartridges, either way. You definitely haven't make the mistake of starting too low with sub-par budget analog gear, which only leads to frustration and regret. Enjoy!
For those following along, I do appreciate all the feedback in this thread. I think the advice that I most took to heart was finding a local shop. I did just that. There is an amazing shop very close to me with selection of turntables, speakers, and components. After listening and discussion with the owner about my setup, we landed on a Rega RP8 with an Ortofon Black cartridge. He’s going to do the setup for me and he has the same one on demo so he can show me everything I need to know. Hearing the table (vs several others) and reading reviews, I think I’m going to be quite happy with this setup. Luckily, he also has 100% trade in credit towards another table if I’m not happy. 

So the moral of the story here is probably that the best advice was to find a local shop. I learned way more from doing that than reading any review. 
I've got the 1200 GR is the first table I purchased and love it! Tables need to fulfill many requirements. They must sound good, aesthetic quality is important and budget. I'm proud to say I'm a two turntable man now! I just purchased a vintage Luxman PD-444 from Japan and can't wait to try it out. Two tables under $4000. 

@mayoradamwest you'll find what you need, just take your time. 
@gochurchgo - 

My opinion....

Everything else being equal, my opinion on the listed tables is that it would be either the Clearaudio Performance or the Prime / 3D arm.  I think the 3D arm on the Prime would push the VPI ahead.  IMO, a good arm seems to make a difference in a cartridge's ability to reproduce tight, popping dynamics.

Just my opinion.   

I wish I had more experience with the Technics tables.  It is a line I confess a minimum of familiarity. 

@bpoletti  which of the tables you mentioned have the best dynamics if one were looking for a punchy and dynamic sound? My googling always comes back to the Technics but I struggle with how a table affects this vs the cartridge.
My opinion based on years of experience....

Let's compare rega tables against similarly priced competition.  Sine they are mentioned above, we can look at the RP8 and RP6 as examples using Acoustic Sounds web site as a reference....

RP8 ($3000 - $4200) compared to a Clearaudio Performance DC ($3600), VPI Prime / 3D tonearm ($4000) or VPI CLassic 1 / 2 ($3300 - $4000). Is the stock RP8 anywhere close to any of these tables?  Is it competitive in performance with these tables as delivered STOCK?

RP6 ($2000 - $2200)? VPI Prime Scout ($2200), Clearaudio Concept ($1800). Does the stock rega come in anywhere above a very distant third?    

The regas are very good, however they are limited by the arm.  with as good as t he arm is, it does not allow for critical VTA adjustment, so you are limited to certain cartridge designs.  That being said, if you like one of those cartridges, The RP8, for example, is just a great table for the money, hell, the RP6 is as well.
The regas are very good, however they are limited by the arm.  with as good as t he arm is, it does not allow for critical VTA adjustment, so you are limited to certain cartridge designs.  That being said, if you like one of those cartridges, The RP8, for example, is just a great table for the money, hell, the RP6 is as well.
you may need to see it in person to appreciate the precision of the technics design.
If you go with VPI and a unipivot tonearm make sure when you set the tracking force the scale is very close to the height of the of the surface of the albums you will be playing.

With this style of tonearm if the scale platform is 5 or 6 mm higher than the record surface then actual tracking force will be lower than what you measure. 

It is explained in the set up video mentioned above.
I upgraded from a VPI HW-19 Jr/Rega RB-300 arm (which was the last turntable I was going to own) to my Scout 2 (older model) the current last TT I would ever own (heh).

ANY VPI (practically) will give you a simple, nice performing TT that will last and allow for upgrading.

I originally wanted a Prime but size constraints held me back. 

The Prime likely will yield better sound, all things even but it depends on your financial and physical constraints.

Good luck!
@mayoradamwest - Yes, it will sound much better than a similarly priced rega.  
@mayoradamwest I agree about the Technics. Not big on the DJ look, but if it has the sound I am aiming for then so be it
@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.
@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.
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)
@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.
bpoletti......they're called Bear Paws.....and you're right they make a very big jump in performance.
@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.
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.
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. 
+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.
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 
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.
@Pauleladue I just picked up the prime signature as well. What are your impressions? 
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!
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.
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.
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! 
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. 
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.   
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. 
+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. 
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.
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!
@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. 
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