It is always difficult objectively deal with tonearms. The tonearms is very difficult subject, performance of which might be severally masked by thousands associative parameters. However, the biggest problem is that it is imposable to talk with people about the tonearms. A huge amount of people who might be potential collaborators about the tonearm’s performance usually suffer form many diseases that disqualify them form any valuable perspective tonearm collaborator: the people might have “wrong” turntables, have inappropriate for the arm cartridges, have no skills to set the arm/ cartridges properly, have crapy phonostages, have no idea how “it” should sound, have no understanding of civilized Music, or just not qualified audio or methodologically wise.
A few months ago when the Flat Earth Audio folks told me that the 3012 arms are gone out of productions and the new SME 12-incher become available I was kind of queries. It was little scare that Sumiko handled a distribution of the new SME arms. The SME-Sumiko arms, the IV and V did not impress me, and the industry’s propaganda about the SME IV and V “supremacy” met in my feline soul a compassionate but a pity smile.
I still was king of queries about the new SME 12-incher (probably because I like the 3012 too much) but I was afraid that they would make the new arm too anal-retentive and too rigid, like the most of the contemporary arms. (Actually it is not because the contemporary “bad engineers” make the arms too rigid but because the modern-days tastes for the analog performance are too screwed by the contemporary hi-fi-ness, titanium klutz-kluts tweeters, turntable with a mass less then my Cat when she is with her full stomach, the rubber suspension ported fart-machines that “they” call bass channels, the drivers made form bulletproof jackets and with the listeners desire for instant, even false, gratification.)
Anyhow, I did call to the Sumiko-guys to ask him about the new arm. Well, I have seen BS in audio that presented with a lot of pretentious meaning and self-pomposity but this guy was too much, even for my sense of humor. He spent 10 minutes explaining me that I must not use or even attempt to peruse 12-inch arms because there is a very special secret formula that describe the relationship between a total mass of TT and the length of the arm. According to him (welcome to the Sumiko-distribution world) the heavier turntable is the shorter the arm should be used. Probably the fact (according to him) that he never had the 12-inch arms on his stock and never had them available for sale helped him to come up with this reticules conclusion. Interesting that when I ask his how light the TT should be in order to use 12-inch arm (I was holding my laughing) he said: “Forget about it. Get 9-inch arm it will be better”.
I certainly did not argue with him but expressed “a concern” after witch the Sumiko-distributor-guy begin to pump himself with throwing to the table his credentials: “Come on Romy! Trust me! You guys have no idea how to use tonearms. I do. I have been doing it for 22 yeas and I have set up 33.000 turntables.” (It was thirty three thousands or 1.5 turntables for each single day!!!!!!! I wonder was he setting up a turntable while he was taking with me?) Anyhow, I was openly afraid of this guy when we finish the conversation. I am sure that when I hanged up (saying to myself that I would prefer to mount a cartridge in my Cat’s tail instead of an arms form the Sumiko-dude) he added to his log a notch with a title: “Turntable # 33.001 was set up successfully for Romy the Cat”
The world is a big place with numerous opportunities…. I a few weeks a friend of mine let me tohave the SME M2-12 and here she is:
It is very interesting arm with few remarkably pleasant and remarkably damn amendments compare to 3012. It is kind of too fresh and I did not have time and opportunity to spend the necessary attention to it. I set it up and loaded into it a cartridge... Despite of some resolvable tribulations with this arm, that I have already experienced, my initial reaction (before any listening!!!) is quite positive, not thrilling as I wish but just positive. It might be OK arm for a not-heavy and soft suspension cartages. It is what I would use it with when I will be able to listen it. I will post my observations and findings later on…
"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche