When it was launched back at the end of 2016, the VPI Prime changed the game, proving to be one of the best turntables we’d heard at anything close to the price. So impressive, in fact, that I bought the review sample within seconds of first hearing it. The Prime Signature – first seen in 2016 – is what happens when you take that Prime design and extend it to its present logical limits.
In fact, the success of the Prime allowed VPI to radically shake up its entire line, looking closely at some of its past glories with a more measured eye, and making some tough decisions in the process. As a result, the Prime Signature is top of VPI’s fourstrong ‘Production Turntables’ range (with the aforementioned Prime, the re-introduced Scout, and the all-in-one Player filling in the rest of the line). There is also a ‘Reference Turntables’ line, based around the three-footed Avenger design, and sometime soon there look set to be a ‘Bespoke Collection’ line featuring made-to-order versions of models like the VPI Classic. Regardless, the Prime design is core to the Production Turntables line.
So core, in fact, it’s hard to describe the Prime Signature without reflecting it in the Prime itself. To recap, the original Prime features a vinyl wrapped MDF chassis, bonded with an 11 gauge steel plate, and featuring four Delrin corner posts for isolation and mechanical grounding. The deck features a 500 RPM (300 RPM in the US), 24 pole, AC synchronous motor, housed in a separate aluminium and steel machined assembly. It sports an inverted bearing with a hardened stainless steel shaft and a 60 Rockwell chrome hardened ball, spinning in a phosphor bronze bushing, all of which sits on a PEEK thrust disc, and the belt side load is placed at the centre of the spinning bearing for zero ‘seesaw’ or ‘teeter-totter’ effects. The Prime also features a 9kg aluminium platter, and the arm is a 10” variant on the company’s ever-popular JMW unipivot tonearm complete with the useful VTA base that allows vertical tracking angle to be adjusted on the fly. Renaissance offers both a phono and XLR breakout box for the arm at purchase (the XLR box is a £175 option otherwise). The Prime was the first turntable to offer a completely 3D printed arm-wand (wired with Discovery wire), pivot housing, and counterweight outrigger. Finally, the original Prime sits on four custom-made isolation spiked feet and includes a clamp.
The Prime Signature improves on the original in several obvious ways. Perhaps most immediately obvious is an aluminium plate, in place of the steel plate in the Prime. This makes the chassis thicker and heavier than the Prime, and the aluminium plate is visible as the silvery ‘meat’ in the black, vinyl-wrapped chassis sandwich (the steel plate on the Prime is hidden from view). This performs the same resonance and feedback control as the steel chassis plate on the Prime, but also improves chassis damping.