SME Debuts New Integrated "Synergy" Turntable At High End Munich

SME debuted "Synergy" at High End Munich 2018, the company's first new turntable since it introduced in 2015 the Model 15. The Synergy is also the SME's first "Integrated" turntable and its its first non-numbered product. It's also the first to be introduced under the company's new CEO Stuart McNeilis appointed after SME's purchase by The Cadence Group.

The new turntable, which features a built-in battery powered phono preamplifier, is a collaborative effort between SME, Nagra, Ortofon and Crystal Cable (in which Cadence is a part-owner). The Synergy is equipped with an SME IV tone arm and uses parts sourced from the company's Model 10 (motor) and 15 (platter) turntables adding a new three-point suspension featuring a new elastomer developed with an outside vendor. The three-speed power supply is also newly developed. The cartridge is Orfofon's MC Windfeld Ti introduced at last year's Munich High End show.

Though it was launched at this show, the Synergy shown and demonstrated in SME's room used an outboard Nagra phono preamplifier as the internal phono preamp is undergoing a few minor revisions including a shift to a 9V battery from a 6V. The sound produced by this combo impressively solid, quiet and all of the other adjectives and superlatives one would associate with any SME turntable.

Price is expected to be around £15,000, with the dollar amount in America yet to be determined.

nagysaudio's picture

this is my absolute favorite thing to come out of Munich 2018!

SeagoatLeo's picture

I noticed that Music Direct still sells the SME IV and V arms. I purchased my SME IV in 1989. I'm using a Benz Ruby 3 on a VPI TNT VI. I'm happy with it despite the difficult setup lacking easy VTA and difficult Azimuth adjustments. It solid and sounds great. However, the late Brooks Berdan modified it with closed cell foam insulation and Cardas rewiring to an RCA junction box. The stock 1989 SME IV had a mid-bass hump which was annoying, luckily ameliorated with the foam insulation and rewiring.

Can the new table use two arms? It has 3 speed capability.

nagysaudio's picture

Music Direct hasn't been an SME dealer for years now, nor do they still sell any of their products. Current production V and IV tonearms are some of the best in the world at any price and have virtually no midbass coloration.

Ortofan's picture

... because there was a much more thorough description posted the day before on this site:

Michael Fremer's picture
Your ideal of "detail" is a regurgitated press release. That's not what we do here.
Ortofan's picture

... isn't quite your spécialité, then perhaps in the future you could include a link to the company's press release so we don't have to get our details from some other site (other than the manufacturer's).

Luke's picture

Nice looking deck. Although by my calculations I could buy an SME Model 15, SME V, Ortofon Winfield Ti and Nagra BPS for just over £15000 - makes me wonder if that combo would be better value for money...

SeagoatLeo's picture

My mistake. Acoustic sounds sells both arms and Needle Doctor sells SME V on-line. However, I saw another site which showcased all of SME tonearms a month ago although it wasn't Music Direct. There was a change in the bearing hardness from 1989 to the current rendition of the SME IV and V models. I hope the internal wiring has also changed. I wonder how SME got rid of the mid-bass bump in the new model.

For some reason, VTA doesn't appear to be as critical using this arm on 180 versus 140 gram pressings as it is on other arms. Maybe I'm just missing some information but my analog front end sounds great.

Michael Fremer's picture
Not critical on any arm. To change SRA 1 degree requires a 4MM change at the back of the arm. The difference between 140g and 180g is negligible.
SeagoatLeo's picture

I did notice a significant difference when the arm was off by 1 degree up or down on the pillar, probably 4 mm. My other table uses an Ultracraft AC 400 unipivot arm and also doesn't appear to be very VTA critical playing mono LPs and 78s. I've been told that the Graham arm and the Tri-Planar are VTA critical with really fine adjustments possible. Are you saying that those arms are not critical to adjust VTA and that the feature is mostly hype? My dealer suggested I upgrade to a Tri=Planar from the SME IV for the benefits of precise VTA and azimuth adjustments. Thanks

bwright's picture

Thanks for this update on the Synergy. I can't wait to hear this deck!

Using Nagra and Ortofon in this capacity is really interesting - a true best of breed approach.

I chose the battery powered Nagra BPS over their more expensive VPS model due to its superior neutrality. It sounds like something similar to the BPS (or better) may be employed by Nagra for this model, particularly given the 9v battery. Great choice in this respect.

And the last time I was on the market for a turntable, I was sitting on the fence for a month between the Brinkmann Bardo and an SME deck. It was like splitting hairs in many respects, and apples vs. oranges in a few other categories, but both were superb.

They haven't changed the SME line much over the years because they are so remarkably good, and the design is relatively timeless. I'd expect this new product to be a significant advance.

davip's picture

Call me old-fashioned, but a TT is not a CD player -- you have to interact with it physically to make it work, and yet more and more TTs eschew the plinth that allows just that in providing an area to rest the hand for cueing. Hell, even finding an audiophile tonearm with a fingerlift is a challenge these days (SME optional extra = £28). How high is that SME platter -- 6" off of the surface? Twenty-one yr-olds might have the limber limbs for such gymnastics, but I'm guessing that this $20,000 record-player isn't targeted at them.

That Linn have kept afloat in the TT business is in no small-measure down to providing a TT that can still be Used rather than presented as a piece of bijouterie, whilst not forgetting that other unfashionable mainstay of TT sound-quality -- the suspended subchassis. Hang your 'porch-glider' effect -- keeping motor-vibes out of the platter/tonearm assembly must trump micro-speed variations...