Well, like in anything else there are two sides of the medal. I did not deal a lot with 3009. It is a fine arm. The very short time when I had the arm it impressed me as an arm identical to 3012 but with less developed bass. I did not get any second chaise for this arm, not practically because it sound but because I did not want to waste a space on my TT for 9” arm.
Yes, there is a strong believe out there that older production (Series I) are sonically superior to the Series II. I think this is all audiophile bogusness purely artificially created by the ebay droolers who staff the Japanese buyer with overpriced 3012/I (Series I). The 3012/I had heavier tube and some people mistakably believe that it makes the arm sound better. Read my site: I have said many-many times that I run ANY cartridge with max possible effective mass of tonearm. Why, because the heavier arms sound better! Do you have to pay 3 times for a “collectable” 3012/I or you would add 15-30g to the headshell of the 3012/II is completely irrelevant. The effective mass of the arm is mater but not the magical “rare” status of the Series I tonearm.
The material of the knife-edges is the subject t of the controversy as well. The boys with light cartridges who use the 3012/II as the default 12g arm will sing the songs that the metal knife-edges bearing is superior to the nylon and worth the extra $150. However, I will see what kind song then will be singing when they loud into SME 35g-40g cartridge of add to the 9g needle that they use I would say 25-30g. The nylon bearing was introduced by SME as an optional upgrade and for 15 years the nylon knife-edges bearing was sold for extra $100. Then, when the SME begin to manufacture thier Series II with default nylon bearing the wily dealer and reviewers begun to spread rumors that the metal bearing worth more money. Why, because it presumably sounds better… the most humors of then sell the bronze-made knife-edges bearing for $250. I sincerely feel that it is all BS.
The older, Series I are juts older, have more wearing and higher effective mass. It’s it. Also the older arm has crappier connectors with which you should deal, most likely to replace. Brian was correct about the rubber coupling they are important and shame the M2 SME the they did not implemented it... I usually trash any rubber bushings after each mounting of the arm and I strongly encourage to do the same.
"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche