The VPI Rim Drive & Classic Aluminum Platter Back to the future or forward to the past?

VPI Rim Drive & Classic Aluminum Platter

Wayne Donnelly ( writes:

When I first heard that VPI was developing a rim drive system, I was somewhat bemused. Like most audiophiles of the Baby Boomer (or older) generation, all of my early turntables — Garrard, Miracord, Dual — used the idler drive system, with a spring-loaded rubber drive wheel engaging the inside rim of the platter. Of course in those pre-audiophile days they were also automatic changers. Remember when multi-record box sets — e.g., complete operas and symphony collections — were numbered for changers, with Side 1 of a 3-LP set backed by Side 6, etc.? My LP collection is loaded with those, and they are a bit of an annoyance in these more enlightened non-changer days.

But as my interest in and understanding of higher-end audio grew, I became dissatisfied with idler drive changers. Though still a budget-limited graduate student, I wanted a single-play table, which led me to investigate belt drive and direct drive tables. At that time the direct drive tables I could afford were all Japanese, and most of the belt drive tables were European. By then I was also into my brief years as an audio salesman, and developing a set of assumptions about turntables that has largely persisted ever since. The idler tables, by the very nature of their motor-to-platter interface, had less than ideal rumble and wow & flutter. The cheaper Japanese direct drives often had "cogging" issues — wow & flutter of the drive motor being transmitted, together with any motor noise, to the platter, since the platter spindle was the central rotor of the drive motor. Moreover, those tables' massy S.-shaped arms were not generally well matched to the high-compliance moving-magnet cartridges — Shure, ADC, Micro-Seiki — I was using at the time. So I made the leap, replacing my trusty old Dual 1019 with a sleek, inexpensive single-play belt-drive Dual 510 with a straight low-mass arm sporting a Shure V.-15 Type III cartridge. The belt drive "die was cast," and every turntable in my system for the last 35 years — Dual, Thorens, Townshend, Michell, Versa Dynamics, Basis, to my present VPI Aries 3 — has been belt-driven.

This little trip down memory lane inspired my tongue-in-cheek subtitle to this review. But I assure you that ….


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