Wednesday, 22 May 2013

SME 3012 MK1 Conversion Kit for Transcription Turntables


With this kit I introduce to all owners of classic SME Tonearms the opportunity to convert several models into the sonically unsurpassed 3012 MK1 version with all necessary components. I tried my best to get the widest possible range of adaptable SME models working without any substancial change with my kit (see seperate compatibility list for conversions). I offer the conversion kits to interested people on a diy-level, alternatively I will be happy to offer the doing of such conversion process on request.

A kit contains the tonearm wand with extension tube and internal silicon rubber damping, a balsa wood lining for the main tube. As well included is one main weight with end cap and the riderweight. The counterweight tube with silicon damping element and stuffing cap are part of a kit and all dedicated screws will complete it.
This conversion of SME tonearms is offered to optimize the physical conditions for the low compliance type cartridges like Ortofon SPU, EMT Tondose, Neumann DST, Denon DL103, Ikedas and Koetsus other arms don't offer. These cartridges have a very low compliance below 10x10-6cm and profit enormously from the heavy tube. Within this combinations it is absolutely necessary fit a steel saddle (original or mine) to the tube instead of the later types (vinyl type, aftermarket brass products) in order to broaden the aimed effect.

If you are interested send me a mail with inquiery about your needs.

These kits can be customized with extra components (like weights, the steel saddle or internal cabling)  on further request.

I don't sell single parts or spares of the kit alone. Spares are only available as a service for customers.



A converted 3012

The conversion kit can be customized to different needs. Available are the following components:

  1. 12'' heavy stainless steel arm tube (0.5mm material thickness), predrilled to match all original necessary connections (saddle, socket, lift support bank, etc.) of the S2 models.
  2. Two counterweights: first the shorter 160 g weight is 31 mm long x 30mm diameter or the longer 220 g is 42,5mm long x 30mm, both massive brass milled and matte chrome plated
  3. Dedicated end cap is the wayrod holder is 9,5mm long x 30mm diameter adds with 52 g to total balancing weight, it is massive brass milled and matte chrome plated
  4. Counterweight tube (55mm long) with stainless steel end cap
  5. The rider weight is 22,2 mm long x 17,5 mm diameter adds up with 48 g
  6. Inside carrier for the decoupling insulation silicon rubber piece, fixing screw, fixing ring
  7. The steel saddle (exactly like the original SME saddle)
  8. Earth wire with fixing nut
  9. Fixing screws for the saddle are lens head types and a set of allan screws for the weights (both stainless)
  10. Internal wooden damping piece

I am not able to supply wayrods, headshell sockets or RCA connection kits. For this reason you should contact your SME spare supplier. Here you might find a rough list of original spares which will complete my kit when nescessary. Have a look at the end of my compatibility chart


Here can be seen the most parts from my kit available
The finish and quality of parts

A further improvement are the inside cables. As a standard interior cables I can offer silk isolated copper litz of 0.1mm diameter. A reasonable upgrade to this type is the teflon isolated silvered copper litz 0.2mm. My recommendation is the silk isolated solid silver wire (0.1mm) I proudly can offer. This cabling brings a tremendous improvement to the arm.  No other supplier is able to offer the improvement of a solid silver wire.


inside cabling, from top no 3 teflon isolated silvered copper litz;
no 2 solid slk isolated silver wire;
 no 1 the silk isolated copper litz. 

The original SME MK1 tonearms were developed in the age of mono records and pick ups in mind tracking with 5-6 grams. A year after introduction the second version the SME 3009/12/II was introduced as a lightweight version in order to fill the needs of the new stereo cartridges with lower tracking weight. All other 12''-tonearms followed this concept and had aluminum tubes. Fidelity Research, Ikeda and the late SME R-Versions incorporated a stainless steel tubes again, but with very thin a material strength of 0.25mm. Only the early MK1 tube has the rigidity and strength to bring out the pure sonic advantage of the early steel bearing. Together with the superb cartridges of that age like SPU, Neumann DST or modern high compliance pick ups like the Koetsus and similar types, this tonearm is sonically unsurpassed. With the heavy tube I recommend the steel bearing better than the brass types, offered by after market makers.

Note: The different weights will be necessary in order to match different cartridge/headshell types. The long weight (220 g) will balance cartridge/headshell combinations heavier than 35 gramms. This was the original first weight from SME to match SPU's with build in transformers. The shorter type will be usefull for cartridge/headshell combinations around 32 gramms, like all modern SPU's (160 g). Generally the length of the wayrod makes a remarkable difference to the range of weight adjustment and the usable cartridge weight. The original MK1 wayrod had a total length of 70mm, The later 3012/II wayrod was only 55mm long, the shorter version from the 3009/II limits the range dramatically. The even shorter types from lighter and later arms (improved versions and /III) are not any usefull with the conversion kit. In this case ebay is the only source to find them.


The weights (with allen screws) seen from left: the 160g weight, the riderweight, the 220g weight and the end cap,
all made from solid brass and with matte chrome finish.


On request I am willing to preassemble your tonearm wand with a internal wiring, saddle and end stub. If you send your headshell connection socket in advance I will be able to do the delicate soldering process and therefore the tube can be completely closed for the later ease of installation. As well the complete conversion can be arranged for those who might not feel comfortable to disassemble their arm and fear the process. Make a inquiery, if you are interested.


A completed arm wand without headshell connectior ready for installtion
The new steel saddle already mounted, the stuff cap is not pressed in


My new made steel saddle to match the original SME type

If you are hunting for cheap quickn'dirty options to repair a 3009 or increase the value of a broken  3012 without respect to the scheduled improvements, you should look at ebay for a Taiwan based supplier with a different kit for the SME-R arms. These kits don't match any technical or asthetic preference of the original arms and are quite cheap to buy. 
But if you are ready to spend a reasonable amount of money into your existing arm as an uncomparable upgrade, you will get a adequat increase in value, a highly improved soundstage with this fond made kit. I will be happy to serve this option.