SME has just drawn the curtains on a new flagship record player, the Model 60. Starting at £50,000 (around $66,000/AU$88,000), it sits at the top of the company's turntable range and features all the immaculate precision engineering we've come to expect from the British brand. Luckily for us, we've already had the pleasure of its company.
The Model 60 features the SME 5A tonearm, which is an update of a long-running favourite that was first introduced in 1984. The 'A' stands for advanced and swaps the original's tapered magnesium armtube with one that's machined from a block of high-tech resin. (The original SME 5 tonearm remains in production.)
Examine the 5A's armtube in cross-section and it looks like a Reuleaux triangle (a triangle with curved sides) – a shape SME has chosen in order to improve rigidity. The move to a well-damped material such as this resin is a bid to reduce armtube resonances to a minimum. As is SME's current policy, it's not possible to buy the arm separately.
As is SME tradition, the Model 60 turntable is mostly made of precision-machined aluminium. The standard versions come in conventional anodised black or brushed silver, while the hand-finished 'diamond' silver finish (pictured at the top of this article) or one of the coloured options adds a 10-15 per cent price premium depending on your choice. The only coloured option we were shown was in an attention-grabbing blue, but the company is flexible in this respect.
Each of the Model 60's corner towers houses a revised version of the SME's distinctive isolation system. This uses multiple rubber 'O' rings to filter external vibrations, and a silicon bath for the main bearing housing to dampen any unwanted resonance in the turntable structure. Even the adjustable feet in the base of the corner towers are decoupled from the rest of the structure with a special polymer to provide further isolation.
SME has also taken the opportunity to improve the outboard power supply arrangement for this deck. The Model 60 is supplied with a new main controller unit, which moves the large mains transformer to a separate box to reduce any unwanted interference.
If all this has whetted your appetite as much as ours, then here's some good news: the Model 60 is in production now and available to order. We can't wait to take it for a spin!
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