Here are a couple others that have been mentioned to me.
Basis 2500 signature
Acoustic Signature Thunder
Any opinions on how these would compare to the SME and Clearaudio, using the SME arm?
Had a basis table with vector 4 arm. Now have innovation wood with graham supreme arm and benz lp-s cartridge (and second arm is schick 12" with Miyajima mono). While i tend toward wanderlust, given the performance of clearaudio innovation I AM done. Utterly perfect pitch stability. Easy to set up. Could not be happier with service level (eg Mike at Musical Surroundings). The Innovation takes best of digital (low noise floor and powerful dynamics) and adds magic of analogue - huge soundstage and true harmonics/texture. I could not be happier. AJ at Basis makes great suspended tables esp if used with his vector tonearm. But i like the speed stability and clarity of the innovation.
Here are a couple others that have been mentioned to me...
How about Linn LP12?
Thousands of audiophiles can't be wrong....
I did not like the Linn as much as the Audio Note TT that replaced it and I did not like the AN TT as much as the Clearaudio Ovation that I presently have. You should not overlook the Clearaudio arms. I don't have experience with Lyra so I can't attest to how they might match up.
Syntax, I'll let those thousands enjoy the LP12s.
I think I will stick to either the SME or Clearaudio. I'll use my SME V arm until I can afford to add a graham arm to whichever table I end up with.
Another Innovation Wood fan here. Mounted on it, I have a Graham Phantom II with an Benz Ebony S-L and a Clearaudio Universal arm with an A90. It's an excellent table.
I don't know anything about the Clearaudio tables, but I owned the SME Model 10 with V arm for eight years and now have the SME 30/12 with V-12 arm. I have not heard the 20/3, but I read that it's sound approaches the regular 9" Model 30. If you have heard it and like it and since you will be using your V arm, I would suggest buying the 20/3. IMO, the suspended SME tables are very good platforms for allowing the cartridge to perform. I find them very neutral, though many disagree and think they are dull, slow, unexciting. My two SME tables have never sounded like that in my system. With the new power supply/motor controller, the table is very speed accurate, has great isolation and is built to be a "last purchase". You can also have every confidence in the quality of the company.
You might also consider the barely-used 20/12 on Audiogon. This could be an interesting alternative for a similar price to a new 20/3. The V-12 arm is incredible and I find it to be significantly better than the standard V.
If you are looking for a plug and play turntable with excellent support, the Sota Cosmos IV meets your requirements and is well matched with the SME V. Plus you get vacuum hold down and the best suspension in the business. Something to consider if you dont have a very good support for a fixed table.
Another thumbs up for Sota Cosmos....hard to go wrong with that table. Sota, Basis, TW Raven, Clearaudio, can't go wrong...
Linn only if you pay megabucks for all the upgrades, IMHO, since that format is sooooooo long in the tooth in its original incarnation. Recent technology and engineering counts for something...
Perhaps you can't go wrong, but there are sonic differences between the tables
you mention and they can be large depending on how resolving your system is.
There are also differences between the companies in terms of size, longevity,
For some, small differences matter a lot. For others, its all about the same after
a certain level is reached and they would rather just listen to music.
Which of these tables have you heard in systems similar and resolving enough to discriminate among them? Just curious, since you seem to have firm ideas about their sonic differences.
Wrm57, I don't know to which turntables you refer, but these are some of the ones I have heard in fairly good systems:
Dobbins The Beat
I don't have firm ideas as to their differences as I've only heard SME tables in my own system. But I do have impressions about their differences. The systems I did hear these tables in all sounded different, some very much so. I can not extrapolate how much the turntables contributed to the sounds, let alone the arms or cartridges. But I do have impressions about the tables in terms of speed accuracy, isolation, extension and neutrality. They are my impressions only and others, I'm sure would have different ideas.
I do have firm ideas about the SME Model 10 and SME Model 30/12 which you could email me about privately. I don't want to bore others.
I do think what some consider minor sonic differences may be considered major by others.
Thanks for the detailed reply. You have quite a breadth of experience with fine turntables. If I may ask (without hijacking the thread), which of the TWs did you hear and what were your general impressions? I'm quite happy with my current decks (I just posted my system, sans pics for now) but I'm intrigued by the AC. If I were to jump, it might be in that direction, cutting back to a single turntable that could handle three arms.
You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org about the TW tables. I've heard the Raven, AC-1 and Black Night. I'd rather not take the focus off of the original post of this thread.
I agree with Peterayer that, apart from general impression, it is almost impossible to reasonably characterize the sound of tables, much less how they will sound in any give system (which includes the listening room) and how the owner will receive the sound.
Because it is pretty much impossible to actually try different table/arm combinations in one's system before making a purchase, table purchase is a bit of a gamble.
My own comments, which will follow, like that of Peter, should be considered only rough impressions.
Certain tables just sound more lively and punchy, while others sound more composed and dark (quiet). Which is better depends on system and preference. The SME tables are in the composed and darker camp. If one does not need the table/arm to inject some liveliness into the sound, this is a good choice. I own a Basis Debut table which is very much in this camp (does a good job of dampening vibration imparted by the cartridge in the record itself and the tonearm). To me, these kind of tables sound less hashy and rough. But, in a system that is already somewhat dynamically dull (a lot of systems are), such tables can sound overdampened and dull.
The Clearaudio tables I've heard seem to be a bit more in the lively camp, but, not excessively so. I have heard terrific systems built around their tables.
I don't know what you are looking for in a table, but, I will say that I consider the Michell to be in the lively camp. If you liked that sound, but want just a little bit "more" (e.g., weight in the bass) then the Clearaudio table is probably a better choice. If you want a bigger change, then go with the SME.
By the way, I've heard the Carmel speaker and was really impressed with what I heard. In many respects it is the diametric opposite of the kind of design that I normally prefer, but it does so much right (instrumental tone and harmonic structure, clarity, detail). It is a "modern" sounding speaker, which means it does lean toward the leaner and "drier" side of the spectrum, but avoids much of the unmusically analytical sound of much of its competition.
If I were making making the choice you have to make (given my own taste and what I know of your speaker system), I might lean more toward the SME, but, really either would work well and would be a great choice. I would say the same about a lot of the other recommendations made above--I love my Basis table, I think the Sota is a great table for the money.
I am leaning towards the SME. My next cartridge will be the Titan i. I think (going by Larryi's description) my cartridge, table, and speakers fall into the lively camp. While everything else is leaning the other way. I've got to the point with this system that the Carmels are producing (for my tastes) the perfect blend of resolution and speed with lots of meat on the bones. My biggest fear is to go to far over in either direction from what I am hearing now.
I want a neutral table that is super quiet, keeps as close to perfect speed control as possible, and built to last as long as I do.
Tom, that last sentence describes my SME 30/12 quite well. Despite what many have said and written about the SME sound, I find the tables very neutral. In my limited experience, both my SME 10 and 30/12 allow me to hear differences in recording qualities very easily. I could also clearly hear the differences between the V and V-12 arms and Air Tight PC-1 and Supreme cartridges.
The SME table is a very solid, neutral platform for the arm/cartridge that will last a lifetime. Though I haven't heard the 20/3 specifically, I'm sure it will not "go too far over in either direction from what I am hearing now" in your words.
I know a guy who has an SME 30 with V arm and Titan i cartridge. He's had the table/arm for 17 years. He says it is only bested by his other table - a 30/12 with V-12 arm and Lyra Olympus cartridge.