At the risk of further exposing my ignorance on this site, compared w/ the experience of others above, and given that no one else has, I will offer (somewhat of) a defense of the SME, simply because I owned a Gyro SE/SME 309 combo for nearly a year. During the time I had the SME arm, I had a Clearaudio Virtuoso, VDH MC10 (old version) and Golding Elite, along w/ a budget Grado. I have read about, but never seen in person, heard or otherwise personally experienced any of the Origin Live products. The SME and VHD on the Michell at times sounded very realistic, particularly w/ some blues and jazz LPS. I am tempted to say that, together with the rest of the system, it provided some of the best reproduced sound I have heard at times, but given the short-comings of aural memory, that is a hard statement to back up. Nevertheless, on blues, jazz and other "ligher" acoustical music, there was a clear synergy going on w/ the three. (I have heard that Michell uses SME and VHD for testing inhouse, which would explain why the Michell might be voiced to maximize the potential of these components.) However, the Michell/SME/VDH simply didn't "rock" or "boogie" with a lot of rock/pop music. In addition, the combo had a higher noise floor than I would have preferred w/ classical music, even compared w/ a Planar 25. Part of the problem, I think, was my constant experimenting w/ set-up, together w/ the lack of appropriate shelving, and the give in my suspended wooden floors that caused the Gyro's suspension to be almost constantly moving. Also, this was the older version of the VDH; the newer ones are supposed to be better.
The Clearaudio cartridge had been impressive on the stock RB250 arm I had before the SME, but for some reason didn't match well w/ the SME. On paper, it should have worked, but didn't. The Goldring was ok, and the Grado was, well an inexpensive Grado, with a nice warm, natural but dark tone, not as resolving of details.
As with you, I have considered OL products, and may yet get one, but I have been a little concerned that in all the reviews, while praising the sound, the review notes short-comings in the appearance/construction. If you go to the vinyl asylum, you will also see a few people reporting defects in OL arms they purchased, but I have no idea if this is a common problem. In reading SME arm reviews, whatever else they might think of the arm, no one doubts SME's construction quality and durability. Also, in reading a few of these reviews (mainly in the British press) most of the comparisons seem to be to arms they have owned or heard in the past, and not direct comparisons w/ products they have on hand. Such comparisons are inherently suspect to me. (The TNT review, however, may be an exception.) My final point about some of these reviews is that, even if they involved a direct comparision, they generally involved only one or two cartridges (maybe three) that the reviewer had on hand, and maybe one or at most two tables. A true comparision, which would be difficult, would involve living w/ both arms for a period of time and trying a wide range of cartridges on several types of tables. I suspect in such a comparision, the OL would work better w/ some set-ups, and the SME might be better with others, as my experience w/ the Clearaudio Virtuoso suggests. Neverthess, beyond suggesting there may be some synergy with the SME & VHD cartridges, I can't provide any info as to cartridges that might work well w/ the SME. However, if you know the cartridge you are going to be using, you might post a question about the OL/SME arms and that cartridge.
To qualify what I have said here even more, I should point out that I have now sold the Gyro, SME and VDH (all separately), and am now looking for a new analog set-up.