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Vinyl Asylum: REVIEW: S.M.E 3009 IIIs Tone Arms by darkstar

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REVIEW: S.M.E 3009 IIIs Tone Arms

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Model: 3009 IIIs
Category: Tone Arms
Suggested Retail Price: market price
Description: SME 3009 IIIs tonearm
Manufacturer URL: S.M.E
Manufacturer URL: S.M.E

Review by darkstar ( A ) on November 07, 2004 at 18:23:17
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for the 3009 IIIs

Odd that despite the volume of posts related to the SME 3009 IIIs tonearm, there are no reviews yet posted. Of course the fact that the tonearm is no longer produced and therefore is the purchase of a used piece of equipment, with all the faults that flesh is err to.

I wish someone that could do a better job than I took on this review; but someone has to start.

My background with tonearms extends mostly to tonearms fixed to various TTs, ala a Beogram 3400, Thorens 165, AR, and the like. Not that people haven't changed tonearms in those models, I'm sure they have; I just never did.

So in my first Thorens TD-125MkII turntable I eventually decided to upgrade the TP-16 to an SME. Of course a new SME was out of the question, so the decision became based primarily upon what became available on the used market within the timeframe that I hoped to do this.

The SME 3009 took longer to get here than the cherrywood armboard, but all in all they showed up just in time.

The IIIs is a finicky tonearm. The previous owner, in thick accent, told me that I needed to adjust, adjust, adjust.

This I happily did. I balanced and measured and tweaked and poked that tonearm until my insatiable desire to poke and tweak and measure and balance was greatly satisfied.

My version had the fluid damping, which is not present on all the models floating around. This part was nice, but the darn fluid got all over the arm lifter mushroom and made the arm slip about a lot while raising and lowering. My only complaint, BTW, about this tonearm.

The reason I am writing this review now is that I have subsequently pooched the armwand on the IIIs and have since acquired a 3009 II improved. Not a big jump either direction, I'm sure you would think, but more than I imagined.

The 3009 IIIs has the most refined presentation that I have heard, on all the tables I've listened to, as I listed above. When dialed in, the arm extracted every nuance of music out of those grooves.

I listen to female vocals a lot, a real lot, and Maria Muldaur and Linda Ronstadt are two of my favorites. I listen to these ladies so much every moment of my favorites of theirs are ingrained in my psyche.

"Midnight at the Oasis" made my skin shiver and the ultimate seductiveness of the lyrics came through like Maria was in my.. ahem, living room. Trite but valid.

I could find nuances in Neil Young's "On the Beach" between three electric guitars that redefine the word retrieval.

I should mention the associated equipment; the cartridge is the Garrott P-77, a steal at $200 from Needle Doctor. The preamp is AVA T-7, the amps Welborne Labs Laurel IIs, the speakers Klipschorn.

Product Weakness: dial-in performance
Product Strengths: dial-in performance

Associated Equipment for this Review:
Amplifier: Laurel II
Preamplifier (or None if Integrated): T7
Sources (CDP/Turntable): TD125
Speakers: Khorn
Cables/Interconnects: yes
Music Used (Genre/Selections): female vocalist
Type of Audition/Review: Product Owner

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Topic - REVIEW: S.M.E 3009 IIIs Tone Arms - darkstar 18:23:17 11/7/04 ( 9)