Hi-Fi News Reviews SME Model 12

The way the deck can take you to the heart of the music is invigorating. If you’re seeking a turntable package to transcribe almost exactly what’s present in the groove, then this is it.
Stereo imaging is one of the Model 12A’s real strengths. Indeed, it is one of the few high-end decks that is truly successful at conveying the precise location of all the various musical strands in a mix.
The Model 12A dug deep to reveal vast amounts of information, the lead guitar clear to hear through the entire track. On lesser decks the instrument can easily become crowded out, subsumed into the overall ‘fray’ of what is a busy, condensed and compressed pop song. Here it was pinned in space with true precision.
It’s clearly a highly engaging and involving performer with a variety of material – whether it be a highly polished production or not.
The Model 12A is not a turntable that aims to tempt with euphony. Rather, it’s a matter-of-fact performer. The focus was on solidity and grip, and in particular I loved the way it revealed the relationship between the hi-hat, snare and bass drum patterns.
As you would expect from an SME turntable, the Model 12A sounds ‘meaty’, and that’s not just down to the general confidence and poise of its presentation. There’s also a subtle tonal warmth that invests bass with real weight. This strong and gutsy sound is underpinned by the deck’s fine speed stability, which ensures every bass guitar or doublebass note is a meaningful occasion.
It delivered the sort of visceral thump only a true high-end turntable is capable of, the stylus feeling as if it was nailed down into the groove.
This is a no-nonsense, compact, user-friendly package that will cut to the heart of the musical mix to reward with a sound that’s taut, precise and highly detailed. Add the superlative build quality and you have a package that punches far above its weight when it comes to value for money.
David Price, Hi-Fi News, November 2019

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