SME Model 12A: Model 12 Turntable and 309 Tonearm $11,900Review

August 20, 2020 § Leave a comment

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“Now, obviously, short of mastertapes, there is no way one can with absolute certainty pronounce one component truer to the source than another. But thanks to DSD technology, not to mention carefully implemented PCM, you can come pretty close. Take Robert Silverman’s beautiful recital Chopin’s Last Waltz, produced by Ray Kimber for his IsoMike label. The original recording was made with DSD sampled at the quad specification of 11.2MHz. Commercially it is available only as a DSD download from Native DSD Music in 64, 128, or 256, or else on vinyl. According to Kimber, the transfer to vinyl is as accurate as is technologically possible and completely free from any processing of any kind except conformation to the standard RIAA curve. This, then, makes it possible in effect directly to compare the source in native DSD—in my setup at 128fs via an Aurender A20—to the vinyl. Such a comparison isn’t necessarily perfect, but it’s pretty damn close, especially as no decent or better music server or DAC that I’ve ever used has frequency-response aberrations that result in much other than tiny tonal anomalies (certainly not the Aurender), and nothing anywhere remotely as gross as most vinyl setups. The SME/Shure acquitted itself astonishingly well in the comparison. Was there a tad more warmth with the vinyl? Maybe. There was certainly a smidgeon less top-end extension, but that has always been the case with this Shure pickup (I should add that it was properly loaded as regards capacitance). Of course, the 12A can’t do anything about the slightly off-center pressing, so beautiful as the analog transfer is, I prefer the DSD file.”

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