Basis table or SME

I am looking to acquire a high end table. I currently use a Forsell Air Reference. I really like the build quality and support that Basis provides and have heard equally good comments about SME tables as well. I would appreciate your feedback on both or either of these tables. I'm considering a Basis 2500/2800 Signature or a Basis Bebut Signature or an SME 20/3 or 20/12. I am open to other suggestions that are designs based on proven technology with excellent customer care. Thanks very much.
I bought a Basis Debut Sign. vacuum some years ago. Before that I had the
chance to listen to a lot of Turntables, Verdier, SME 30, SME 20, SPJ, Audio Note,
Brinkmann, Clearaudio, EMT's, Goldmund, Simon Yorke, VPI TNT, Vyger..
.. the usual what was out there.
The Basis was in the same System with a SME 30 from an owner I got in touch
Both tables are very good, top speed stability, no coloration in sound, in a way a
tool for a serious record collector who wants to know what's on the records and
in what way they were mastered.
My decision was for Basis, mainly on its superior Suspension (springs + fluid in
adjustable dampers) which really decouples everything down to 4 Hz (I think).
You can jump in fromt of it or knock onto the chassis, platter...there is nothing
to hear through the speakers, Phonostage open of course, Cartridge 0.20mV :-)
The rubber rings from the SMW was for me a typical "english
solution", they will get stiff over the years and the table itself is not so
immune to any influences from outside (or inside). A cheap and primitve
solution, for that is the table too expensive, but this is my personal opinion.
The Basis bearing is excellent from internal quality, the Vacuum was extremely
clever designed, it does not destroy the bearing nor does it influence the sound
quality in any negative way.. The platter is adjustable to get it really level ,
vacuum is low pressure, but adjustable, too.
The platter itself is outstanding from its internal abilities and to make it short,
simply very clever made. Never a problem, the last time when I put a Timeline
strobe onto, it was spot on speed. No drift. The belt has to be seen to
believe....Wherever you look, there is serious brain behind everything. Others
are simply too primitive in comparison. And you can hear that, too. Expensive,
but you can close that chapter, specially when you also go for the Basis
Controller. The table itself has no limits, I tried a lot of Arms with it and was
always able to hear what they can do (or not).
I learned a lot with it.
thanks very much. What arm and caetridge are you using?
The best result is
Graham Phantom supreme

Lyra Olympos / Helikon mono / FR-1mk3F
Thanks very much. Did you try a Vector 4
I have no experience with Vector Arm.
Is there much sonic difference between the vacuum and non-vacuum versions of the Basis?
Wrm57, yes and no :-)
No big difference when you own perfect, flat records
A real difference when you own warped records, a lot of Arms have real
problems to hold the VTF when moving up and down, you can hear that (when
the rest of the System is good for that).
Reissues with 200gr are pretty flat, unfortunately they don't sound as good as
their originals (generally), when you buy originals, then this vacuum version is
the way to go.
Another advantage from the vacuum Version is, the record does not "slide"
while playing (there is a resistance when the diamond is in the groove), a non
vac. version can be clamped, but with the vac. Version is simply all done right.
I bought last reissue exactly last year. Now any "new" records are only bought "used" and original or bad-to-worst early re-issues.
First dissapointment came from Classic Records re-issue of Tom Waits "Swordfishtrombones". The record and jacket looked pretty fancy, but onced placed on record sounded mediocre(politely speaking) compared to my original one. Than there were a few more. I guess all of them sooner or later will become cheaper than used ones
Thanks, Syntax. Another question: do you think a Minus-K or Vibraplane renders moot the benefits of the Basis suspension?
I think both the higher end Basis and SME tables are very good. I have only heard the Basis Debut Signature at my local dealer and the Inspiration at an audio show and the systems in which they were, sounded excellent, though I can't isolate what the tables were doing.

I do know a bit more about SME. I owned the SME Model 10 for nine years and recently bought the 30/12 with V-12 arm. Though I have not tried a Timeline on the 30/12 yet, it does show no variation with the KAB strobe and I heard absolutely no issues with speed. Isolation is excellent as is the build quality and service reputation of the company. Yes, as Syntax writes, the rubber bands look cheap, but I assure you they work very well. They hang from suspension towers in which are paddles damped in a silicone bath. These towers are certainly adjustable in height, so one can tune the suspension. They are very effective in both horizontal and vertical isolation. I think this is one difference between the Basis and SME suspension towers, though I know little about the Basis.

Another aspect critical to the SME design is the way in which energy is drained away from the cartridge. The platter is surface is a soft grooved material which mates very well with the LP. There is a screw down clamp and washer system. So this is passive but very effective at draining energy away from the stylus and in dealing with warps.

As Syntax wrote, Both tables tell you what is in the recording. There is very little detectable distortion from this system. Extension is tremendous, and backgrounds are silent. I would describe the system as a very effective platform for the cartridge to perform its best. Very little seems to be added to the overall sound from this turntable/arm system.

I did listen to my SME 9" V arm on the big table extensively before I switched to the 12" V-12 arm. The difference was pretty significant. Lower distortion, more extension, more information, great control. Based on the improved sonics of the longer arm, if you decide to go with an SME table, I would suggest the 20/12 over the newer 20/3. I have also read hear on Audiogon that the V-12 is superior to the 12" 312S, though I have not heard the latter.

I'm sure you will be happy with turntables from either of these great companies.
I have a Basis Debut vacuum table with the Basis power supply and a Vector 3 arm. I cannot say how it compares with SME table/arm combinations because I have not had any real opportunity to make any kind of fair comparisons between tables. I will say that I do like my table and arm a lot. I am surprised by how low the level of groove rush and other noise seems to be with this combination. This may have something to do with how well the table performs at dampening out unwanted vibrational energy from the stylus/groove interaction. I believe that the close coupling of the record to the surface of the platter in order to effectively drain away and dampen this energy is the main purpose of the vacuum clamp; it is NOT designed to flatten warped records (it is actually quite hard to get the vacuum to work with records with an edge warp).
Have compared many Basis tables to SME over the years. I decided first on a Basis 2002 with a Graham arm and then upgraded to a Basis 2800 Signature with a Vector 3 and Dynavector cartridge. Liked the rhythm and pace of the Basis tables and the extended bass. Am about to sell the 2800 combo to move up to a higher level Basis table and arm.
Feel free to contact me at to discuss if you want.
Where are you located? Have you already sold the Forsell?
I owned a 2800 Debut Sig with vacuum table for many years and it was a wonderful table, no issues at all. I was loaned a SME 20/2 for over a month and while it produced the blackest back ground it just had no involvement to the music for me, very "dead" sounding in my system.
Just my opinion yours may vary.

(Dealer disclaimer)
I havent heard the SME. I own a lesser Basis 2001 and have heard a 2800. I also own a Sota Cosmos IV. I believe the Sota and Basis are comparable and equals, the Basis in Acrylic and the Sota in Wood. The Sota uses a very advanced suspension system that is covered from sight, so it doesnt get much notice. The vacuum system on the Sota is dead quiet, barely heard on start up and cannot be heard after about 3 seconds when it seats the record and reduces vacuum. No chance of vacuum damage to records with the Sota. I think the vacuum system is very important to acheiving the best a table can offer.
Sota's customer care is exemplary. A little slow at times, but always keep you informed and up to date. All their tables can be upgraded to the latest and greatest. They are a US company, like Basis, if that matters, and have been around a long time.
either of the three tables you are considering will give you great music. the Sota is probably the least expensive of the group
I am located near New York City - I still own the Forsell. I'm more than happy to talk to you about it if you would like.
feel free to contact me at if you would like to talk more about it.
Both tables are superb and extremely well-engineered. I own a Basis Ovation that was upgraded with the Debut platter, bearing and vacuum system, and am extremely happy with it; it has been working flawlessly in my system for over 20 years. The one thing I will say here is that the Forsell that you have is a unique turntable with a very distinctive presentation, I think it may be quite different in some ways from an SME or Basis. If you have not heard either of these tables you should to make sure that you don't wind up missing some of the things that the Forsell does well (whether they're colorations or not).
thanks very much - can you elaborate?
Syntax, any thoughts that you remember regarding the verdier you auditioned?

when I am honest, not in a way to make a final statement. I listened to original Verdiers from the early 80's, with the original Magnets. The musical flow and information was really, really good. I always wanted to buy one but in a way, I always missed the chance ... they are a bit rare, too.
Later some DIY mods became available, the feedback was not good about those, years later the Nouvelle Platine was launched, but it is not comparable to the first ones. Same name but technically different. Mainly sold in Europe I think.
If it was me you wanted to elaborate, I think both the Basis and SME tables will be significantly more neutral than the Forsell. However, the Forsell has a certain sound (maybe a coloration) that is very addictive and makes records sound really good. If you love the sound of your Forsell, you should hear a higher-end Basis or SME to make sure you like the trade-off. I chose the Basis because ultimately the Forsell, along with being more expensive, was much more of a tweaky unit that I felt was not as solidly built and was not as neutral as I would have liked. It did make beautiful music, though, and that you're still using one indicates to me that my concern on the build quality was not well-founded.