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What model of the SME 309 to choose and how to set a price for tonearms

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Hi Wammers

A real pleasure to be part of this forum. I have a question, or rather more, but let me start.

I have decided to buy a SME 309 or V for my Thorens TD124 project. I would be prefer the V, but 2nd hand prices are 1100+ GBP and that would be to stretch my budget to much as I also need a new phonostage. Reason for not considering the IV is that it is in silver, and I would prefer a black model, though the 309 is not completely black.

I know that the V has not really been modified by SME during its production history from what I can read on the Internet, but it is a different story with the 309, which has been upgraded with magnesium tube and level 7 bearings, if I am not wrong. Which modelyear is the one to go for if want the latest and presumably best version, and what is a fair price?

Also i hope to partly finance my upgrade by selling 2 of my tonearms. The first is a Helius Orion MK III in very good condition. Second is an Ace space arm (older model) also in very good condition. How would you value the price of these two arms?

Input very much appreciated!

Cheers

Henrik

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There's a Notts Analogue Owners Club on here and there are one or two Ace Space arms from memory. Ive had a Morch UP2 and I got just under 300 for it. I do watch unipivot values and yours would be nearer 200 than 300 I would have thought. The Helius Orion would fetch 300+.

Hope this is of some help. Why not PM Martha's Dad - he knows the price of fish.

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I thought you could buy a Black IV.

A fully working Helius Orion 3 will give a comparable performance to the SME's.

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If you want the latest and best then buy new or one made within the last couple of years. Buying an old one can come with its own risks, it may well need a service, bearing change/adjustment etc. Your budget of less than £1100 is going to dictate an SME309 over a V. Unique Audio have a 2014 one in within budget, certainly worth having a chat with them. The AN arms might be worth a look at too.

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Hi Nonsmoking Man

Thanks for the reply. Estimate seems fair, and I will post them both in the classified section one of the following days. Wasn't aware that there is a specific Nottingham Owners club.

I also had the Moerch, though fiddly to use it is indeed a good arm. I sold mine for about the same amount in DK.

Best

Henrik

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Sorry, didn't get the last posts.

Agreed, the Orion has very good performance, and is definitely a match for an IV / V. However I will use the tonearm on my TD124 and for aesthetic reasons I prefer a 9" arm as it can be mounted within the frame of the TT.

The 309 is also in my consideration, but I have always fancied a V, and with some luck I hope to get one, though service may be required worst case. Unique Audio also has some fair priced Vs btw. Other options are a Graham 2.2, but the SME V does appeal more with its Mercedes-like design, both in good terms and bad terms.

Thx all,

Henrik

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Hi Henrik,

the SME V has been modified over the years. If you send one back for a service then you'll find they will update it. Ask Unique Audio for more details on what's been altered over the years. SME tend to keep this quiet for some reason.

Regarding the colour changes. I was after a SME V in silver and it actually works out cheaper to get a IV and with the damping trough and then get the bearings upgraded to the higher ABEC versions. Not sure how that works if you want a black IV though.

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Thanks, MrSammy. I wasn't aware that you could upgrade an IV. I have given it some thoughts, and a IV might work fine, I will just have to change the colourscheme of the plinth for my 124, which is currently undergoing service. For the same reason timeframe is 1 month, which should give me time to sell my spare arms to finance the SME and also find a nice example of an SME IV/V or 309.

Best

Henrik

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Sorry, didn't get the last posts.

Agreed, the Orion has very good performance, and is definitely a match for an IV / V. However I will use the tonearm on my TD124 and for aesthetic reasons I prefer a 9" arm as it can be mounted within the frame of the TT.

The 309 is also in my consideration, but I have always fancied a V, and with some luck I hope to get one, though service may be required worst case. Unique Audio also has some fair priced Vs btw. Other options are a Graham 2.2, but the SME V does appeal more with its Mercedes-like design, both in good terms and bad terms.

Thx all,

Henrik

x2 My SME V:notworthy: has just come back from a repair/service it was not cheap, but on its return sounded so much better than before that l considered it money well spent.

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I thought you could buy a Black IV.

A fully working Helius Orion 3 will give a comparable performance to the SME's.

Yeah it was the IV.vi or something and only for the US market I think.

- - - Updated - - -

http://www.paragonsns.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/sme_seriesiv_arm.jpg

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@Tarzan, congrats! That is also another argument for choosing and SME - you can always get it serviced and there is at least not to my knowledge any lack of spareparts, which can be a problem for some of the more esoteric brand.

Strange btw that the IV.vi only is for the US market. That would have been an option, if not for the duty and customs fees, if one plan to import one!

Regards

Henrik

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I'd get my IV serviced but if it's going to cost £500+ is it really worth it for an arm I paid £900 for? Hmm

I'd like the arm repainted or replaced as its got a fair few wear marks and nicks on it. They said a new cardboard box would be £60 so Christ knows how much it'd be to make it as it left the factory!

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Well, it all adds up, especially if you go for the rewire too. But it should make it a killer arm, so I guess it is worth the costs, and besides SME arms seems to hold their prices very well.

Good news btw. Got my 124 motor back from service and it is running like new. So the wish for an arm has moved even closer.

Regards

Henrik

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I have to say my time with an SME V (fitted to a 20/2 turntable) left me rather underwhelmed for various reason, it was almost a great arm let down by some design issues IMO. Much happier with my current SME M2/12, again some design elements could be better, but I feel these are an absolute bargain and an M2-9R is also an interesting retro-look option.

Paul

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Great input, mrwhippy. I also have to say that I have read some great things about the M2-series, and it is definitely worth considering, also because it is more aligned with the vintage-look of the 124, and cheaper which is also to be taken into consideration for my part. But if not the V had been the sweet ghost of my tonearm dreams, I would opt for either the M2 or perhaps a Graham.

I also think the V is not necessarily 'the best tonearm in the world' (whatever that might mean), but with a rewire it is definitely in the top league, and my dreams will be fulfilled, at least until another ghost shows up, when I start to look for a tubed phonostage (Allnic H1201 is another ghost btw).

Regards

Henrik

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