Q: Please advise me on SME III-S with Benz Ace ( compliance, arm-weight, fluid damper )

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Sake52
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Q: Please advise me on SME III-S with Benz Ace ( compliance, arm-weight, fluid damper )

Post by Sake52 » 02 Jan 2019 00:26

Good new year to everyone!

I kindly need your advise or suggestions regarding my tonearm-cardridge combination.

Question summary:
1) considering, could this tonearm/cardridge combination work 'rereasonably' well ? - or beter to change a more compatible, high compliance cardridge, pobably a MM instead of a modern MC ? By adding extra mass to the tonearm (headshell ) and the possible benefits of mounting the SME fluid damper.
2) So, when applying a ballast weight ( SME 3818 - 4,3 grams ) wil this bring the effective mass of the arm to the recommended /desired range to match te Benz Ace ( 8,8 grams / 15 um ) ?
3a) Will it benefit to mount the fluid damper for overall tonal quality with this arm/cardridge combination?
3b) Which Silicone damping fluid to use ? SME is talking about 200.000 cs viscosity, but some sources recomment 10.000 cs. Thats a huge gap..
3c) Silicone fluid: when using a low complient cardridge, SME recomments 13 mm paddle, right? The Ace is rated at 15 um


System:
Turntable: Micro Seiki BL-51
Tonearm: SME Series III-S tonearm ( tonearm mass approx. 5 grams )
Cardridge: Benz Micro Ace (M) - Year 2006 - Weight 8,8 grams , Compliance 15 um
- (not mounted, but present): SME 3818 Spacer Ballast Weight ~4.3 Grams
- (not mounted, but present): SME fluid damper FD III S with 3 paddles, mounting accessories, but no fluid, still have to buy some right viscosity fluid

As i understood, the SME Series III is equiped with a very light tonearm ( approx. 5 grams) , which will best match with high compliance cardridges.


Background:
Initial, back in 2003, i bought this turntable, including a mounted AT OC9 II cardridge, compliance ~ 35 um.
After a short while, i accidently broke the AT 0C9's cantilever.. and bought myself a new cardridge at the
local hifi-dealer. The salesman told me a(shop-stock) Benz Micro ACE would work good enough ( fairly well ) with an SME III-S arm. Just mounted it. Never take a closer look at this investment (!)

Due to upcoming audio-streaming, i did not use the turntable for a long time. Didn't thinkk about it and didn't used it much . ( 2004-present ) .. a bit of a shame ..
But, interest in vinyl is coming back again!
Q:
Is is wisely to add the 3818 ballast weight (4,3 grams) to the headshell?
Can we say: Tonearmmass = 5 grams + 4,3 ballast, so tonearmmass will be approx 9.3 grams?

If so, can we use the graph below, and the Ace cardridge ( 8,8 gram / 15 um ) Should be in range.
And offcourse.. i'm struggling with the recommended viscosity of damping fluid. !



Hope you can help me out getting some suggestions, answers , tips !.
Offcourse a hobby costs some money, thats just fine.


Thank you.


http://i63.tinypic.com/21opxjm.jpg

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Calculator on Vinylengine ( thanks! )
https://www.vinylengine.com/cartridge_r ... luator.php

nat
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Re: Q: Please advise me on SME III-S with Benz Ace ( compliance, arm-weight, fluid damper )

Post by nat » 02 Jan 2019 03:05

Wow - when it first came out, I had a IIIs and the damper, but wasn't as methodical as you. I avoided using the the extra weight in the headshell, though it would have probably helped when I switched from an AKG P8es (a marriage made in heaven) to a Denon 103S, which, while more compliant than the standard 103, still was probably not best served by such a light arm. I'd say try it. You have everything you need, and any alternative will cost money. The worst that can happen is that you decide to get a different cartridge, which you can probably fund by selling the Benz. I'm going through a Pickering/Stanton phase right now, and the SME IIIs I picked up works nicely with their top models.

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Re: Q: Please advise me on SME III-S with Benz Ace ( compliance, arm-weight, fluid damper )

Post by nat » 02 Jan 2019 03:07

Wow - you have the whole kit. I had a IIIs when it first came out, and then the damper, but wasn't as methodical as you. I was a high compliance true believer, so avoided using the the extra weight in the headshell, though it would have probably helped when I switched from an AKG P8es (a marriage made in heaven) to a Denon 103S, which, while more compliant than the standard 103, still was probably not best served by such a light arm.
I'd say try it with the Benz. You have everything you need, and any alternative will cost money. The worst that can happen is that you decide to remove the weight, or even to get a different cartridge, which you can probably fund by selling the Benz.
I'm going through a Pickering/Stanton phase right now, and the SME IIIs I picked up works nicely with their top models, if that is of interest.

Sunwire
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Re: Q: Please advise me on SME III-S with Benz Ace ( compliance, arm-weight, fluid damper )

Post by Sunwire » 02 Jan 2019 05:13

I would use the accessory weight and large paddle, and I would use 200,000 cst fluid, which is what SME provided and recommends. It's very thick.
If it becomes hard or too expensive to get 200,000 cst fluid, maybe try 100,000 cst.
Or, try 300,000 cst and also get some much lower viscosity, like 50,000 cst. You could then mix them together to get any viscosity in between 50,000 and 300,000 cst.

Who recommended 10,000 cst fluid?

It is sold as silicone differential fluid for radio controlled cars. You may be able to find it on ebay, Amazon or the websites of companies specializing in R/C car parts and supplies.

Here is a thread about this subject.
There are other threads. Search the forum on VinylEngine for "SME fluid viscosity"
https://www.vinylengine.com/turntable_f ... hp?t=19759

Alec124c41
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Re: Q: Please advise me on SME III-S with Benz Ace ( compliance, arm-weight, fluid damper )

Post by Alec124c41 » 02 Jan 2019 05:51

I had a 3009 II S2 Improved, and mounted a Benz on it.
Very thin bass, so used a 12 gram headshell.The arm would only accept 18 grams combined cartridge and headshell, without the counterweight falling off, and it sounded very good. Ended up with a spare counterweight with a large, thick washer glued to the back, and a 16 gram headshell. Beautiful.
Add mass until the bass is really good. There is a sweet spot.
I do not have the experience to say what effect the damper might have.

Cheers,
Alec

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Re: Q: Please advise me on SME III-S with Benz Ace ( compliance, arm-weight, fluid damper )

Post by Sunwire » 02 Jan 2019 05:56

I don't trust these calculators to figure out the resonant frequency of your cartridge/arm combination.
I don't think the figures for effective mass of tonearms and compliance of cartridges are dependable since every manufacturer may be calculating them differently and actual products may not meet the specifications anyway. The position of the tonearm counterweight and the amount of play time on the cartridge may affect these figures, too.
I recently have been playing around with measuring tonearm resonance directly using Audacity.
If you can record from your preamp to your computer, you can download Audacity for free from the web and use it to make the recording. If you then look at the resulting recording using the "Plot Spectrum" tool on the "Analyze" menu, you can see exactly where YOUR tonearm and cartridge are resonating.
Here's a screen shot of a recording I made using a Technics EPC-p22 cartridge with Jico SAS stylus on a Technics SL-D93 turntable. You can clearly see the tonearm/cartridge resonance is between 8 and 9 Hz. So, Jico set the compliance of their SAS stylus pretty well to match the mass of a Technics p-mount tonearm. I have a lot more testing to do, but one thing I've noticed is that it seems to help to sample a large amount of the recording in order to get a good reading of the tonearm resonance. If you sample a section that is too small, you will notice the resonant frequency is different for different sections of music.
I haven't figured out if there is a particular record that is best for this test. But I theorize that it's better to use a record of real music you listen to, rather than use a test record of pink noise or some other test signal. After all, you want to find out how the tonearm/cartridge behave when you're playing your music, not some test tone, right?
BUT, this screen shot shows the result when playing the frequency sweep on the HiFi News Analog Test LP #2.

bernard1
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Re: Q: Please advise me on SME III-S with Benz Ace ( compliance, arm-weight, fluid damper )

Post by bernard1 » 02 Jan 2019 15:48

3a) Will it benefit to mount the fluid damper for overall tonal quality with this arm/cardridge combination?
It should. Anyhow, I have been using my SME series III without damping during a certain time and I did not notice audible change. But the records I played did not suffer warp. In this case, damping is essential. Remember that the series III S is the cheaper version of the series III and was sold without the damper tank, so the buyer could upgrade by adding the fluid damper. (In fact there are other differences between series III and series III S, such as the counterweight settings.)

3b) Which Silicone damping fluid to use ? SME is talking about 200.000 cs viscosity, but some sources recomment 10.000 cs. Thats a huge gap..
SME FD 200 is 200.000 cst. I now use a 100.000 cst silicon oil with much satisfaction. The combination of different viscosity oil and the three paddles allows many settings in damping, if you want to play with that.

3c) Silicone fluid: when using a low complient cardridge, SME recomments 13 mm paddle, right? The Ace is rated at 15 um
The 13 mm paddle is recommended for cartridges with a compliance less than 20 c. us. AND the original FD 200 fluid damper oil. If you use different viscosity, you can try different paddles.

Sake52
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Well done guys!: Q: Please advise me on SME III-S with Benz Ace ( compliance, arm-weight, fluid damper )

Post by Sake52 » 03 Jan 2019 00:30

@ nat: thank you kindly for your suggestion firstly weight-up the headhell with the extra weight (4.3 grams), i will apply it and re-adjust the vta so it's properly leveled according to the series iii-s manual. Offcouse results will be reported here later on.
I love the Ace becous of it's fabulously detailing and clarity.. but hate it becouse of being so clinically.
If this project fails, a certain MM element will be the next step, in that case, thanks for the suggestion to sell the Ace!! Bought the ace new in 2006 or so, for Euro 580,00 , and it's rarely used.
With my Lenco's L76 i was pleased with a Grado Black, fitted on a Decca Internatonal unipivot tonearm. A frimly/solid sound. Maybe "that kind of analog sound" again, will be pleasant enough!

@Sunwire: thank you for confirming to use SME's recommended 200,000 cst fluid. I made a mistake by typing 10,000 cst fluid, this has to be 100.000 cst! Sorry: ( Source: https://www.stereo.net.au/forums/topic/ ... dampening/ ) I will try to find the 200.000!


@Alec124c41: thanks for suggesting ballast to the headshell ( 4.3 gramms i have )


@Sunwire: thanks for explaning a good scientific and reasonal easy way to measure the arm/cardridge combination! This will certainly help setting up.

A few years ago i did measuring my room acoustics, using a dedicated microphone and implemented the results ( EQ filter) in Logitech's Media Server using the Logitech Duet with Inguz roomcorrection software ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uZWmGrSuCu4 ) I ended up with a good mesurement and a almost perfect inplemented room correction software-filter for Logitech's Media Server on Windows ; room-resonances were gone - but.. it sounded flat, a bit lifeless, dull .. Not my taste, so, with the Inguz IQ in base, i started mixing equiliseing again, little more bass etc.. :D


@bernard1: thanks for your explanation about the fluid damper system. I bought the BL-51 with the Series III-S mounted, the optional SME fluid damper SME III-S ( model FD III S ) came with the turntable, brand new in box, but was never mounted. The box does not contain the damping fluid only. You stated not to hear audible changes when damped, i will give it a try anyway, but, to be honest .. i do not expect a huge positive effect, unless my 52 years old ears will cheat me. 200.000 if available, with paddle 13 mm. I only play cleaned records of good quality, with almost none or very less warp.

An SME manual, however, describes the joyful function of their damper, substantiated with impressive graphics.
Probably good for marketing purposes.


Last Question for now: first step will be to add the extra weight to the headshell, assuming this will compensate the ACE's low compliance more suitable for the SME III-S arm. Arm weigt approx 5 grams + 3818 ballast weight (approx 4.3 grams). Right?
Thanks!


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Sunwire
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Re: Q: Please advise me on SME III-S with Benz Ace ( compliance, arm-weight, fluid damper )

Post by Sunwire » 04 Jan 2019 08:27

The difference between 100,000 cst and 200,000 cst might not be huge in practice. So, if it's a lot easier to get 100,000 cst, it's probably fine to use it. But I don't claim to be an expert in this area.
10,000 is another story.
I tried to find a video that might show a comparison.
This is the closest one I found. It doesn't show 200,000 cst fluid, but it shows a wide range that demonstrates how much change there is when you double the viscosity. See the 50 vs 100 cst and 500 vs 1000 cst comparisons.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g1c4E1ze0Vo

The purpose of the SME damper is not to help with warps, it's to help with tonearm resonances.
If anything, it would probably make performance on warps worse, because it will inhibit free movement of the arm over the warps.

Sake52
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Re: Q: Please advise me on SME III-S with Benz Ace ( compliance, arm-weight, fluid damper )

Post by Sake52 » 04 Jan 2019 21:28

@Sunwire:
Nice illustriation video. Thanks! I wil absolutely mount the damping parts later on !

I have intalled the 4.4 grams extra weight (part SME 3818) on the headshell, but now the headshell + cardrigde 8.8 grams + 3818 4.4 grams weight makes it too heavy for the balancing sytem
(balancing system gets just out of range ! ), so i ordered the SME 3817( 2.2 grams) at e-bay. Costst: about 30,00 dollar, the seller claims is genuine SME and brand new.

Alec124c41
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Re: Q: Please advise me on SME III-S with Benz Ace ( compliance, arm-weight, fluid damper )

Post by Alec124c41 » 05 Jan 2019 01:40

Add weight to the counterweight.
If you have a VTF gauge, push the slider all the way back, can you get the correct VTF using the counterweight?

Cheers,
Alec

Sake52
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Re: Q: Please advise me on SME III-S with Benz Ace ( compliance, arm-weight, fluid damper )

Post by Sake52 » 05 Jan 2019 23:29

@Alec123c41
Thanks for advice and suggestion on balancing!
I have set the vtf gauge set to 0 (sliding forward adds 1.0 gram tracking force ), but i'ts not sufficient to get it balanced with the 4.4 grams ballast mounted.

Now, i will wait for the ordered 2.2 ballast from Ebay!
But, adding some exta weight to the counterweight offcourse should do the job as well!!

This series III-S arm should be able to balance cardriges weight
between approx. 2.4 - 13.7 grams. I think total weight now will be appox: 8.8 ace + 4.4 ballast + 2 screws..
just exeeding 13.7 grams.

Anyway, i was able to set tracking force on 1.9 grams and re-leveled tonearm height, checked anti-skating.
Played some songs ( JJ Cale ), sounds good, probably a bit less crispy-sounding, but more laid back sound than before.
But this might be subjective.




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Sunwire
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Re: Q: Please advise me on SME III-S with Benz Ace ( compliance, arm-weight, fluid damper )

Post by Sunwire » 06 Jan 2019 00:00

It's not necessary to balance the tonearm at 0 VTF as long as you can achieve the correct VTF at the stylus.

If you can use your scale to set the proper tracking force (ignore the VTF numbers on the tonearm), then you shouldn't need the new weight.

Sake52
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Project finished! Thanks! SME Series III-S silicone damper and headshell weight / Benz Ace compliance 15 cu.

Post by Sake52 » 18 Jan 2019 14:51

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Thank to all!!
Fitting the 2.2 grams headshell weight + fitted the fluiddamper with 200.000 cst silicone about 80% of paddle height.
Filling and adjusting the right amount wasn't that hard at all. No rush.

The benz ace sounds a bit better now, at least it improved precise bass reproduction !
Glad with the results and, offcourse, your help.

Sake

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