Hi where do you live?
I used to own a SME 20.2 and SME IV.Vi. I've read several reviews that took a stab at comparing the 20/12 and 30/2. Maybe check out a few reviews, a couple of trade magazines compared.
I don't think you'll go wrong with either. From my ready the 20/12 is more fluid the 30/2 quieter and more dynamics/bass defintion...but both are good. I do think the reviews used the 312s arm vs the V12 on the 20/12. So not sure what that does to the diff.
Hopefully someone has experience with both and will chime in.
The latest issue of Absolute Sound has a review of the latest version of the SME 20 Mk3 that states that it is much closer to the sound of the 30 so you might get some ideas from what they changed or even buy the new pieces to upgrade your model. I know it is quite a bit heavier now.
Manitunc - The changes to the SME 20 in the Mk3 version are solely those that give it more mass and weight - heavier, thicker chassis, subchassis, and platter. Otherwise it is the same design as the 30/2.
So, can the 20Mk2 be upgraded to 20Mk3?
Gordon - No, it cannot. The chassis, subchassis, and platter are different weights and thicknesses. You would be paying basically for most of the Mk3 without getting the whole table. SME does not make 'upgradable' products. You can only do that by buying a different model.
The TAS review of the 20/3 also mentions an improvement from the new black platter mat material and some differences in the suspension towers and main bearing improvement. I also had thought it was just a thicker platter and chassis, but there is more to the 20/3 than that. My sense is that it is considerably closer in performance to the 30 now, but at $14,000 it is MUCH less expensive. It is probably, THE value in the SME line. I would like to hear it.
The SME platter surface, Isodamp, is not new, just a different color. The manufacturer no longer makes the 'mustard' color used previously. Charcoal black is now SME's standard color, otherwise it is the same.
In comparing the 20/2 with the 20/3, the following can be noted:
1. The bearing's central damper has been improved, now more in line with the Model 30
2. the oil bath has been improved.
3. Weight went from 18.2 kg to 28.6kg - thicker chassis and subchassis; platter heavier and larger(from 4.6kg to 6.5kg and from 300mm to 312mm. (The Model 30 platter is 330mm in comparison).
SME wanted to narrow, not close, the gap between the 20 and 30 tables without eclipsing the value of the latter. The increased mass of the 20/3 provides much of that improvement.
I hope this clarifies the changes.
I had thought the same thing about the new mat - that color was the only difference. However in the latest TAS review of the 20/3, Seydor states "...and the new mat is claimed to make for a superior interface with vinyl." That's the reason I wrote what I did. I certainly don't know and perhaps I'm misinterpreting the statement in the review. He goes on to mention that the suspension towers now include viscous damping as in the 30 where the 20/2 did not have that.
It certainly seems to come closer to the 30 at a considerably lower price.
Peter - I've spoken directly with Brian Laker of SME about the mat. He said the only difference is the color. "A superior interface with vinyl" is an original advertising claim for Isodamp's use on turntable platters in general, way back when SME first started using it. I agree with your mention of the suspension towers now having viscous damping as with the 30 tables. I was not aware of that change. All the changes do bring the 20/3 closer to the 30/2. Perhaps we will see a published review directly comparing both in the future.
please, the SME 20/12 has the suspension towers having viscous damping?
the TAS review is very close to a comparison and they spend a lot of words comparing the two tables and how the 20 has changed to get closer to the 30.
Manitunc - Yes, the reviewer spent a lot of words comparing the two tables mechanically, but I think he reviewed the 30 in the past, was speaking of that table from memory, and did not have them side by side for an audible comparison.
As good as we'll get for now.
Citrobacter - I highly suggest you contact Brian Laker at SME. He is very responsive to questions.
PS - Do you have any close relatives named Proteus, Salmonella, or E Coli? :)
hehe, I am a nephrologist