VPI Debuts New "3D Printer" One Piece JMW Memorial Tonearm and New Direct Drive Turntable Motor

VPI's Harry Weisfeld demonstrated a new one piece "3D printer" version of the long-running JMW Memorial Tonearm last Saturday, March 23rd at an open house attended by member of The New York Audio Society.

The unipivot tonearm is manufactured using a 3D printer that produces a one piece arm from head shell to counterweight stub, with no joints in between. The arm is formed from a plastic epoxy-like material that is said to produce an ultra-rigid, lightweight, self-damped structure. The shape of the tonearm shaft is said to produce further rigidity.

Weisfeld had Grado Gold cartridges mounted in both a standard JMW and a 3D printer version that allowed for quick and easy swaps and A/B listening. Attendees told me the differences were "profound" and all were in favor of the new tone arm. The Grado/3D printer arm combo produced an ideal 11Hz resonant frequency with but a 2dB amplitude.

No price was announced for the arm but the machine that produces it costs hundreds of thousands of dollars and takes a considerable period of time to produce just one, so it certainly won't be inexpensive.

Weisfeld also demonstrated a new direct drive turntable using a motor said to be sourced from the military that's said to have no cogging torque so platter rotation is as smooth as belt drive but with greater torque and lower wow and flutter.

According to Weisfeld, there are so many poles and "V" shaped commutation so there are no dead spots as it rotates so it's like a "linear motor in a circle." While it was dropped into a Classic chassis for the demo, the new motor will have a dedicated chassis currently in the design stages. The new 'table will not be inexpensive, though no price has been announced.

I was unable to attend the event but a friend who did said the sound was impressive. I hope to visit the factory soon for a demonstration.

Jim Tavegia's picture

Maybe they could offer the table with no arm and a blank board, or offer the table with the Traveler arm and allow the customers to order the table with any of the upgrade VPI arms. Maybe many older lp spinners may have a spare arm at home and they just need to buy  a great drive system. Not many places to do that today. 

Will watch this closely. 

Michael Fremer's picture

I bet the new DD 'table does come without an arm and that you'll be able to order it with the JMW single piece as an option....I say that because I think it will be expensive and people at that price point want to make their own choice.... we'll see...

Mat Weisfeld's picture

Yes, we will have options!  Thanks for the write up Michael!  We are excited to show this off at the New York Show!

mraudioguru's picture

I also heard that the platter had a new ceramic coating?

Jim Tavegia's picture

I was just thinking how crazy this all is with vinyl being such a dead format and all.  There are turntables falling from the clouds with prices all over the place. And all the while digital IS improving with 24/96, 24/192, DSD streams and affordable USB dacs being picked like apples on a tree. 

Sound quality is either making a huge comback or at least kicking and screaming and pitching a fit. To me the Project Debut Carbon puts anyone wtih vinyl interest on the field, playing well, and the sky is the limit.

Bob Dylan: The times they are a changin. 

Fsonicsmith's picture

I was just thinking how crazy this all is with vinyl being such a dead format and all.

This is the thinking of the older men in the hobby. It is high time to get over that perception. Vinyl is NOT a dead format. It was. But it is not dead any longer. Apple was all but dead at one time. Vinyl will never re-emerge like Apple, but it is fully alive after once being dead. Here in my Midwest city of Columbus OH we have seven thriving record stores and young people shop at each regularly. I don't think anyone can accurately pin-point one or two prevailing reasons. I have a theory though; the young crowd I see at the record stores are not inclined to invest in a $500 or up DAC and digital rig only to see it become obsolete in six months. To these same people, vinyl is simple. They are playing and enjoying records on crude turntables with worn styli on crappy cartridges that are not set up optimally and they are happy. Who are we to tell them they are missing out by not buying a Debut Carbon or Rega or something better and not buying Mikey's DVD on table setup? That's just the way it is. I can assure you that no more than 2% of the regulars at these record stores have ever picked up a copy of Stereophile or similar high-end audio magazine. They have no idea what an RCM is. It is mostly about simplicity. BTW, a lot of the young crowd I see in the record stores don't own cars, don't care to own a car, and get everywhere on bike, often a fixie. Simplicity. 

Jim Tavegia's picture

The point being put some effort into playing tunes or let someone like Apple decide what quality you listen do. They certainly would not let some one at Apple choose what food to eat, but they do with audio. 

Why would a $500 DAC become obsolete?  THAT makes no sense. For that money there are plenty of 2496 and 24192 capable dacs that will not be obsolete, they will still always play highrez pcm and the crummy mp3s as well. What they won't care about is streaming DSD. I can't imagine anyone not being satisfiled with either a DragonFly or the new Meridian dac for a long, long time. For $500 they could own 2 of them for both of their computers. 

my new username's picture

Just wait until the printers get cheap and the hardware these companies sell gets "downloaded and pirated" online. Oy.

MicallefK's picture

Vinyl sales up 30% every year for the past five years....kids buying vinyl like mad....even the Frank Ocean CD-only release is being bootlegged to vinyl....and almost every new digital release is accompanied by a vinyl LP release. Long live Record Store Day!   

Paul Boudreau's picture

So true.  Also conversely:  Many vinyl releases come with a digital version, either an mp3 download (boo), a higher-res download (Peter Gabriel), or bundled CDs (e.g. one version of Steve Hackett's recent "Genesis Revisited II").  It's a reality that people, including me, also listen to music in cars and on portable devices.

A big problem now (one I'm happy to have) is keeping up, both buying-wise and listening-wise! 

Brocluno's picture

It's certainly been discussed, but it will likely never really die.  How big it gets is another question...

The deal with vinyl is that if you make a bad record, you can't sell it.  Word will get around and the customers who ventured into you new release will demand their money back. 

CD's not so much - different audience.  Producers can over-produce a CD and get away with it as they have customers in the kids crowd at a minimum. 

Ain't too many teeny-boppers buying these machines.  Vinyl sales and the supporting equipment involve adult rational thinking individuals.  Maybe some "emotional" purchases, but with theresorces to make that work.

This TT looks very promising.  I know of folks who would just love to buy a new high end DD turntable.  I think it's a smart move.

And for reference I should say the I worked for GRT/Chess/Janus Records in production back inthe day.