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SME M2 Reviews

displaying reviews 1 to 4 of 4

SME M2

SME M2

9/10 by Spinning Top

I've recently replaced an SME 3009 S2 Imp detachable, which I have had since the 1980's, on my Thorens TD160S, with an M2-9R. This looks very similar to the 3009 and my family didn't notice the swap at all!

First impressions on unpacking was that in some areas it wasn't as 'pretty' as the original. In particular the wayrod feels 'cheap' with black plastic weights and a 'clumsy' detente - instead of the the lovely anodised weight and sliding chrome bar of the 3009. Also, the lifting pot is black (plastic?) instead of anodised metal. The supplied headshell also felt a bit flimsy if quite stiff (more of that later). On the plus side, the base plate was thicker and the cable connection had decent phono sockets.

I had been quite happy with my old 3009, in which I have been using an Ortofon Quattro MC cartridge (with VDH stylus). Originally with the SME FD200 Fluid damper but after years of experimenting settled on a heavier headshell (Ortofon LH6000) and heavy SME counter-weight and no damper. This gave a detailed sound with good solid, though not extended, bass.

I was tempted by the M2-9R for several reasons: It looked (almost) as lovely as the 3009; it would be a straight swap on my turntable and it is fitted with high quality captive bearings which should be an improvement on the knife edge bearings of the 3009 - but the price was prohibitive.

Following an amplifier upgrade, I called SME to buy a phono plug conversion for the 3009 and was astonished at the price: £350! They also recommended their cables at a further £500! Suddenly, the M2 was looking like a bit of a bargain, so I bought one for £1200 with time-step phono leads. It was very easy to fit and the cables cleared the Thorens suspension towers (just).

First listening was using the SME headshell. The rest of my system comprises the Musical Fidelity M6si 200W amplifier and Yamaha NS1000M speakers in a 6m x 8m listening room.

The sound was a little disappointing since it was very similar to the 3009 although the bass was noticeably more extended and firmer. There was little change to the mid and upper ranges although spatial imaging was improved with better definition giving a stronger location of the players. Music was Dire Straights, Gallagher & Lyle and Scarlatti.

I replaced the SME headshell with the Ortofon LH6000 and the difference was astonishing. The bass became even more extended and much firmer. The mid-range was truly ethereal - the speakers literally 'disappeared' and I was listening to what seemed like a real life performance. All traces of 'hardness' vanished and the sound became very 'relaxed' and easy to listen to. At this point the 'testing' stopped and I just listened to some records.

Several hours later, I can say that the M2-9R is a significant improvement on the 3009 S2 when using MC cartridges, with an all-round improvement in sound quality, especially the bass region and spatial definition. I tried the M2R with my Shure M97XE and there was less of an improvement over the 3009, although still worthwhile if the price is no object.

I don't think the SME headshell is a good product to use with low compliance cartridges (and it didn't fit under the lid of my Thorens anyway so it has been consigned to it box!) A cheaper ADC magnesium headshell sounded better with the Shure.

10/10 by rb7399

A great arm, the install and adjustments are easy, even the arm lift is adjustable with the smallest wrench I have seen. It sounds musical, much more detailed than the 3009 improved it replaced with solid bass. Mounted on a TD 124.

10/10 by hedgehog35

Have recently replaced rewired and modified Rega RB300 with the M2 - 9 arm.
I have to agree with the other reviewer - this may be SME's 'cheapest' arm, but it is still built to the the highest standards. So easy to set up in comparison to Rega arm, and the ability to adjust every parameter means that you are certain that your cartridge can give its best perfromance.
The replaceable headshell makes life so much simpler when trying to fit a cartridge that uses nuts and bolts - a real pain with my Goldring 1042.
When I first listened, I couln't work out what was different - the music seemed calmer and smoother with very little background or even record noise. Then it clicked - the SME arm was adding very little to the musical information from the record. I realised that up till now, I had been listening to the music from my cartridge + the 'sound' of the Rega arm (which I still think is great value for the price).
The SME just allows the music to flow by providing a very quiet, stable platform for your cartridge.
So, a BIG step - up from the Rega and one that I think you would have to spend a lot more money to get a meaningful sound improvement.
I don't know why this arm is not more popular - you can still buy for less than £900 if you shop around and I would rate it as giving fantastic value for money.
I would just add, and this is specific to my Gyrodec; I found that space was a bit tight for phono plugs coming out sideways from the arm base. My very nice dealer changed the phono's at the arm end to right angle plugs, so the lead came downwards. I also fitted a second hand SME P1 spacer to give a little more space under the arm for the cable to exit without touching my shelf and therefore affecting suspension 'bounce'.
This is definitely my last upgrade to my record playing system - confident that if I ever do decide to change my cartridge, its performance will not be limited by the arm I have attached it to!

9/10 by Taihuus

Superbly built arm, Beautifully detailed and smooth but can sound a tiny bit less dynamic then some super arms, but by no means poor, but by replacing the VDH external cable with almost anything will improve the sound considerably. Very easy to adjust and set up and will last a lifetime. Removable head shell make's cartridge fitting a dream. The M2-r series look nicer and use the cheaper original head shell system but costs a lot more. Overall the M2-9 arm is going to cost a fair bit more to improve on. I prefer it to the 309 which has always sounded a touch over damped to my ears.


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