better tonearm for SME 20/2


I'm purchasing an SME 20/2 turntable, and am trying to decide between a used SME V or a Graham 2.2 tonearm. I'd probably have the tonearm setup done by a shop experienced w/ the table/tonearm(s). I'd appreciate any feedback from owners of SME tables on their experiences w/ either or both of these arms.

I'm also trying to decide between a benz or lyra cartridge in the $1200-2K range. My other gear includes Ayre electronics plus Vandersteen 5 speakers, but my primary question regards the tonearms.

You're not going to go wrong with any of these combo's. I will say if you go with the SME arm (I have a 20/2, IV.Vi, Lyra Skala) I think a arm cable is a must. With your Ayre, I think going balanced is a must (din to xlr). I love my Purist Venestas. Also, power cords and isolation help.

Currently I'm using a Omega Micro power cord and the 20/2 sitting on a Symposium Ultra...

Wasn't exactly what you asked, but some extra info to get the most from your new 20/2.

Good luck!
I use both a V and a Phantom on my 30/2. The SME V has great synergy with the table. The Phantom has the big advantages of quick, repeatable adjustability and cartridge changing (with different armwands).
IF you're going to use only one cartridge, the V will do fine, as once it's set up correctly, it will not need fiddling with adjustments. IF you're going to use more than one cartridge, consider the Graham. Your choice of arm depends alot on your cartridge. Cartridge/arm synergy is IMHO more important than arm/table synergy.
Dear Aubullience: Very good TT. In my humble opinion the choice of tonearm depends more of which cartridge you finally own.

If you decide for the Lyra the SME V is a better way to go and if you decide for the SME V ( I prefer the IV ) then try to set-up in a static balanced way.

Regards and enjoy the music.
I also use the model 20 and have found the V, with VDH Condor, to be an excellent match. I have a Graham armboard for the SME and will trying my friend's 2.2 on it over xmas.

Raul, By static balanced you mean using the counter weight as opposed to the spring??

Dear mooner: That's right.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Hey, everyone-
Thanks very much for your feedback; it helped me w/ my decision, which was to go ahead w/ the SME V.

Now I just have to decide on a cartridge for under 2K or so. I've heard good things about the Benzes, Lyras, Koetsus, and the Dynavector XX 2 has also been recommended to me.

Any feedback on these cartridge lines would be GREATLY appreciated. I'm looking for something that's neutral- not lush, but not analytical at the expense of musicality either. I listen to a wide variety of classical music, much of it orchestral (mb 40-50% of my collection), in addition to rock (30%), w/ world music, r & b, & jazz making up the remainder of my listening in about equal proportions.

For $1,500 you could try a Sumiko Celebration. I have one on a SME V and SME Model 10 table. I read that the cartridge was designed using the SME 30/V combo. The synergy is truely excellent! The sound is slightly warmer than neutral but it sounds wonderful with classical and jazz. Perhaps Raul can add his thoughts regarding this cartridge.
Dear Aubullience: I agree with Peter advice. The Sumiko Celebration is a great performer on its own but happen that during its voicing was mounted on a SME V tonearm this fact means that this tonearm is the best match for the Celebration and it can easily outperform some of the Lyra's/ Koetsu's and other more expensive cartridges.

Btw Peter : my experience with the Celebration is of a neutral tonal balance but maybe this subject is system dependent specially with the Phonolinepreamp, I can asure you that though the Essential 3150 is dead neutral and lovely performer. Highly recomended!!!

Regards and enjoy the music.
Just to add, to Raul and Peter, the Celebration fits your decription to a tee

"I'm looking for something that's neutral- not lush, but not analytical at the expense of musicality either. I listen to a wide variety of classical music, much of it orchestral (mb 40-50% of my collection), in addition to rock (30%), w/ world music, r & b, & jazz making up the remainder of my listening in about equal proportions."

If you can set the cart load to 1K ohms do so for the Celebration, it really is like finding the right VTA with some carts - it just locks everything in to where the "magic" is just so obvious. I use a Basis Vector, but your SME will really work well with the Celebration (as it can send a little energy back into the arm and the SME is SUPER stable and able to take anything a cart can send). I have the same listening priorities as yourself - mostly larger Symphonic works (Romantic and Modern era's) and the Celebration throws a huge stage, hall info (at 1k loading), palpable players in stage ("see around", not "see through" carboardy players), it does vocals and rock very well, great pace, great layering and dynamics,..... I would have to go to a Lyra Titan, top ZYX or Transfiguration to beat it. I have had mine a few years now, maybe 800 hrs???? and its stylus looks like it has very little use - so it seems to really last as well.
Thanks for the feedback. Am still deliberating. Raul, I'm a bit uncertain about why the Celebration's being voiced on the SME V would make it the obvious best choice. I'm assuming it would make it synergistic, but to be a devil's advocate, isn't it possible that another cartridge would nevertheless sound better on the arm if it had enough intrinsic advantages over the Celebration and was still compatible?

I'm considering the Celebration, but I've also heard great things about the Helikon. Has anyone heard it on a SME 20/SME V combo? Impressions?
My 2 cents worth - I have a 20/2 with a Phantom B-44 and a Lyra Titan . I used a Helikon on a Sota/ ET 2.5 for years and was very happy with that. But, I listened to a Titan on a SME V on a 20/2 and was amazed at sound I heard. The Titan is a more refined sound in all aspects, IMHO. It was not easy to find the extra bucks for the Titan but for me it was well worh it so I made it a priority in my budget. I don't llisten to digital very much anymore.
Like Bugman03, I too think the Titan is the Lyra to get (maybe the new Skala too, haven't heard it yet). It seems to do the palpability thing the Celebration does, but add the Lyra hall info, and do it all better. I really like the Titan.

The Celebration to my ears, is better than the Helikon. Better bass, bigger stage, better layering..... the only thing about the Helikon that is better than the Celebration, and not by much is the "Hall Info" and rear of stage(as B. Crump would say) is a wee bit more decernable with the Helikon. If you check out Fremer's review of the Helikon, vs the Celebration, he pretty much lays it out, The Celebration is "class A" in his eyes with the SME table and arm (or as I hear it with my Basis Vector). but you have to listen for yourself to see if you hear it the same way as I (I have had them head to head here, as a good friend has a Helikon SL and mono). With either cart your in good shape, but I feel there would be better performance, and better synergy with the Celebration + SME combo (over the Helikon, not over the Titan).
Dear Abullience: The Celebration retail price is only 1.5K ( and second hand no more than 1K ) and the Titan 5K. I always say it: the SME/Celebration outperforms almost any cartridge 2-3 times its price and put the very top ones in shame in some audio areas.

Now, if the price is no object then you can go to the Allaerts or Audio Note Kondo cartridges.

regards and enjoy the music.
Thanks for everyone's responses- I'm now seriously considering the Celebration as well as the Skala. Any experiences w/ the Benz Ruby 3 as well?