If VPI had a company motto, it would probably be based around the three Ps: practicality, performance and price. In a world that values the exotic and almost seems to reward the unusable, unstable or unreliable, VPI’s record players (and record cleaning machines) have always been prosaically straightforward, tractable and cost effective. Rather than relying on dramatic appearance or cutting edge materials and technology, the products always put performance first. Buy a VPI turntable and you know exactly what you are getting – a lot of ‘table and a whole lot of music for your money. It’s a philosophy that has stood the test of time and there are few companies that have been building record players (and only record players) for so long or nearly so successfully – and doing it entirely in the USA. But recently, VPI have upped their game and the further elimination of unnecessary fripperies has produced the Classic series, record players that reduce the problem to its simplest possible form – with remarkable musical results; so remarkable that the mid-price decks have totally undermined the position of the flagship HR-X – although that’s another story.
But the Classics are still large and (relatively) expensive, especially for analogue newcomers. VPI’s Harry Wiesfeld has long cherished the dream of producing a genuinely affordable record player capable of seriously musical performance and combining that aim with the Classic’s conceptual simplicity has finally delivered the goods. Enter the Traveler, not a portable player, but a Classic writ small – with a few significant wrinkles of its own.
Compared to other ‘tables at or around its £1350 price, the Traveler is clearly a very different beast. Okay, so it’s a solid plinth, belt driven design, but there the similarities end.
The plinth is a Delrin/aluminium sandwich, stood on four adjustable feet. The materials aren’t that unusual but the sandwich construction certainly is. The one piece platter is not just metal, it is another sandwich, this time aluminium and stainless steel, riding on a large diameter, large ball, standing bearing design with VPI’s ultra quiet PEEK thrust pad. The platter is clamped in place by the central spindle, using the supplied pin-spanner – another piece of proper engineering, thoughtfully executed.