Harry Weisfeld is the founder and owner of VPI Industries. VPI Industries is an analog based audio manufacturer. Over the years, VPI has made a name for itself in the world of turntables, record cleaning machines, and other vinyl necessities. VPI is based out of New Jersey and has always been a family owned and operated company, with Harry’s son Matt, joining the team full time last year. We were curious about the origins of VPI Industries, so here we go…
THFR: What were you doing before you got involved in the hi-fi industry?
Harry Weisfeld: I had a BS in Electrical Engineering and was in the sheet metal business. We air conditioned office buildings in Manhattan.
What year did you start VPI Industries?
VPI began in 1978, I was 30 years old.
How did VPI begin? What’s the story?
I was always an audiophile, rebuilt my Garrard RC-88 in the early 60’s! Built my own amps, tuner, etc., from Dynaco and Citation kits. I began making isolation bases for direct drive Denons and eventually mounting the drive motors right into the isolation base. That Denon DP-80 in an HW-9 isolation base was a damned good table! That led me into playing with belt drive tables and at the same time I heard what a Keith Monks record cleaner could do at Harry Pearson’s house. It was such a stark difference between the un-cleaned and cleaned record that I had to have one.
How did you meet Harry Pearson?
I was at Audio Breakthroughs (hi-fi store in Long Island) doing some work on their HVAC system and HP came walking in. I didn’t know him, but we sat down and listened together, began to talk, and that was it.
Why did you develop your first product, the HW-16 record cleaning machine?
I could not afford the Keith Monks machine I heard at HP’s in Sea Cliff, so I built one! HP reviewed it and the rest is history. We are still making it today.
What is your favorite product you have made?
The Scout, absolutely the best bang for the buck. That table sounds so good for a reasonable amount of money it is shocking. Anyone can build a great table if you throw money at it, the Scout was given amazing reviews all over the world and showed you do not have to mortgage the farm to have a good vinyl system.
VPI is entering its 35th year of business. Did you ever think it would last this long?
No, in 1985 at the Vegas CES an amplifier manufacturer said to me “With the CD here, what will you do in five years!” He is out of business and I am still going.
What was your reaction to the CD and digital music boom in the ‘90’s?
It really didn’t affect us all that much until about 1992, when it slowed us down, but then two years later picked up again and has just kept going. Classic Records gave the record industry a shot in the arm and we prospered by it.
Are you surprised about the resurgence of vinyl?
Very much so. I just assumed we would be okay but never thought we would be this busy. I never liked CD digital but assumed it was the wave of the future and we would always have our niche, I was wrong, the CD will die before vinyl!!!
Six LP’s you listen to regularly?
Stokowski – Rhapsodies [RCA LSC- 2471]
Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard – Poncho and Lefty [Epic – FE 37958]
Dave Brubeck – Time Out (featuring Take 5) [Columbia – CS 8192]
Count Basie – Basie 88 [Analogue Productions – AAPJ 808]
Henry Mancini – Live in Hollywood
Steve and Eydie – Two on the Aisle [United Artists Records – WWS-8518]