The evolution of the SME arms were more feature oriented than anything, the series 4 and 5 borrowed heavily from the III's original design. I'd have to say the series 5 was a clear step up from the III, but, the III remains a terrific arm and assuming the price is reasonable I wouldn't hesitate to install this classic. Interestingly enough my favourite arm in terms of perfomance, features, ease of use, and value is the SME345 marketed at one time by Oracle. Jeff
SME took a wrong turn AFTER the III, in the (original) IV: the idea was to track at the lowest possible grams, less than 1, and this didn't suit MC cartridges at all. Bearing chatter was a problem with the IV, and no one wants that model anymore. But the III is back in favor, and I agree with Jeff that you shouldn't hesitate if you get a chance to get one for a decent price.
The III was the one designed for lowest mass and lowest traking force, not the IV. OTOH, it used with the very high compliance, very low mass cartridges that IT WAS DESIGNED FOR (and not most MC designs), it is excellent.
The SME III and 3009 ,to my ears, was better sound (with cartridges in their compiance comfort zones), than the highly praised SME V. That model always exhibited a rather thickish tone,for lackof a better word.The SME III may still be the best choice for the Shute V-15 cartridge or those of like compliance.
I purchased this SME Arm 20 years ago and used it with my then truntable Thorens TD126 .It served flawlessly for nearly 10 years before I changed my playback system for the Well Temper Turntable (I am now using the integral turntable Foresell Reference). If my memory serves me correctly, the SME Arm had a midrange purity and vividness that was completely a class by itself - even by today's standard, hard to surpass. This Arm is a Classic, not a Dinosaur.
The SME III is a Classic not a Dino!
I had this arm many years ago , kinda more than a decade (10 years) and I enjoied it with a Shure V15 IV.
A great Arm choice nowaday too , but good only with MM cartridges due to its low mass.
Ditto, above, regarding cartridge mass. Very fond memories of the arm on a TD 126 + Grado (yes, me too!).
You can add mass to the SME III to get the frequency resonance to it's optimum. This way you can adjust the system frequncy resonance regardless of mm or mc. This is an awesome arm! If you have the chance to put it in your system... go for it! Parts supply is deminishing from SME for the series III. Soooo, be advised.
How you increase the SME 3009 mass.I would like to do it too.Gabe to Joysjane
There are cartridge ballast weights available through flatearthaudio.com. I will e-mail you with the particulars.
A true classic, the very best SME ever made and one of the very finest pivot arms on the planet IMHO.
Totally agree that SME went a wrong way after it.
I bought one in 1987 to fit my very compliant Shure V15V-MR. I couldn´t find better arm on the market.
Especially in the mid range the SME III shines, very nuanced, smooth and musical. Also the highs such as cymbals etc are extremely enjoyable. Huge soundstage.
The S-shaped wand with internally teak damped 4.5 gram titanium-nitride wand fits the fuzziest carts. Simply adding mass a few grams (two options) on the headshell it fits also less compliant carts. Also you can adjust counterweight mass to fit different compliances. Knife edge vertical bearing and mechanical anti skate adjustment are simple and work just fine.
Fluid damping also reduces resonances. The design is not too complicated so it works nicely.
British engineering of the highest quality from the golden era, a State of the Art product indeed.
Has anyone compared the SME III to the Signet XK50 with the high compliance cartidges they were designed for?