VPI or Nitty Gritty?
And so, I turn back to the VPI. Or the Nitty Gritty.
Like most things in hi-fi, these roads have been walked before. In the short time I've spent researching and enjoying hi-fi, I have yet to define a dilemma, controversy, or fad that someone else hasn't already encountered and tackled. I have discovered nothing new, I have done nothing new. It's almost frustrating, like a constant flick to the ear of my delicate self-worth. How can I tread new ground in a hobby that is so rich in history? How can I leave a mark? Perhaps, rather than attempt to leave a mark, I should strive to direct others to some of the great stuff that has already been planted. Celebrate that rich history! But I'm just thinking aloud right now, so to speak. Whatever. It's comforting to know that I am on any track at all, and I should be thankful for those who smoothed the way.
Something just occurred to me.
Most anything you need to know about hi-fi can be found in the back issues of Stereophile. You can buy our back issues, you know. You can buy them one at a time. Or you can buy the whole lot in one sweet swoop. And, if you think our back issues are filled with nothing but old news, you'll be surprised to find that many current audio topics take shape and explode all throughout those old back issues. A quick glance through Vol.17 No.5, for instance, uncovers a feature on "The Art of the Scientific Illusion," specifically discussing the Shun Mook resonance control devices and the puzzle of perception, a topic that has burned through our forum for the last couple months. I believe that a subscription to our magazine is perhaps the most effective audio accessory you'll ever find. It might even make your system sound better.
Anyway: the VPI or the Nitty Gritty? Let me tell you: I am a sucker for the NG's woodgrain-veneer base. It just looks good to me. Like I wouldn't be ashamed of keeping it in the living room, like it actually deserves to be on display. Oak adds to the price, however. The basic 1.0 with a black vinyl veneer costs $365, while the oak cabinet model 2.0 costs $425. On the other hand, the plain black box of the VPI 16.5 ($540) is something that I'd probably keep out of sight from visitors, only bringing it out when I wanted to clean a record. Most important, both are said to do a damn good job of cleaning records. They simply go about it in slightly different ways. The NG is cute, the VPI is drab. The NG is made in California, the VPI in my home state. What to do, what to do? Often, when I am confronted with such a dilemma, I do what I suspect many people do: I consult our "Recommended Components" list. After all, I believe in us. Plus: I maintain the old database, so it's easy for me to search deep in time for some long lost review.
I opened up our database and did a search on "nitty gritty." I was taken to our entry for Nitty Gritty's Mini Pro 2, 1.5, and 2.5Fi record-cleaning machines, in which we wrote:
While the vacuum-cleaning Nitty Gritty does a job on dusty albums nearly equivalent to that of the similarly priced VPI HW-16.5, CG felt that the VPI's hard-bristled brush did better with really dirty LPs than did NG's velvet one.