SME 312S versus SME V-12

These are SME's two 12" arms. The difference is that the 312S has a detachable headshell for azimuth/cartridge swapping and static VTF while the V-12 has a fixed headshell/continuous arm tube and dynamic VTF.

Has anyone heard and compared these arms to each other? I just retested static versus dynamic VTF on my SME V arm and prefer the dynamic, so that may answer my question, but I'm curious to read what others think of these two arms as I've never heard them. Thanks.
I'd also like to hear comments on this question as I am about to purchase a 20/12 and don't know if I am better off spending the extra for the V-12.
I believe the internal wiring on both is the Silver Litz so it's down to VTF adjustment and the removable headshell right?
I've got to think they are really close sonically.
They are very close, if not identical sonically. The advantage of the 312S lies in its ability to quickly change cartridges. You can also adjust azimuth with the 312S, where you can't with the V-12. Check with Albert Porter - he has several 312S arms.
Are you sure about the azimuth?
I know the 312S has static and the V-12 dynamic VTF.
Can you hear the difference?
I've heard reports that some people prefer static and others dynamic.
I've also heard that some people use static VTF on V arms even though they have dynamic adjustment.
The other advantage is the 312S costs about $2500 less than the V-12! Albert likes the 312S eh.
I believe Albert bought his 312S for his Technics SP10 project before the V12 was available. I asked him about this comparison a while back and he had not heard the V12 at that time.

Mauidj, the 312S has adjustable azimuth by virtue of the fact that the headshell is detachable and can be slightly rotated at the end of the armtube. The whole armtube does not rotate about its axis like other unipivot arms do, ie, the Talea arm and I think the Graham Phantom.

The V12 in theory is more rigid with the fixed headshell, though I have not read that anyone can detect this difference sonically.

The price difference is substantial. I just wish SME had a more user friendly adjustable VTA.
Peterayer thanks for the insight.
I believe I will save some cash right now and go with the 312.
I like the idea if a removable headshell if it doesn't compromise the sound.
Sweet...time to place that order :-)
Mauidj - You can save big cash on either arm by buying it from Southwest Analogue.
The 312S arm uses gravity as the VTF provider whereas the V-12 uses spring pressure.

Having forgotten to re-tighten the counter-balance weight less than a quarter turn of the locking screw on my 312S arm when adjusting the VTF, I wondered where the mids and highs had disappeared to (relatively speaking). Therefore, one suspects with a resolving system that you would have some minor differences between the passive 312S suspension and the active V-12. Whether its good or bad will depend on you.

I chose the 312S arm as it came with the SME 20/12A turntable.
If it's any use I've heard the SME V fixed against detachable and could hear no difference
Sutherk...many thanks.
So how do you like the combo?
Hi Mauidj

Absolutely amazing. I liken this combo to a formula one racing car in that one tweak here will require a compensating tweak there and so on. One tweak too far and the race is lost etc.

I've had pant-wettingly good moments or like I mentioned above, sad moments where I'd thought I'd stuffed something up permanently. Such is the difference in sound by such minor tweaking or over-tweaking.

So I've had my combo performing like the commenters that say "SME tables are dead" to those who say "this is one of the top 4 or 5 turntables in the market".

Now that it's set up and been running for a while and quite stable from my changing things point of view, I'm glad that I won't need to buy another table in my lifetime, although I will seek out different cartridges to the ZYX Omega over the rest of my lifetime but it is quite sensational to listen to for the next few years.

Let me just add that the Dr Feickert protractor and the associated Adjust+ software was invaluable to setting this combo up properly. The azimuth setting via the Adjust+ software made the most amazing difference, not so much in outright sound, but the depth of the soundstage became huge and the attack and decays of the high notes simply astounds and astonishes.
Aloha Sutherk.
Thanks so much for the warning/insight.
You really have me excited.
So interesting to hear that the doubters could be right ...for the wrong reasons.
I just couldn't accept the lifeless tag....too many great reviews and comments from those who love the table.
So I will take extra care when it comes to setting up my new baby.
I will look into the set up gear you suggested.
I'm toying with the idea of getting a SoundSmith StrainGauge cartridge.
Many mahalos!

I'm fascinated by your comment about azimuth. I know that properly setting this is critical, but I had assumed that with a top cartridge (cantilever and cartridge aligned and mounted straight) and an arm as good as the V-12, azimuth adjustability was not necessary. Your comment has me rethinking the differences between these two arms. I believe the V-12 may be available with a detachable headshell, like the SME V arm is. I only wish the SME arms had a continuous wire.

Congratulations on your table.

I hear you. Yes, the cartridge I am currently using is a ZYX Omega copper and whilst the cantilever is mounted straight in the cartridge (only line-of-sight but my eye says ok), according to the Adjust+ software the azimuth angle of the stylus was 2.5 degrees out. Under magnification, the stylus is at an obvious angle. I find that unexpected and disappointing in a $3k cartridge (approx price here in Australia) and may indicate why the price of these ZYX cartridges fluctuates wildly around the world.

So in your original statement where it shouldn't matter, you are absolutely correct. But where the headshell is removable, even though the SME folks have designed a great locking mechanism that pretty much snaps in, there is a small amount of rotational movement allowed for the azimuth correction so it is best to understand if you have the headshell correctly aligned even if the cartridge is perfectly aligned within itself anyway.

So if your headshell is integrated into the arm and not moveable and you know the cartridge to be perfectly aligned within itself then there would be no need for azimuth correction. I always suspected the Omega cartridge was not quite right and the Adjust+ software simply horrified me as to how much it was out of rotational alignment.
Sutherk -
I use a ZYX Universe as one of the cartridges with my 312S. I adjust the azimuth with a Fozgometer. I imagine there are few perfectly aligned cartridges not needing some azimuth tweaking, even if minor in degree, regardless of price.
So how do you like the Fozgometer?
I have read about it and the Feickert and I think I might prefer the Fz because it takes it's signal directly from the cartridge and not from the phono amp.
Plus you don't need to use a computer.
Although you can do more testing with the Feickert I guess.
But I'll probably wait to see what the new SoundSmith Cartright can do...although it could be a while as Peter Lendermann told me he still has to get it into production. It should do VTF, overhang, azimuth, SRA and anti skating.
Mauidj - The Fozgometer is worth its cost. It is quick, easy to use, and very accurate. Anyone that wants to get the azimuth right should have one. I too am interested to see what the Cartright will offer, given its extra cost, when it finally reaches the market.

A point to note if using third party set up devices and not the specific SME protractors with these arms is that the V12 is LofgrenA/Baerwald IEC and the 312S is effectively Lofgren A/Baerwald DIN.

In other words they have different nulls.

But does that affect the way a Fozgometer works?


No, I wouldn't think so.

It's just so you are aware of it and that it might affect your choice if you want a particular alignment for whatever reason.


Looking around the internet for details on the SME V12 tonearm I came across this image:

I believed one the advantage of the SME V-12 over SME 312S was a solid continuous run of silver tonearm wire from the cartridge clips to DIN connection at the tonearm base.

This image appears to show removable headshell leads, making the electrical connection identical to 312S other than removable headshell aspect.

Hi Albert,

Regarding what could be:

" the advantage of the SME V-12 over SME 312S was a solid continuous run of silver tonearm wire from the cartridge clips to DIN connection at the tonearm base..."

I'm thinking that one can do this modification on his 312S on his own or with the help of the an experienced person.

I'm wondering if the V-12 really worth it at almost twice the price of the 312S. If someone interested, I know that seller 2juki on eBay have actually an SME V-12 new in box for sale at $4200 USD. I don't have any affiliation with him, I just pass across its eBay store this mornimg.


I agree about the price difference between the two tonearms.

Other than the removable versus solid head shell and tracking force applied by spring there is little difference, assuming V-12 also has additional breaks between cartridge to DIN.

Still, I wish I knew how much more performance the V-12 offers, it would likely require a side by side comparison.

I'm aware of the 2juki offering on Ebay, I had a bad experience with him selling me counterfeit goods. Cost me quite a lot to get it straight with PayPal.

If another (trustworthy) party had the arm at that price I would likely buy.
Hello Albert,

I apologize for the late response. I just confirmed by looking at my V-12 that indeed it has removable cartridge leads. I wish SME would dispense with these but I assume it is an attempt to save the customer some money if he breaks them at the cartridge connection, ie saving him the trouble and expense of an entire arm rewire.

I really am not sure of the sonic differences between the two arms. I assume the bearings and internal wiring is the same. I do prefer the dynamic balance as I've mentioned in that other thread. The one-piece headshell is presumably more rigid, but you loose azimuth adjustability. You could try contacting Sumiko or one of the dealers. The British reviewer, Ken Kessler?, I think, in HiFi Plus has heard most of the SME products. You could also try contacting him.
Hi Albert,

I must be as curious as you to heard the differences between these two arms. For sure, the side by side comparison is a necessity.

Regarding 2juki seller, you already told me your bad experience with him and I confront him before the purchase of my Micro-Seiki CU-180 regarding the fake one he has sold in the past.

I already bought from him one SME 312S, two Denon DL-103R, one Micro-Seiki CU-180 and a second headshell for my SME 312S. I had only good experiences with him like more then five thousands eBayers. unfortunately, you are in the x percent with a bad experience...


Good to hear my experience was not the norm. While you were considering that purchase I checked the photos of the Cu-180 to verify for you, correct?

I looked at his items for sale, the majority are not super high priced goods, so much less exposure for those buyers than this more than $4K SME.

I apologize for the late response. I just confirmed by looking at my V-12 that indeed it has removable cartridge leads. I wish SME would dispense with these but I assume it is an attempt to save the customer some money if he breaks them at the cartridge connection, ie saving him the trouble and expense of an entire arm rewire.

I thought that same thing, it's easy to loose a headshell clip or break a wire and shipping back the arm would indeed be a major hassle. Still, I was hoping to reduce connections, that could be a performance advantage.

I do prefer the dynamic balance as I've mentioned in that other thread.

Your comment on that subject is the primary reason I'm chasing the V12. I'm still pursuing the dream and will decide after I get some quotes and look over my finances.
Gotta say that the compression joint used to attach the 312S headshell to the arm would have to be one of the best in the business, much more solid and stable than the traditional bayonet fitting. It would be quite easy to remove all the junctions/pin joints from the arm and just rewire the 312S straight to cartridge such that all you need to do to remove the headshell would be to remove the cartridge pins before removing the headshell.
2Juki is well known in the industry for selling Chinese-made copies of current and vintage audio products.
Just talk to Dynavector about his 'New' 507 MkII tonearms with bogus serial numbers.....or Yamamoto about his 'New' Ebony wood headshells....or Orsonic (if they were still in business) about his never-ending supply of their headshells which ceased production about 15 years ago?
Sorry to tell you Sebastien.....but I suspect his Cu-180 mats are also Chinese-made copies (check out TopClass Audio for pricing on authentic mats?)
This may not be an issue for most people as his copies are usually well made (except for the Orsonic headshells)......but call me crazy to actually want the original product I pay for?
Hi Albert,

Yes, I bought the CU-180 mat that I sended you pictures to authentify it. I'm 99.9% sure it's a real one. It also comes with its original box, used like a box that's been around for several years. Plus, the CU-180 has it's small Japanese sticker on it that the fake one hasn't and it's slightly used like any normal CU-180 that have been around but well cared. And the sound... wow! What an improvement.

Regarding the SME 312S. The men who will want to counterfeit these pieces of industrial art will need to wake up pretty soon to do it. I never had in my hand such a Ferrari designed tonearm. Amazing...

Actually, no information can make me think that I had a fake product from 2juki. I'm not arguing that he hasn't sold any counterfeit material, I'm just telling my good experience with that seller.

Halcro, that's interesting about 2juki. A yeaar ago I bought a supposedly NOS Orsonics headshell from him that doesn't fit any of my cartridges without a shim and has a misaligned metal bayonet. From your account, I suspect that it must have been a copy rather than the real thing. I never complained about it because it wasn't too expensive and I figured wasn't worth the hassle of sending it back.
Quite strange guys. I took a look at 2juki's feedback today. He has 5623 feedbacks. 99.8% are positives and on the 4 negatives ones from the last 12 months, nothing mentionned counterfeit item. Did you guys bought via eBay or directly?

The local distributor for Benz cartridges here checked out 2juki's offers recently. They were genuine, came from a friendly asian distributor who wanted to quit stock. I think this is his main business, opportunistic buying up of unwanted or surplus stock and on selling.
The reason 2Juki has little negative feedback I because he will refund the payment for any item which is returned (smart commercial operator).
The majority of buyers for counterfeit articles have no idea they have a 'copy'?
I can't imagine how difficult it would be to copy an SME V-12 arm. The magnesium arm tube is supposedly very difficult to manufacture. Perhaps if 2Juki has a counterfeit arm, the tube itself is some other metal, but I doubt anyone would go through the trouble for something complex and expensive because the volume is so small and a fake would be easy to identify.
I don't know about the SME arms......but a Dynavector DV-507MkII is complex enough yet apparently worthwhile copying?
Hi Halcro,

Could you provide me a link to see the counterfeit Dynavector DV-507MkII. I'll compare it by curiosity against the pictures of the one on Dynavector's website.

Thank you,

Recent reports from Albert Porter's system page indicate that there is a substantial sonic difference between these two arms.