Need Advice Sota Sapphire III + SME IV arm

I recently inherited my grandfather's SOTA Star Sapphire III TT equipped with a very nice SME IV tonearm. He probably bought this back in 1989 or '90 and it was never played. He bought some Infinity IRS Beta speakers and I think he just thought he needed the best of everything to put with it - but he really just played CDs at that point.

I've never had a vacuum TT before and am debating on what to do with it. Other than needing a new cartridge everything works great! My current system is Paradigm Monitor 9s with a Rega Brio-r.

I took the table in to my local Hi-Fi store that I bought my other equipment at and they were advising me to trade it in a get something like a Rega RP-6 instead. I'm not sure how to estimate what the SOTA and SME IV would sell for but I don't think that I am getting good trade in value...

Any advise on whether to just get a new cartridge (something like a Dynavector 10x5) and keep the SOTA or should I look in to selling it and get something like the Rega P6?

Thanks for any help!
Contact SOTA. Very nice people. I met them at AXPONA last year. I don't own one of their tables but, would if I was upgrading. The table you have would near (at) the top of my list. Do not trade it in for a newer, generic Rega, Project, Music Hall etc.
It would be a trajedy to replace a SOTA + SME with a REGA. Get in touch with SOTA if you need help to get it running or reconditioned. The used value is $3500 minimum.
I would take a Sota and SME over a Rega any day. If your TT has never been played since 1990 the suspension may have sagged and in need of a re-tuning. You should call Donna or Kirk at Sota and ask for advices. They will be more than happy to help you.

I currently have a Sota Cosmos IV in Cocobollo finish with a Graham Phantom and Ortofon A90 which i am very happy with the sonic results. I owned a Star Sapphire circa 1989-90 with SME V and that gave me many years of musical enjoyment before trading it in for the Cosmos.
I would be wary of returning to the dealer who made that trade offer.

I foolishly did the same thing with a Linn Sodek / Ittok combination and traded for a Marantz (clearaudio) tt. I got $300 off the list price. That was a foolish mistake economically and for audible reasons.

I don't blame the dealer, he's making a living. I blame myself, for not thoroughly researching the value of the Linn and the choices available for moving on from 22 years of living with the Linn.

The SOTA requires set up patience, but you will be rewarded with your perseverance.
Agree with the others; you'd be crazy to trade that in for Rega, unless you
were to net a wad of cash back (of course the reality is they'll ask you for your
table/arm PLUS a wad of cash, which is ludicrous).

Is that really a vacuum model? The Star series III (one step up from the
III) had a 4-point sprung suspension and a vacuum system. The Sapphire III
a 3-point suspension and no vacuum. The Star III is more desirable for its 4-
point suspension, but most of these models -- that haven't been refurbished
with a new platter -- will have their silicon platter lip in such poor condition
the vacuum hold-down fails (even if the pump still works fine, which it

My Star III (acquired 2007) had a bad lip -- I simply defeated the lip so that
records could at least lie flat on the platter (better than dishing outwards to a
slightly raised lip), and enjoyed all the other fine attributes of this excellent
table. With a quality arm like the SME IV, you'll have one hell of a table
it's a Sapphire or a Star, but especially if a Star).
I had a Sota with an SMEV that didn't work well together...the arm was too heavy for the suspension. Maybe the IV is lighter and therefore will work better, but find out before spending a lot of money on it.
Good call; I didn't consider possible weight issues with the SME. Though on my Star III, I had a Fidelity Research FR64fx running beautifully -- and I can't imagine an SME IV being heavier than that. The 4-point vs. 3-point suspension may be crucial in these cases, since a heavy arm certainly destabilizes a 3-point.
I have a Sota Sapphire III. It has 4 suspension springs. I have an SME 309 arm plus a bag of lead for proper balance.
Doh, I was misinformed; I though all older Sapphires has 3-point. I have played with an old Sapphire (with the Jelco-made Koetsu arm that's not nearly as heavy/nice as a FR64fx) that was definitely 3-point. The 4-point suspension is much nicer.
Thanks for all the comments! My gut told me to keep the SOTA but I wasn't sure if that was for sentimental reasons because it is my Grandfathers old TT. I've bought stuff from this dealer in the past and I trust these guys... not sure why he was pushing so hard for the trade-in.

Mulveling - you were right, it would have been a trade in AND i would have to pay some more $ for the P6.

I've contacted SOTA and they were super helpful. I'm planning on getting it tuned up and can't wait to see what this this can do!

Any recommendations on replacing the cart? My grandad had a Monster Alpha genesis 1000 but my budget is closer to the $500 range. I've read a lot of good things about the Dynavector 10x5.
I have a non-vacuum Sapphire III I bought new back in the day and recently upgraded by Kirk to V platter, suspension & external power supply (motor was fine). I went with a Graham arm and XX2 Mk II from my (sadly non-repairable) Magnepan Unitrac I & 17D3.

The SME IV is really something and with a refurbishment of the table, you will have about as close as you can get to state-of-the-art without dropping stupid money. That isn't to say a refurb will be cheap. It won't. However, if I were you, I'd spend whatever Kirk suggests to get the mechanicals up to snuff. It will be worth it.

I am a huge Dynavector fan. Their carts are smooth, natural, neutral and tight. With your speakers, and as good as it may be, the 10X5 won't even scratch the surface of what you could achieve with that table and arm. I strongly suggest you save some $$$ and go for at least a 20X2H (or better, the 20X2L if you are willing to go low output).

If it were my $$$, I would go low output with the 17D3. Get the VTA set right, and the 17D3 would make your system come alive. You could also consider the XX2 Mk II, but you want to be really sure that is the way you want to go before diving in.

Just my 2 cents, regardless. Good luck & happy listening!
With regard to your Monster Alpha cartridge I think you should send it to Andy at for inspection and see what he has to say. You may be fine or it may just need a tune up. I think the cost for inspection is about $30.
I owned a Star Sapphire Series III w vacuum for many years in the 90s. If you keep it (and I too would never trade it for Rega), you might consult SOTA to not only repair or replace the lip on the platter but more importantly in my opinion to upgrade the motor mount such that the belt is not stretched when the suspension flexes. The biggest flaw of my SSS III was pitch instability caused by the fact that the motor was mounted to the chassis while the platter, of course, is suspended by the springs. When the suspension was activated by any mechanical vibration, the belt would be stretched minutely, causing pitch to be altered. In the Cosmos and later models, they fixed that issue. OR, deactivate the springs and treat it like an unsuspended tt.