VPI Scout 1.1 cartridge and preamp advice

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by SammyShaps, Sep 12, 2018.

  1. SammyShaps

    SammyShaps New Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY, USA
    I recently stumbled upon a great deal on a VPI Scout 1.1. I think it outclasses some of my setup and I'm seeking advice on what the perceived weak points of my current setup are and also asking for some upgrade/pairing suggestions.

    My current set up:
    Cambridge CXA60 amplifier
    Cambridge CP1 phono stage
    VPI Scout 1.1 TT (which is replacing a Pro ject debut carbon with ortofon 2m red)
    Rega RS3 Loudspeakers

    I'm currently playing the setup with the Ortofon 2m red which I don't think does the Scout justice. But also makes it difficult to assess the rest of my setup fairly. I'm pretty sure I'm going to be getting the Ortofon 2m Bronze for the cart and then replace later with the black. Thoughts on what you'd upgrade next? What weak point is? If Bronze is a good cart pairing? Thanks in advance!
     
  2. KOWHeigel

    KOWHeigel Forum Resident

    Location:
    Manlius, NY
    I would probably start with a new phono preamp.
     
  3. SammyShaps

    SammyShaps New Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY, USA
    Thanks for reply. That's what I was thinking too. Do you have any recommendations? I'm pretty new to the vinyl/analog game so any thoughts/opinions on a preamp that would be a good pairing with the rest of my setup would be greatly appreciated. I was looking at the Lounge LCR MKIII and the Rega Fono MM if you have any thoughts on those. Thanks!
     
  4. Chazz

    Chazz Music Addict

    Location:
    Southeastern, US
    I owned a VPI 1.1 and used an Ortofon 2M Black with it. I sounded pretty good but sounded much, much better once I bought a Manley Labs Chinook phono preamp. This allowed me to adjust capacitance to better match the cartridge. Moving magnet cartridges are sensitive to capacitance loading. Once I got the loading dialed in, it sounded really good. The Chinook is pricey, if you are looking to stay in the price range of the Lounge MKIII and have much more flexibility for cartridge loading and gain, I would look hard at something like the Pro-ject Tube Box DS or S. I'm sure there are other brands in this price range that offer adjustable loading and gain, others might chime in with suggestions.
     
  5. KOWHeigel

    KOWHeigel Forum Resident

    Location:
    Manlius, NY
    I have no personal experience with those but the Lounge seems well liked here.

    I have had great luck in the used market with phono preamps, a good one should last a long time and you can get a lot for your $
     
    SammyShaps likes this.
  6. DyersEve726

    DyersEve726 Schmo Diggy

    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    If you're handy with a soldering iron, you could mod that pre. I modded my 551p with Nichicon caps and upgraded op-amps and saw a real improvement. Not sure about you, but I LOVE component level work. It's a blast and fun to see what improvements you can make with relatively small investments...talking $20-40 in parts if you've already got the tools. Those Cambridge preamps are well laid out and easy to work on.
     
    SammyShaps likes this.
  7. Alan G

    Alan G More A Lurker Than A Poster

    Location:
    OH
    I have nothing but great things to say about Lounge Audio. Their products (I have the MKIII/Copla combo with my Scout 1.1) and customer service are outstanding! Definitely check them out.

    Alan
     
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  8. Christopher Sims

    Christopher Sims Active Member

    First cart I had on my scout 1.1 was sumiko blue point 2, sounded pretty good. I think the Bronze and Lounge would be a great place to start. And you could upgrade to a black stylus down the line. Look for deals on the bronze, I picked one up from a authorized dealer for around $270. Good luck and congrats on the Scout!
     
    SammyShaps likes this.
  9. mace

    mace Forum Resident

    Location:
    74008
    I have been using a Sutherland PH3D with a Soundsmith Zephyr for about 3 years, and am absolutely amazed at how musical this setup is. The Zephyr replaced a Dynavector 20x2, and has kept me from trying out my ART 9 for over a year.
     
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  10. SammyShaps

    SammyShaps New Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY, USA
    Thanks for all the informative replies. If you'll indulge me here's another question - has anyone heard both the Lounge LCR MKIII and the Lounge LCR Gold? Wondering how much of a difference the $300 jump makes. Thanks in advance!
     
  11. SammyShaps

    SammyShaps New Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY, USA
    Thanks for this comment. Very interesting to consider. I haven't dabbled with a soldering iron since a creative electronics course in college so probably don't want to go messing around with my only phono preamp. But always looking for a new hobby so maybe I'll pick up a cheap used phono and try out some soldering! Is there a website or book you'd recommend that pertains to these types of modifications/simple electronics work?
     
  12. SammyShaps

    SammyShaps New Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY, USA
    Found out you get a headphone input and volume, so nevermind!
     
  13. Helom

    Helom Forum Resident

    Location:
    U.S.
    I believe member @TheVinylAddict has experience with both.

    The older VPI Scouts are longtime favorites of those at Acoustic Sounds. It'd be worth a call to get their suggestion.

    The LCR III is a good preamp for $300, but I think it would still be a significant bottleneck in a Scout/Bronze setup.
     
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  14. 500Homeruns

    500Homeruns Peaceful Punk

    Location:
    Lehigh Valley, PA
    There is a Soundsmith Otello for sale in the classifieds here. I had that cart on my Scout II and liked it very much. The 2M Black I had on originally just wasn't the sound I was going for. I liked the Soundsmith so much I have since upgraded to a Zephyr and put the Otello on a U-turn Orbit in my second system.

    Oh yeah, I have the Lounge MK-III too. It's great.
     
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  15. ChuckyBuck

    ChuckyBuck Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Albuquerque, NM
    I have Scout 1.1 / Bronze / Lounge LCR MKIII. The Lounge was my last upgrade and seemed a significant upgrade to the phono built into my Rega Elex integrated. It is very nice sounding but noticeably less resolving than my digital setup. I'd love to test out a nice $1000 phono pre if anyone wants to loan me one....
     
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  16. Twinsfan007

    Twinsfan007 Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ
    Again it all comes down to how much you want to spend. I personally LOVE my Musical Surroundings Phonomena II+ phono preamp. It has as many loading combinations as anyone would want, it has a very black background and it just sounds amazing IMO. You can find one used for a good deal on Audiogon or US audiomart usually. That way if you want to go in a different direction with a cart you don't have to buy a new phono preamp. I would do that before I buy a new cartridge.
     
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  17. SammyShaps

    SammyShaps New Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY, USA
    Thanks for this suggestion. I was looking at the Musical Fidelity MX which seems to be very comparable to the Musical Surroundings, just a bit more pricey. I'm seeing there's a good amount of used postings and deals to be had on Phonomena II. Have you or anyone else here had experience with the MX to give a comparison?
     
  18. reidc

    reidc Forum Resident

    Location:
    Fitchburg, Mass
    I bought a Scout 1.1 used 11 months, and it came with Ortofon Black. It was a great deal anyway, but I was leary of added groove junk noise that I'd heard these things pick up very well. I was coming from a Technics 1210-M5G with Hana EH Cartridge that had been a recent purchase and was still in honeymoon phase with. Anyway- I took the leap of faith, and hooked the 1.1 with 2M Black up to my Yamaha RX-A1030 Receiver and I was extremely impressed.

    The 2M Black has a reputation for increased tick/pop noise than others, but I am not hearing it. The Hana I was using was notable for being quiet in tick/pop amplification.
    I would assume the 2M Bronze would be suitable as well. Sorry- I have not ever used a pre-amp.

    Chris
     
  19. Sorry it took so long to reply. :)

    No experience with the LCR Gold….

    However, I currently own the LCR MKiii (and the Lounge Copla) as you noted, which now has the “Silver” upgrades - note the Copla also the Silver upgrades. The LCR / Copla, with Silver mods are well chronicled here on the board, and I won’t go on about those….

    The Gold is based on the same architecture / platform as the MKiii, but with a headphone amp added, and upgraded components. @morinix could fill in some blanks here on differences I am sure! :)

    @Helom - why do you think the MKiii would be a bottleneck with the VPI / Bronze?

    Bonus Coverage -- with pictures!! :)
    I have also been beta testing the "new" LCR Tube for the last couple of months. For those unaware, Lounge has been developing a new tube / hybrid phono preamp. This is a very flexible preamp with adjustable loading and gain – it’s a hybrid that leverages the best of SS and Tube and has been delivering the goods quite nicely.

    Lounge has since improved the LCR Tube platform further since I started beta, and I will be sending my unit back for the latest mods – and then do Round II of beta testing. Stay tuned for updates on that at a later date. I am very excited with the performance of this phono preamp so far, I really like how it can be adjusted to handle MM, HOMC and LOMC cartridges, with both gain and loading options. The loading configurations are managed using the loading banks and different resistors. Lounge says that the updated LCR Tube version "raises the bar" significantly, and I'm all ears! (pun intended)

    To share a little more – Lounge has also been developing an LCR “Max” phono preamp that is a culmination of the LCR Gold, LCR MKiii platform learnings rolled into one high quality SS phono preamp. I was in Cali a few weeks ago and was able to hear it first hand, and at that point was excited enough to request one be built for me! From what I understand, there are actually one or two LCR Max units that have already been built / sold, and Lounge is working to get the Max into a full time production state. Note I do not know the price points of either the LCR Tube or the LCR Max when they are released, you would have to contact Lounge for that information! As mentioned, I think Lounge sold one or two LCR Tubes and Max's to customers, so maybe Robert can chime in on the latest.

    Again, stay tuned to the forum as I will be sharing more thoughts on my experience with these units moving forward, I should hopefully have the Max in a few weeks, and an updated LCR Tube for Beta Testing round II shortly after that.

    What's cool, Lounge is constantly innovating and developing new products for us audio enthusiasts, as evidenced by the LCR Tube and Max offerings in the queue. These are the "next rung of the ladder" products. What's also nice is that they listen to their customers, seek out feedback on how their units are performing. I was happy to contribute and help give feedback via the beta testing. I run 3-4 TT's and have many different cartridges so I was able to test in many configurations, which I think helped...

    Oh, some pics of the LCR Tube in front of my DP-59L. Note one Tube guard is removed, as is the loading bank cover plate for photo purposes. Also it is positioned in front of the Denon fTT or photo purposes because it was too hard to photograph tucked away in the rack.


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Just for fun, here is a pic of the LCR MKIII / Copla with the Silver updates hooked up to my Yamaha GT-2000L:

    [​IMG]
     
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  20. Helom

    Helom Forum Resident

    Location:
    U.S.
    Because of my experience pairing it with my humble Thorens TD-166 w/ a standard Shure M97xe. I was quite surprised by the performance improvement when pairing that table with my JC3 Jr.

    Acoustic Sounds hinted to me that a well setup OG Scout w/ 2M Bronze is about as good a table as any mortal needs, therefore, I'm guessing the standard LCR mk III would be a bottleneck there too. I've only heard a Scout with a Hana EL, and it was a great combo - no faults I could detect. I imagine the Bronze performs on a similar level.

    I'm not referring to the optional upgraded LCR of course, just the $300 unit in its 2017 configuration.
     
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  21. SammyShaps

    SammyShaps New Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY, USA
    Thanks again everyone for your responses. I ended up picking up a Musical Surroundings Phonomena ii+

    I got it used for a nice price and from speaking to numerous folks and all of your awesome feedback I think it will be a good fit for both the Scout and the 2m Bronze. Also it gives me a lot of options for different cartridges down the road. I'll let everyone know my impressions once I get it.
     
    TheVinylAddict and ChuckyBuck like this.
  22. That's a good choice, I've heard a few favorable impressions of the MS Phenomena preamp... Let us know what you think of it....
     
  23. Davey

    Davey very clever with maracas

    Location:
    SF Bay Area, USA
    Nicely done, the Phonomena II+ is a good preamp, solid discrete design (well, except for the DC servo opamps), kind of a stepping stone to the high end phono market so they do show up frequently for sale as people upgrade to the next level, and as you say, lots of loading and gain options. And if you're handy with a soldering iron, when you get ready to upgrade it responds very well to a few component and power supply mods too, really takes it up to that next level without much expense.
     
    loudinny likes this.
  24. loudinny

    loudinny Forum Resident

    Musical Surroundings Phonomena - great sounding and extremely flexible and a Denon 301mkII - just a great sounding cart.

    Been running both and never looked back!
     
  25. tzh21y

    tzh21y Forum Resident

    Location:
    Buffalo
    That is true about the scout, especially the ones with the acrylic platter. Killer table. I will never give mine up
     

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