SME release new Garrard 301


Price is 12,500GBP (c.$16500)
noromance
Post removed 
SME now owns Garrard and Loricraft the company that service Garrards.
Where did you see that they are re releasing the 301?
Insider info from Munich show!
I believe it comes with the tonearm and plinth.

THAT tonearm and THAT plinth?
It looks like a replica of the original, rather than an upgrade from it.  Unlike what Technics did with the SP1000R.
I know Lew, it's almost like it's 4/1. Seems to be a Loricraft-style plinth.
Not one to normally begrudge a re do but I sense 
"a swing and a miss" considering what its asking price.
I was hoping for a Garrard 601. With improvements in materials and manufacturing process precision I would hope SME could take an idler drive turntable to the next level of precision and sound quality.


@jperry Loricraft made a 601 - a lesser 501 with speed control. Not sure if they make it still.
Thanks. I did not realize they made a 601. I was trying to indicate something beyond the last deck.
I know. It's also looking likely that this "new" 301 is in fact, a Loricraft restore and not a newly engineered table. Will update when I hear more.
It looks like my 301 with a different plinth and tonearm so it could be a Loricraft rebuild. Looking forward to an update. Thanks.
So Herb is being a little coy...but it looks like it is a Loricraft-style hollow plinth with squishy ball suspension. Still uncertain as to whether it is new manufacture or refurb.
Artisan Fidelity beside restoration of 301s offer a newly manufactured top plate made from milled aluminum billet with a more robust bearing mount, etc. I would think that this would be a large improvement. They have been available for a few years though I am not aware of any review or reports as of yet. 
Artisan Fidelity beside restoration of 301s offer a newly manufactured top plate made from milled aluminum billet with a more robust bearing mount, etc. I would think that this would be a large improvement. They have been available for a few years though I am not aware of any review or reports as of yet.
I could be wrong, but I suspect AF sources the chassis you mention from Ray at Classic HiFi in the UK who actually has them custom made by a machine shop vendor in the UK. But that said, what does any of that have to do with whether or not SME is finally about to launch a new Garrard now that they bought the rights? There are lots of third parties who make modified parts for Thorens TD124's and Garrard 301's for the simple reason that both tables have legions of cult fans and there were a huge number of TD124's and 301's manufactured and those that have not been snapped up often need work to bring them up to top performance which then prompts the buyer to think about modifications. For both decks there are third party outfits that produce plinths, idler wheels, bushings, platters, platter bearings, motor brushes, motor mount springs, rubber grommets, and all kinds of things the Brits quaintly call "the bits". 
 On vinyl asylum, someone published photos of the new SME 301 product that show in one case the serial number. I believe that the serial number shown on the black placard is that of an original Garrard 301. Therefore I suspect that what we are looking at is nothing but a restored 301 in a Loricraft plinth with an SME tonearm. That is not a “new” turntable.  Moreover, if one is desiring an enhanced 301, one can do a lot better for less money. 
I suppose SME are taking the 'if we can fool some of the people some of the time' route in marketing this little earner.
 Well, on a 301, the serial number is right there upfront for all to see. So I don’t know who is going to be fooled and for how long. Most 301 lovers are steeped in serial numbers, in order to distinguish grease bearing from oil bearing models, and in order to distinguish which ones should have the stroboscopic markings on the platter. Those are the same people to whom this product might otherwise appeal.
That's my point. Most of those you mention are not here, nor are they buying hundreds of units from the current refurbishing companies it would seem from the turnaround and length of time they take to sell. So who are these prospective buyers of the "new" SME 301?
That's my point. Most of those you mention are not here, nor are they buying hundreds of units from the current refurbishing companies it would seem from the turnaround and length of time they take to sell. So who are these prospective buyers of the "new" SME 301?
Huh. You don't seem to understand the reality of the situation.  Like I said above, the 301 has legions of cult fans. Ken Shindo may have singlehandedly propelled the Japanese collectors from enthusiasts to rabid covetous collectors and then others from the UK, US, and Europe followed. Sure there is a long turnaround when it comes to building a custom plinth or refurbishing a 60+ year old deck that may have been stored in bad conditions or abused somewhere along the way. "Length of time they take to sell"? What exactly is "they"? If you mean $15,000 completed projects from Artisan Fidelity than yeah, there is a limited number of consumers who are willing to spend that much money on a 60+ year old refurbed turntable. So guess what dude; SME can offer a brand new Garrard with no lagtime once they start production and perhaps adopt many of the performance upgrades people have developed over time and perhaps at a competitive price. Technics took a discontinued $400 deck and came out with what at first blush looked like an identical deck that sold for $2,000 on up and SUCCEEDED. And that original turntable was not even considered to be all that good by most of us (though it was the champion of the budget crowd). 
 Sonic, you have kind of skirted the point. If the turntable shown in the photos published by SME is an example of their new product, then it is no different from an Artisan Fidelity or other refurbishment project that we have seen before. Arguably the SME 301 is not even as technically advanced as is the artisan Fidelity product. Because it definitely appears to be based on an original production Garrard 301 chassis. On the other hand technics produced what is really an entirely new turntable with a new motor and Higher quality construction and perhaps made the error of having it look like their old production item. But the new Technics tables are truly new. It remains to be seen whether the new SME 301 will be a truly new turntable or will be like the one shown in their photos.
 Sonic, you have kind of skirted the point. If the turntable shown in the photos published by SME is an example of their new product, then it is no different from an Artisan Fidelity or other refurbishment project that we have seen before. Arguably the SME 301 is not even as technically advanced as is the artisan Fidelity product. Because it definitely appears to be based on an original production Garrard 301 chassis. On the other hand technics produced what is really an entirely new turntable with a new motor and Higher quality construction and perhaps made the error of having it look like their old production item. But the new Technics tables are truly new. It remains to be seen whether the new SME 301 will be a truly new turntable or will be like the one shown in their photos.
I agree. That said, it would seem highly unlikely that SME would stamp rather than cast the chassis and that the bearing and platter would be exact replicas of the originals. If you read Mortimer's book on the history of Garrard, you will note that the platter had to be drilled one by one to get optimum balance due to the limitations of casting at the time. I would be shocked if the chassis, bearing and platter are no more than exact replicas of the original. I hope we can agree that it will be fascinating to learn more as the details emerge. The original 301 was conceived as a high torque motor meant to overcome purposeful drag between the bearing and the platter. This was thought to minimize wow and flutter. Is it likely that SME would carry over that approach? I wouldn't think so but we shall see. 
As it turns out, the ‘table shown in Munich is a restored original. SME-Garrard is at least a year away from new production. 

Dunno why they showed it, quite honestly.
AUDIO GRAIL has been doing it for a long time and everything they made looks much better than Loricraft (imo) 
Let me guess....price doesn’t include speed box because five figure turntables just can’t regulate their own speed out of the box.
Artisan Fidelity designed and machines their own billet chassis for the 301 and 401. It is not an O.E.M. This is quite readily available information on their site along with the videos of their machine shop in mid process of producing the chassis.

I have a one-off (4 arm capable) SP10 mk3 NGS from AF along with a 401 which is going to get the steel version of their billet chassis.

I’m not quite sure why people keep claiming Technics made a mistake with the styling. One may not like the styling but the fact remains that they sold out of the first batch of GAE’s in 30 minutes and it continues to be a very sought after table. I’d say that’s a resounding success. Styling is another thing, I’m not enamored of the styling on plenty of tables including the Techdas AF1 but I wouldn’t dare call it a mistake, just my taste runs differently.

I sold my GAE for more than I purchased it for new and that after owning it for two years. I only sold it because I wanted to play with an idler and I don’t want three tables also I didn’t feel like another project (was going to internally disconnect that crap SMPS) and supply an outboard regulated linear. Too many other audio projects going on :)

@audiofun Pretty sure Artisan Fidelity get their 301 chassis from Classic Turntable Company in the UK. 
no romance:

This is how misinformation gets started. A.F. does not use anyone else’s chassis. They designed and have their own billet chassis made for them at their shop. I’ve been to the shop and Chris’s home more times than I can count.

They did do a custom build for a magazine reviewer who supplied them (AF) with a  CTC chassis that he (the reviewer) purchased for the build. 
@audiofun Got it. Yes, I see the review. Funny thing is I got this info from someone else. You're right, bad intel. Thanks for the correction. FTR, I have one of Chris' idlers!
noromance:

I noticed when I responded to you auto correct rearranged your moniker to “no romance” which I found funny based on the specifics of the exchange :)

Interesting that you you have one of his tables as well, may I ask what model ?
@audiofun 
;-)
No AF tables. 2 AudioGrail 401s - an early twin spark in slate and a later one in walnut/maple+brich ply.

See my system in details.
Noromance:

I see. I love the 401, it is a no fuss awesome sounding table when it is correctly sorted. I prefer it to my former GAE primarily because I can easily change arms and there is no SMPS to deal with. The first order of business with these tables is to get a modern bearing into it. Focus will snap into place, the noise floor will plummet but the power delivered by the idler drive is still on tap and present. I did a lot of back and forth comparing the stock bearing with the newer more modern bearings. At the minimum get a Kokomo mk 2 (I think the latest is a Mk 2) but if you can swing it go for the higher end bearings offered by some of the restorers out there. Mine is slated to eventially receive the AF inverted statement bearing/platter.

My SP10 MK3 is my Grail turn table. I listened to the Techdas AF1 recently and that was nice.
If I ever do a new bearing housing, it'll be in a CTC 301 with 401 motor.
I do have an AF idler and CTC platter which raise the performance by an order. Does the kokomo still indent the base of the shaft?
noromance:

Concerning the Kokomo, the answer is no. It has been redesigned and now has a polymer fly-disc that sits between the ceramic ball and spindle face. It is so far beyond the stock old style bearing with its mandatory flat-spot :) that its impossible to miss the step up in sound across the board.
noromance:

You’ll notice that the platter will spin more freely thus faster when going from the stock bearing to a Kokomo or any other better bearing. If everything else is mechanically up to spec, you will most likely need to turn the breaking power up (slow the platter down) a little.
noromance:

I checked out your system profile. I love your man cave. I bet you’ve got good sound. Also I noted your a Decca fan :) I also have a London Ref in my stable and its on my 401 at this time on a Jelco. Trying to figure out if it will work better with a Kuzma Airline, 14” 4 Point or my EPA 100 mk2 which is being redone with lab grade ruby bearings.

Those speakers can sound live like nothing else, and with your Decca I can only imagine!
My 301 has been modded with the Peak HiFi (which I believe is CTC) brass bearing, CTC brass platter, and the PSU from Ray at ClassicHiFi. With the PSU, you disable the eddy brake. With the [much] heavier platter, there is no reason to induce drag as the eddy brake was designed to do. When Brian Walsh checked my platter speed with the Feickert Adjust+ software system, my speed was spot-on with very little wow or flutter. 
I am a bit puzzled by Audiofun's comment about the platter "spinning freely". At least on my 301, the platter will not spin freely-the idler wheel-mine is the Audiosliente btw-is always engaged against the inside platter rim. The Garrard (unless I am mistaken) was not designed to engage and disengage as the Thorens TD124 was. The "on" lever simply engages the motor and does not trigger engagement of the idler. 
@fsonicsmith The idler does not rest on the inner platter rim. When in the Off position, the idler is pulled away from both the rim and the pulley.

Well noromance, I don't doubt you but I know that my TD124 continues to spin after I turn it off and my 301 platter stops immediately when I turn it off. My 301 platter also does not rotate freely when it is off. Therefore, when installing and aligning cartridges on my TD124 I have to be careful to wedge something against the platter so it will not move. No such need on my 301. This is my first 301 and I don't claim to know how it ought to be, I only know how mine operates. This was true when I was using it with the OEM platter and when I replaced the OEM with teh CTC brass platter. Needless to say, the brass platter has a tremendous amount of inertia weighing 26 lbs, so what accounts for it stopping immediately-or almost-within a quarter rotation at least-when the motor is disengaged?
There are 2 things going on @fsonicsmith There is a friction brake on the inside of the 301/401 platter which stops the rotation as soon as the machine is turned off. At the same time, the idler is moved away from the pulley and rim.
See here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_nRh_WYh74
fsonicsmith:

Hi, all that noromance has stated is true. Having said (written:) that, I’m at a loss for why your platter is immediately coming to a stop. The break will slow it down but even with the stock platter which weighs what, say 5-6 lbs if memory serves, it still takes a few seconds to come to a complete stop. BTW, I’m not referring to the eddie brake here, I’m referring to the platter brake which engages when the turntables on-off switch is placed in the off position. A little brake pad (felt pad on a lever) comes up and meets the inside of the rim and slows it via drag.

The idler should disengage when the 301 or 401 is off (using the mechanical switch). If you are using your PSU as the sole control system, i.e. leaving the physical switch on the 301 chassis on and turning it on off using the PSU, that would most likely explain your resulting platter action. If that is the case I might suggest this is bad for your idler wheel and may, if it hasn’t already done so, result in a flat spot on your idler wheel.
fsonicsmith:

Ah-ha, I missed this the first time I read your response:

At least on my 301, the platter will not spin freely-the idler wheel-mine is the Audiosliente btw-is always engaged against the inside platter rim.

This is the culprit! I don’t know if the unit has a fault or if someone purposely disabled some of the linkages but I would say this is a sure fire way to create a flat spot on your idler wheels rubber periphery and hence noise in the form of rumble.

I can tell you with confidence that this is not the way the 301 or 401 was designed to behave.
@audiofun Thanks for looking over the cave. I love the Decca. I have another Garrott Grey Export. Be interesting to hear the LDR on the other arms especially the Kuzma but all that is out of my willingness to spend that kind of money. It all goes on enormous property taxes and healthcare insurance payments.
Thanks for the info Audiofun. I always turn the 301 off using the 301 on/off lever on the left, then and only then do I turn off the PSU. I can sometimes be slow as a mule mentally. I personally installed my motor unit from one plinth to my new Layers of Beauty plinth and did the wiring connections and in course of that had ample opportunity to make note of all you have explained and.....failed to note it. I have had the platter off several times and just did so again and it is clear as day that all you say is true. I had never stopped to observe the obvious. I guess my mind was on other things. My linkage works just as you and noromance describe. I can only guess that for whatever reason, the tiny felt brake engages harder than usual or the felt pad is thicker than normal because again, even my heavy brass platter stops within a second. It certainly does not make two revolutions. Oh well, I won’t worry about it. My motor unit was as minty as they come. It merely needed a light cleaning to look brand new. This all comes via the guy behind Classic Thorens/STS-who sold the motor unit to me and installed the Audiosilente idler and new brass main bearing but I believe him.
 Update on SME/Garrard 301 
Very strange. The rep does not make clear if SME intends to ever start from scratch with a new 301 or simply continue to do re-builds of old 301's. It sure seems the latter. SME must have determined that the cost of tooling up to manufacture brand new chassis and all the related parts would never result in profit. That stands to reason. 
And more puzzling-why the ugly plinth and failure to recess the motor unit in the plinth? Why suspend the motor unit and arm separately when the original engineers intended neither to be suspended? 
Granted I have not heard it in action, but on the surface (pun) the project is an utter fail imho. 
fsonicsmith:

Hi, ok based on what you are saying it appears that your brake may just be set a bit high. This should not be an issue. I was under the impression that when you turned it off a 26 lb platter came to an abrupt and immediate halt. If it takes a few seconds then your platter brake is just doing its job a little better than mine.

Your unit is probably all good!

Also I agree with your assessment of the SME guy, it is nebulous as to whether they are going to produce from scratch the 301 or get into the business of refurbishing these units.