Boy...I hope someone chimes in on this cause this is one question I have been aching to ask. I have a few others but I'll wait to see what the responses are on this one.
22 responses Add your response
I have an SME 20/2A with IV.V arm and Koetsu Onyx Platinum cartridge but have not done the direct comparison you seek. Hopefully, someone else who has done so will chime in.
I will put in a few words for the SME 20/2A. This is a superbly engineered table with performance that ranks it with the best. It is a suspended (and damped) design which means a reduced premium on finding a super solid platform to place it on. It plays classical music without congestion or coloration.
With the SME 20 I can pick it up, put it on padding on the floor of my car, drive 40 miles, put it on a rack, and simply plug it in and turn it on to play music as beautifully as if it had never left its place in my home.
I regularly get to hear an SME 30...There is certainly a difference between the 20 and the 30 but it is very subtle.
Every so often the 20's become available on Audiogon for $6k to $7k. You have the makings of a superb system and I am positive that the SME 20/2A will not disappoint.
I never heard the HR-X but changed from a Basis Debut Gold with Graham 2.2 to an SME 20/2 with Triplanar VII. The SME/Triplanar was a BIG improvement. Much more resolving, quieter blacker background, greater transparancy, better dimensionality, better dynamic shading, etc.
The build quality on the SME is amongst the best I've seen. Based on talking with some very knowledgable people, the consensus was that SME is definitely superior to VPI.
I have a VPI HRX and have heard the SME 20 a number of times for extended listening sesions in my friend's system and once at a dealer. I have also heard the SME 30/2 for a very long listening sesion at a dealer's home. Both the HRX and the 20 are very well designed and built. Neither should present problems setting up. With respect to sound, I think the HRX is much more dynamic and solid sounding. I think the proper comparison is between the HRX and the 30/2, which has better isolation and is very dynamic. The difference between the 30 and the HRX is that the HRX is livlier (some would consider this coloration). The one thing that HRX owners will tell you is how much they enjoy listening to the table - it pulls you into the music and gets you foot tapping. The 30/2 may be the nth degree more transparent. You should also consider the fact that with the HRX you can easily change arms/cartridges.
all this superiority talk cracks me up sometimes, are you talking about superior materials ? superior design ? superior craftsmanship, or superior looks ? what, because its not superior sound, and thats what is important in my book, have you noticed how many in the audio business, use vpi tables and arms, in their reference audition rooms ? vpi, are the best sounding tables around in my opinion, and apparently alot of other professionals also, they may not be made of the most exotic materials, or the most complicated designs, but they are the best sounding, call it synergy, or whatever you want to call it, but hey, thats all i've got to say about that forest
You may want to check in with Brooks Berdan in Monrovia, Ca. He is a well-known analog guy (he famously developed mods to the early Oracle which the company included in its later versions of the table) and is a dealer for both tables. I don't want to put words in his mouth, but when I asked about SME vs. VPI, he seemed to like the HR-X better than the SME 10 but not quite as much as the SME 20. Happy hunting.
Semi, I have to laugh at your comment about SME vs VPI arms. First SME arms don't have any azimuth adjustment and their overhang requires moving the entire arm assembly on a rack system, just another path for resonance and smear to set up in the system. I had a IV and it sounds nowhere as good as my JMW 10.5.
SME arms don't have any azimuth adjustment
A small note of correction... SME makes an SME V that does have azimuth adjustment. The Vd has a detachable headshell that adjusts for azimuth. According to SME engineers and born out by Wally Malewicz, the fitment of the detachable headshell is capable of coupling that is indistinquishable from the fixed headshell design.
I have not heard the table with the solid platter. What is it made of? Can it take the outer ring? I seem to recall a discussion with Harry Weisfeld where he told me the pre-production models of the table had a larger platter, but that he thought this approach sounded better. I know the guy at high-end website likes the table with just an aluminum body, but although I have not heard the solid aluminum base, I do not agree with his description of the current HRX - i.e., bleached sound. Harry also thought the current model sounded much better.
Cohnaudio. according to vpi ( i emailed them) the base doesnt not contribute to the sound. However, the type of platter do contribute to the different sound that the high-endaudio.com claimed.It seems that the solid platter is similar to the tnt model. anyway tq for responding. will keep u posted regarding which platter i will buy
I guess the question I'd have to ask is why spend so much on the TT in the first place especially if your new to analog as you say. That means that your LP collection is zero? How many CD's do you own? You say that most of your listening is Classical. Unfortunately, Classical is what there are the least of in new LP's. Oh, you can get new pressings but really why get into analog simply to be limited by what you can get. If your into string esemble it's even worse. Now if you plan on going the used LP route you can get plenty of classical. If you are still determined then I would go for a less expensive TT and use the left over $ for new LP's. If you plan on going forward I would get the VPI if you plan on buying used LP's as well as new. Have you heard the VPI Classic? I heard one the other day and thought it sounded really musical. If that deck was vailable 10 years ago I may have gone for it. I have heard the SME 20/2A twice on a limited basis and have not heard the HRX. The SME is very neutral even overly neutral in my book. I think it really comes down to what you like, one is on the warmer side the other is cooler.
Having had the SME 20/2A with its SME V gold print I can add the problem of this TT is the arm , the base is still great.
Nowadays the SME V arm is obsolete compared to the Triplanar VII UII and Graham Phantom MKII
In fact the TW Raven One also with a cheap Michell Tecnoarm , obviously Minted!:-) ,sounds much better than the SME 20/2A