Rough cab ride, broken computers at check-in, badges in hand, and we’re ready to conquer the world’s largest audio show. The map is intense, and Panagiotis Karavitis enlightens us with pro tips. Start on the top floor of Hall 4, work your way down and across the 4 exhibit halls. No pressure, and just 8 hours for me to soak up the show.
First room, first stop, the VPI / Vitus / Pure Audio Design room. It was the European debut of the VPI Titan turntable. Two arms, killer cartridges, and Vitus electronics ready to roll. (more to come on this room soon… )
5 minutes in, I got a warm welcome from Mat Wesfeld who entered the room. Mat was bearing gifts, holding a small surprise in his hands – the Fat Boy!
VPI has been working for a few years to perfect the art of 3D printing. The VPI 3D tonearm has gone through a few iterations, and Mat is ready to take it up to 11. In his hands a prototype of the new JWM Fat Boy tonearm.
Originally planned to be called the JWM Titan, but changed to “Fat Boy” after being nicknamed by VPI employees. Apparently Harry Weisfeld loved the name, and it’s going to stay. After getting a few minutes with the arm, I think VPI should get a little cheeky and call it the VPI Phat Boy!
The 12 inch VPI Fat Boy tonearm is significantly larger in mass. Almost as if the original VPI 3D tonearm got a personal trainer and put on some serious muscle in the right areas.
The back of the arm is now threaded, allowing much more accurate adjustments and the ability to easily lock the counterweight. No more messing with a counterweight that slides along the back for fine adjustments.
The Fat Boy includes a new “Dual pivot” design. The additional pivot piece keeps the unipivot arm stable and prevents any side-to-side wobbling. Mat claims this change produces a tonearm that brings together the best of a unipivot & gimbal designs. This additional pivot can be purchased from VPI and added to existing unipivot arms. Matt claims the difference is very audible and I’d love to have a chance to compare it with previous arms in the future.
The last area of improvement focuses on 3D Printing. VPI has been cranking out 3D arms for a few years and has perfected the process. Mat claims significant improvements in quality and the arm is much more tolerant over time to heat / UV light. Lastly like all reference tonearms from VPI, it is wired with Nordost cable.
The VPI Fat Boy will be available later this summer and will become the standard arm on the VPI Titan and will be available for an upcharge on the VPI Avenger. Existing owners of VPI unipivot tables will be able to upgrade to the 12inch JWM Fat Boy as well. To make this possible the customer would also replace the unipivot base to accommodate the larger size of the VPI Fat Boy.
Can’t wait to see this mounted on a VPI Avenger or Titan and hear it slide down the grooves of our favourite vinyl.