Okay, so maybe the VPI Nomad wasn't exactly a surprise. Announced late last year, the "turntable solution" is just now heading out to greedy consumers -- Music Direct's Bes Flores sold the first one while I was in the room this afternoon!
The turntable offers a lot for the $995 price. You get a turntable, obviously, with settings for both 33 and 45 rpm. The motor is all-new, and surprising to everyone (including VPI's Matt Weisfeld), the motor is an improvement over what was available in the Traveler. The Nomad has a gimbaled-bearing tonearm and comes with an Ortofon 2M Red cartridge pre-installed. But that's not all! There's also a headphone amplifier. Oh, and an integrated phono preamp too. All you need is a pair of interconnects or headphones and your haul from Record Store Day, and you're set.
It took me three attempts to worm my way into the standing-room only space, but a carefully thrown elbow or two, and I was in. There were three demo stations lined up against the side wall, with another in the main system. All three demos had a pair of Focal headphones attached and folks were invited to spin whatever they had on hand. You want to take a giant set up from your beat up old Technics? This might be a great stop. It has “hipster” and “college dorm” written all over it. Sound quality was surprising, even with the cherry-red Spirit One headphones. Good enough that I went ahead and requested a review unit. Stay tuned.