TAVES 2016: Titanic sound from VPI and KEF
By Richard H. Mak
If you are a follower of Mat Weisfeld’s (President of VPI Industries) Facebook page, you will know that the gloves are off with this table! Harry Weisfeld has been coxed out of retirement to design the all new Titan turntable together with Mat. They have only one goal in mind and that is to challenge state of the art turntable design. The $48,000US turntable is packed with plenty of kick-ass features and it appears that the VPI father and son team has managed to kill many birds with one stone.
First of all, the Titan can accommodate three tonearms, so it has now entered into a territory for diehard multiple arm fans, occupied by tables such as Micro Seiki, JC Verdier, or TW Raven. Interchangeable armboards allows you to experiment with as many tonearms to your heart’s content.
Then there’s the big platter, and by big I mean truly massive. The Titan’s platter weight in at a whopping 42 lbs, combined with the 7 lbs outer ring and a record clamp for a total rotating mass of almost 50 lbs! It has now entered into the heavy mass territory occupied by tables such as the DaVinci Gabriel Mk II or Triangle Art.
By having 2 separate rotating platters, it has entered into the territory of tables such as the Clearaudio Master Innovation, or the Kronos Pro. But Mat and Harry’s approach to spinning the platter is uniquely different than both Clearaudio’s and Kronos’ designs. The 10 lbs lower platter is driven by the acclaimed VPI Rim Drive Dual Motor Fly Wheel, which in turn drives the upper platter by magnetic force generated by 6 magnets. A knob built into the front of the motor assembly allows user to release the pressure on the rubber of the rim drive, preventing the formation of a flat spot over time. But that’s not the end of the story, despite having a heavy mass, the Titan is also a suspension table as the entire construction rests on three pneumatic suspensions.
The VPI Titan was resting on a rack custom designed by Trev Doyle of Massif Audio Design, an expert carpenter based in Toronto. Because audio equipment and room dimension comes in different sizes, every person’s needs will be uniquely different. Trev Doyle prides himself in customized solutions, and will bespoke a rack to meet each customer’s specific needs.
A Lyra Atlas cartridge was mounted on the ingenious VPI 3D printed arm, connected to VPI’s own Aurora Phono stage ($ 6,000). They were hooked up to a pair of Hegel H30 amplifiers (US$ 15,000 ea) running in bridged mono mode. Speakers are none other than KEF’s flagship design, the MUON (US$ 225,000) which were being shown in Canada for the first time. The Muon is a four way speaker system with 6 drivers in front and 2 drivers at the back. The MUON’s chassis is made of “super formed” aluminum which measures 6mm thick, they reminded me of the T1000 in Terminator 2.
The truth is in the pudding, so how did it sound? Harry pulled out Lawrence and Gorme’s Two on the Aisle, an album which he bought in the 1960s featuring Broadway songs such as Till There Was You and Make Someone Happy. The sound coming out of the MUON’s put in one word was big! These speakers can play loud and they project a soundstage which offered plenty of spatial cues. Instruments were life sized and carried much weight and solidity in the acoustic space with the end result being lifelike and engaging.
The VPI Titan seems to have combined the typical virtues of high mass tables, together with the airiness and finesse of suspension tables. The sound did not carry the forward and upfront characteristics of rim drive tables, the magnetic drive system must have induced some sonic qualities typical of belt drive tables into the mix, the sound was musical, relaxing and music flowed smoothly without any agitation. The low frequencies, remained well textured, deep and rock solid.
Mat and Harry seemed to have hit a home run! I can’t wait to get my hands on a VPI Titan!