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SME 3009 Reviews

displaying reviews 1 to 19 of 19

SME 3009

SME 3009

10/10 by BirdsOf-Fire

The SME Type II Improved with fixed head shell is my all-time favorite tonearm. Bought my first in 1976 in Japan for $100. Mounted it to a Denon DP-3000 with the factory plinth. Yes, the table and plinth transmitted floor noise. That wasn't the SME tonearm's fault. With the DENON DL-103 cartridge, I never saw my woofers breathe while going over a warp in the vinyl. Couldn't say that about my other turntable. It was an early 70s German table with a Shure V15. Between the rumble, puck noise, wow and flutter, I felt the German table was money I spent poorly. As soon as I experienced the quiet, smooth presentation of the DP-3000 with the SME and DL-103, I was stunned. The SME tracked everything I had. Off center? No problem. Warped? No problem. All 200 plus albums played beautifully. Maybe the difference was the setup. I used a Dennisen Soundtracktor to establish the mounting, overhang and cartridge angle. They say the Soundtracktor uses a different geometry that reduces distortion at the end of the record. I forget what they call it. Anyway, the entire setup became my favorite; has been for 40 years. And the centerpiece of the table is the SME Type II Improved tonearm. Recently bought a SOTA Sapphire series I with a Grace tonearm and Benz Micro Silver cartridge. It's nice. It is ghostly silent. But it just can't make music like my ancient DL-103, SME 3009, DP-3000.

8/10 by bartovsky

I have the SME 3009 S2 unimproved on a Thorens TD-125 MkI. Changing the carts once in a while. The SME is not the easiest to set-up and I had to get used to the (light, bit fuzzy) way it handles (different than most, clearly lay-out Japanse arms or sturdy Linn Ittok/Ekos arms I was used to). Very important is a faultless condition ( operation) of the arm and parts. Yes, it is not a secret or a big suprise, but this SME is a classic, high performance tonearm! Love it now. Great combo with the Thorens and other vintage spinners. A bit like the Porsche 911 of the tone arms :-)

10/10 by jbp

SME 3009 II (unimproved) - a perfect fit for a Thorens TD124 Mk II!

9/10 by maz1957

Can not understand the previous review so simple to set up and align sounds great with high compliance cartridges and beautiful build quality with mm cartridges what more could you want, I suppose beauty is in the eyes of the beholder as they say.

3/10 by Peter4103

Have an SME 3009 series 2 improved with cardas wiring. I am not a fan at all and do not understand what all the fuzz is about. Very light, fragile tonearm. Nightmare to set up properly and very picky with Carts. Granted, once set up well and with the right cart, the sound is quite well, but there are much better performing and easier arms out there, like the Technics EPA models. I will part with mine and never buy one back.

9/10 by Naggy

I have just (26th Oct 2017) acquired a SME3009S2 Improved mounted on a Technics SL150. It came with the original SME booklet and SME brochure including the SME printed 1975 UK Price List. The SME3009S2 price was £50.22,and was more expensive than the 3009II Improved at £45.81.The brochure proudly states 'The best pick up arm in the world'. !! I can't argue but it's 42 years later now and that may not be true anymore ;)
The SL150 has rumble at -70 amd wow/flutter at 0.03. The RCA plugs from SL150 to phono stage are also SME, and the armplate is factory machined aluminium - SME/Technics sl150 purpose made. So I get the feeling the Technics/SME arm was a 'package' in the UK back in 1975. Fitted is a Shure M95ED cartridge. So here is an audiophile time warp. The SL150 also came with the 1976 Shure brochure and price list, The brochure says that the M95ED (price £29.36)is second only to the V15III(brochure price £60.41). Tracking 0.75 to 1.5 g, a nude mounted bi radial elliptical diamond stylus. Ok just some context there.

On my new Clapton Unplugged 180 g I get breathtaking clarity, superb realism, fabulous transparancy, propulsive rythm. The SME was simple to set up. take the little weights to zero and let the arm balance horizontally, by adjusting the main arm weight, then dial in the cartridge tracking settings on the little side arm and the wire pendulumn thingy. All very medieval, or should I say nicely analogue. The nagaoka is very good in the sld303 with S shaped Technics standard arm on Clapton, but here is the thing with the sl150/sme/shure, I can't say if it is the arm, cartridge or deck, but what my ears tell me is that this is the first time I feel that I have reached a level of audiophile replay that will be hard and expensive to beat. I listened to records one after the other for 6 hours today and feel like I want to listen to more. My amps are DPA's pre power 65w into 8ohms, speakers Callas II Golds, (both from 1996), and a recent acquisition a schitt mani phono stage. It's a superb combo. My hunch is that the SL150 and SME 3009 were very well partnered. So I can only assume the SME is playing a realy good part in the front end of the system. I am very happy with it - highly musical and highly recommended, I feel that I have joined an exclusive group owning an SME. I like looking at it too (is there a trebuchet in there somewhere?)

9/10 by tlscapital

Got my first vintage turntable Thorens supposedly TD160 'Super' fitted with a 3009 'Improved' with fixed headshell on a budget. Coulnd't afford the older gen of SME. Even though it looked great, my cartridge was medium to low compliant !

After few years of running this combo as is, I decided to take the big leap and venture in to the beast's belly and began a long and slow journey into convertions, upgradings and improvements of the whole thing to meet my cart requirements better.

Both the Thorens and the SME's SII & 2 have that evolutive capacity. As an absolute beginner here, prior to that I had to read a lot to understand and dip in the DIY tweaks. All along that process it amazed me how fantastic my sound gradually improved.

Now my SME 'Improved' is a totally 'Converted' one with detachable headshell into a very heavy mass tonearm that looks the kill and makes my Denon DL-102 cartridge sing to the angels. It's not orthodoxy work but now I am proud of it. 9 out of 10 is my pol since things can always be better off course...

9/10 by Spinning Top

I have owned my 3009/2 Improved with detachable headshell since new and it has sat on a Thorens TD150, TD160, Garrard 401, Linn LP12, Gyrodec and TD160S. It has held a range of cartridges including the Shure V15, Ortofon VMS20E, AT30E, Ortofon MC Super and Ortofon Quattro the last three fitted with the FD200 fluid damper.

Contrary to some opinions, I think the 3009 is quite capable of getting the best out of low compliance cartridges and I enjoyed it for many years with Ortofon MC cartridges. Initially, the FD200 helped stabilise things and firm up the sound but after some experimentation, I found that it sounded best by using a heavier stiffer headship with a heavier counter-weight. This, I think, has the effect of loading the knife edge bearings and damping the micro-vibrations which are transmitted there by the cartridge.

I have recently replaced the 3009 with the SME M2-9R, which looks similar and does sound better - but not by the margin you might expect. The 3009 is capable of excellent solid deep bass with very clear uncoloured mid-range. The HF is also very smooth although a little sibilance comes through on female vocals. The sound stage can also be a little constricted with less depth and width than the M2-9R.

Of course, the 3009 just looks fabulous and is a delight to use - that, for many is enough.

10/10 by logos47

I have the SME 3009 S2 (unimproved) on a Thorens TD124 MKII. My cartridges are AT150MLX and AT440MLa and an all analog tubed signal path follows into very efficient speakers. The sound is very well balanced top to bottom and the mids have a gloriously lush and living presence. (Try Mancini's RCA masterpiece of a recording, The Pink Panther.) Bass is firm and clear, but not overstated--the mass of this original 3009(unimproved) arm is a good match for this moderately high compliance cartridge that substantially helps the low frequency. The hf extension is very good and the soundstage is very wide and deep. These AT cartridges are so revealing that good vinyl pressings are essential--one wants music, not the presentation of a sonic electron microscope!

10/10 by lambustan

I use my SME 3009 SII Improved (with removeable headshell) on my Michel's Transcriptor Hydraulic Reference (built in the 80's). Fitted with the Shure M97xE, it sounds terrific. When all's said and done, the real judge of the sounds produced are your own personal ears, and not what all those reviews say good or bad things about a system or a combination of equipment. Let your own ears in your own surroundings be the deciding factor. And happy listening.

9/10 by jusbe

Good choice for use with vintage MMs or MCs. In a sympathetic system, it will play to the strengths of 60s and 70s cartridges. Also possible (with the correct weights) to use with heavier cartridges like a 103 or even an SPU. Often seen with a Shure V15iii or a Pickering MI unit like the XV-15, producing beautiful analogue sound with either.

8/10 by dominiquemichel

With my TD124 and a Stanton 980LZS, this is the perfect combination.

OK, it will be better with a 3012, but I get a very good price on this one. I try an SME 4 on the thorens, but the 3 is performing better on it.

One default, when I try to listen to Tchaikowsky 1812, it is too light and tales off like a jet fighter at the second cannon shot.
It is why I have another headset, a heavier one. The cartridge on it is not as good than the Stanton, but as we note here the 3009, I give it 8 on 10. -1 because the 3012 on the TD124 will perform better, and -1 because it is too light, which is not always an advantage. Otherwise, it is an outstanding arm.

5/10 by CreSon

Har provat många tonarmar men - man återgår oftast till sina gamla SME-armar. Har just nu två SME-3009 en MkIII och en MkII. Jag ångrar bittert idag att jag lät mig övertalas att sälja min SME-12! Är det ngn som har en på lager?

9/10 by Alexis69

Wonderful tonearm, one of the best still available.

5/10 by enzedone

I have one of these arms Series II improved. From what I've read the headshell is actually moveable? Can be twisted to the correct horizontal position? My one will never stay in the correct horizontal position as it seems to have a lot of play right at that point. I don't want to try a glue it as I'm not sure that it will be correctly lined up. Could I simply look for another new wand assembly that will take the removeable headshell? Want to get this sorted before rewiring the arm.................Thanks

8/10 by bixlives!

The SME 3009 and 3012, is the most versatile mastering arm I have used, and I have used a lot. Sure, I listen to records casually, but mostly I use it to do critical transfers of rare parts -standard groove mostly, not microgroove. Before people pass up these famtastic arms, they should learn some basic newtonian physics and resonance theory. The main problem with the SME is that it does not have ENOUGH mass! Zero mass arms like the old Grace, also have super high resonance. In the end they look groovy, will impress all your friends, get you laid, make you high...but they sound like the old Fischer-Price Close-And-Play.

I have modified my SME with an extra counter weight and heavier, more ridged headshells. The results are excellent. The easiest place to lower resonance on an arm is at the head shell and the counter weights. The SME has a particularly well weighted arm tube. Not too light, not too heavy. The 3009 could use a bit more mass in the arm tube, but the 3012 is PERFECT. Obviously, production and profits came first with SME. People do not hear slight tracking error differences. This is NOT why the 3012 sounds so much better. It sounds better, because it has HIGHER MASS. Simple, Newtonian baby physics. So if you own a 3009 or even 3012 do NOT use the later SME headshells -they are far too light, and thin. They have poor rigidity. People pay lots for these because they look cool & they are original, but they are rubbish. I have always wondered how SME could make such a fabulous tone arm AND headshell, only to redesign the headshell so idiotically. This is also why Ortofon cartridges with their great ONE PIECE cast headshells sound so wonderful. I collect old Ortofon headshells and retro fit GE VR IIs to them and the results are masterful for standard groove records. For you vinyl folk, save some bob, buy a basic Technics headshell, add some lead weight to the underside, -about 4-5 grammes around the inner rim, and enjoy the difference.

The SME dampening gadget is great for people with bouncy floors and toddlers. But it will NOT make your record sound better -just make it PLAY better. People who do critical transfers do not use dampeners. Dampeners add friction to 3-d movement of the arm. That does not work out to well for making a modern vinyl record sound better. If you have the dampener AND a record clamp you are really missing the point.

Go to a serious FM radio station or the BBC. Walk into their production studio. Your amop and speakers are as good as theirs, perhaps, but playing a record sounds so much better -why? Look at the turntable. What ever it is it's HEAVY and well mounted in stone. E.g., a Technics SL10 w/ a 50lbs flywheel or perhaps an EMT or even old massive RCA 77 (mild rumble is not the worst thing that a table can do!).

My TD124 is mounted on cement to a 200 lb frame. It does not bounce. My over-all resonant frequency is low, but that's not the main advantage to being mounted on concrete. What's really happening with heaver bases and steadier mounting is the reduction of resonance LEVEL. Once it's at a non audible point with bi-amped subs and bearly shows up on a spectrum analyser, you'll hear the difference. You will be in heaven.

Remember the first time you played a record on a turntable of physical substance? I.e. a HEAVY flywheel, frame, plinth, etc? I was about 14 and it was like night and day as I recall. My family had a nice McIntosh system but some sleazy salesman sold the old fellow the super light Weathers turntable. Weathers tried to conquer all by making a 2 ounce flywheel and using a fly-speck motor with so little torque that it took 20 turns to come to speed. It was a great table for the cheap price and the Shure M3, but NOT for a serious system. AR used some of their thoeries about 12 years later and made one of the all time great cheap tables ever made, but it had a HEAVY flywheel (the key). The old AR sold for about 50-75 Quid? —and could best a Garrad 301, —even with it's funky tone arm!

But I digress. The SME is darn safe choice. It will play almost ANY cartridge and ANY record. I remaster 78RPMs, mostly with my SME. But I also slip on a Shure V15xVMR (yes, the last one), and transfer pristine vinyl. The SME is one of about 4 arms that can do this. From a GE VR II or RPX at 10 grammes to a V15xVMR at 1.25 grammes -That's one heck of a range. If I had my choice I'd take an Ortofon 16 over the 3012, but not by much. Paix.

8/10 by Dr Pan K

well executed arm, 9.5 gr effective weight so will match most MM and some medium-high compliance MCs. Adjustable VTA, sme headshell for fast changes- comparisons of carts.

3/10 by jecman

Seems to need a light tracking, light weight, high compliance cart in order to shine.

5/10 by desertdog

good arm if used with damping system, well worth getting. very good if you use a selection of different cartridges easy to swop headshells and setup. i have had good results with all the high output moving coils i have tried.


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