VPI industries is one of the shining stars in the US high-end firmament. Based in New Jersey, the company has been making turntables, tonearms, and record cleaning machines for decades. VPI has recently been passed from father to son, Mat Weisfeld taking over from his father Harry a couple of years ago. Nu-VPI emerged with clever turntables like The Traveller, and modifications to existing high-performance turntables like Scout and Classic. Prime is Mat’s first true ‘from the drawing board’ high-end deck, and he has hit the ground running. Those who know the guy are hardly surprised by this – he’s the sort of guy who leaves dynamos gasping for breath.
However, Prime is also like a distillation of all things VPI. It has elements of the TNT. It draws from Scout and Scoutmaster. And Prime learnt from Classic. So, VPI’s Prime calls upon the same inverted bearing, machined aluminium platter, and Delrin plate/cone and rubber isolation system from the Classic, but with an external motor block like a Scout, and a vinyl-wrapped MDF plinth that is drawn straight from the TNT playbook. This resolves the other big potential problem with father-son handovers – the son’s desire to make his own ‘mark’ on the company, that he changes everything the company stands for. It’s a delicate balance between being ‘a safe pair of hands’ and going a bit Shakespearian tragedy. Fortunately, Mat seems to have that balance perfectly achieved. The Prime shows someone willing to build on the VPI legacy, yet not be hide-bound by it.
This is why using the same steel-shaft and chrome-hardened ball bearing from the Classic (and the Scout 2) is clever in two ways; it means the Prime falls back on one of the most tried and trusted bearings in the high-end, and – for those who’ve not used a VPI before – it’s the key to the turntable’s low-maintenance ‘service’ routine: a few drops of motor oil every year. The hardest part of this is putting the date in your diary.