SME Debuts New "Flagship" Model 60 Turntable With New Model VA Polymer Tonearm

SME debuted a new "Flagship" turntable at an event held March 25th, 2022 at the company's Steyning, West Sussex U.K. headquarters and in the legendary listening room of the company's founder, the late Alastair Robertson-Aikman. When I asked CEO Stuart McNeilis if yet another factory tour was necessary, he said "you be the judge". The answer was "yes" as new owner Ajay Shirke has made considerable investments in SME including new CNC machines, a brand new state of the art plating facility and a new tolerance measuring system that produces even greater machining tolerances than the already legendary SME precision.

The event was held mainly for worldwide distributors with but a few journalists on hand. I was lucky to be one of them.

The new Model 60 combines all-new thinking and engineering with what was best about the former "flagship" Model 30, including a new internally mounted "O-ring" suspension system that isolates both vertically as before and now horizontally as well. There's a new A.C. motor and motor control system in place of the 30's D.C. motor and now the transformer is externally mounted in its own chassis so it can be further isolated form the signal path and motor control placement is no longer critical in that regard.

The new Model VA arm is machined from a 'space age' polymer in place of the V's magnesium tube arm and the termination is now in chassis-mounted RCA jacks instead of the traditional DIN plug. There's much more to see in the exclusive video.The elegant simplicity can fool you into thinking this is a simple design, but that's hardly the case.

Based on what I heard in the listening room the new Model 60 combines the 30's "gravity" with the Model 15's liveliness and excitement. I cannot wait to get one in for review. Don't hold me to it but the price is said to be around $50,000 with the new VA arm, which to me indicates "aggressive pricing".

Glotz's picture

That cool-man blue is to die for.

KLW's picture

in service of Analog
Cool looking SME 60 turntable

PeterPani's picture

I wonder whether two or three tonearms can be installed...

simes_pep's picture

Did you ask whether the polymer tube of the SME VA is available to be fitted to an existing SME V tonearm?

Some serious Engineering in that Model 60 unit

Simon Finch's picture

A great overview Michael. Very much looking forward to reading your full product review.

eugeneharrington's picture

Anybody who has an ounce of appreciation for quality design/engineering and precision machining cannot help but be overwhelmed, in the best possible way, by the superb workmanship on show here. No wonder the U.K.'s SME has been and continues to be my favourite turntable manufacturer. Who else in the high end audio world has this level of engineering expertise available to them? The price that Michael mentions, if accurate, is not discouraging either when you consider what Tech Das turntables cost. Although not explicitly indicated, I expect that this turntable will debut at the Munich High End Show in May. The Model 60 would, I have no doubt, be a wonderful acquisition for those who can afford one.

Alastair McClean's picture

Wonderful. I had an SME 30/2 from 2003 until 2020. It was Michael’s Stereophile review which inspired me to go for it. I had the privilege and pleasure of a visit to SME and to Alastair Robertson-Aikman’s home to audition the 30/2 in his legendary music room. He was a gracious host even though I subjected him to The White Stripes. I treasure that memory and the happy years I had with the 30/2. I moved from an SME V to a Graham Phantom II and finally the original SAT arm. The turntable never faltered and the only maintenance it ever needed were a new belt every 3/4 years and an annual bearing oil top up.

arcman67's picture

Just kidding. The TT looks stunning and compared to others, looking at it, I would have guessed higher than $50,000. The table looks stable as a rock. I'm looking forward to reading a review once released.

Analog Scott's picture

still no azimuth adjustment. Hope there is one in there hidden

Michael Fremer's picture
After spending $50K or $60K on this turntable, you can send your cartridge to J.R. Boisclair who will analyze it for around $500 and return it with high quality shims that will perfectly set azimuth and even SRA if you begin with the arm perfectly level with the platter.
Analog Scott's picture

But if I were to spend 50K-60K on a TT/pickup arm combo I would expect such a basic and essential adjustment to be a part of the rig. After spending 50K-60K I would be pissed off if I had to ship my cartridge off to some third party for god knows how long just to have it work properly. But that's me

Analogue+Fan's picture

For a new AC motor 50,000.00 is a good price!

Happy Will's picture

OK things have moved on a lot, but the video and background noise took me back to the Summer of '73 when I spent my school holiday working for SME. I had a morning working in the machine shop before moving in to the assembly line. And the bug has stayed with me.

volvic's picture

Enjoyed it very much as SME is probably one of my favorite companies, own one of their tables and have five of their arms, they are made like fine jewelry with a finish others cannot match. Calling for parts or service is always a joy and the employees are the nicest people in hifi.

Having said that I am critical of the current ownership and the decisions they’ve taken in regards to SME and Garrard. They have made both brands far too exclusive with a closed “architecture” in regards to parts, pricing and servicing for both brands. Maybe I am wrong and just don’t understand their long term strategy, but I can’t help but feel that these choices are not in the best interests of the company long term.

I am though happy that $$’s have been put into the company to re-tool and improve processes, as well as new products, the 60 looks like it’s the business and among super tables is priced accordingly. It’s also nice to see the V finally improved, as it was pretty much the same tonearm that was introduced in the 80s. I can only hope this will bring SME lots of success, as there are really good people making tremendous products.

eugeneharrington's picture

The British HiFi publication, What HiFi, has indicated that the starting price of the SME 60 is St£50,000 (British Pounds Sterling) so that is considerably more than 50,000 U.S. Dollars, approximately $66,000 in fact. By the time import charges and distributor/ handler margins are factored in, I think the price will be in the region of USD$70,000 +, at a guess. It is clearly aimed at a super niche market!

Michael Fremer's picture
The price, especially in today's market, is high but not out of bounds.
DaveyF's picture

comment...please enlighten us as to what is "out of bounds" price wise to you?

MhtLion's picture

Nope. U.K. price of £50,000 translates to $52,000 because 20% of U.K. price is VAT - tax paid to the U.K. government, which does not apply to us. Not sure SME still has the same U.S. distributor, but their old distributor used to charge U.S. customers about double the price just because they have the monopoly in the U.S. market and because U.S. consumers do not understand VAT.

MhtLion's picture

LOVE it! LOVE it! I'd rather buy this than a new car. That being said, £50,000 translates to $52,000 USD in today's conversion rate because we don't pay 20% VAT. 20% of U.K. price is the tax for U.K. Government, which does not apply to us. I'm really hoping the U.S. Distributor won't charge $100,000. Not sure if SME has the same distributor or not but their old distributor used to charge us about 2X price compared to U.K. There is a small luxury tax and custom fees, but shipping to U.S. vs within U.K. is neglible.

Tom L's picture LOVE driving the old Rambler, don't you?
I NEED to buy a new turntable, something, uh, happened to the old one...

JohnG's picture

That is an amazing amount of craftsmanship to put in a turntable. I honestly can't imagine how the box holding the speed controller benefits from being machined out of a solid hunk of aluminum. But it's all beautiful, that's for sure.