SME Model 60/Series VA Turntable Lab Report

Lab Report

Without doubt, the Model 60 is the most pitch-stable belt-driven deck we have tested, its ~0.005% absolute speed accuracy and mere 0.01% peak-wtd wow [see Graph 1, below] comparable with the best of today's direct-drive offerings [HFN Jun '16]. There are minor flutter modes at ±12Hz, ±30Hz and ±65Hz but these amount to no more than a peak-wtd 0.02%. Furthermore, the sintered bronze bearing, with oil-damped ball, is so precisely machined and polished that both through-groove and through-bearing rumble are at the limit of measurement at –75.5dB and –76.5dB (DIN-B wtd, re. 5cm/sec), respectively.

The Series VA tonearm's spring-loaded downforce dial is calibrated to within ~2% over a 0-3g range (1g = 1.02g; 2g = 2.05g downforce) and while its design is based on the Series V [HFN Mar '11] the new polymer armtube brings the overall effective mass down to 9-10g. While this might render the Series VA fractionally less compatible with heavier, low-compliance MCs, the trend these days for a slightly more relaxed MC suspensions, in pursuit of improved tracking, actually makes the VA more relevant. The side-mounted oil bath is also retained if additional damping of especially 'excitable' pick-ups is required...

As with the Series V, the VA's bearings are free of any perceptible play and, for our purposes, are essentially frictionless (<5mg in both planes). Also, resonances within the arm itself are resolved into just two components – a bending mode at 105Hz with a harmonic at 270Hz (structural harmonics are not necessarily integer multiples) and another, higher-Q, resonance at 450Hz. The freedom from more complex resonances, and general clutter, is quite remarkable [CSD waterfall, Graph 2]. PM


Wow and flutter re. 3150Hz tone at 5cm/sec (plotted ±150Hz, 5Hz per minor division)


Cumulative tonearm resonant decay spectrum, illustrating various bearing, pillar and 'tube' vibration modes spanning 100Hz-10kHz over 40msec

Turntable speed error at 33.33rpm 33.33rpm (–0.005%)
Time to audible stabilisation 5-6sec
Peak Wow/Flutter (Peak wtd) 0.01% / 0.02%
Rumble (silent groove, DIN B wtd) –75.5dB (–75.4dB with clamp)
Rumble (through bearing, DIN B wtd) –76.5dB
Hum & Noise (unwtd, rel. to 5cm/sec) –62.5dB
Power Consumption 18W (1W standby)
Dimensions (WHD) / Weight (TT only) 557x212x417mm / 48kg
Price (with arm): £49,950-£59,950 (depending on finish)
SME Limited
Supplied by: SME Ltd
01903 814321