SME exits the tonearm business!

PeterA

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2011
6,657
1,740
340
North Shore of Boston
#41
Wow, not much love for SME turntables on this site. I'm enjoying my 30/12A, especially with my new/old 3012R and vdH Master Signature. There aren't many of these with two arms. I do agree with someone's comment about the bifurcation of the market into less expensive and super expensive tables. It seems that SME is somewhere in the middle sound wise but also too expensive, so people are choosing other options at these prices. However, I hear from some dealers that SME produces and sells a relatively large number of tables, so someone is buying them. Perhaps fewer in the US.

IMG_6344.JPG
 
Likes: geodiak
Oct 12, 2013
1,953
191
133
Essex UK
#43
Wow, not much love for SME turntables on this site. I'm enjoying my 30/12A, especially with my new/old 3012R and vdH Master Signature. There aren't many of these with two arms. I do agree with someone's comment about the bifurcation of the market into less expensive and super expensive tables. It seems that SME is somewhere in the middle sound wise but also too expensive, so people are choosing other options at these prices. However, I hear from some dealers that SME produces and sells a relatively large number of tables, so someone is buying them. Perhaps fewer in the US.

View attachment 59597
Well said Peter.
I am delighted with the sound from my recent 20/3, V tonearm and Etsuro Cobalt.
It looks good too and the build quality is outstanding.
What more to ask at a real world price?
 

awsmone

Well-Known Member
Apr 7, 2014
1,378
233
135
Canberra Australia
#44
To
I love armchair quarterbacks on issues they have no idea about, such as retail tonearm profitability.
totally agree
they already have two sides to their business turntables and projects for other company’s in engineering their aim is a 50:50 split

given the complexity of their tonearm building and the current number of companies making tonearms I suspect they have calculated their profit of selling tonearms on their own as not sustainable, plus they are competing with their own legacy such as the 3012r which are still available and sold to people looking for an SME arm
 
Likes: geodiak

awsmone

Well-Known Member
Apr 7, 2014
1,378
233
135
Canberra Australia
#45
I don't understand the strategy. If they design and tool up new arms for new tables, why not get more scale and sell the arms separately? Volume is profitable. I just don't get it. I wonder if they sell many arms separate from tables. I thought they used to. I've been patiently waiting for something new and exciting from SME ever since the new owner took over. And now they have Garrard. Not much has happened considering the number of engineers and production capabilities they have. There were rumors about a super table, a table for two arms, a rack system, etc. etc.
they have developed Synergy, 12 and 15 turntable line, and the racks are going into production I think that’s quite a bit Peter
 

daytona600

Well-Known Member
Sep 10, 2012
593
52
115
scotland
#46
Most designs based in the 1980s & much better arms for the same money or less used a have a SMEV
Jelcos phone must be ringing of the hook for Oem business now
 

awsmone

Well-Known Member
Apr 7, 2014
1,378
233
135
Canberra Australia
#47
It may be they face the same issue Pioneer faced with their plasma TV, they make a bespoke product of high quality but the market just isn’t prepared to pay for that against other manufacturers who in general dont go to the same lengths as SME

If you watch the MF tour of SME factory, you cannot but be impressed by the lengths they go to, whether u like their arms or not
this pedantic way they do things may not be cost effective today, though impressive engineering in and of itself
 
May 30, 2010
16,601
1,482
420
Portugal
#48
Wow, not much love for SME turntables on this site. I'm enjoying my 30/12A, especially with my new/old 3012R and vdH Master Signature. There aren't many of these with two arms. I do agree with someone's comment about the bifurcation of the market into less expensive and super expensive tables. It seems that SME is somewhere in the middle sound wise but also too expensive, so people are choosing other options at these prices. However, I hear from some dealers that SME produces and sells a relatively large number of tables, so someone is buying them. Perhaps fewer in the US. (...)
Well Peter, I see the opposite - we are finding that people really love the SME products, otherwise they would no be so much concerned about the bad news.

As far as I know the SME V was still the best seller of their current catalogue.
 
May 30, 2010
16,601
1,482
420
Portugal
#49
Most designs based in the 1980s & much better arms for the same money or less used a have a SMEV
Jelcos phone must be ringing of the hook for Oem business now
No, it was the SME phone that was ringing a lot after the announcement was known - every distributor wanted to order SME V's, particularly the more fancy models!
 

Don C

Well-Known Member
Jul 21, 2013
143
14
93
Minnesota USA
#50
I had a SME IV and V on a Oracle Delphi MKIII in the 80's.

No azimuth adjustment, and poor SRA adjustment drove me crazy!

Never worked great with every MC cartridge I tried.

SME has followers, but IMO way overpriced.

I much prefer Triplanar, Graham, VPI, and 4Point for precise adjustments.

SME has made no significant improvements since tHe 1987 V.
 

howiebrou

Well-Known Member
Jun 29, 2012
1,335
1,061
240
#51
Wow, not much love for SME turntables on this site. I'm enjoying my 30/12A, especially with my new/old 3012R and vdH Master Signature. There aren't many of these with two arms. I do agree with someone's comment about the bifurcation of the market into less expensive and super expensive tables. It seems that SME is somewhere in the middle sound wise but also too expensive, so people are choosing other options at these prices. However, I hear from some dealers that SME produces and sells a relatively large number of tables, so someone is buying them. Perhaps fewer in the US.

View attachment 59597
Peter, i like the SME tt especially the 30/12 but i think in today's fickle marketplace they need to upgrade / update /change their products a little more often to keep up with the Joneses. Now may be SME has more integrity than some other manufacturers and they don't see the need to market a new replacement without any significant change but others do and they might capture the buying public more often. When was the last review of a SME 30/12? I'm sure if they brought out a SME VI there would quite a few buyers...
 

XV-1

Well-Known Member
May 24, 2010
2,083
448
260
Sydney
#52
Wow, not much love for SME turntables on this site. I'm enjoying my 30/12A, especially with my new/old 3012R and vdH Master Signature. There aren't many of these with two arms. I do agree with someone's comment about the bifurcation of the market into less expensive and super expensive tables. It seems that SME is somewhere in the middle sound wise but also too expensive, so people are choosing other options at these prices. However, I hear from some dealers that SME produces and sells a relatively large number of tables, so someone is buying them. Perhaps fewer in the US.

View attachment 59597

Peter

What sounds better. SME V 12 inch or 3012-R.

cheers
 

Bodhi

Well-Known Member
Apr 20, 2014
1,053
341
155
#53
I'm not surprised by that announcement. SME stopped innovating and pushing their technology, and just rested on their laurels which, given the competition in high end audio is death in this bus...
 

PeterA

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2011
6,657
1,740
340
North Shore of Boston
#54
Peter

What sounds better. SME V 12 inch or 3012-R.

cheers
XV-1, I don’t know yet. Have not compared them. Other priorities right now. I can say that the MSL/V-12 combo has less sibilance and allows me to listen to more of my pop/jazz reissues. Perhaps this will be a case of two arm/cartridge combinations for different music/LPs. It's all good.
 
Last edited:
Likes: howiebrou
May 30, 2010
16,601
1,482
420
Portugal
#55
I'm not surprised by that announcement. SME stopped innovating and pushing their technology, and just rested on their laurels which, given the competition in high end audio is death in this bus...
Well, Studer stopped innovating many decades ago and they are still at the top in analog tape recorders ...

IMHO the top vinyl player market needs evolved and are not compatible with the type of company that SME really was and their classic products. They are a medium size company, have a traditional country distributor and dealer network sales system and an excellent after sales service. Their aim was quality but also consistency and user confidence and pride. The profile of typical top vinyl audiophile buyers seems different today - they want vinyl also for fun and want to tailor their own sound, they do not look at getting the "master tape" sound. Most users want to fiddle with VTA and alignments, they want something sensitive to tweaks and mats, and specially they want to carry experiments.

Their new products are intended for people who want a turnkey analog system.

Sometime ago I learned that part of the ceiling of the famous SME listening room had fallen and they were not using it anymore. IMHO it was a sad change in the SME history.

a1.jpg
 

IanG-UK

Well-Known Member
Apr 11, 2011
245
40
123
#56
Well, Studer stopped innovating many decades ago and they are still at the top in analog tape recorders ...

Their aim was quality but also consistency and user confidence and pride. The profile of typical top vinyl audiophile buyers seems different today - they want vinyl also for fun and want to tailor their own sound, they do not look at getting the "master tape" sound. Most users want to fiddle with VTA and alignments, they want something sensitive to tweaks and mats, and specially they want to carry experiments.

Their new products are intended for people who want a turnkey analog system.

A very good point. In a previously buoyant market in the UK, the big high end manufacturers - SME, Linn, Roksan, Pink Triangle - claimed sound neutrality which SME arms could comfortably partner with - albeit Linn did not like that too much. Now, in a much smaller high end and tweakier market, there's more logic in SME building the entire unit. For years and years, of course, SME only made tonearms. But when you think about it, why on earth would you market two separate bits from what is essentially a single unit. A bit like marketing the platter separate to the deck.
 

BruceD

VIP/Donor
Dec 13, 2013
1,153
166
135
#58
Can't say I'm surprised -they've ridden the changes pretty well since the late 40's when the company started-but with an
investment business owner I'm sure the bottom line is more to the fore now than when the venerable Robertson Aikman was at the helm.
SME have of course other irons in the fire -F1 Cars/Aviation Industry.
I tend to agree they have not been the most forward thinking when it came to the last 20 years of Audio transition -maybe the stiff upper lip
of British traditionalism found it hard for them to move forward.
Fine products nevertheless and WW service was top of the heap--I remember ringing the factory in the early 70 's and getting Mr RA himself answering the calls-ha!.

Guess time will tell if they /Mr Shirke has made the right call :)

BruceD
 
Likes: geodiak

About us

  • What’s Best Forum is THE forum for high-end audio, product reviews, advice and sharing experiences on the best of everything else. A place where audiophiles and audio companies discuss existing and new audio products, music servers, music streamers and computer audio, digital to audio converters, turntables, phono stages, cartridges, reel to reel, speakers, headphones, tube amplifiers and solid state amplification. Founded in 2010 What's Best Forum invites intelligent and courteous people of all interests and backgrounds to describe and discuss the best of everything. From beginners to life-long hobbyists to industry professionals we enjoy learning about new things and meeting new people and participating in spirited debates.

Quick Navigation

User Menu

Steve Williams
Site Founder | Site Owner | Administrator
Ron Resnick
Site Co-Owner | Administrator
Julian (The Fixer)
Website Build | Marketing Managersing