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Positive Feedback ISSUE 66
Profile of Harry
Weisfeld, Founder and Owner of VPI Industries
(Merrill Wettasinghe is the Chief Music Officer at Merrill Audio Advanced Technology Labs, LLC)
Harry is one of the nicest people you could meet; it just feels like you are his best buddy and old friend. When it comes to turntables and audio, Harry uses a turntable as a pillow, he is that serious. An innovator that never sleeps, Harry grew up in Brooklyn, part of the Tilden High school crowd. His dream was to be an architectural draftsman. Fate decided, and half the audio world now agrees, he was much more valuable. He dismantled his Dad's turntable at 10 years old. When Harry put that turntable back together, he had left over parts. For us, that means it won't work anymore. Harry improved the turntable by removing parts; yes he was 10 and already a turntable genius.
From young, Harry always loved to tinker, loves Microscopes and loves painting. He had a painting of a submarine, Harry's favorite subject, hung in the Lever Building in New York City. That is quite an achievement for a high school kid.
Harry met Sheila (he was not interested in Sally) in 1969 on a blind date, married her 2 years later and enjoyed 40 years of marriage. Sheila, God bless her soul, was an integral part of the VPI start, growth and success. Harry always remembers fondly Sheila telling him she had good news and she had bad news – they had 500 orders that first month of operation! How did that happen? Well we all know the story of Harry not wanting to pay the $1,900 for a Keith Monk recording cleaning machine, so he made his own. Well Harry Pearson reviewed it in Stereophile and everyone wanted one for $295 after the review was published. Recall that you could not go online to order one. You had to send in a letter through the US Postal Service. That is right, 500 orders means 500 letters. Oh internet where forth art thou.
Working as a supervisor for an HVAC company, Harry installed sheet metal in many great buildings in NYC like New York University Medical Center, 55 Water Street (55 stories), 245 Park Ave (48 stores). This is one of Harry's great legacies. When the 500 orders came in the first month of being in business, Harry made the decision to quit the day time job and become a full time Turntable Cleaner maker.
Fast forward today and not to repeat the history from the website, VPI is a thriving, well known business with Harry at the helm (his workbench), at the factory floor (where his workbench is), at the R&D division (which is also his workbench) and running the company. Note that Harry's workbench is actually very large. Times have changed and Matt his youngest is delightfully taking over. Mid June will be Matt's 1st full day on the job. Congratulations Matt.
While Harry has a very successful business, he is not content and continues to innovate. His new Turntable, which was shown for the first time today with the new tone arm will make other turntables sound wrong. The new turntable called Vanquish will be introduced at the New York Audio Show. It has a motor with no poles, so no jerks, no wow, no flutter. What? Designed by Aerospace Engineers, it has no poles. Smooth rotation and direct drive. The platter is part of the motor.
Wait there is more! The new arm that takes 26 hours just to form.
Well, I wanted to hear it. We did the A/B test several times because we wanted to make sure we were listening to real sound and not "wanting it to sound good" sound. We took it out and put it back to make sure. Unanimously clear conclusion. What you hear "pure" music. The low level sounds are lower as intended; the loud passages were very noticeably clean while the arm is only 10 feet from the speaker. The sound was so much more pleasant, smooth and real. Why would the low levels be lower or softer? When you hold both arms, you will easily see the new arm is 1/5 the weight of the old arm. Why were the loud passages cleaner? The arm starts round in shape and finishes at the shell as a rectangle. Resonances cannot travel. This is a truly innovative turntable. The arm was done using a 3D printer with a resin that is layered on, each micron layer at a time. That is why it takes 26 hours to form. A must see if you are at the New York Audio show, a must if you are a Vinyl Junkie. Now I want to own one. Yes it is that good and I am not a vinyl junkie.
Harry's first turntable was a Garrard RC88 with an ETC Integrated Amp. That was in 1958 and Harry was 10 years old. At that time he was an accomplished accordion player, having had lessons since he was 7. Strangely Harry cannot play the piano as his left hand is always looking for buttons, not keys. When Harry is not making new space age turntables, he is taking pictures of birds in his backyard with a 600 mm lens in the winter. Any bird as crazy as him to go out in 5 degree weather in the winter will get shot by him and posted on the wall, in full color. To get him around, Harry enjoys a good car or two Aston Martins. I got to see only the outside of the Aston Martin. Whatever he is doing, he loves listening to WQXR and has it turned on everywhere he goes, the home, the car, the office. 25 years ago the prudent Brooklyn boy moved to New Jersey, refusing to pay the high taxes in New York and has been in New Jersey ever since.
The proudest moment for Harry was not the 500 orders or the space age turntable. It was when Mat, his youngest won the 2003 World Karate Union Hall of Fame Fighting Competitor of the Year, I.A.M.A. Champion Fighter of the Year, at young age of 17. He was the youngest there.
Harry Weisfeld, innovator, father, devoted husband and owner of VPI when asked what advice he would give someone, he replied, "Don't build Speakers", referring to his 1972 JBL Studio Monitors in the listening room that sounds better than the Martin Logan Ascents playing outside.
You know what; Harry's niceness is definitely not at all invented. He is a very nice man. And so are his turntables.