VPI Avenger Direct Turntable Package

hfnoutstandingHaving rolled out its first direct-drive deck in the HW-40 Anniversary, VPI has grafted its proven motor design into the flexible Avenger platform, complete with arm and MC

We may have a first here as VPI offers its Avenger turntables in belt-drive, rim-drive and direct-drive guises, the latter £36,500 Avenger Direct bringing the range to a total of four models. The genesis of the Avenger Direct was bittersweet, however, because it was inspired by, and has subsequently 'leap-frogged' over, the long-awaited VPI Vanquish flagship. In the meantime, the launch of the £100,000+ Vanquish remains on hold...

The real-world predecessor to the New Jersey-based company's Avenger Direct, in motor technology terms, was the HW-40 [HFN Apr '19] but, as VPI says, 'it was apparent that advances had been made in not only the available drive electronics, but also in the materials and software control'. VPI has continued to make running production improvements to the basic rotor and stator supplied by a US company specialising in aerospace, defence, robotics and precision industrial motion systems. The parts have been chosen for their promise of high torque and smooth, cog-free operation thanks to an overlapping V-shaped coil configuration.


The 12in 'Fatboy' arm features a 3D printed tube, adjustable VTA, thread-and-cantilever bias and lockable counterweight. Up to three arms may be adjusted and locked into position around the Avenger's tripod 'towers'

Confidence Trick
The Avenger Direct's stator is mounted in a housing machined from a solid billet of T6061 aluminium. This helps to absorb any small vibrations into the main chassis, which comprises a sandwich of more aluminium between two acrylic slabs, all separated by layers of additional damping. The rotor, meanwhile is press-fitted into an aluminium 'sub-platter' onto which the main platter locates. Unusually, however, the spindle is not part of the rotor, but part-and-parcel of the platter. This demonstrates extreme confidence on the part of VPI's CNC-machining, as any irregularities in concentricity between the main bearing and the spindle will be immediately obvious. In practice, the concentricity of the spindle looks faultless!

Of course, as the Pirelli tyre brand used to tell us, 'power is nothing without control'. To this end, the rotor hub features an encoder providing 2500 counts per revolution of positional feedback to the control servo. At 33.3rpm this equates to 1388 pulses per second (1.39kHz), which is more than adequate for exceptional speed control accuracy. Working with a company that has over 20 years' experience in motor drive electronics, VPI claims that its ambitions for increased torque and improved stability have been exceeded, and without transmitting more noise into the playback chain.

The deck features a trio of pointed feet which locate into two-part isolation pucks. These not only protect the mounting surface but provide excellent isolation in both vertical and horizontal axes. Each foot is adjustable, supporting three chunky 'towers' that rise above the top of the plinth. Three separate arms may be fitted to the Avenger Direct – each armboard outrigger looping over the top of a column before being adjusted for height and rotation and then firmly clamped into place.


Whether Lignum vitae (Palo Santo/Ironwood) or Brosimum paraense (Bloodwood), the hard shell of VPI's Anniversary MC is further reinforced with threaded metal inserts

Avenger Assembled
As part of the package, VPI's deck comes with the gimbal bearing version of its 12in Fatboy arm, which normally retails for £5400, plus £1800 for the VTA adjustment tower and metal armboard. Additional arms require the purchase of more armboard outriggers, the £600 list price including the cutting service for your choice of arm hole pattern.

The 12in Fatboy uses a one-piece 3D-printed armtube and headshell, the tube shape adapting from front to rear to aid resonance dissipation. At the rear, it's set into an aluminium tube that passes through the gimbal and terminates in the counterweight stub. A black knob on this end adjusts the position of the weight for tracking force, and although this is uncalibrated, VPI does include a digital stylus force gauge. This, together with the alignment gauge and adjustable arm boards, makes cartridge setup a breeze.

The arm's internal wiring is Nordost Reference and this terminates via a miniature LEMO connector into a small junction box with phono output sockets and earth terminal.

For review, the Avenger Direct was supplied with VPI's new £2550 Anniversary cartridge, made by Miyajima in Japan and based on the Takumi model. This has a weight of 8.9g, a claimed output of 0.22mV, and features an elliptical stylus on the end of an alloy cantilever. The deck also comes with a Signature stainless steel centre weight and periphery ring clamp (typically £1560).

VPI Industries Inc.
New Jersey, USA
Supplied by: Renaissance Audio, Scotland
0131 555 3922