VPI vs SME 20/12

Cemil Gandur -- Thu, 01/22/2009 - 09:24

Does anyone have any opinion on the relative merits / differences between the VPI SupperScoutmaster and the SME 20/12 ?
I own the VPI, but with the massive drop in the pound vs the dollar, the SME suddenly looks pretty attractive and I might be able to work out a part exchange.

Jim Hannon -- Thu, 01/22/2009 - 20:01

I own a tricked out VPI Aries/Graham combo, with SDS, and lived with an SME 20/12 for several months. While the VPI is a great bargain, the 20/12 is a reference turntable system. There is an overal ease of presentation with the SME and music flows forth without the slightest stress or strain (provided it's a good recording). Dynamic contrasts are shocking, music emerges forth from a jet-black background, and bass has more solidity and weight. I like the SME 20/12's suspension, which helps isolate it from structural vibrations, although the new SME 30/12 is better still. I found the SME's suspension was very easy to maintain.
I would definitely go with the SME 20/12 if you can swing it financially.

Anonymous (not verified) -- Wed, 02/18/2009 - 04:37

Having owned various high-end VPIs and also SME 30 turntables I would recommend SME for sheer durability and build quality....it is quite unmatched in this industry. I see lots of comments about small variations in sound quality but very few observations on the importance of owning beautifully made, durable equipment with world-class back-up. I don't regard my SME deck as the best sounding in the world (what would that actually mean?) but it outperforms all others in long term satisfaction and durability. The 20-12 is a lovely looking deck, and sounds rather lovely too, although I doubt that using a 12 inch arm is the main reason for that....the tiny improvements in tracking angle are maybe less vital than the changes in mass and rigidity of these long arms. The cartridge 'sees' something very different to a normal 9 inch arm. Could be better, could be worse.....The really key issue, to me, is long term servicability. SME is no longer primarily a high-fi manufacturer, and hasn't been for many years. About 90% of its product is in the fields of high-precision medical, military and industrial equipment. The factory runs  shifts round the clock just to keep up with demand for these products. This gives SME the financial stability to invest in the best engineering capacity...and this feeds through into the sheer engineering excellence of its arms and decks (which, incidentally,  seem to make less percentage profit than other SME products; to some extent SME's hifi production really is a 'labour of love'.......) one final point (sorry to drone on). ..the SME decks usually sound best when matched with an arm from other maufacturers..the combination of deck and series five is a little 'dry' to my ears. Use something like the lovely Phantom, or Wheaton, and you will hear the deck at its best....I'm told the Da Vinci 10inch arm sounds even better..and they offer an SME mount .

famny -- Sun, 04/05/2009 - 02:42

I am also considering going to the UK for a SME 20/12 or other model.  Given that most of the prices are quoted with VAT (which we save if shipping out of UK) and exchange rate of ~1.4, I calculate that a 20/12A (with 312S arm) is only $13,300 - or less than half of US list price of $28k.  I do understand that Sumiko is giving US dealers 20% off.  But $23K vs $13.3k is crazy different.  Getting V-12 arm is not much more.  Question - besides paying for shipping, any other issues with the product - 110 vs 230v, etc.  Also, what is customs rate?

Cemil Gandur -- Fri, 01/23/2009 - 10:50

Thanks Jim. I eventually tracked your review of the SME 20/12.
A couple more questions: Did you use the Ginko stand with the SME? The review had the 312S arm on it. The 12" version of the series V is out and, I believe, is offered as an option on the 20/12. Would you have any thoughts on that?

Jim Hannon -- Fri, 01/23/2009 - 19:23

Hi Zeb,
I did not use the Ginko stand with the SME. I do use it with the Aires, a mass loaded design which benefits from the air suspension. I have seen several installations of the SME 'tables with Vibraplane isolation stands.
The new SME V-12 arm is derived directly from the Series V tonearm (whereas the 312S is not). From information I got at CES, the V-12 has dynamic-tracking force, a non-detachable headshell, and the Series V's counterweight mechanism. Both arm tubes are made of incredibly strong, yet light-weight magnesium.  I don't know if their bearings differ, but I'll try to find out. That could be the key deciding point right there, but the 312S arm is excellent and could save you a lot.
You can purchase the V-12 separately for $7,000, but with the British pound taking a nose-dive, who knows if that US pricing will hold up. 

John (not verified) -- Sat, 01/24/2009 - 09:51

Hi Jim and Zeb, thanks for starting this thread.
I currenlty own a SME 20/2 with IV.Vi arm and Lyra Skala.  I to am considering the SME 20/12 and I'm hoping the exchange rate changes may help me out a little.
Jim, any comments between a 20/2 and 20/12?  I am hoping the 12" arm and heavier platter and suspension is a nice improvement.  I could also swing a 30/2 with SME V arm possibly.  The 30/12 is to much cash and to heavy for my Finite Elemente Rack.  So any comments beyond your 20/12 review on the differences between the 30/2 and 20/12 I'd appreciate also.
My dealer is bringing a Grand Prix Monaco and Triplanar arm by this weekend with the same Lyra installed.  So I'll be happy to post my experiences if your curious.

Cemil Gandur -- Sat, 01/24/2009 - 11:07

Thanks Jim - looking forward to your further comments.
Fyi, according to UK price lists, the price differential between a 20/12 with the 312S and the one with the V-12 is around 1500 Pounds, just over $2k at these days' rate.

Jim Hannon -- Mon, 01/26/2009 - 21:58

I did find out an answer to the bearing question. All the new SME arms use the same quality bearings. Therefore, the bearing should not factor into your decision between the 20/12 and the 20 w/V-12. Other features that the V-12 offers may be important to you:  dynamic-tracking force, non-detachable headshell (the V-12 tube does not have a "joint" between it and the headshell---it's a single piece.), and the Series V arm's counterweight mechanism.
John, you have a tough call. The 20/2 is an excellent 'table and some do prefer it with a Series V arm to the 20/12. I prefer the 20/12. The SME 30/2 is a better 'table than the 20/2 or the wide-body version, so that may be your biggest "performance boost" step. There is something magical (ease of presentation, lower distortion, etc.) about those larger SME 'tables with the 12" arms that really grabs me.
As for the Grand Prix Monoco and Triplanar combo, that's another great way to go. The speed stability of the GPM is as good as it gets, and I found it to be ultra-quiet, too, (Something you can't say about very many direct drive 'tables, and I lived with a tricked-out SP10MkII for years). I owned an earlier Triplanar and the degree of refinement between the new ones and the older series is pretty remarkable.
I hope this helps, and doesn't serve to confuse you more. You already have a great 'table.  

Cemil Gandur -- Tue, 01/27/2009 - 07:12

Thanks Jim - since I am not into swapping cartridges every few days, the detachable headshell would not bring anything positive to the table (excuse the pun). Looks like the SME V would be the preferred way to go.
Having said that, I think I'll have to wait before that UK pound drops a bit more before doing the upgrade. It's still pretty hefty these days, even with a part-exchange on my VPI.

Cemil Gandur -- Wed, 04/01/2009 - 09:01

A few weeks ago, my SME 20/12 with a V-12 arm arrived, replacing the VPI SSM reference. I moved the Dyna XV1S to the SME, the rest of the system being unchanged. Firstly, I was impressed with the setup kit that SME provides, as well as with the setup instructions. I found the setup procedure incredibly simple, specially when compared to something like the LP12 which I used to have. The SMEs seem to be built to last generations, and do not seem to need any fiddling, everything being rock solid, tight and precise to the extreme. Within an hour or so, everything was put together, cartridge installed, aligned and ready to go.
First off, was disappointment. Strong motor noise coming out. Suspicions of the unbalanced SME supplied vDH tonearm cable were confirmed by my phono stage manufacturer ASR, who helpfully supplied some surgery tips to get the cable to stop acting like a radio antenna. I fiddled around a bit, and go the noise to an acceptable level, in the meantime ordering a PAD Provectus cable with XLR plugs.
Even with the stock tonearm cable, the sound was leagues above the VPI. Sure, it is in another budget range, but Jim's comment about the VPI being excellent value for money, whereas the SME is a true reference is exactly to the point; the VPI sounded like, a budget component in comparison. The SME seems to reduce background noise, does not emphasize any frequency ranges but is totally coherent top to bottom. There is a sense of flow, of continuty in the presentation that make it a joy to listen to music; it is supremely musical. There is also a big increase in soundstage depth, width and height, which transport you to the musical venue. Each instrument is well located within its own space, with the 'air' around it, which makes extremely simple to listen to complex music. With the SME, it is easy to hear each background vocalist separately on a track and identify them, for example. Timbre is superbly reproduced, and I find myself - pardon the cliche - rediscovering my LP collection.
The PAD cable solved all noise issues and improved significantly on the stock cable in the bass, on dynamics and in resolution.
I'm still breaking it in, but I can very highly recommend this turntable system to anyone. It sounds fantastic, looks great, is built like a tank, is easy to setup and seems to be completely hassle free.

famny -- Sun, 04/05/2009 - 15:44

Did you purchase your 20/12 in UK and ship it to US?  Were there any issues with 110/220, etc?  The way I see it now, a 20/12 with V-12 arm should be around $16K at todays f/x rates assuming no VAT but excluding duty/shipping.  Definitely better than $28K for 20/12 with 312S tho it seems they are offering 20% discounts now in US)

famny -- Sun, 04/05/2009 - 15:49

Did you buy in UK and ship to US?  Seems like huge savings - 20/12 with V-12 is $16K plus shipping / duty vs $28K plus for 20/12 with 312S.  I hear 20% off now from US dealers - still way off.
If so, are there any issues with 110/220 conversion or other issues I should be aware of?
Thx and hope your new baby is singing by now!

Cemil Gandur -- Tue, 04/07/2009 - 04:38

I didn't. I am in Europe and part exchanged my VPI SSM at the SME / VPI dealer - one of the big advantages of going through a good dealer. I will check for you if the power supply has a 110-220 switch, but I don't seem to remember such a thing.
Fyi ,the 20/12 + V-12 arm is about 13k pound in the UK, approx $19500. You have to take off UK VAT, but add transport and US taxes. I am not sure how that works out, but it's worth going through a dealer for a little extra.
The table is absolutely singing. I have taken out the VPI 16.5 cleaner out of its box and have started washing my LPs in earnest. With about 3000 titles, it will take some time, but I am astonished at discovering all the treasures locked in the grooves on my old records. Records that I have bought used 35 years ago sound absolutely fabulous and I am re-enjoying music that I've not put on for a very very long time. You have to take this comment from the perspective of someone who has lived with a Linn LP12 since 1981, then a VPI SSM for the last two years, so a decent record player is not news to me. But the SME is really something else.
The only issue with the SME is its negative effect on my CD listening. I only put a CD now when I am doing house chores or in the car, which is not so good news as nearly all the new music that I have is on CD.

Cemil Gandur -- Fri, 04/10/2009 - 14:26

The power supply does not have a switch to change voltage.

Mauidj -- Wed, 06/15/2011 - 16:26

That's the exact set up I am about to spring for.
I was going to go with the PAD Venustas. Have you had any experience with this cable?

Jim Hannon -- Mon, 04/06/2009 - 11:05

Thanks for the update, Zeb. The sense of ease, and as you say, musical flow with the SME 20/12  is breathtaking. This natural flow lets one utterly "relax" and enjoy the performance. However, all the pace, rhythm, and timing is there as fine details are not obscured. I know you'll enjoy this 'table for years to come. It is VERY special.

Peter (not verified) -- Fri, 07/10/2009 - 00:07

I know a very well-informed author on the history of vintage hi fi, who just bought an SME 20 with the  matching five arm. He too is so entranced that he has virtually abandoned CDs.One small issue though, the production of the 20-12 has opened SME's eyes to various possibilities which could entail an upgrading of the '20' model.....I would not be astonished to see a new version  of the original '9 inch' version with the bigger platter etc.That would bring the '20' series neatly in line with the 30 series (where the same platter etc is already used on both 9inch and 12 inch decks. )  It could  be a sensible move to delay a purchase of a new 20-9 for a while (or get a good second-hand one and then trade-up if the revisions do occur. 
   One other point, I can see why the price discrepancy between US and UK  versions annoys, but I think the origin of this lies with the  rather 'strict' deal that SME gives to Sumiko...I think the margins for Sumiko are tighter than for most imports. And that is because the production costs of these decks is surprisingly high.SME don't give the generous 'export' prices that most manufacturers offer. That doesn't  make them bad buys,Sumiko has to fund the distribution and back-up. Who else provides the quality at a lower price?.

Cemil Gandur -- Fri, 07/10/2009 - 02:57

He too is so entranced that he has virtually abandoned CDs
A few months on, and I'm still on about 90% LP - 10% CD...

AG1 -- Thu, 08/13/2009 - 09:00

Hello Jim,
Did you have a chance to here any of the TW Acustic tables, and if yes, how do they compare to the SME 20/12? I am in the market to upgrade from my VPI SSM and my contenders (for price and practical reasons) are the SME20/12 and the TW Acustic Raven AC.
Any thoughts on the subject would be greatly appreciated.

majesticgiraffe -- Thu, 10/07/2010 - 02:19

sure would be nice to not have to deal with these spam postings

rossop -- Thu, 10/07/2010 - 02:32

I sent a note to Rob Grady technology [at] nextscreen [dot] com to see if anything can be done

paskinn -- Fri, 10/15/2010 - 04:27

    Here in the UK, SME prices are all rising at the beginning of January. For instance a Series Five standard arm goes up from about £2,200 to about £2,400. That includes an extra 2.5% of extra tax (governments!) but it is still likely to mean prices in the rest of the world rising. Just to make things worse for overseas buyers, the pound seems to be strengthening against currencies such as the dollar. So anyone who is thinking of buying might find it worthwile taking the plunge before Christmas.  For those overseas planning to buy from uk dealers I would recomment three dealers for SME stuff , Definitive Audio, in Nottingham, South Western Analogue in Cornwall and Unique Audio in North London.  All three are rather good and reliable dealers. My favourite is Unique Audio, who know SME like the back of their hands. You'l find details of all three on the net.  There are other dealers of course who may be excellent, but I don't know them so well.   .
     The new 'butch' SME20  is now at launch, about 15% more than the outgoing 20 model. That's all I know.

paskinn -- Tue, 11/09/2010 - 04:39

  Just an  update. The new SME 20 mark111 is now being produced and will appear in the price lists from January. It is indeed a shorter-chassis version of  the 20-12, so it is a lot more 'butch' than the older model 20, bigger platter, bearing, chassis etc. Might sound rather fine...but no upgrades for owners of the older 20s, which is a real shame. Still, a great deck stays a great deck whatever happens later!

highend@telkomsa.net -- Fri, 12/31/2010 - 16:01

 The new SME 20/3 has the thicker chassis and sub-chassis as well as heavier platter of the 20/12 as well as its greater number of rubber suspension rings.
 The damping material on the platters is now black instead of green/yellow....much better. SME say they do not plan a 30/3 but who knows. I have ordered a 20/3A for myself. It should be here end Jan or early Feb. I will use a Dynavector XV-1s or XV-1t with it.
SME turntables have been called dry but one must understand they are completely transparent reproduction devices and take no prisoners. The engineering is, very simply, unsurpassed. If your cartridge is dry then so will be your sound. Michael Fremer's advice to mate a musical cartridge, the Dynavector XV-1s being ideal, with a SME tt is spot on. One owner switched to the perspex La Luce turntable and pronounced it more musical. A dry, clinical or mechanical sounding cartridge may well sound more 'musical' in such a table but the compliances in a structure made of many pieces of perspex will be huge. 

Cemil Gandur -- Sat, 01/08/2011 - 14:49

 I am using an XV1-S in a V-12 on a 20/12. That works superbly - I am sure you will be very happy with your 20/3 - Dyna.
I've got a Coralstone Plat waiting  in its box still to be mounted. Laziness and satisfaction has so far postponed the cartridge change. Will eventually report when I do so.

paskinn -- Sat, 01/29/2011 - 15:38

  The new 20-3 is very nice; the first ones are just arriving. The black platter is because SME can't get the greeen finish any more! But no doubt some folklore will grow over this. There seem no plans for further upgrades at the moment, but I am beginning to hear hints that a new 'superdeck' is beginning to swim into the minds of the bosses at SME. It would be some years away, and the idea is for something about twice the cost of the 30-12. Far too rich for me!
    As for the SME 30 v La Luce, as with all things, it depends. I have used SME decks for 15 years, and now use the 30-12, but other decks have their own delights (and eccentricities).Nothing  is perfect..... One little point, the 12inch decks are noticably 'sweeter' than the 'drier' 9inch versions. This seems a product of both arm and deck. I still prefer the 20-12 over the standard 30-9, although this seems a minority view.

highend@telkomsa.net -- Fri, 03/18/2011 - 04:39

In the end it depends on opinion. What satisfies one will not do it for another. There is no such thing as the best in the World. When listening to a system the partnering equipment is also probably unfamiliar to us so how do we isolate the equipment we are trying audition? In addition, most of us tend to use our own system as a reference which is not valid. The differences between us make the World a more interesting place otherwise, at any price point, we would all buy the same hi-fi equipment, house, car, etc. However, the wise comment on reliability and durability by another member, above, is very valid. It does not only depend on sound, in which sme has ranked with the best in the World for nearly sixty years, but there are other factors like superb engineering and design, durability that should be considered. There is also value in resale. Then there is service. sme's service is superb. If you ask for the price of a screw by 3.00 pm. you will get it the same day, if after, early tomorrow morning. No, it is not too much trouble even though the item is worth very little. And they are such nice people to deal with. Makes a big difference.

Mauidj -- Tue, 05/24/2011 - 15:57

 I am just about to buy a new table. I have happily owned an original oracle Delphi for .....oh my....30 years.
But it recently died and it's time to move on. Choices are the new 20/3, Oracle Delphi VI or possibly a rebuilt Garrard 301. They all run about the same money ...the Garrard is cheaper but not by much after you figure in a plinth and PS. Although i've read great thing about the Ravens I am loath to deal with a one dealer network especially as i live on Maui and it costs me an arm and a leg getting my Krells serviced!
The reviews and comments out there lead me to believe I will be better off using a non SME arm on the 20/3...I will probably go with a Graham Phantom. (I like the removable arm tube concept too) For now I will use my SME IV until I can get the extra dollars.
I keep reading the SME detractors claim that the tables are lifeless. Not something you can accuse a Delphi of for sure. But are these real or are they sour grape comments? the HiFi News reviews of both tables are nothing short of glowing. As far as I can tell the Oracle is possibly more nimble and musical(?) while the SME goes deeper and is more "solid" sounding. Is one superior to the other or are they just different?
I personally like a wide open soundstage with air and a quick tempo rather than the need for that last bit of bass response.
I've had the most wonderful experience with the folk at Oracle. Talk about standing by your product and having time for your customers. Amazing! I've heard the same about SME.
So hifi nuts what's your opinion, sprung, high mass or idler?
Many thanks and Aloha!

AG1 -- Wed, 05/25/2011 - 06:43

Hi There!
About 15 months ago I was in a similar situation to you and wanted to upgrade my VPI SSM to something better. At the time under consideration was the SME 20/12 (the 20/3 was not yet released), and also the TW-Acustic Raven. I had heard the 20/12 quite extensively but not the Raven as there are no Raven dealers where I live. To cut a long story short, I ended up buying the Raven AC-1 after I did quite a lot of research on both tables. I also went with the Graham Phantom 2 arm. Bear in mind that I had never set up myself a TT or arm or cartridge before in my life. Actually the experience was excellent, and I was able to set the whole thing up myself without any issues. Through the process the instructions were very clear, but I had immediate phone access to the TW owner who answered my questions patiently and walked me through it when I got stuck. I have not looked back since!

Mauidj -- Wed, 05/25/2011 - 14:50

So what did you prefer about the Raven? Did you buy it without auditioning it first?
Thanks for your input. Aloha!

AG1 -- Sun, 05/29/2011 - 12:32

Hi there. First let me assure you that I never buy without hearing first. The only exception was the Raven, and it worked out well. After having spoken to people whose opinions I value, I was convinced to try out the Raven. The people at TW were good enough to give me a low risk proposition so that I could try out the TT in my own home. I decided to take the risk and I am very happy to have done this as I prefer it to the SME 20/12. Basically I felt the Raven (with Graham Phantom 2) was more alive (mind you this could have been the arm), tonal colors were more saturated, and as JV wrote in his review some time ago, the notes seem to hang in the air for a long time, like in live music. Some people might consider this process as a heresy, but since there is no dealer here, it was the best I could do. I was not prepared to go for the SME just because it was the only option available where I live.

Mauidj -- Sun, 05/29/2011 - 18:30

 Thanks AG1.
I was not being critical...I also cannot listen first and felt like a kindred spirit in this matter.
It's comforting to know someone else went down that path with great success
And yet another vote for the Raven AC! Either there is a very vocal minority out there or these tables have something to say.
It's interesting because on another forum someone told their story of getting a Raven. But he said that he ended up getting the black? and that it was jaw dropingly better than the AC-3 which in turn smoked his original single motor table Raven. To be honest this put me right off.
When someone says that a top of the line table smokes it's siblings I fear for the sound of those units....or for the veracity of the opinion.
The one thing you can say about SME is that their tables are extraordinarily close to each other in sound and build and that if you buy into a 20/3 you are not going to have your jaw drop when you hear a 30/2.
However I have now read enough comments to know that I need to investigate the Ravens further. Living on an island is the most wonderful thing until you want to upgrade your hifi ;-)

AG1 -- Mon, 05/30/2011 - 12:23

Hi there. I never heard the Raven Black Night, but I am sure it is something special. However, we are talking about an entirely different budget, so I never considered that table. What I did do is upgrade the AC 1 with the battery driven motor drive of the Black Night, and also the new 3-wheel motor unit used in the Black Night. This upgrade is superior to the AC3, and pretty much sets you up with a table for life. One last word: I really like the Graham Phantom 2. The fact that you can remove the arm wand to set up the cartridge and align it on a table or workbench was a great help for me since I had never installed a cartridge before. I hope all this helps. Happy hunting!

Mauidj -- Mon, 05/30/2011 - 12:46

I'm liking what I hear....pun intended!
I think I'm going to go with a TW. If it's the wrong choice it looks like I can sell it in a heart beat.
I've been reading too many great comments about this table and quite a few dubious ones about the SME. (uninvolving being the main criticism )
As you can tell from my comments of the Oracle. I like musicality and from what you and others have told me...the Raven has this in spades. I like the multi arm possibility and the ability to upgrade the motors etc.
Now if i could only find slightly used one. Please let me know if you ever see one...they are pretty rare I guess.
Yes..I absolutely agree about the Graham...it's definitely on my shopping list.
Thanks so much for you invaluable input.  Aloha!

f4444 -- Wed, 06/01/2011 - 14:29

I guess SME is better
usb flash drive

paskinn -- Tue, 06/14/2011 - 09:23

   SME 'uninvolving'. What exactly is that supposed to mean? I have used a variety of SME decks for fifteen years, alongside a range of decks from Oracle to Briefly) Rockport. What really strikes me is how little experience those who make such comments actually have of the decks they talk about. No deck is perfect, but in truth, the comparison of (say) and SME20-12 with a Raven is a bit like comparing a high-end Mercedes with a (nice) kit car. But, as always, we all get to choose!

Mauidj -- Tue, 06/14/2011 - 12:37

great analogy!
I'm actually building a repro 356 Speedster so it hit a chord ;-)
What is your take on the SME sound? I keep getting the "uninvolving" thing but I'm wondering if people are just hearing a table get out of the way and not add to the sound. From my years in HiFi as a salesman and marketing manager I am keenly aware of people's preferences for components that "sound" lively, musical (fill in the blank). Where in fact they are hearing exaggerations in certain areas of the sonic landscape.
The Oracle still intrigues me but I am put off by it's fiddly nature in setting up and it's lack of bottom end heft...both of which every review points to as it's shortcomings.
The 20/12 is looking better every day..........

highend@telkomsa.net -- Tue, 06/14/2011 - 13:17

SME decks are totally transparent with the possible exception of the output cable. The engineering is unmatched. SME decks will tell you exactly what your cartridge sounds like. If you use a dry and lifeless cartridge the deck will sound dry and lifeless. Therefore it is vital to choose a musical cartridge such as, for example, a Dynavector XV-1s. You may like the combination of another deck and cartridge but that may merely mean complimentary compliances.

Peter Ayer -- Wed, 06/15/2011 - 16:05

I'm using an Air Tight PC-1 cartridge and the Hovland MusicGroove 2 cable on my SME 10 and SME V arm. The sound is anything but dry and lifeless. I find it quite neutral and transparent.

Mauidj -- Wed, 06/15/2011 - 16:11

I'm thinking of trying the Purist Audio Venustas cable....heard good things about that too.

Mauidj -- Tue, 06/14/2011 - 14:47

 highend.....You read my mind.
The Dyna is number one on my list.
Always loved their cartridges and it seemed like the perfect match for the SME.
What would you suggest as a cable?

highend@telkomsa.net -- Tue, 06/14/2011 - 16:00

I have ordered the Graham IC70 for my forthcoming 20/3A. Bob Graham will supply with the plug orientated (it is adjustable) for an SME arm. The DV XV-1t would probably be even better with similar musicality but is more precise than the 's'.

Mauidj -- Tue, 06/14/2011 - 18:27

I'm sure it would but $10k for a needle is too rich for my blood!
I'm also toying with the idea of a new Lyra Kleos.
Bit warmer than the Dyna.
Still not decided on the cable for the SME. So you like the Graham eh.

Mauidj -- Wed, 06/15/2011 - 16:29

 Looks like the 20/12, V-12, XV-1s combo is rather popular around here.
This is what I'm probably about to buy.
Has anyone had any experience with the new Lyra Kleos in this set up?

paskinn -- Fri, 08/26/2011 - 03:20

      Another thought; you might find a Koetsu (probably the Urushi) a very sympathetic match. I have used both Benz LPS and a Urushi on an SME v12 and a 'standard' Series Five arm, and both sound lovely. But the Koetsu does have a bit more of everything..just sounds that little bit more dynamic and lifelike. I suspect the Dynavector will also sound very good, not least because the Dynavetcor and Koetsu are rumoured to both be manufactured by Dynavector (obviosuly to different specs).  As for output cable, whatever you like, I use Cardas Golden Cross which works nicely on my SME deck.
    In truth, at this level, personal preference becomes the deciding factor. There is no 'right' or 'wrong.'  Mind you, the quality of engineering and design on SME decks is a fact rather than an opinion. I have been using them for 14 years now, and never had one single issue.

Mauidj -- Fri, 08/26/2011 - 03:39

 paskinn: I've actually purchased a SoundSmith StrainGauge cartridge. I will be using PAD Venustas cables.
The table should be here in a week so I will report back when I've set it up and got a handle on the sound.
To say the least...I'm very excited!

paskinn -- Sun, 08/28/2011 - 04:11

  You are probably among the first to use a Strainguage on the SME arm. It should be interesting...do let us know how it all works out. By the way, note the remarks in the SME service manual about running in; they do 'ease' as they are used more and more. But then I suppose all decks do. It will sound good from the start, but then get steadily better. It is exciting..so exciting that I nearly dropped the platter when first assembling my deck. A deep breath (and cotten gloves) is a good start, then patience . You will find it very easy, but is is best done with much deliberation ..Still worth assembling the deck yourself because you get to know how it all goes together, and how simple the adjustments are . Good luck.

Peter Ayer -- Sun, 08/28/2011 - 10:55

Congratulations on your new front end.  I was about to suggest you consider the Air Tight PC -1 or Supreme on your SME V12 arm as Albert Porter uses the Supreme and SME312  and it is reportedly extremely good.  Then I read above that you have decided on the StrainGuage.  Please report back and let us know what you think.  I just added a Townshend Seismic Sink under my SME 10/SME V combo.   I find the added isolation helps a lot with focus and clarity.  Bass definition and weight have also improved.  I imagine this isolation is some of the advantage that the 20 and 30 have over the 10.  Enjoy your new toy.

Peter Ayer -- Wed, 02/15/2012 - 12:58

 Will TAS be reviewing the SME 30/12 and V-12 arm?  As RH wrote, it could be a contender.  I would like to see a comparison between the better belt-drive and direct-drive turntables.  And how the V-12 arm compares to other 12" arms.  

Palacefan -- Fri, 02/24/2012 - 15:57

My TT is an TW acustic Raven AC Which I have been using with  a SME V and Lyra Titan i I have recently changed the arm to TW 10.5 tonearm and the results with a wide range of music are remarkable.--I live in the UK and although the SME V is very good-- the TW is in a different league. Much more sparkle detailed information and sheer musicality.

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