Jump to content

Sign in to follow this  
Tobes

Opinions on SME 15 turntable

Recommended Posts

I'm thinking of replacing my VPI TNT with a final turntable to see me into the foreseeable future.

The TNT (upgraded series one with integrated motor/flywheel, ball suspension pods and series 5 bearing) has a Graham Phantom II with a SME base and my new table would be something to exploit that tonearm.

I've decided to limit my spending to ~$10K, which will hopefully ensure a reasonable upgrade over the TNT.

 

Anyway, the SME15 appeals to me from practicality and build quality standpoints. The reviews seem very positive about SQ too.

Many SME owners seem to love their tables, but there is a portion of vinyl enthusiasts who describe SME as detached and un-emotional - CD like, perhaps. 

I am seeking a neutral platform to hear what's on my records, not a stylised sound - but of course I want it to be enjoyable.

 

Apparently there are a few SME 15's in the wild and I was hoping owners would  chip in with their longer term impressions. Still loving it?

Actually any SME impressions would be useful - or if you switched from SME and why.

 

Edited by Tobes

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I’ve had a SME10 for a few years now. I’ve never found it sterile.. I actually think it’s rather neutral. Goes well with my Harbeth speakers. It’ll see me out. Once its setup, it’s setup. SME as a company are great to deal with any issues and all being well will be around for years.

Using a SME IV arm Lyra Kleos using Duc’s MM phono stage and SUT and Luxman 507u amp.

I find that there are more sonic variations with the vinyl that I have in all sorts of ways too many to describe here. So I find no need to change what I have to play them on...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the input.

Interestingly I checked out an old 1990 SME30 review by Ken Kessler - https://www.kenkessler.com/hi-fi/hi-fi-news-november-1990-sme-30-turntable-review/ - which alludes to some of the negatives people report with SME.

This review was, I believe, a followup of Martin Colloms' review which was much less complimentary (Colloms is a Linnie).

Colloms later described the SME30 :

 "while the performance is crisp and comparatively neutral, for my taste it lacks emotion and does not sound as rhythmic, dynamic, and involving as I would like. Superbly finished, this engineer's approach to turntable design is likely to sell well across the Pacific."

 

Similar thoughts about the other SME tables are peppered around the web - though the majority opinion definitely seems more weighted to the positive.

 

The interesting thing is that while Kessler said he could 'respect' but not 'love' the SME30 he subsequently adopted it as his reference and I believe has used it for decades.

An acquired taste perhaps, or maybe it takes time to wean off the colourations of other tables(?).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Professional reviews of the model 15 seem very positive (both with SME309 arm):

 

Michael Fremer (Stereophile): "Considering its space-saving design, good looks, impeccable build quality, and nimble sound—including rhythm’n’pace abilities that, in my opinion, put it at the head of the SME pack—I rate this combo a complete success"

 

Wojciech Pacula (High Fidelity): "This turntable is both – precise and full of passion. It has its limitations but it manages to overcome them so that they don't spoil the pleasure of listening to the music. It offers a well differentiated, colorful, dynamic, particularly vivid sound........A perfectly executed design." 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


Thanks for the input.

Interestingly I checked out an old 1990 SME30 review by Ken Kessler - https://www.kenkessler.com/hi-fi/hi-fi-news-november-1990-sme-30-turntable-review/ - which alludes to some of the negatives people report with SME.

This review was, I believe, a followup of Martin Colloms' review which was much less complimentary (Colloms is a Linnie).

Colloms later described the SME30 :

 "while the performance is crisp and comparatively neutral, for my taste it lacks emotion and does not sound as rhythmic, dynamic, and involving as I would like. Superbly finished, this engineer's approach to turntable design is likely to sell well across the Pacific."

 

Similar thoughts about the other SME tables are peppered around the web - though the majority opinion definitely seems more weighted to the positive.

 

The interesting thing is that while Kessler said he could 'respect' but not 'love' the SME30 he subsequently adopted it as his reference and I believe has used it for decades.

An acquired taste perhaps, or maybe it takes time to wean off the colourations of other tables(?).

Your last sentence sums SME TTs to a tee...

 

Here’s Fremer’s review of the a 30.2 from 2003. Make of it as you will.

 

https://www.stereophile.com/turntables/796/index.html

 

Note he says. The SME 30/2 is perhaps the most tonally neutral turntable I've ever heard.

 

I guess it’s their “signature”? Some will call it sterile, others like myself will say neutral.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was a bit reluctant to post here at first as I don't have any experience of the Model 15 but as you asked for general SME opinion I'll chime in. I own a Model 10 that i bought new in 2002 and a Model 20/2 that I bought around 6 years ago (if memory serves). Both get used heavily daily, the 20 in the lounge and the 10 in the study. I've never found any fault with either. Neutral but definitely not sterile. If it sounds sterile then the recording is sterile. Superb build quality, apart from an annual drop of oil in the motor and (in the 10) in the bearing, a change of belt every two years and that's it. The 17 year old Model 10 fires up like lightning and has never put a foot wrong.

 

One thing in particular I love about SME is when you buy one of their turntables that's it. There are no 'upgrades'. No change of belt material, no swapping in another flywheel, no third party suspension manufacturers, no motor controller 'improvements' to be had. Sure, you might find some goose on the 'net who reckons you should swap the feet out for something else but some folks just can't help themselves. If you want another level of performance you save another 5 figure sum and buy the next model up. They sit there on the rack and play music day in day out. I wouldn't change either of mine unless I found $30,000 in which case i wouldn't say no to having a Model 30 in the set up.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for your comments @Hergest those are certainly things I'm looking for in a new turntable. A thoroughly thought out, completed, design is what I'm after.

There are other companies, like Kuzma, who have had models on the market for well over a decade. The longevity of the designs does give the buyer confidence that the maker has got  a lot of things right.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

  • Classifieds Statistics


    Currently Active Ads

    Total Sales (Since 2018)

    Total Sales Value (Last 14 Days)

    Total Ads Value (Since March 2020)
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • Similar Content

    • By Honreekea
      Brains trust:
       
      Looking for a suitable RCA cables for my suspended Thorens TD160 Super and SME 3009 series III arm, where the interconnect won't't interfere with the "bounce" of the table. 
       
      Budget:  Can't pay stupid prices. (Would love 2nd hand)
       
      thanks
    • By oztayls
      Item: Linn Sondek LP12 / Valhalla / SME 3009 S2 Improved / Shure V15 Type III with original Shure stylus
      Location: Chisholm NSW 2322
      Price: $2500
      Item Condition: Excellent
      Reason for selling: Not getting much use as I have other turntables
      Payment Method: Pickup - Cash, Paypal, Bank deposit
      Extra Info: Time to move this beauty on as it's not getting much use, but I have this niggly feeling I will regret selling this! Lovely condition, recently serviced. Has a new damped base but will supply the original one as well if wanted. From memory, the stylus is an original from Shure and I still have the box it came in. The SME arm is in perfect condition and comes with the original box also. Lid is shiny, has no cracks or scratches and the hinges are perfect. 
       
      The platter bearing is perfect and there is no platter wobble. You won't find a better one in this model.
       
      The Valhalla power supply is in as-new condition, working perfectly with no signs of overheating that your normally see with these boards.
       
       
       
      I would prefer pick up, but can ship it competently for the cost of shipping and materials. (Approx $50)
       
      Photos: Advertisements without photos of the actual item will not be approved.














    • By mlinvpp
      Item: SME Tonearm Stainless Steel Armboard for Technics SL 1200 MK2 G 1210 1200G 1200GAE
      Location: SYDNEY West 2190
      Price: $75
      Item Condition: As new
      Reason for selling: NLR
      Payment Method: Pickup - Cash, Paypal, COD Only
      Extra Info: I have a SME Tonearm Stainless Steel Armboard for Technics SL 1200 MK2 G 1210 1200G 1200GAE for sale,  it works well and very easy to install. I bought it from eBay, shipped from Greece, made to very high quality.
       
      https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/SME-Tonearm-Stainless-Steel-Armboard-Technics-SL-1200-MK2-G-1210-1200G-1200GAE/162756678070?hash=item25e50dd1b6:g:Ut4AAOSwpDdU4MrB
       
      Local pick up welcome.
      Please send PM if you have any question, happy to answer what I know.
       

       
      Pictures:

    • By The Fresh Prince
      Item: SME 20/12 turntable with SME V12 arm
      Location: Adelaide
      Price: $19990 (maybe a little negotiable depending on location of buyer, postage cost etc- I am happy to discuss)
      Item Condition: perfect
      Reason for selling: not required
      Payment Method: Pickup - Cash, transfer. Postage subject to negotiation- it's a heavy beast!
      Extra Info: Purchased brand new, by me from Australian retailer. Complete with all original packaging and accessories. Please note that this comes with the flagship V12 arm and MCS150 cabling. The whole package is Mint. I would very much prefer the buyer to inspect, and pick up, in person- although I appreciate this may be unrealistic.
       
       
      Pictures:
       
       



    • By jazzyjoepass
      Item: Technics SL-120 turntable / SME3009 Improved II tonearm / Shure V15 Type III stylus
      Location: Perth
      Price: $1400
      Item Condition: Very good
      Reason for selling: Prefer the ease of CDs / Can't seem to find new pressings of favourite vinyls to build up a library. 
      Payment Method: Pickup - Cash, Paypal, COD Only
      Extra Info:
       
      Fantastic Technics SL120 with an SME 3009 Improved II tonearm and a Shure V15 Type III cartridge/stylus - see pictures.
      Turntable runs smooth and tonearm has been calibrated. Both speeds 33-1/3 and 45rpm speeds tested.
      Also included is a platter puck, anti-static brush and calibration protractor.
      The turntable comes with two mats - a newly purchased thick Technics rubber mat and a felt mat.
      The turntable was setup with the well known "Hi-Fi News Test Record". See https://www.vinylengine.com/hfn-002-test-lp.shtml
      I will include the test record as part of the purchase so that you can do the calibration/setup if you want to.
       
      Call 0404797312. 
       
      Pictures:
       
       



×
×
  • Create New...