SME Model 10. I am a firm believer that there are design and engineering synergies between the arm and table manufacturer. When in doubt, I believe one should keep such componentry in the family. Why else own an SME 309?
Without a doubt go with the Thorens. The vintage vibe is so groovy (pun intended).
These tt's are very different from one another in their design philosophy. I suggest that you do your own homework and narrow down your choices to a few that are more similar to each other.
I second the SME 10 - great table.
Best of luck
I'm a big fan of TW Acustic. Of course, much of this is personal preference and system dependent. But if you like solid deep bass and a high mass table that gives great solid, 3-D images, TW deserves a look.
Another vote for for either SME or TW Acoustic.
I have heard all these models 10 months back when I was out to buy my TT.
Avid Volvere would be my first choice if you like lively open and fast sound with great pace, bounce and rhythm.
SME, I have heard only the 20 and 30. 30 is nice but expensive. 20 sounded relatively lifeless and dark. At least with an SME arm it can sound clearly 'dark'.
Thorens is nice and sweet but lacks some resolution compared to new age TTs. Depends on how you want your music.
TW Acustic, not for me, sounded cooked and hifi-sh to my ears.
Avid Diva, just not in the same league as other TTs in this list.
I would suggest you also look at an EMT 938. It comes with an EMT 929 arm and TSD15 SFL cartridge and in built phono stage, a complete package and one of the best analog reproduction regardless of money. You can get a fully conditioned TT with warranty from here:
I went this route, researched extensively, asked many questions, etc. Didn't begin to find the answer until after I took my chances and pulled the trigger. But even after I did, it took some further doing, between restoring my amps to their original status (great thanks to Tom Tutay) after I had previously modified them, and re-discovering some power tubes that gave me the kind of wonderfully detailed, musical and fatigue free listening experience I had longed for. And what was the turntable I chose? The TW Acustic Raven One(with the TW Acustic 10.5 tonearm).
I just recently heard a SME 20 with a Koetsu Coralstone Platinum at a Sonus Faber Aida demonstration. I would agree with a dark perspective. I would certainly not suggest a "lifeless" sound maybe a shade polite. From what i've read the SME 10 could be a little bass shy. Never heard the Raven One but it wins the beauty contest. Avoid the vintage Thorens, nostalgia is best suited for a 2nd or 3rd system. By default or price/performance ratio the Avid Volvere SP gets my vote.
Although I use the Raven One I also like the Avids.
If I were planning to supersede the R1 it would probably be the Avid Acutus Reference. Even then I wouldn't be expecting a massive improvement... ;^)
I suggest the SME 10 on top of a Vibraplane. With the SME arm, the new motor
controller, this is a great combination. I owned one and did not find it dark. The
bass is not as great as my SME 30/12, nor is the background quite as black, but
for the price, it is very hard to beat, especially if it is properly isolated. I haven't
heard the other tables in my system, only at shows or in a friend's system, but
too many variables to identify how the tables contributed to the sounds of the
This is a personal decision of course, but I wouldn't choose any of them. Why?
None of these has any solution inside which moves the sonic curtain in a way
that one can say, it is definitely better than others.
I would save my money for
- Well Tempered Amadeus
- Townshend Rock 7
+ on the comments by Syntax, and a huge +1 on the WT Amadeus.
Belt Drive : Simon Yorke "Zarathustra S4" (second hand only)
Direct Drive : Denon DP80 (second hand only)
Idler Drive : Jean Nantais Lenco L75 (75lb version)
* -[The TD124] is extremely expensive for a completely serviced model (expecting to find it from $3500 without any guarantee about the quality of restoration). My own beloved TD 124 II costs me a total of 5000euro after restoration and with a great personal effort upon dealing with every detail for almost 18 months).
* -[Reg. your list], I agree with Syntax about your choices and also, I agree that :
* -[If you plan to spend your $$$ for a new TT], there is no better choice than the Amadeus....
... as you allready have the SME 309 (that is a poor choice for the Zarathustra S4), (and a natural partner for the Oracle), (and your DL103 does not take any benefit from the Rock 7's damping bath), my modified list has become as :
DP80 Vs Delphi Vs JN L75
** My own personal favorite and also my recommendation for you is the DP80 but you have to modify the armboard (reduce the height in an area that meets at least the equal of the arm base). The base of the arm has to pass below the peripheral ring of the motor. This was not a problem for me when I've had the DP80/SME V back in 1990. (My love for this TT becomes stronger over the years, after having monstrous big Belt Drives and so, I've bought it again yesterday!).
** The Lenco L75 is a dinosaur that maybe everyone can resurrect but only the most experienced can bring it to the world class form that it deserves. (I've had my two chances and I've failed). If you have the guts to deal a special order with Jean Nantais, then you may end up with something that is beyond compare.
** Unfortunatelly the Delphi can not match this high level.