DomT

To commit sacrilege or not with an SME t/t?

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Super Wammer

I am picking an SME model 10 tomorrow. It comes with an SME 309 arm (not the Model 10 version of 309). I have an Audio Note Arm 2/2.  The question is will the Audio Note work on the SME 10? Or is it best to stick with the 309?

Am asking because I will need to sell either arm quickly and sometimes you need time with an item to fully assess things. On a non-SME t/t there were plenty of people who sold SME Vs to buy the Audio Note arm but in this case it might not be such an easy decision.

The cartridge will be an Audio Note IO

Thanks

Dom

Edited by DomT
To add cartridge
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Super Wammer

Last year at Keggy Zim and his team were using an SME 20/2 with an OL Encounter 3C, as the SME owner reckoned it sounded better than a IV or V, (cart was a Sumiko Pearwood Celebration2), so I see no reason why your arm 2 shouldn't work well in your new deck. 

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Super Wammer

I would think that the arm and cartridge combination, is more important than the arm and deck combination. So as you have an Audio note arm and cartridge, I would go with that, or at least take the time to try it.

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Super Wammer

Personally I would stick with the SME arm and ditch the Audionote one.   

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IMHO sometimes it's not 'just' about  the sound - arm B might be better than arm A etc.  I have owned a SME IV since the late 80's. it has survived deck changes, cartridge changes, house moves etc and has worked flawlessly throughout.  After over 30 years of use I sent it back to SME for a service last year and it came back looking like a new arm.  That sort of longevity and service back up can be worth it's weight in gold. 

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Super Wammer
52 minutes ago, uzzy said:

Personally I would stick with the SME arm and ditch the Audionote one.   

Would be useful to hear your rationale. Thanks

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Super Wammer
3 minutes ago, DomT said:

Would be useful to hear your rationale. Thanks

The SME is far better engineered .. the availability of spares and repairs.   You just know that it will still be working as well in 50 years time.   

The Audio Note is based on the Rega RB250  ..   Whilst I have not used the Audio Note arm .. I have used all manner of Regas (and Michell techno arm) ..  I often wonder if a well sorted Rega RB250 with a more expensive cartridge, would equal or better the performance of a similar priced combo of Audio Note + cartridge (i.e. you would have to buy a cheaper cartridge to meet the same price point).  On measured tests it was noted in Hifi World by Noel Keywood that it did not measure up with the best being a little less quiet than the Rega except at high frequencies.   Now I know measurement is not everything but considering all aspects I would prefer the 309

This review summed it up for me https://hifipig.com/sme309-vs-michell-technoarm-a/ 

and when you look at the features of the SME below - (removable head shell for cartridge change/swap, easy height adjustment and set up etc etc)  - if I had one I would not part with it.

Unique pressure die-cast magnesium shell detachable and interchangeable without disturbing cartridge or wiring.

New design clamping arrangement ensures rigid junction with tone-arm. 

Internal constrained layer damps minute residual vibrations making tone-arm acoustically inert.

Stainless steel cross shaft, ground and thread ground. Carried in massive yoke on 10mm precision ball races. Axis at record mean level to minimise warp-wow.

Unique assembly gives high rigidity and allows bearings to be critically adjusted before tone-arm is fitted.

Stainless steel vertical shaft, ground and thread ground, with integral 16mm diameter flange to couple shaft and yoke.

23mm diameter steel pillar, heat treated, ground and honed, carries two 17mm precision ball races, widely spaced to resist tilt.

Anti-skate control operates through tension spring and filament. Dial corresponds with VTF and has positive OFF position.

Lowering/raising control gives smooth positive action. Height of lift can be adjusted.

Dual-lock base provides movement control with high rigidity.

Tungsten-alloy balance weight carried on damped two-point suspension. Extra-low inertia design assists warp riding.

Underslung weight housing corrects centre of gravity and provides non reflective tone-arm termination.

Swivelling, damped output socket minimises vibration transmission in sub-chassis use.

Reference lines on tone-arm facilitate VTA setting.

Fine adjustment of horizontal tracking angle (HTA).

New design alignment protractor sets HTA with great accuracy.

Cartridge leads and internal wiring LCOFC litz.

Balanced LCOFC audio lead with gold plated phono plugs.

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Ahem,  new Audionote arm based on Helius Scorpio.

25019418949_e45ea88e3b_o.jpgIMG_2459 by mark leatherland, on Flickr

My thoughts on the AN are well known,  I'd keep the SME.

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Super Wammer
1 hour ago, uzzy said:

The SME is far better engineered .. the availability of spares and repairs.   You just know that it will still be working as well in 50 years time.   

The Audio Note is based on the Rega RB250  ..   Whilst I have not used the Audio Note arm .. I have used all manner of Regas (and Michell techno arm) ..  I often wonder if a well sorted Rega RB250 with a more expensive cartridge, would equal or better the performance of a similar priced combo of Audio Note + cartridge (i.e. you would have to buy a cheaper cartridge to meet the same price point).  On measured tests it was noted in Hifi World by Noel Keywood that it did not measure up with the best being a little less quiet than the Rega except at high frequencies.   Now I know measurement is not everything but considering all aspects I would prefer the 309

This review summed it up for me https://hifipig.com/sme309-vs-michell-technoarm-a/ 

and when you look at the features of the SME below - (removable head shell for cartridge change/swap, easy height adjustment and set up etc etc)  - if I had one I would not part with it.

Unique pressure die-cast magnesium shell detachable and interchangeable without disturbing cartridge or wiring.

New design clamping arrangement ensures rigid junction with tone-arm. 

Internal constrained layer damps minute residual vibrations making tone-arm acoustically inert.

Stainless steel cross shaft, ground and thread ground. Carried in massive yoke on 10mm precision ball races. Axis at record mean level to minimise warp-wow.

Unique assembly gives high rigidity and allows bearings to be critically adjusted before tone-arm is fitted.

Stainless steel vertical shaft, ground and thread ground, with integral 16mm diameter flange to couple shaft and yoke.

23mm diameter steel pillar, heat treated, ground and honed, carries two 17mm precision ball races, widely spaced to resist tilt.

Anti-skate control operates through tension spring and filament. Dial corresponds with VTF and has positive OFF position.

Lowering/raising control gives smooth positive action. Height of lift can be adjusted.

Dual-lock base provides movement control with high rigidity.

Tungsten-alloy balance weight carried on damped two-point suspension. Extra-low inertia design assists warp riding.

Underslung weight housing corrects centre of gravity and provides non reflective tone-arm termination.

Swivelling, damped output socket minimises vibration transmission in sub-chassis use.

Reference lines on tone-arm facilitate VTA setting.

Fine adjustment of horizontal tracking angle (HTA).

New design alignment protractor sets HTA with great accuracy.

Cartridge leads and internal wiring LCOFC litz.

Balanced LCOFC audio lead with gold plated phono plugs.

Hi Uzzy you are thinking about another Audio Note arm altogether (an old discontinued one).  The only 'bit of Rega' in the Arm 2/2 is that it has Rega geometry.  

The finish on the Audio Note 2/2 is exemplary.  Regarding parts (it just has the counterweight and bias weight on a string) so you could see that as a bonus.   I don't think that Audio Note is going to go bust any time soon and Audio Note UK have just a good reputation about keeping parts etc; have you seen how long their catalogue is?  But I take the point that you make but do not see it as a clear win for SME but it would have been if we were talking about a boutique player..

I was sort of hoping that some people might say that the sonic prowess of the 309 will be better than the Audio Note but that hasn't happened;  maybe it doesn't win on the sonic front? Clearly this is a subjective thing and I have read a review on this site saying that the Audio Note was better than the SME V and about others selling their SMEs after buying the Audio Note.  Equally there have been strong SME defenders!!  But I do not recall ever reading about my situation (apart from Lurch today - thanks Lurch!) which is why I am keen to hear opinion. 

D

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Super Wammer
1 hour ago, divedeepdog said:

Ahem,  new Audionote arm based on Helius Scorpio.

25019418949_e45ea88e3b_o.jpgIMG_2459 by mark leatherland, on Flickr

My thoughts on the AN are well known,  I'd keep the SME.

Not known to me though.  What do you prefer sonically about the SME? 

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Think I quoted 'zingy' at the time.  It did something I wasn't used to/didn't like  with cymbals so it had to go.  I've got SME4 which I'd describe as lean side of neutral.  Very good across the range and lets the cart do its thing.

I've not tried my IO on SME,  but use heavy brass nuts with Koetsu.  Whichever arm you keep I think IO appreciates a bit of extra mass.

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Super Wammer
1 hour ago, divedeepdog said:

Think I quoted 'zingy' at the time.  It did something I wasn't used to/didn't like  with cymbals so it had to go.  I've got SME4 which I'd describe as lean side of neutral.  Very good across the range and lets the cart do its thing.

I've not tried my IO on SME,  but use heavy brass nuts with Koetsu.  Whichever arm you keep I think IO appreciates a bit of extra mass.

I have my Audio Note arm on a Lenco directly onto the ply plinth so I have no zing (trying to imagine what this might be).

Am new to the IO so interesting to hear more about your comment about mass. Does the SME have more mass and therefore a better fit? (I am not assuming that my Audio Note is the better fit and trying to keep an open mind)

thanks

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I guess the zing was compared to other arms I had at the time.  Once heard and noted its difficult to forget and move on from,   I do seem to be collecting arms (11 at last count) so anything thats not 'right' gets moved on quickly.

I started using extra weight with Audiomods* (they come with shims) and I've now got a couple of arms that are classed as medium/heavy which I think work well with low compliance MC's.  Never heard Denon 103 sound so good as on Fidelity Research FR64 fx (20g)  I've got the IO on that now, and its great match.

The SME and AN have got similar effective mass,  10-11g so adding weight applies to both. I've found the brass nuts convenient way of doing it.

If your happy swapping arms,  the AN will fit the SME slide,  not ideal in a slot,  but good enough for quick comparison.  I'd use compliant washer as metal to metal is difficult to tighten.

*Audiomods V lasted a long time,  but despite internet chatter its no match for SME4, IMO :D

Edited by divedeepdog

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 I own an IO1  which I use with an SME V on an Oracle Delphi and having owned a  couple of 309s a IV and an AN1 I would say ideally you should take the time to compare both arms  but if you don't have that time I would recommend you stick with the 309 and move to a IV or V when funds allow and may pick up an AN along the way and decide on your preference. If you buy used your money should be safe in any of the SME or AN arms. I like the Audio Note (which I used on a Gyro) and I am aware that a number of people prefer it to the V but personally I think the V and the IO work extremely well together.  Much as I enjoyed the 309s I have owned I think the IO deserves a IV at least.

Edited by myrman
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Super Wammer

Thanks for the comments everyone. It is clear that it is a subjective topic. 

On the subject of an SME/Rega adaptor I have noticed that there is an Origin Live one with small ‘feet’ and a totally flat one by someone else. Can’t think why I would need one with feet. Any thoughts please as keen to purchase ASAP. 

Thanks

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