Never directly compared the two, so I cannot say definitively which would be better. I have my suspicions, but that is all I can say without a direct comparison.
As for cartridges, I can only conclude you want a top notch one, because that would be proper for such high end rigs. It depends on how much you want to spend. You might want to check the archives for some info, and then narrow it down to a few and audition them.
Would you put the Teres combo in the same league as the SME's? There is quite a price difference.
TWl has said many times he considers the Teres among the finest turntables made today, at any price.
He and I both use Origin live silver arms with shelter 501 cartridges. This combo works well together, and is the best high-end value out there.
As I said previously, I have not directly compared them. But it would not surprise me at all, if the Teres was not only in the league, but better. Beating more expensive turntables is what the Teres does best. I can't tell you for sure if it will beat the SME 20. But it does beat plenty of other tables up to $10k or more, so it wouldn't suprise me a bit. The price difference is why I recommend it so often, because the price is not an indicator of the performance of this table. I don't claim that it is the absolute best TT, but it is one hell of a good TT at a very low price.
As you know, I am analog-only and have a very revealing tube system, and I am very particular about sound quality. The Teres 245 is what I currently have, and I am very happy with what I am getting from it. The 255 is the top-of-the-line and will do even better. You could compare the 255 to anything made at the top levels, and the difference would be splitting hairs. When you factor in the price, there is no contest. Some comparisons I am aware of have included the Clearaudio Master Reference, Verdier La Platine, TNT MK5, top line Basis, and the Teres was either superior, or in the case of the Verdier, a tie. A Walker was found to have a slight edge in certain areas, in one test. No comparisons to Rockport yet. These tests were done by other people, not me. Including one professional reviewer for Listener Magazine. His conclusion was that,"makers of 5-figure American turntables should be very, very scared", when referring to the Teres. So what I would say is, that you can get real close to the top of analog for under $3k(w/o arm) with a Teres 255. How much more do you want to spend for that additional tenth of a percent that you might get with one of the few tables that can beat it?
I only point this out as a great value in analog. I don't intend to disparage any other analog rigs, because many are very good. It is the price/performance ratio of the Teres that makes it such a terrific value. I am sure the SME 20 would be a fine sounding table, and you would be happy with it. The same would be true of the Teres 255. As you point out, there is a large price difference.
Sorry if I misread you, smokester, but I get the impression that this will be your first turntable. (?) Assuming that this is the case I would ask Twl and other owners of higher end tt's if it is advisable for a "first-timer" to get a table such as either of the two orginally mentioned.
Just to be clear, my intent here is to learn from the more experienced and not to make a disparaging comment. :)
I do not know these tables well enough to comment, but if you want the least fussy, best tracking, most neutral MC cartridge on the market, I recommend the Benz-Micro Ruby 2. It works well with almost any table. By the way, a general comment regarding turntables. There are many new rigs in the marketplace. I have heard many of them. Many will not be around in 5-10 years. I think you should consider manufacturers who will be here should you need them. ie Welltempered (Transparent Cable), VPI, SME, Nottingham, Basis. Stay away from the exotics if you can.
Dan ed, I think that getting any turntable is a commitment. There are some things that will have to be learned, no matter which TT you buy. Once those are learned, they apply to all TTs. It is just as easy to learn them on a great TT as a poor one, and maybe easier because changes in settings will be more easily heard on a great table. A big difference between some TTs is suspension vs non-suspension. They both have their proponents, but adjusting a suspension is one of the more advanced things to learn about a turntable. A non-suspension TT would be a little easier for a novice to deal with. Both the tables above mentioned will have to have the arms installed by the user, but this is a piece of cake. Setting VTA and tracking force, as well as anti-skate will be required on any decent TT. So, to answer your question, I think that most TTs will be within the abilities of a novice to set up, as long as they do their homework. Every TT user should know this stuff, because they can't just cart the table down to the dealer every time something needs adjusting. Transporting is not good on any table, and the adjustments may shift or be lost during the transport process, because the platter and counterweight should be removed during transport, to protect the bearings. So it is incumbent on the TT user to learn the basics of analog. I think just about any table is suitable for this. The ones with fussy suspensions like a Linn would be the hardest on a novice. Also, there are knowledgable folks on this forum who are glad to answer questions for those trying to improve their sound. So no member of Audiogon has to "go it alone". They have support from other members who can answer their questions.
Many thanks for the learned responses.
Twl, you have very generously gone beyond the call of duty as usual. I have followed your threads about the Teres and they have been very influential.
I had a Transcriptor TT thirty years ago which was quite good for the time. However, for many of the intervening years I have been without a decent TT (Technics doesn't count). The technology has advanced so much that I feel a lot like Rip van Winkle. I am definitely a beginner all over again.
I have a technical and musical background and am not hesitant to dive into the deep end of the pool. (Dan_ed: I do have many head scars.)
Elinor: Thanks for the advice on cartridges. That is another area where I have absolutely no idea. Do you consider Teres an exotic?
On the issue of suspension: With the suspensionless TT's like the Teres or the SME 10 I was assuming that if I have isolation problems I would add an isolation table to set the TT on. Is that reasonable or does one end up with complex interactions?
Also, I have not been able to find reviews of a Teres other than on this site. Can anybody point me to one?
Finally, my main problem with the Teres is being able to audition one. I have an excellent dealer nearby who sells SME and many of the others that Elinor mentions. I have found that if I don't listen to a component before I buy it I am invariably disappointed. Buying blind (or is it deaf) usually almost doubles the cost of a component and has lead me to buy mainly from dealers who have good auditioning facilities and policies...It's actually cheaper. However, between the lauditory statements made on this site and the cost effectiveness, I am tempted to go for the Teres and buy the arm from the dealer if he will help me set it up.
Again, many thanks.
Smokester, the issue of how a table will interact with the room and floorborne vibrations is very dependent on the individual situation. I have found that my Teres actually has less problems with this than my suspended turntables. If it is possible, a mass-loaded non-suspension TT should be on a very heavy rigid stand, preferably a low one. I have found that any soft type of isolation device, including airbags and such, are severely counterproductive to the sound quality, and I cannot stand to have them in my system. A suspended TT generally will sound better with a lightweight rigid stand under it. Note that I do not say flimsy or creaky. I said light and rigid. The TT stand should be dedicated, with no other components sharing it.
You can go to Vinyl Asylum and read user reports of the Teres. There is a Listener magazine review out there somewhere, but I couldn't locate it when I tried. It was a good review, as I alluded to above. There is some anecdotal stuff on the high-endaudio.com website under "other interesting turntables".
As far as auditioning a Teres is concerned, there are no dealers. It is a factory direct sale only. This is how you save the money. Maybe you could post a question to see if there are any Teres owners in your area.
If you need to lean on a dealer, perhaps it would be better to get the SME. The dealer will have his panties in a wad, about not getting the sale of the table, and will be bad-mouthing the Teres all the way. The day I decided to quit going to dealers, was the day my system started getting better. If you really want to get up out of the muck, then you have to learn this stuff for yourself. Dealers to me, are just a large markup between me and where I want to go. If you need a dealer's service, then you'll have to pay for it. It is valuable to those that need it, and an impediment to those who don't. Personally, I feel that paying $5k or more, out of a $10k TT purchase, for distributor and dealer markups, is a pretty expensive education. And they only taught me to come back and get it in the hind-end again next time. For that kind of money, I might be better off to spend some time learning what could benefit me over and over in the future. Free yourself.
If you can't do that, then buy what the dealer has for you. If you need him, then pay him and don't try to put any impediments between you and him, in the form of a product that he didn't sell you. He will resent it, and it will affect his service to you. He won't admit it, but it is as true as the sun coming up in the morning.
I've been in this hobby, and in and around this business for over 30 years. I've been on both sides of the counter. I know how it works. There are 2 ways to go. If you use a dealer, you need to make him happy just as much as he makes you happy, in order to get your service and attention. This is costly. If you don't use a dealer, then you have to know what you are doing. That is how you save money. And also get better performance. A certain percentage of the very best products you can buy in audio, are not even available through dealers, or only a few dealers, or even custom built. Think your local dealer is going to tell you about them? His favorite music is the "Cash-Register Overture" by the Dead Presidents. :^)
TWL ,Tom you have said all there is to say. I would just like to second ALL your comments.
The_smokester If your dealer sells SME and you don't mind the price then get that, but if you want the same performance and probably better at a substantial savings get the Teres 255 and a Origin Live Encounter or Origin Live ILLUSTRIOUS tonearm! This is truly state of the art, (save for the walker or the Rockport). If money is a concern than all you really need is the Origin live silver tonearm.
For me money is a concern, if I had the Cash I would have bought the Teres. I bought the Origin Live Aurora and it was a good choice for me.
Don't worry about mounting the arm, it is not hard and you need to fine tune the arm at home anyway, so you need to learn how to do it.
I don't know what model Transcriptor you had but they were not easy to set up. If you lived with that rig I think
This will be easier.
I know you don't want to make a mistake a Teres 255 and an Origin Live Encounter or Origin Live ILLUSTRIOUS tonearm!
is no mistake.
Thank your lucky charms or whatever you want to call it for your good fortune for Audiogon. This info is not available at a dealer or in the popular USA Hi Fi rags.
Reread all of TWL Tom's comments, then make your decision.
Good luck to you!
Teres advocates are very persuasive. I like the aethetics of the Teres' wood base as well. We will see. It will be a few months before I have saved up enough to go this next step.
Thank you all.