Tour SME With New CEO Stuart McNeilis

Last year, Cadence Group purchased from the Robertson-Aikman family venerable SME, Ltd., appointing as its new CEO Stuart McNeilis. Mr. McNeilis, a veteran of the the aerospace industry, is attempting to maintain SME's exceptional traditional manufacturing quality while moving the company (gently) into the 21st century.

SME has long manufactured turntables and tonearms as well as high-tech parts for the aerospace, automotive and medical industries. McNeilis's goal is a 50/50 mix of hi-fi and high-tech. He's already re-structured the company's worldwide audio distribution and he's busy planning for the company's future. You can read more about that in a future issue of Stereophile. AnalogPlanet toured the factory in 2014 using a GoPro camera. This tour looks and sounds better.

After this visit, McNeilis and I drove to London for the Pink Floyd museum exhibit after which I interviewed the illustrator Gerald Scarfe. Mr. McNeilis served as the cameraman. If he's as steady at SME's helm as he was holding the camera, SME's future will be smooth sailing. You can read more about SME's transition in a future Stereophile Analog Corner.

Ortofan's picture

... ever rebuilt?

Now that we've seen the factories of SME, Rega, Pro-Ject and VPI, who's next? Clearaudio?

fetuso's picture

Michael, I really enjoy these videos. Getting a little glimpse of how these companies make their products is fascinating. I'll never say a SME product is too expensive.

But what makes watching these videos even more fun are your ad lib jokes. Some of the stuff you come up with is hilarious. Like "Is this where you make the French fries?". That's comedy gold.

volvic's picture

As an onwer of three of their arms it is nice to see who polished them. Also at 25:33 am I imagining things or were those Linn Keels or some kind of LP12 subchassis?

Michael Fremer's picture
Not sure what was there..
volvic's picture

I did a quick search in a few forums and talk is that Linn outsources the manufacture of the Keel to SME. I cannot confirm this but at three different sites mention that Linn outsources it to SME. Guess I wasn't seeing things.

volvic's picture

Apparently it's common knowledge, guess I didn't know. Strange why they don't make an SME Keel version. But that's another story.

Michael Fremer's picture
Those are Linn Keels.
Martin's picture

As an owner of an SME 20/2 with an SME V tonearm, this was of course fascinating.
I bought my SME new in 2008 and have only good things to say. The turntable is solid, once set up, stays set up. And the sound quality of course, superb.

TerryNYC's picture

This was very interesting. How about visiting a moving coil cartridge factory next?

ravenacustic's picture

I have never seen a moving coil cartridge being built. If it can actually be seen in spite of its minuscule size it would be fascinating. As far as I know there isn't anything on YouTube.

PAR's picture

If you go to Mikey's recent video of his visit to Rega you will see them building an MC cart ( e.g. winding the coils). I think that it is shown in either the final or penultimate video.

SimonH's picture

Thanks Mickey,

OMG if feels the same as when almost 44 years ago I had a six week summer job at SME - half a day in the machine shop then upstairs to the production line. :)

Mr Quiet's picture

Great video, Loved watching it, really, until I realized I was getting seasick. Luckily I was 6 minutes from the end when I realized why I was feeling queasy. I was able to finish it and assure my partner it wasn't her food that had made me feel bad. I will have to limit my watching longer interviews like this in the future unless there is some stabilizing of the video. :(

PAR's picture

Every time I watch one of Mikey's very interesting videos after several minutes I start to get motion sickness. I have ended up having to watch them in short sections.

Hergest's picture

I've just been reading the comments on You Tube. There are some odd people out there getting worked up about the strangest things. To be enraged at the use of the phrase 'vinyl rip', well......