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VPI SDS

Postby Guest » 15 Jun 2009 15:26

I've been evaluating an SDS with my Scout for a few weeks. I thought I'd share my experience for the benefit of others.

When I first plugged it in and calibrated the speeds, I was disappointed. Where was the life-changing difference I'd been reading about? OK, the 33/45 switch is handy, running the motor at 72V seemed to eliminate the previous low-level hum, and speed stability was slightly improved on sustained piano notes, but the cost seemed hard to justify. But I kept listening.

Fast forward... Familiar records are more fun. I'm muttering "gosh, that sounds good" more often. It was time for The Experiment. Out came the London H.M.S.Pinafore box--the good one with the color libretto from 1960. First, play side 2 with the SDS; lovely, alive, better than I've ever heard it. Next, plug the Scout straight into the wall and repeat: it's flatter, mushier, a bit murky, like a good recording, but still a recording. Of course, it wasn't worse than pre-SDS, but now I appreciate the fuss. Finally, back to the SDS to confirm the findings.

Here's what I heard with the SDS: the background is much quieter, deep bass is stronger yet with a more complete overtone structure, both micro- and macrodynamics are significantly improved, notes from all instruments are sweeter and more authentic, the soundstage is larger (especially depth), the ambient decay is longer and more linear, instruments have more air around them, and timing is more precise. Best of all, transparency is raised to a new level, allowing the music to be more involving emotionally, and closer to a live performance. It's more obvious, e.g., when singers turn their heads or pass in front of each other. My system was not deficient in any of these areas, but the SDS has sharpened its strengths. The SDS has taken a sizable bite out of the distance between my Scout and a friend's HRX.

I've been told that the hum reduction is likely a benefit of eliminating powerline noise, which makes AC motors do odd things that cause vibration. Otherwise, I suspect the improvements stem from the reduction of tiny nonlinearities in pulley speed, many times per second; these aren't gross enough to be heard as pitch change, but they spoil timing accuracy and result in sour musical tones.

So, why did the SDS take several weeks to impress me? I suppose it, like any other new amplifier, needs a break-in period before settling down to consistent, linear operation.

I'm keeping it.
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Postby bauzace50 » 15 Jun 2009 16:33

Hi Lanny,
good to hear about your satisfaction with the SDS! I am quite happy with mine, too.
Regards,
bauzace50
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Postby jandre » 16 Jun 2009 15:33

Hi,

I guess the quality of the electricity would also have an impact - the SDS did make a big improvement on my Scoutmaster - but then our electricity supply is not all that stable.

Enjoy

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Postby blue-starfish » 29 Jun 2009 14:11

I used a SDS on a Nottingham Analog Hyperspace and got the same results as lenny.

My mains cable is dedicated from the distribution box, and I live in an area with stable voltage supply.

The SDS and other similar stuff (Project Speedbox and Clearaudio Synchro) are a worthwhile addition to most belt drives IMHO.

That is provided the table does not come with its own version of speed controller the way SME and Avids do
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Postby blue-starfish » 30 Jun 2009 03:22

TheChairGuy wrote:Lanny,


According to Mike at VPI however...a periphery ring is recommended as a better upgrade at least for the first step.

John


In performance maybe yes but not in convenience. The SDS makes playing 45s so much more convenient with 1-touch speed change while the periphery ring adds to vinyl inconvenience.
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Re: VPI SDS

Postby sturgus » 14 Nov 2011 02:54

Lanny, before the SDS did you use anything else or were you coming straight from the wall?
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Re: VPI SDS

Postby bauzace50 » 17 Nov 2011 02:48

HI,
on a little tangent note: A friend of mine brought in his AR XA turntable for the fun of it. Putting it to a strobe test, we found that the XA was running a bit off-speed. So, the SDS was mated with the XA, and the results were excellent! Very nice combination discovered by accident!

REgards,
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Re: VPI SDS

Postby brf » 23 Nov 2011 16:09

I have both the SDS and the peripheral ring on my TNT 5 and the SDS makes the biggest difference. I was surprised to learn and witness so many tables that don’t run at the correct speed, including all VPI’s.

If the speed is not right, you are building on a flawed foundation.
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Re: VPI SDS

Postby Tedrick » 23 Nov 2011 16:37

brf wrote:I have both the SDS and the peripheral ring on my TNT 5 and the SDS makes the biggest difference. I was surprised to learn and witness so many tables that don’t run at the correct speed, including all VPI’s.

If the speed is not right, you are building on a flawed foundation.

Well, not ALL VPI's. As has been reported in numerous reviews, the VPI Classic has dead-on perfect speed with zero variation, and that is certainly the case with my Classic. However, I do use an SDS with my HW-19; the speed was steady but always a tiny bit slow, and the SDS takes care of it perfectly.
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Re: VPI SDS

Postby brf » 23 Nov 2011 21:06

I use a Sutherland Engineering Timeline laser strobe to measure speed accuracy. Both my friends Classic 1 and Classic 3 were both off. One slow, the other faster……...go figure. I don’t believe that the VPI belts are precision ground; therefore, variances in the belt diameter can be a factor along with slight frequency deviations in the power grid. Admittedly, my sample of VPI Classics speed accuracy is small, therefore, not statistically significant, but worth noting nonetheless.

Also, don’t forget that the SDS lowers the voltage after initial startup, therefore, reducing l motor vibration.

I am glad to hear that your Classic sample is speed accurate.
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Re: VPI SDS

Postby Ramarge3653 » 31 Mar 2012 15:35

The SDS is such a necessary upgrade, I can't believe I was running my system without it. Immediately the changes were noticeable through my scoutmaster / 17D3 setup.

Anybody out there who is teetering on the idea, do not hesitate, it's such an improvement!
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Re: VPI SDS

Postby JRSBat » 07 Apr 2012 19:19

I was thinking about getting an SDS for my Scout. One online retail rep said I probably would not notice a big improvement with an SDS because I was already running everything through a PS Audio Duet line conditioner. He said the Duet was already filtering out a lot of the line voltage variations.

When I saw a lightly used SDS online I got it anyway. Wow - even though everything, including the SDS, is still going through the Duet the Scout's sound quality increase is amazing. Quieter background, much richer sound, I am hearing much more from the albums than before.

I agree with Ramarge3653. If you are thinking about getting one do it if you can.
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