Good carts with SME V

Hi there
What could be the carts that match optimally with a SME V tonearm?
My SME is on a Hanss T30 player.

The match should have a resonance around 10 hz - I believe. Or no lower than 8 hz.

Cart suggestions are appreciated, from users of the SME V especially.

I ask also since maybe "official" resonance measures are way off, compared to user experience. Please include the weight and compliance of your cart suggestion, and if possible, your resonance testing frequency. 

Two ways to check your cart-arm resonance frequency:
1 Add weight of cartridge plus 1 g for screws plus tonearm effective mass, into the vinyl engine resonance frequency calculator.

2 Test with Hifi News or similar test record - side B track 2 on the HFN record. You will hear AND see the cartridge wobble at the resonance frequency.
Seems you answered your question.
I would try a Koetsu.
Actually, the best match I ever experienced with the SME V was a Koetsu Black.

Sorry, no weight, no compliance figure, no resonance measurement, just my experience. 

Nice system. The IO was too noisy for me. Although it does have a lot going for it. Happy with my Manley Steelhead. Dead Quiet. Currently have had my modded Technics with Triplanar arm for 9-10 weeks now. Unless I hit a lottery; this will be my final rig.

You have a Lyra Atlas and a couple of other Lyra’s. I have a Dynavector on my Kuzma TT and have become fond of its attributes.
Lyra Kleos on my Triplanar.

 I am thinking of getting a XV1s/t. Also have thought about trying a Koetsu Black as tkr suggested above.

 I have been a Lyra / Scantek Guy since 1988. There are too many cartridges that will match well with your rig. The best/perfect match? Only you can decide that. Everything else, is someone else’s ears, opinion, choice. Did you build your system on someone else’s opinion. You obviously have some cash. Try something!

2M Black. Still my all time favorite.
tkr, nkonor, invictus005

Thank you. Yes, a Koetsu is certainly an idea. I have never tried one.

After I got the Aesthetix Io back from repair a year ago, with new JJ tubes selected by Aesthetix, the noise level was much lower. I also like the Steelhead, a friend has one, dead quiet like you say. But I love the Io’s rich sound and am willing to live with some tube noise.

Not so much cash, no...back in the old days Lyras were not so extremely expensive. I started used, and traded in. With the current price level, however, I am not sure I can follow up. My friend has an Etna, which sounds very good, and says he likes it better than a wood-body Koetsu. I wonder if a Koetsu might be too smooth-sounding in my already quite tubey system.

Luckily my Titan i is still playing. The diamond on my Atlas said farewell the other day (a very sad day). There was an offer for AT ART-9 but it was gone before I called them, and anyway, I am not sure if it would be anything more than an "extra", for me. I have compared with the Ortofon Cadenza Black in my system. A very good, neutral cart, but a bit polite, output a bit low. The Lyras - the Titan, and even more, the Atlas - were better, in my system. Bigger, bolder, better able to tackle dynamic music. But if I had not heard the best Lyras I might be happy with a Cadenza. Maybe the whole idea of having "the best" cartridge has become - unhealthy.

I have had excellent luck with both the Koetsus (Urushi in y case) and a Lyra Clavis.  I still have both running in SMEVs in my systems.

Ask Jonathan Carr at Lyra what current cartridges he thinks best suit the arm.
@o_holter IME with the SME5 you need a slightly lower compliance cartridge, as the arm with the cartridge is going to be medium to higher mass.

I ditched the SME5 for a Triplanar years ago and never looked back. An advantage of the Triplanar is that effective mass can be adjusted, on the SME5 you're stuck with what you get, so you have a wider range of compatible cartridges. The bearings of the Triplanar are lower friction, and the arm tube is damped better as well. Its also a lot easier to set up and you can adjust VTA on the fly.
I had a SME 10 and used a Benz Micro LPS, which sounded great with that combination. I know the arm is different, but still quite similar.

invictus005 is a fan of SME. I believe both tables and arms. You might ask him about alignment. I am not aware if they have easy adjustment for it. I think he would know and if not; how he accomplishes it. It is a necessary parameter.

That is sad about losing the stylus on the Atlas. Have you contacted Lyra / J Carr ?

The price of the better cartridges is just so through the roof. For the first time; I am thinking of the used / low hours route. There is a dealer that advertises here, Artisan Fidelity. Every so often, he has one of the great cartridges available for discounted prices. I would never do this through the mail; but he is just an 1hour drive away. I could hear and inspect the cartridge. He has great market feedback.

Ralph (atmasphere) modded my Technics with Triplanar. His thoughts are worth paying attention to. I am starting to agree with him on cartridges. Once you have Speed Control and a great tonearm. You will finally hear what your cartridge can really do. 

Dear Ralph, Please clue me in; how do you adjust the effective mass on a Triplanar, save by the method common to any tonearm, which is to add mass? But, as for most other tonearms, you cannot reduce effective mass below the basic value with no added weight.  Yes? Thanks.

Of course, I remain a happy TP user after more than 20 years.
My friend has an Etna, which sounds very good, and says he likes it better than a wood-body Koetsu. I wonder if a Koetsu might be too smooth-sounding in my already quite tubey system.
The Koetsu Black has an aluminum body, and sounds smooth with very good dynamics. But it doesn`t have the warmth of the wood- bodied Koetsus.
I’m a SME V user on a JA Michel ORBE SE. please save yourself and look at SOUNDSMITH Mc/Moving iron. 
Post removed 


wspohn – which Koetsu worked best in the SME V?

atmasphere – yes, lower compliance and/or cartridge weight. Maybe I will consider change of the tonearm.

jperry – will take a look.

nkonor – yes I am trying to get in contact with them. They have been good before and things may take a little time.

tkr - Koetsu Black has an aluminum body – like the thick platter on my Hanss T30 – what is the output? - I find it hard to get a picture of how Koetsus sound, from quite varied reviews - some are not so “smooth” anymore, etc. But the mid-tone is the traditional strongest part of their house sound, right?

jahatl513 – ok will check. heard nice things about them. what would be relevant models?

other user reports very welcome.

Another important consideration is the cartridge – phono preamp match. Cart output cannot be too low in my case, using the Aesthetix Io. Carts with 0.5 or more work fine, 0.3 is not as good, and 0.2 is somewhat problematic due to tube noise. It does not take MM carts. Step-up transformers probably need not apply.

wspohn – which Koetsu worked best in the SME V?

I was not a fan of the Black.

I have been running a vintage original  Sugano made Urushi for years. While I could have bought one of the follow-ups (the fancy stone bodied ones) I usually bought a car instead.....same price!
Please clue me in; how do you adjust the effective mass on a Triplanar, save by the method common to any tonearm, which is to add mass? But, as for most other tonearms, you cannot reduce effective mass below the basic value with no added weight.
@lewm Actually the means is simple. The Triplanar is supplied with a series of counterbalance weights. You can use one, or you can use several and spread them out. The distance from the fulcrum makes a difference on the effective mass, so you can adjust a bit by playing with the different weights.

@o_holter One thing I got taught in spades by the Triplanar is that:
***the ability of the arm to track the cartridge properly is **by far** more important than what cartridge is used!***

If the arm can track two cartridges extremely well, even though the cost between them might be 10:1, the difference between the sonics will be slight if audible at all.

Its when the arm has tracking issues that the more expensive cartridges start to shine. 
I know that many audiophiles won't want to hear this, but that's how it is.
Koetsu Black specs:

Description: Low-output moving-coil cartridge. Output: 0.6mV. Compliance: 10–12cu (compliance units). Channel separation: >30dB (1kHz). Cantilever: one-piece boron rod. Stylus profile: proprietary (see text). Recommended load: 5–47k ohms. Recommended downforce: 1.8–2.0gm.

The Koetsu Black was IME a better match with the SME V than the Koetsu Urushi which I also have owned.

I think it is a mistake to only concentrate on the mids when talking about Koetsus. They are also extraordinarily dynamic.
I have very much enjoyed the Kiseki Purple Heart with my SME IV tonearm.  Many great things have been written about this cart and my experience with it agrees with the experts.  
The only problem is I had to add spacers between tonearm and cartridge so that I could raise the tonearm high enough to clear warped LPs.  Once I got that dialed I was very satisfied.  
Prior to the Purple Heart I was using a Lyra Delos.  The Purple Heart is much better than the Delos IMO.  
Snacky - as a fellow Kiseki owner, I had the same issue with warped records.  I solved it by purchasing a couple of Vinyl Flat record flatteners.  An hour in the sun at 80 degrees F. and warped records come out pool table flat.  Great product, as is the NS Purpleheart.  My only other ‘issue’ with the Kiseki was the 80 hours it took to settle in.  Mine started out hot and required a lengthy break in before smoothing out.  
Thanks all. Yes, I am willing to listen - Koetsu, Kiseki, others.

Meanwhile here is a little home update, my Lyra Titan i.

Experimenting more with the Lyra Titan i, back in my SME V arm now that the Atlas is broken, I play Yes: Relayer, a kind of torture track test, known as very busy, dynamic record, not easy to get right.

I notice that adjustments (weight, antiskating, tonearm height) make a big difference. When they get better, what may at first sound like hardness and sibilants become less obtrusive. I had the arm quite high, turning it down ca parallel made for better mid-tone. Weight a bit up. Antiskating almost halfway down.

The Titan i does make this record sound “sharp”. But was it meant to sound that way? I think, yes. There should be some razor blade to the sound. Now that it is better adjusted, the bass performance is very tight and sounds great. The guitar of Steve Howe sounds more full, warm.

tkr - so the black could be the best Koetsu alternative in my context? Output 0.6 is fine. Which Urushi did you have? Just by looking I liked the sky blue. Not sure, which of the new more wider frequency (stone body?) Koetsus would be best match.
I have tried the following Koetsus on my SME V: Black, Urushi Sky Blue and Coralstone. The Black was a very good match, the Urushi was a tad too romantic, and the Coralstone sounded, well, a bit disappointing. Right now, the Coralstone is mounted on my FR 64 FX, which IMO is a much better match for it than the SME V.
Mvh Tønnes
Dear @o_holter : "  But I love the Io’s rich sound and am willing to live with some tube noise.  ""

""  Bigger, bolder, better able to tackle dynamic music."""   

tube noise means higher distortion levels and that rich sound means " tubey ". Live MUSIC and what's in the recording and LP recorded grooves is way different to all those.

"" to polite the Cadenza Black.... ", not really problem is that you are accustomed to a " fake " sound, to much make-up when does not exist in the recording or live events.

As @nkonor I told you months ago that the weak audio item in your system is that IO: no matters what, period.

Again, forgeret rigth now for that cartridge/tonearm resonance frequency that has you: terroryze " when it's not exactly as you said.

Remember your Atlas thread where you insist on that resonance frequency issue that in reality you don't have it?.
In that thread my very first post was that because your Atlas had over 1,500 hours the problem belonged there and only at the ""  "" and after " thousands " of posts from other gentlemans you, by facts you experienced " was convinced that the problem was in the cartridge it self.

Now, you don't need to change your arm and if you like the Lyra signature then you can go with the Kleos that was the first Lyra design with the new  design characteristics where came the Atlas and Etna.
The Benz Micro is a great option too over the Koetsu and near to the Lyra.

But if I were you my focus will be in two subjects: a change in the phono stage and that Lyra fix your Atlas. No you don't need a different tonearm, your experiences with told all of us that the culprit was just from began the cartridge it self.

@lewm , it's almost ridiculous ( even that we all know it. ) to think that we will change the resonance frequency changing the counterweigth position and its weight. That's why almost never helps to change the resonance frequency say from 6hz to 8hz or from 12hz to 10hz.
The inertia moment is directly proportional to the distance of the weigth and that's why as far away from the fulcrum we change the weigth as higher or lower can be that resonance frequency value along a compliance that we can't really change.

Sometimes we want to invent the " black thread " when already " invented ".

Anyway, @o_holter  you already have the Atlas where I think no one can buy it from you so to fix it is the best way to go and in the mean time you have the Titan i and you can send the Clavis DC to Andy for retip with boron cantilever and I'm sure you will like it. Repeat, you don't need to change the SME 5.


Tønnes – thank you. Probably, the Black would be most interesting to try, in my system.

Raul – I know you don’t like tubed phono stages. Yes, there are minuses, but plusses too. It is not like I go to friends places with solid-state stages and then when I get home I hear “fake” sound. I suggest we agree to disagree on that one. We agree on the tonearm, however.  The Atlas + SME V combo has a low ca 7hz frequency. But is it an issue? I thought so, but was probably wrong. The real reason for the problem (woofer pumping) seems to be the diamond/cantilever connection gradually going bad, until the diamond got lose and then finally fell off. It happened after 12-1300 hours (I recalculated).

The Titan i has maybe 1800 hours, but happily, after a little adjustment, still runs fine, although a little worn-sounding. After more adjustments most of the worn sound (harshness and sibilants, muddy bass) was gone, and I was reminded of what a great cartridge the Titan i is.  Going from the Clavis to the Titan was a larger step up, for me, than from Titan to Atlas. But this may also be due to a problem with the Clavis (riding too low). So yes, a retip and boron cantilever may be a good idea, when the Atlas has been fixed (for now, I need the Clavis as backup).

My SME V does not have mistracking issues. Mistracking occurs only when the vinyl groove is really bad. I did some testing of the arm bearing and found no problems. Maybe the Atlas tracks best, then Titan, and then Clavis – but they are quite similar. If the record is reasonably OK and the arm is fully adjusted, there are no tracking problems. This behavior is very different from the Souther/Clearaudio Triquartz parallel arm I had before, I never managed to get it to control the cartridge properly.  With the SME V – no problem. The rigid construction, materials etc probably means that it can work well even if resonance is on the low side. The Titan, weighing ca 1 g less than the Atlas, is less challenging in this respect (and the Clavis, weighing even less). I can confirm that reducing effective tonearm mass by shifting the counterweight towards the arm base, taking off the upper bridge, and similar, does not have much impact on the resonance (testing with the HFN record). It became only a tiny bit higher, from maybe 7.1 hz to 7.2 if I remember right; it did not seem worth it.  

I am considering a Koetsu Black offer here on Agon, but have to check on the production year and the number of hours. The underside is black, not gold as I've seen from review pictures.

Raul suggested - get a boron cantilever for the Lyra Clavis. I guess my model has a  "Ceralloy" composite cantilever. What would be the sonic benefits?

I also wonder - would it be worth it, considering my experience with Lyra carts over the years. Comparing Clavis, Titan and Atlas, there is no doubt there has been improvements. Lyra made several step up attempts (Helikon, Evolve) trying to improve the Clavis. The first new line "flagship" was the Titan, soon followed by an improved "i" version. I had both, and the "i" version really was a main step up, compared to the Clavis. Putting the Clavis back in my system, my first thought is: "hi fi sound". It sounds restricted. Like sound we put up with, twenty years ago. Putting on a different cantilever probably won't solve the problem. But who knows? I've seen some serious Clavis tweaking on the web, including a semi-nude, holed up, version of the body.

Testing some more, the Titan i. Yes: The Yes album, and Fragile - UK originals.Certainly heavy duty fare.The cart is mainly up to it.Not much congested but a bit flat and hard on the highest dynamic parts of the music.The Atlas tones this down and - all in all - delivers more information.But the Titan, properly adjusted, does very well indeed.Some is a matter of taste - on this level.The titan is a bit like a "panzer in the desert", less humane than the Atlas - more direct, but may sound great e g on electric passages. Maybe a bit tighter than the Atlas in some respects. Bass is fast and tight.
@rauliruegas What about all of those records from the 60s-70s that had tube equipment somewhere in the chain, from recording to cutting, do they not have tubey sound part of what’s cut in the grooves? 

The Titan i does make this record sound “sharp”. But was it meant to sound that way? I think, yes. There should be some razor blade to the sound. Now that it is better adjusted, the bass performance is very tight and sounds great. The guitar of Steve Howe sounds more full, warm.

I've been a Yes fan from way back, and also have UK originals for most of their early stuff.
I've not heard any sharpness on Relayer. The only version of Close to the Edge that seems to hold up is the original UK version (the pipe organ does not break up) followed closely by the Mobile Fidelity version. In a number of ways The Yes Album (purple Atlantic label) seems the best recorded...
Atmasphere - glad you like Yes -or like me, their best parts. Pipe organ - I will check.
Invictus005 and rauliregas - a case in point could be Doors albums. Recorded through tubes at first, s-state later. Giving a more hard, flat sound, to my ears. Although much is forgiven when I listen to the Analogue Production 45 rpm double LPs of the albums.Koetsu Black is off the map for now, has been sold. Not sure if it would be anything for me anyway. Much is shrouded mystery it seems. One writer states that carts even within one model sound widely different. Lyras have a consistent sound, Koetsus not.

I love form and finish as a final solution in a product. A beautiful-sounding cart should have as good a material design and form and look as well as possible. But more than that? I get sceptical. If the sound is so-so, does it help me if I look at the beautiful cartridge? No, it is totally irrelevant. So all these exquisite stones and materials, the "look good" carts, who do they appeal to, serious listeners, or rich people wanting to show off?
Atmasphere - listening to Yes Close to the edge, side B track one with a heavy organ solo, I dont hear any breakup. Where do you hear it? I have a ca second press UK.
I’m surprised I didn’t read one vdh recommendation?  That tonearm is supplied with his cable.

I had the sme 4 In a set up that included a davinci grandezza 12” and a spj lyla arm. Although the sme 4 was my least favorite of the 3, it matched my frog perfectly and they produced an incredible presentation together.  I had a universe on the lyla and dynavector drt Xv-1s on the davinci.

The Xv-1s and davinci was a match made in heaven. It was the best combo I have ever experienced period and by a great deal.  The universe and lyla and the frog and sme 4 were fantastic as well.  They very close in their interpretations with each doing something’s better than the other.  If I had to pick one or the other I would have to pick the universe and lyla.  

But the frog was best with the sme for sure and that combo was far less expensive and would be considered a lesser pairing than the others simply by price and there prospective weight class.  But they held there own admirably. 

listening to Yes Close to the edge, side B track one with a heavy organ solo, I dont hear any breakup. Where do you hear it? I have a ca second press UK.
That's because you have a UK press which is pretty good :) The American press breaks up and so does the German, to a lessor extent.
Right! I have originals, some UK, some US - so I think I will resist the Steven Wilson remaster.
sublmnl - thanks - thats an interesting experience you had with the Frog mating with the SME IV. One might think that the arm was a bit heavy but apparently not? Compliance seems very high - 35? When I put the figures into the vinyl engine calculator I get a problematic 6hz resonance. But no problem (rumble, vinyl noise, overdone deep bass) in your case?
Are you not happy with your Atlas? I did not like the Helikon on my SME V - not enough body and warmth for my taste. If you're looking for a fleshier, sexier (?) sound I think a Koetsu would be fabulous or a Kiseki or Sumiko Palo Santos.
tsloan - I love the Atlas, no problem, but it needs repair/retip. My friend had a Helikon on a SME V and could never get it quite right. I think the Titan was a better cart. So, for me, it is more a question of trying something new, and have a backup cart.
I have only heard an SME 20 but I will say that the Koetsu that the earlier poster described may be a great option.  I bet it would sound great on an SME
Maybe a benz Gullwing
Ideal requirements:

1 My phono stage plays fine with carts from 0.25 output and it can probably sound good (with quiet tubes) with just 0.20 too. But in my system, it really shines with higher output carts, like 0.5 or 0.6.

2 The SME V effective mass is 10.5 g. Other things equal, a lower weight cart (10.5 grams rather than 11.6, for example) offers more room for increased compliance. The Titan and Atlas have the same specified compliance. Yet the Atlas, due to 1.1 g more weight, pushes the cart-arm resonance further down (towards 7hz). It may be a problem, in some systems. The compliance of the Lyras is around 20 (at 10hz). This seems to fit the energy-absorbing SME V with its rigid structure quite well. But with greater weight, it may be too much of a good thing.

3 I have not been able to clarify exactly what SME V users prefer, regarding carts, should they be low weight, low compliance, or what. Maybe the diverse experiences testifies to the qualities of the arm, it can take on many comers. Some users report good results from cart-arm combinations that don't fit the resonance calculations. Nevertheless, I want to follow the common rule. The resonance should be around 8-10hz. This means 1) a lighter and/or 2) a stiffer cart, compared to the Atlas, 11.6 g with a compliance ca 20. 8-12 g is probably OK for the arm, but compliance should be a bit down if the cart is weighty, more like 14-16. 

So I end up with: output ca 0.5, weight 8-12g, compliance 16 or lower.

It may be that with good tonearms like the SME V, the resonance calculators and test record results are not very indicative. You may have a very good sounding cart, with no perceived problems (maybe, depending on system resolution in low frequencies), even if the cart-arm resonance is  7Hz or lower. This might be a way to explain the very varied user results. Cf sublmnl, with the Frog, above. By the book it should be problematic, by the ears, it was great.
tzh21y - Benz Gullwing - could be interesting, thanks. 0.35 output, 12.2 g, compliance 15. Wish I had one, to try.

Snackeyp, markmendenhall - Kiseki - yes, this is an interesting alternative. I read a very good review of the purple heart. Pricing is not up in the sky. Output is a healthy (for me) 0.48, weight only 7 g, so even if  the given compliance of 16 is Japanese (at 100Hz), it may work.
I had good luck with the SME5 and the Micro Benz cartridges, but that was a while ago. The Micro Benz was a trooper though- the cantilever suspension held up for over 10 years. 
I wish I had the finance to try all the good suggestions offered - Koetsu, Kiseky, vdH, Benz - it would have been useful for all. For now, I fall back on my Lyra Titan i, still doing a fair job, and I must consider a new cart carefully, for financial reasons.
The important thing to keep in mind is that the ability of the tone arm to properly track the cartridge is far more important than what cartridge you actually get. In this regard an inexpensive cartridge will totally keep up with one that might cost 10 or 50x more if the tracking is right (and if any loading requirements that the cartridge or preamp may have are satisfied).

Basically, if its all correct, it will sound like music :)
The important thing to keep in mind is that the ability of the tone arm to properly track the cartridge is far more important than what cartridge you actually get. In this regard an inexpensive cartridge will totally keep up with one that might cost 10 or 50x more if the tracking is right (and if any loading requirements that the cartridge or preamp may have are satisfied).

Basically, if its all correct, it will sound like music :)
This is a very interesting concept (interesting enough that you said it twice :-)). Ralph-time and time again I have thanked you for your input. I will be the last to say that you are incorrect. I just had my TD124 hot-rodded by Greg Metz of STS/Classic Thorens (shameless plug) with a Reed 3P arm and Greg waxed on and on about how killer it sounded in his system with a simple vintage Shure MM cartridge. Each time I moved up the price tier on turntables and arms, I increased my price-point on cartridges. That is just our natural inclination. I was waiting for a Cadenza Bronze to arrive and put in an old Benz Glider SL. For some reason, I was able to nail perfect alignment on my third try with the Benz. It sounded worlds better with the new deck and Reed arm than it had sounded on my previous VPI decks. The Bronze came in. Out went the Glider. I still have not nailed perfect alignment with the Bronze but I came very close. It too sounds very good and it's not yet broken in. It would take a lot of willpower, but I would like to see how a Denon 103R would sound. That said, it is drilled into our heads by certain well known experts that complex styli shapes and exotic cantilevers and precious wiring all bound together by space age body composite or material are necessary for getting all the information dug out from the groove(s). How could a lowly vintage Shure MM with a crudely shaped stylus profile and a low compliance bulky cantilever made by JICO possibly compete in sonics?