SME 20/3 --- tonearm recommendations!?

Hello Gon'ers - I have an SME 20/3 coming, recently purchased on Audiogon. I'm trying to decide what tonearm will fit the table and be a good match. I considered Graham Engineering but I have a similar setup already (30/2 + Graham Phantom II). The tonearm will be mated with my Koetsu Urshi Blue cartridge. I generally listen to Jazz and classic rock, but also enjoy most any genre. Will be mated to a Pass Labs XP-25 preamp. 

I've considered an SME IV modified (new bearings, new wiring), or one of the Kuzma tonearms. They seem to be on vogue but I don't know much about them (or it they will fit the SME).
Dear @mohawk195 : Exist several alternatives. Obviously that the first one is the IV or V that are very good tonearms and mated with your Urushi, other can be the Kuzma or Reed or Triplanar tonearms.

You can't go wrong with either.

Regards  and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,
I have a 20/2 that I ran with the tonearm for a few years before upgrading to a Tri-planar tonearm.  The Tri-Planar was a huge upgrade.
I had to machine a custom arm board to mount it to the plinth, but it wasn't hard to find a local shop to do that for me.  

SME recommend the Series V.
The IV is not as good by a margin. Not sure of the mods you mention on the IV but I heard the two in an acquaintance’s Townshend Rock system albeit some time ago.

I believe what I’m going to end up doing is putting my graham engineering Phantom II tonearm on the SME model 20/3. I’ll put the Kuzma 4point on the SME model 30/2. I believe the 30/2 can bear the weight of the Kuzma better than the 20/3. Plus I’ve seen more than one 30/2 set up this way.  This is in the cast in concrete of course but that is the way I’m heading.
Mohawk, The Koetsu is a low compliance cartridge. Pretty much any 9-10 inch arm is going to require you to add some weight to the head shell. I am not sure if the 20/12 will take the weight of a 4 point 11 but it sure will the 4 point 9 which I highly recommend. I have an arm with adjustable VTA and I use it just once when I set up the arm. You will not miss it at all. The SME arms are also fine but I prefer the Kuzma for a number of reasons. Don't forget to get some head head shell weights and a HI FI News test record for set up. 
Mohawk, the Phantom is not a good arm for the Koetsu. Unipivot arms do better with more compliant cartridges. 
Thanks for the additional suggestions and ideas. 

I looked at the 4 point 9 but my concern with it is the exit of the tonearm cable. It looks like it might hit the rear SME tower. Oddly enough the larger 4Point is off set away from the tower and there are photos of this setup. So if I end up with:

* SME 30/2 + 4Point
* SME 20/3 + Phantom

I may have to sell the Koetsu and get a suitable cartridge for the Phantom. The Dynavector XX2 I have on it performs very well.
I looked at the 4 point 9 but my concern with it is the exit of the tonearm cable. It looks like it might hit the rear SME tower. Oddly enough the larger 4Point is off set away from the tower and there are photos...

You should be happy for that ...the 4P is slow and anemic, the Phantom is a way better Arm
Hi Syntax. Outside of the Phantom what do you recommend in a nine arm? 
Mohawk, the 4 point 9 will fit perfectly on the 20/3. The wire will come out to the inside of the tower. Not even close. However the 4 point 11 will work wonderfully on the 30/2. I use a 4 point 14 on a 30/12. I have a Koetsu Rosewood Signature Platinum in it. No added weights needed:)
I personally think the best cartridge for the Phantom is the Van den Hul but the Dynavector should be fine. The Koetsu in the 4 point 11 might require just a little extra weight but when you get it tuned up it should be fabulous. 
Come on syntax. That one is the runt of the litter. Why not just go for the Axiom? Right up there with your Rolex.
... the runt of the litter ...

Yes, but still very impressive. Did listen to one last week...amazing Performance.
But that owner did wear a Rolex too :-)
Well, we know, a true Audiophile is born to suffer ... best is to listen to some Arms ...or to learn something about geometry, bearing quality, enery transfer...most Arms work only with a few carts very well, or they give their 'sonic signature' to everything you use .... most don’t care because Hardware rolling is the fun of the game... or a good price beats the ear...I prefer one which is a final statement for every cartridge :-)
I know that it has been stated the the Koetsu will not be a good match to the Kuzma due to compliance. Looking at a cartridge calculator, the Kuzma is 18g effective mass. The Koetsu mass is 9g with a compliance of 5. The calculated resonance is 14hz. If I use heavier fasteners, I can bring the Koetsu mass to 15g and the resonance down to 12hz. Is this a worthwhile approach? I realize if I go this route (Kuzma), I may have to sell the Koetsu..
Its a bit of a fork in the road: koetsu and other low compliance carts go left....medium compliance go right. ;)
Since you have two, somewhat similar, one-arm turntables it seems an opportunity to devote one for low compliance carts and the other medium-high compliance carts is at hand.
mohawk that is absolutely perfect. It is easy to add mass. Much harder to take it away. There are head shell weights you can get that hide under the cartridge. You add weight until you get the resonance down just under 10 Hz. Get The Hi FI news test record. It is easy to use and you can dial things in as well as any tech. Do not trust the math by the way. Use the test record. There are too many variables the math can not predict. The Kuzma is a terrific arm for the Koetsu. It has unbeatable bearings, the vertical bearings are right at the level of the record where they belong and the arm tube is as stiff and resonance free as they get. Also if you were to get a high compliance cartridge you can always tame the situation with the damping system.
Well...this ..."terrific match "...unbeatable bearing" and similar endless praise I did read countless times in the last 20 years even for the worst products/ tonearm cartridge combinations.
None, I mean absolutely none of such "influencers" have the slightest idea about Arm geometry, bearing influence, energy transfer, forces to cantilever based in mediocre design etc. Did own verious Kuzma products and know very well what they can do or not man's ceiling is another man's floor
But each his own :-)
Dear @syntax  : """   energy transfer, forces to cantilever..."""

where are in your tonearms the measurements of those characteristics, can you share with us?

You think you have not mediocre designs, well measurements is the best approach to " see " that superiority against that mediocrity you speak about. Please show us, always is learning time.

Aha ... learning ...come on...we all know for years that flexible brain is not your cup of tea :-)
But just for me, did you buy anything new in the last 10 years for your System or is all still the same? I mean, do you have a prototype of your own Arm to show as a pic or did you bury your idea of the sonic revolution? I am wanted to start seriously 10 years ago with it?
I ended up getting a Phantom III for the SME model 20/3. This seems to be a good physical and esthetic match. It should be a reasonable match to the Koetsu Urshi Blue as well.

For now I will pause on the SME 30/2 tonearm changes. I have time to consider the Kuzma 4Point or not, independent of the 20/3. It will also give me time to look into other possibilities (including the Aquilar Arm that syntax mentioned).

Oh yeah! --- I have a beautiful Ikeda 407 CR-1 that I will be selling. Not sure if that is allowed to note in forums...!
Dear @syntax  : Of course I have my tonearm prototype and twice in different threads two gentlemans that seen and listen to it posted about.

Pictures? why that curiosity when you are " done " in all audio devices? for what you posted you don't need nothing and less learn on any audio subject, at least is your way of thinking.

Btw, I can see that you still use the tube bad copycat of a vintage French unit and certainly you are proudly of it. Good.

As you said:  "  But each his own :-) "


Yes I had it mated with a Vinylista plinth and an updated SP-10 MKII turntable. Great combination. The Ikeda is a work of art. For sale on US AudioMart.
The Koetsu has a compliance of 5 @100Hz,an 18g EM tonearm shouldn't be too far out.
Syntax. What is warp wow and how does the geometry of a tonearm's bearings affect this? Tonearm resonate. How do you split and minimize the resonance? Any idea? 

A late response here, but I’ll give you my experience.

I’ve owned and used a variety of Koetsu cartridges and used them with SME IV.Vi and now SME V tonearms.
Black, Rosewood Signature, Urushi Blue, Rosewood Signature Platinum and now Onyx Platinum.
My arm was originally a SME IV.Vi, which I had rebuilt by SME as a V to use new bearings and mono-crystal silver wiring and to remove the dynamic balance from the arm.
This results in a superior sounding arm to either original.
My table is a fully upgraded SME 30/2 with new suspension bands fitted.

@yeti42 is correct, the Koetsu’s being Japanese list their compliance @ 100 Hz.
You need to adjust it to 10Hz by multiplying by 2.
This gives 10 cu, which makes the SME IV.Vi and V with the silicon damper attached, a very good match.

I bought my current Onyx Platinum from Brian @ The Analog Room in San Jose.
Some claim he has more experience with Koetsu stone bodies than any man alive.
I don’t know about that, but he says the SME V is a great match.

If you read the article below, the weights and compliance figures mentioned kinda match a sone bodied Koetsu on an SME V arm.

"The big mistake of many users, is insisting in using arms, often aged but of good quality, with an extreme mass."

My cartridge was painstakingly adjusted by myself using a SMARTractor.
The bolt torque was set using a Rega torque wrench.
The tracking force set to 2g using a Rega digital scale.
The VTA was adjusted to drop the rear of the arm 1 marking increment on the SME cardboard protractor vs. the front. I set the anti-skate using my ears and the HiFi News Test Record.

The cartridge now exhibits the tiniest amount of shimmy at around 10Hz on the resonant frequency test and will pass all tracking tests without any distortion at all, including the dreaded torture track that most cartridges fail (side 2, track 8).

The resulting sound is liquid and unbelievable.

My advice is don’t listen to people who claim the SME V is not a good match for Koetsu. The stone bodies + the heavy counter weight and the slightest bit of silicon damping is actually perfect.

Mass of SME V + silicon adaptor = 11g
Mass of cartridge and mounting hardware = 12.5g + 1g = 13.5g
Total mass = 24.5g
Multiply by 10 = 245
square root of 245 = 15.652

Using the value of 159 from the formula in the link provided below gives:
159 / 15.652 = 10.158

Therefore, my observed measurement of a RF of 10Hz using the Hi Fi News Test Record is actually correlated.


Hello Evilteddie,

Just as a matter of interest, having the dynamic tracking force device actually removed from the SMEV (which in fact brings it into line with the Series IV), rather than just disactivating it and setting tracking force via the counterweight alone, what extra benefit does this produce, in your opinion? Thanks.