Introducing SME

Introducing SME Turntables and Tonearms

 

Founded in 1946, and with over ten million tonearms sold worldwide, SME is the world's most accomplished manufacturer of high quality turntables and tonearms. SME is the most iconic name in the world of analog, and their engineering epitomizes the very best of British engineering. Combining innovation with meticulous manufacturing and attention to detail has made SME a market leader for decades.
 

SME turntables feature precision engineered construction, extensional damping of major surfaces and vibration free moving parts, allowing them to deliver outstanding dynamic range and pitch stability, exceptional detail and resolution, superior tonal neutrality and a unique ability to more closely reproduce the sound of the original studio master tape.
 

Alastair Robertson-Aikman, founder, designer and creator of SME Precision Turntables and Tonearms had a no compromise passion for engineering perfection and for perfecting the art of precision made high-end audio equipment. The SME DNA of extreme attention to detail, engineering excellence and ultimate perfection was written. This is known as “the SME way” and remains as SME’s core values and principles, which is translated into every SME product - sound engineering, highest quality materials, meticulous machining and exceptional finish quality are the hallmarks of everything SME makes.
 


SME Precision Engineering manufactures bespoke complex Precision Engineering solutions for a wide range of applications and industries including Aerospace, Formula 1, Automotive and Medical. With over 70 years’ experience we have an enviable track record for producing innovative, highly complex and precision components to the strictest tolerances within any given industry.
 

Virtually every part is made in-house.
Even the smallest - and seemingly insignificant pieces - including screws, washers and fasteners.
Finishing, including graining or bead-blasting, plating, anodizing and polishing is all done in-house, insuring total quality control.

 

Commitment To Quality

Quality Control & Quality Assurance are paramount to everything that SME stands for and covers all aspects of the production process from initial client enquiry to final inspection, delivery and client acceptance. We are accredited with ISO 9001 2008 certification for Quality Management and are proud of our enviable reputation within the industry for uncompromising quality standards. SME has Coordinate Measuring Machines operated by highly experienced engineering Inspectors to ensure every component produced conforms to exacting quality standards.

CNC Milling  

SME are specialists in CNC Milling and have a wide range of Mori Seiki CNC Milling machines which enables production of parts up to 800mmx510mmx510mm. This enables us to produce accurately engineered products in a range of volume batches using a variety of different materials.               

CNC Turning

SME has vast expertise in CNC Turning and specializes in precision quality components up to 300mm in diameter and 400mm in length. Our high quality and complex Hardinge machines have full mill and turn capabilities and a Y-axis which enables manufacture of parts in one operation making the process flexible and cost efficient.

Plating, Anodizing and Finishing

SME have in house capability for a wide range of processes including
Black, Clear and Bright Anodizing – A range of finishes such as Satin/Matt are possible by aqua blasting parts before the anodizing process.
Chrome Plating in Bright, Black and Satin finishes.
Chemical Blacking
Gold Plating
Copper Plating
Nickel Plating
Polishing Shop and Barrelling Room with different grades of media and ceramic stones
which are used for super high finishes on Stainless Steels

 

 

Tour the SME Factory with Michael Fremer from The Analog Planet

SME HERITAGE

 


A Seventy-Year History of Quality and Craftsmaship
 

1946

Scale Model Equipment Company founded by Mr. Alastair Robertson-Aikman. Design and manufacturing commenced of precision models for the exhibition and model engineering trade. 

1950

The company expanded and diversified into engineering subcontracting, producing precision aircraft parts for prestigious companies such as Rolls Royce, Hawker & Martin Baker.

1959

Mr. Alastair Robertson-Aikman designed a pick up arm for his Hi-Fi System and on seeing the prototype friends in the Audio Industry encouraged him to produce it commercially. It was received with such enthusiasm that a new factory was built to meet the demand and the company’s name was changed to SME Limited to suit its new activities.

Series I pick up arm launched with production of 25 units per week which composed entirely of individually machined components.

MoD and AID approvals gained and work is completed for the UK Atomic Energy Authority.

1960

Work commenced with precision made parts for the Aircraft, Atomic Energy and Submarine Industries. Including new projects for Aircraft Instruments and Business Machines.

1962

Series II 9” & 12” pick up arms launched.

1972         

Series II IMP 9” pick up arm launched.

1977

Series III & Series IIIS pick up arm launched.

1980

Series II R type 9”, 10” & 12” pick up arms launched.

1986

Series V pick up arm launched.

1987

Series IV pick up arm launched.

1988

Series 300 pick-up arm launched.

1990

SME Precision Engineering expertise and capabilities proven to be highly successful, subsequently new work programmes commence with some of Britain’s leading companies, including Rolls Royce Motor Cars, British Oxygen Company, Parker Pen, Ford Motor, Williams Motorsport and Philips Medical.   

 1991

Model 30 turntable launched.

 1992

Model 20 turntable launched.

 1992

BS EN ISO 9001 : 2008 Quality Assurance System accredited.

1999

Model 10 turntable launched.

2000

In house services enhanced with increased investment in CNC Machining, Pressure Die Casting, Injection Moulding, Metal Finishing, Electro Plating and Anodising.                      

2006

Model 20/12 turntable launched.

2008

Model 30/12 turntable launched.

2010

New generation Precision Engineering programmes commenced for Aerospace, Formula 1 and Medical Equipment Industries. 

2015

Model 15 turntable launched.

 2016

SME becomes part of the Cadence Audio Group of Companies. 

SME Celebrates 70 years of engineering excellence and is now probably the largest and best equipped Audio Company in the world for the manufacture of precision engineered pick up arms and turntables.

2017

SME Precision Engineering relaunched with the aim of becoming the company of choice for the manufacture of premium high quality precision engineered components for the industry sectors of Aerospace, Formula 1, Automotive and Medical Equipment.

 

 

Tour the SME Factory with Michael Fremer from The Analog Planet

SME TONEARMS

 


Precision and Quality Like No Other


In 1959 Alastair Robertson-Aikman designed a pick up arm for his hi-fi system and on seeing the prototype friends in the audio industry encouraged him to produce it commercially. It was received with such enthusiasm that a new factory was built to meet the demand and the company’s name was changed to SME Limited to suit its new activities.


Over the next thirty years teams of top-flight engineers, machinists, and production managers refined tonearm design and improved SME's precision engineering capabilities. Today SME owns some of the most sophisticated equipment on the planet and manufacturers highly complex precision components for world leaders like: Rolls Royce, Ford Motor, Philips Medical and Williams Motorsport. SME's unique skill, experience and commitment to excellence has been recognized by music lovers the world over and as a result SME has sold over 10,000,000 tonearms!


Attentiona to deatil is evident in everything SME makes, and this is especially true with their tonearms. The precision machining of every part (every one manufactured in house, down to the screws and washers) to the camera-like finish, SME tonearms exude the sense of precision and hand craftsmanship found the finest luxury brands.

 

 

SERIES M2 -

The Series M2 embraces three models the M2-9, M2-10 and M2-12 offering pivot-stylus dimensions covering virtually all turntable requirements. These arms offer at reasonable cost, meticulous build quality with all the most important features including lightweight stainless steel tonearm, detachable magnesium headshell with azimuth adjustment, tungsten balance weight, superb quality ball race bearings etc., and a level of stiffness and rigidity to suit all types of cartridge. These precision pick-up arms embody well tried SME principles and are suited to a broad range of cartridges including those of medium and low compliance.

 

 

 

SERIES 300 - The Series 300 broadens the application of SME technology. A one piece magnesium tone arm, available as Model 309 and Model 310.

The detachable magnesium headshell has a new style coupling, providing the convenience of rapid cartridge interchange without loss of rigidity.  Our designers can be justly proud of these models which offer a performance and manufacturing excellence unmatched by many more expensive models.

 


 

 

SERIES 312 -

The Model 312S precision pick-up arm is an extension of the popular Series 300 range designed with maximizing performance and ease of use in mind. It has a detachable magnesium headshell to provide the convenience of rapid cartridge interchange while maintaining a degree of rigidity normally only associated with arms of one piece design. The 12 inch magnesium construction takes advantage of the reduction in maximum tracking error/distortion afforded by the greater arm length when compared with 9 inch models.

 

 

 

 

SERIES IV -

The Series IV precision pick-up arm owes much to the technology developed for the acclaimed Series V. Although presented at a lower price it retains the unique one-piece magnesium tone-arm, dual-lock base and other advanced features listed. The Series IV is a worthy relative of ‘the best pick-up arm in the world’ with a sonic performance reflecting the care and attention to detail underlying its design and manufacture. Its unique one-piece pressure die-cast tone-arm utilizing the advantages of magnesium, replaces conventional fabricated construction. An internal constrained layer damps minute residual vibration leaving the tonearm acoustically inert.

 

 

 

SERIES V -

SME engineers, recognizing the potential of the latest complementary equipment, accepted the challenge to design and build a pick-up arm which unlike others in existence would make no detectable sound contribution of its own. The work took almost four years and the measure of its success is the acceptance of the Series V precision pick-up arm by technical experts and users as one of the world’s truly great audio products. Series V sound has an almost startling dynamic range and neutrality enabling high levels to be enjoyed. It escapes the ‘LP’ sound and demonstrates that structural resonances in pick-up arms are responsible for much that makes vinyl records readily discernible from master tapes.

 

 

 

SERIES V-12 -

Based on the multi-award winning Series V pick-up arm, the Series V-12 incorporates the same design and engineering that have made SME a byword for excellence. Coherent musical control is held over the entire frequency range in terms of tonal quality, stability and stereo imaging. Startling dynamic range, neutrality, structurally inert, the Series V-12 embodies every worthwhile feature in a pick-up arm. The 12 inch tone-arm is pressure die-cast in magnesium complete with an integrated headshell to eliminate tone-arm resonances in the audio spectrum and offers a 27% reduction in maximum angular error distortion over 9 inch models. Listening: the benefits of minimal tracking error and harmonic distortion are clearly revealed.

 

 

 

SME TURNTABLES
 


 

Careful Engineering, Robust Materials, Precision Machining to the Tightest Tolerances and Impeccable Assembly

 

 

MODEL 10 -

The SME Model 10 precision turntable is built to exacting engineering standards providing reliability and freedom from critical adjustments. Build integrity, sophisticated electronics and vibration free moving parts allow the full capabilities on any sound system to be fully explored.

The designer’s aim was to create a more affordable product, preserving as much as possible of the performance and engineering excellence found in the celebrated Model 30/2 "the best turntable of all time". The Model 10 weighs more than 15 kg (33 lbs) but is only 304 mm in diameter, thus meeting all the requirements of high density construction that is required to maintain freedom from coloration.

 

 

 

MODEL 15 -

The Model 15 could be described as “the ultimate in recovery vehicles”, allowing the cartridge to retrieve the last iota of recorded material whether digital or analogue, from the vinyl disc and approaching the ultimate in perfection. Receiving its inspiration from the superb Model 10 precision turntable, the Model 15 seeks to emulate the excellence of the Models 20/3 and 30/2 turntable while retaining the more compact footprint preferred by many enthusiasts.

The Model 15 has been designed with the same attention to detail combined with simplicity of operation that has come to be expected from all SME products. Its superb performance together with laid back styling make it a glamorous addition to your sound system that will astound and amaze listeners for many years to come. The main spindle is 19 mm (3/4″) machined from high chrome tool steel, it is ground, super finished and supported in a sealed housing with individually fitted sintered bronze bearings of generous proportions needed to support the platter.

 

 

 

MODEL 20/3 -

This finely engineered precision turntable is built to the same exacting standard and incorporates many design features originated for the Model 20/12. Massive construction, extensional damping of major surfaces and lack of vibration from moving parts ensures exceptional detail, resolution and uncolored performance.

A turntable should address the problems of extraneous vibrations. These emanate from numerous sources including air and structural vibration from loudspeakers, groove modulation, stray electrical fields and mechanical imperfections in moving parts. In the Model 20/3, superb instrument quality machining is allied with fundamental physics. The higher the mass and stiffness of a body the less it will flex and vibrate; the duration of a vibration can be shortened by suitable damping.

Model 20/3 weighs approximately 63lb, significant in relation to its size because it is density that matters. For example, the same weight of metal spread over a large enough area would be aluminum foil! The sub-chassis measures only 17 5/16” by 13 3/4" but weighs 24lbs. Its thickness 5/8” resists flexing at low frequencies while high frequency resonance is attenuated by efficient extensional damping.


 

 

 

MODEL 20/12 -

A larger and more massive version of our well known Model 20/3. It will accept nine, ten and twelve-inch arms but is especially directed at the exciting Model 312S. This offers a performance some 27% better than a nine-inch arm in respect of angular error distortion. The wand and headshell are pressure die-cast in magnesium and are 27g lighter than they would be in aluminum.

Probably the stiffest and lightest twelve-inch arms ever made, these dual problems are at last addressed and on listening, the benefits of minimal tracking error and harmonic distortion are clearly revealed. A turntable should address the problems of extraneous vibrations. These emanate from numerous sources including air and structural vibration from loudspeakers, groove modulation, stray electrical fields and mechanical imperfections in moving parts.

In the Model 20/12, superb instrument quality machining is allied with fundamental physics. The higher the mass and stiffness of a body the less it will flex and vibrate; the duration of a vibration can be shortened by suitable damping.

Model 20/12 weighs approximately 74lbs, significant in relation to its size because it is density that matters. For example, the same weight of metal spread over a large enough area would be aluminum foil! The sub-chassis measures only 20 1/2” by 14 3/4" but weighs 17.6lbs. Its 5/8” thickness resists flexing at low frequencies while high frequency resonance is attenuated by efficient extensional damping.

 

 

 

MODEL 30/2 -

With its many original design features the Model 30/2 is a unique turntable. There are no critical adjustments or setting up procedures. Its immaculate construction and finish stem from facilities and uncompromising quality control which have made SME a byword for engineering excellence. Judged by Germany’s AUDIO "the best turntable of all time", the Model 30/2 can deliver an unrivaled musical experience.

The moving parts of a fine turntable are of paramount importance. The spindle of the Model 30/2 is 170.5 mm long and 19 mm diameter. The massive sealed housing and individually fitted sintered bronze bearings in which the spindle runs are also of the generous proportions needed to ensure that the 330mm diameter platter weighing 7kg is adequately supported. The Model 30/2’s excellent dynamics and pitch stability are largely the result of the immense care taken in the design and execution of these components.

 

 

 

Model 30/12 -

Created as a companion and to compliment the Series V-12, the Model 30/12 precision turntable enjoys all of the features associated the Model 30/2 precision turntable. The differences are merely ones of scale. The suspension now provides 60 purpose molded ‘O’ rings supporting the sub-chassis, which has been increased in thickness by some 16%, on one hundred and twenty strands of rubber. The main chassis has received similar attention but in this case the thickness has been increased by 19%. Small differences but necessary to afford the increased rigidity required to ensure acoustic neutrality.

A larger version of our well known Model 30/2, it will accept nine, ten and twelve inch arms but is especially directed at the exciting Series V-12. This offers performance 27% better than a nine inch arm in respect of angular error distortion. Its immaculate construction and finish stem from facilities and uncompromising quality control which have made the name SME a byword for engineering excellence.

 

 

 

RECOMMENDED TURNTABLE/TONEARM COMBINATIONS
 


Partnering SME tonearms with SME Turntables for Truly World-Class Performance

 

 

PACKAGE 10A/3 -

A great starting point to get into the SME family. This package features the Model 10 turntable with the world-renowned Series 309 tonearm.


 

 

 

PACKAGE 10A/V -

This package takes performance up a big step by adding the Series V tonearm to the Model 10 turntable.

 


 

 

 

PACKAGE 15A -

Model 15 turntable with Series 309 arm. The Model 15 is the newest SME turntable. Receiving its inspiration from the Model 10, the Model 15 benefits from SME's suspension system and seeks to emulate the excellence of the Models 20/3 and 30/2 turntables.  This combo is a complete success.

 


 

 

PACKAGE 15A/V -

Model 15 turntable with Series V arm. A high-end system no doubt.

 

 

 

 

 

PACKAGE 20/3A -

Model 20 adds a high-mass foundation with superb results. This package includes the Model 20/3 turntable with matching Series V GPD, (gold print detail), arm.

 

 

 

 

 

PACKAGE 20/12A -

This package includes the Model 20/12, which is the 12" version of the Model 20 turntable along with the matching Series 312S 12" arm. Stereophile called this table "among the best-built turntables in the world" so why not give it a spin?


 

 

 

 

PACKAGE 30/2A -

This package includes the Model 30/2 turntable, called "the best turntable of all time" by Germany's AUDIO, with a matching Series V GPD tonearm. Highly recommended.

 

 

 

 

PACKAGE 30/12A -

Twelve inch version of the Model 30; the best of the best. Model 30/12 turntable with matching Series V-12 12" tonearm.