i would look no further than a SME 3012R. I've got two on the same table as an 11" Kuzma 4Point. The 3012R holds its own with the 4P and works equally well with cartridges of widely varying compliance.
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I would agree with dgarretson - I recently had a listening session with 2 Garrard 301's with 3012's mounted on both. One had a Lyra MC and the other a vintage Stanton MM - results were very musical with both. I have never really rated the 3012's but was pleasantly surprised at the performance. I am not a big fan of the Schick, heard it with an 301/EMT, result was less transparent than the aforementioned 301/3012 combo.
Schick is designed for DL103 series and Ortofon SPU, i'm not sure you can get anything better for the price of Schick "12.
On my SP10mk2 turntable the Schick with SPU Spirit (Ltd) was simply amazing. I'm pretty sure it will be the same with Denon 103r.
I no longer use SPU (sold both) and upgraded to Reed "12 tonearm and using higher compliance cartridges now.
But i still have my Schick here with 2 counterweights in mint- condition which i can offer for reasonable price to anyone who interested. The good think is that you don't have to wait 5 month in line to get one in order from Thomas Schick. Great tonearm for it's price and looks amazing in chrome color. Pictures of my Schick on SP10mk2 here: http://www.hi-fi.ru/auction/detail/1026676
chakster45 on gmail in case someone would like to ask for details.
I’m currently going through the same dilemma regarding arms for a rebuilt Lenco and would welcome any feedback. I like the sliding base on the SME arms as it makes setup a breeze. Oddly, internet searches don’t turn up very much info on the M2-12R, either positive or negative. The Schick arm seems to be a very popular choice among idler TT owners, which I take as an indirect recommendation. I haven’t been in a position to hear either of these arms unfortunately.
A couple of other interesting and reasonably priced 12" arms in current production, that would have sufficient mass for the DL103R, are the Univector, a unipivot from Australia (goldenageaudio.com.au) and the Elementum from New Zealand (analoginstruments.co.nz). I’ve not heard these either but I’m hoping to be able to soon.
Honestly i think Schick is the most ellegant minimalistic oldschool style tonearm of today. In the tradition of vintage ortofon It deserve design awards imho. The way it fits any vintage turntable and the way it looks is so nice. Often seen on Garrard 301, Thorens, EMT and Technics. German build quality and precise new bearings. Cable upgrade is optional, but i think with oldschool cartridges it's not necessary. I wish i could use Schick as a second arm, but my current plinth is not designed for two arms.
I have been using the SME M2-12. Previously I had used the 3012 S2 (not 3012R). The M2-12 is a much more superior tonearm compared to the regular 3012. The M2-12 has a much higher dynamic range and resolution. It actually mates rightfully with the new age modern cartridges without limiting their performance. The 3012 always had a vintage sound whichever cart you put in, somewhat veiled, slow and lack in inner detail. Where the 3012 excel is in the way music flows, that flow is terrific and is a reference for any tonearm to compare. Just like the flow of vintage turntables this tonearm also has that magic. In the end though it is not a candidate to be used in a high resolution setup, while the Schick and M2-12/12R do not have that limitation.
I would love to hear the 3012R some day.
Looks like we are on the same path. I was fortunate enough to find a NOS TD 124 MkII and I also found a NOS 3009 Series II Improved fixed headshell arm which I am mating with a NOS Shure V15VxMR but I also wanted to use a 12 inch arm. After much reading and researching I contacted Pete Riggle and he built me a 12" Woody Tonearm which I will mate with a Denon DL103 or DL103r. Pete build the arm to match the 124 and and DL103. Pete is a super nice guy to deal with and will build the arm to your specifications. His website is:
Good luck with your table!
The Thorens 124 is the favorite table of a local dealer (apart from the $100k Audionote table with three motors and three giant power supplies for the motors). He particularly likes to equip them with the top of the line 12" Ortofon arm. This combination is sold to all of his high end customers, may of them own systems that are well beyond $100k in value, so this analogue setup is the cheapest part of their systems. I have not taken one home to try in my system (WAY to lazy--it would be hard to move and then re-adjust my table), but in the shop, the combination sounds quite good--dynamic and propulsive sounding.
I used a Schick with my TD-124 using both a Denon 103R and Miyajima mono cartridge. It works ok but I encountered some noise issues with the Schick/Thorens combination, pretty much the same thing Art Dudley described in his review of the Schick. I used the Schick for a longer time on my Galibier table where it had no noise problems at all. Honestly, though, I don't think the Schick is a particularly good sounding arm. It looks nice, it's fun to use and certainly a good value, but I found the sound quality to be below the other arms I have owned. These others include a 12" Moerch DP-6, Triplanar VII-Improved, and a 12" Siggwan. I used each of these arms on both the Thorens and the Galibier, and I would rank the Schick below each of them. Also, the type of headshell used on the Schick has a major effect on its sound.
Pani, Schick tonearm works great ONLY with low compliance cartridges, i have tried several modern MC of higher compliance (zyx, audio-technica) on my Schick and all of them sounded much better on technics EPA-100 tonearm from my arsenal.
But low compliance cartridges works really great on Schick. The best result for me was vibtage Argent MC500HS cartridge + UltraCraft AS3PL headshell + Schick Tonearm. Also limited edition Ortofon SPU SPIRIT model. I was not happy about SPU Classic GMmk2, but it's just cartridge limitations, not the tonearm.
Thomas Schick told me once that cartridge compliance must be under 22cu for optimal performance @10Hz i believe.
The lowe compliance it better.
As you can see on the puctures linked here http://www.hi-fi.ru/auction/detail/1026676 i even mounted my Technics EPS 100cMK3 MM on Schick and i was surpriced the sound was great, however it was retipped (and suspension repaired) by Axel in Germany.
Many thanks to all of the fine folks that have made suggestions. The SME M2-12R and Ortofon RS-309D are now both serious contenders.
I may have to reconsider my plinth orientation, however. It was initially my plan to copy OMA's TD-124 by mounting the 12" arm at the rear of the table and the 9" 3009/ll in the standard arm board spot. Aesthetically, it looks better to me this way, but functionally it might not be as convenient.
That's true, but at 14gm vs. 18gm for M2, the 3012R should be more versatile. With a heavy headshell it should do a 103R. With lighter headshells I've had good results from MM/MI to MC from Stanton 981LZS, Ortofon MC2000, AT ART7, AT33MONO, to Grace F10P. One of my two examples has the German Analog Tube Audio silver rewire and RCA block. It might be worth contacting him for an opinion about the two SMEs.
I spoke with Alfred Kayser about the 3012R vs the M2-12R and much of the discussion came down to the use of knife-edge bearings vs. race ball bearings. He thought the modern arm would have an advantage in this area.
Sound is subjective, though, and I can see how the 3012R might have some more versatility.
I already mentioned it in my first post, but the 9" arm that I'll be using is a 3009 series 2 non-improved that Alfred is going to go through and re-wire. Don't know if that would sway anyones decision on the 12" arm choice one way or the other.