SME 312 or SME 312S for a Technics SP10 mkII

Hi everyone,

I'm wondering if I should go with a SME 312 tonearm ($1500 USD) or a SME 312S ($4000 USD) for a Technics SP10 mkII project. I'll probably use it with a panzerholz plinth and a moving coil cartridge (actually I have a Dynavector DV20X).

There is a good difference of price between the old SME's 312 serie and the new one. Does it worth it? Is there some of you who had the chance to compare them?


I suggest you read Albert Porter's system page. He has the SME 312S with an SP10 MK3 in a panzerholz plinth. I'm sorry I have no experience with the 312, but it sounds like you have a nice analog setup going. Albert should have some good advice.

Salut, Sebastien,

I have a Panzerholtz plinth made by Albert Porter, and currently use an Acos Lustre arm with the DV20X-L and Aurum Acoustics electronics.

First, some background: a local audiophile and friend was here a couple of weeks ago with his stroboscopic Time Line TT speed analyzer, and we found my Technics MkIIa timing to be spot on. I have not had any update work performed (replacement of caps or other electronics, nor power cord conversion to IEC, for example), and still the TT speed is very accurate indeed.

Albert will suggest you have your MkII electronically reconditioned by Bill Thallman of Music Technology, and that you replace the Technics platter mat with a Micro Seiki CU-180 copper mat.

Albert's advice has always been accurate for me, but you and he may listen to different aspects of recorded performance, so --just as Peter recommends-- I suggest you contact Albert. He is very wise, steady, methodical and knowledgeable, and he is willing to share what he has learned.

The plinth he has designed is, to my eye, a work of art. I have the twin arm plinth in ebony and it is exquisite, in both line and execution. Start doing push-ups now so when it arrives you will be in shape to move it around. Mounting the Technics in the plinth was very straightforward, taking 45 minutes. (I am very careful with such a beautiful object) No special tools are necessary.

While I am new to analog setup, my friend Peter has already responded to your inquiry, and has heard my TT directly compared with his SME 10 TT. It was a most informative comparison. In some ways it was unfair, as his cartridge is one of the elite, and his SME table is, by virtue of Peter's diligence and Jim Smith's expertise, very well dialed in.

At present I am searching for another tonearm. I have a couple of options, but the SME V-12 is one I am considering seriously. Albert has had the 312-S for some time and feels it has not been bested. I will let him tell you the details.

I wish I were further on with my selection process so I could further assist you, but Peter's counsel is very good. And he is more concise than I.

In hope that this was of some assistance, I invite you to keep us posted. If you wish to contact me offline, please let me know; I am happy to talk further.

with Very Best Wishes, a la prochaine,

Hi Peterayer,

I'm actually on an exchange of emails with Albert and I must admit that he is really patient even tough I asked him a lot of questions regarding his plinth and the Technics SP-10 mkII in the last week.

Maybe Albert will answer right on this thread and we can know if he already try the last generation of SME's 312.

Is there any other member who tried the SME 312? Any other advice are welcomed.

Just to be clear, by "the last generation of SME's 312" I mean the one who was there before the SME 312S generation.

Salut David,

My SP-10 mkII is already at my audio technician shop. He will replace all capacitors in the power supper and convert the plug to an IEC one. He already cheked all the caps inside the table and they are perfect. I was with him when he opened it and the table, even tough with its October 25th 1979 birthday is clean, clean, clean. Impressive.

It's funny that your are talking about the SME 10 because it was the only other table I considered for my next one beside the SP-10 mkII. So what was the conclusion when you've compared them?

Bonne journée,


Salut Sebastien,

I am delighted your Technics is in great shape; that's not always the case. Good for you.

Malhereusement our comparison was not remotely fair. My Technics, though speed accurate, has , a fine tonearm (Acos Lustre STA-801) but is somewhat limited by the the original rubber platter mat, poor alignment and a Dynavector 20X-L ($800) cartridge with an off-center cantilever. This was compared to Peter's SME 10 with V 9" arm using Air Tight PC-1 cartridge ($7,000); in simple terms, a mis-match for comparing the two tables due to the inequality of cartridges and the alignment problems with my TT.

Nonetheless, the tables were both pretty good. There was more mirco detail with the SME, better treble extension and a darker background. The bass from the Dynavector, surprisingly, held its own with the Air Tight, both in amount and control. Overall the SME was more coherent, involving and more 'musical', as I would put it, but bear in mind I have no alignment jig for my Dynavector cartridge, and Peter is diligent, patient and experienced with TT setup while I am a rank novice. Peter also has a Mint protractor created exclusively for his arm-cartridge combination. Another reason our comparison was flawed. Factor those in, and I'd say the Technics did more than hold its own, and showed promise for the future when I learn to 'dial it in'.

I've just secured a top of the line Benz LP-S cartridge, and will mount that in my Talea One tonearm, then try the same cartridge in the SME V 9" arm that belongs to my friend Peter. *That* should teach us something.

Have you considered contacting Albert Porter? He is one of the very most knowledgeable people about the Technics TTs.

I've made a couple of new armboards for the Porter Plinth. As soon as possible I will initiate the tonearm comparison. *Then* there may be something to write about.

In the meantime,

Very Best Wishes,

Cdk84, I recently picked up a Micro Seiki CU-180 TT mat for my SP-10 mk2a and it made a world of difference to the noise floor of my TT. If you are still using the rubber mat I highly recommend the CU-180.
Hi David,

Like I said above: "I'm actually on an exchange of emails with Albert and I must admit that he is really patient even tough I asked him a lot of questions regarding his plinth and the Technics SP-10 mkII in the last week..."

Plus, I've order last week-end a SME 312S arm, a Denon DL-103R and a Nagaoka MP-50 cartridges.

To Sarcher30: I'm very interested by the Micro Seiki copper mat, but for the beginning, I'll probably go with a Boston Audio mat 1.

Have a good day,

Sebastien, Sounds like your on the right track. Though I have no experience with the SME arms it makes sense to get the 312s to me. Better arm material and wiring.

I have the Boston Audio mat 1 as well. It's a good mat and definitely better than the stock rubber mat. The CU-180 is expensive and hard to find but it's worth it IMO.

Good luck with your SP-10 mk2. It's very good when it is optimized.