Stereophile Reviews SME Model 60 Turntable


You’d be forgiven if, after looking at the Model 60’s brutal stance, you thought it was likely to sound like the musical equivalent of a Vin Diesel acting performance: big on drama and action, but with some of the subtlety lost along the way. Nothing could be further from reality. This brute can dance on its tiptoes, with finesse and fine gradations of tonal color that go beyond even the formidable 30/2 Series V combination.
Listen to the explosive dynamic attack of the piano; that isn’t about subtlety, but it is a place where the 60/VA combination has a clear edge over the 30/V pairing. Low noise is usually the key to turntable transparency, and the Model 60 is exceptionally quiet.
Intense dynamics and tight, powerful bass extension have long been hallmarks of SME turntables, and the Model 60 pushes that reputation even further. The low pipe-organ notes on Widor’s famous Toccata demonstrated just how powerful and extended bass on an LP can be. But it wasn’t just the low end that impressed. The Model 60 also offers a sense of ease and effortlessness.
With the Model 60, SME managed to raise the bar on what can be achieved with their design philosophy. SME’s ‘just the facts’ approach won’t make nasty-sounding records suddenly sound pretty, but its stunning ability to resolve information will make your records sound more real and ultimately more satisfying.
This turntable is capable of extracting an astonishing amount of music from the record groove. It should be considered the new real-world reference against which all other turntables can be judged. By ‘real world’ I mean that, while it may cost as much as a nice car, it doesn’t cost as much as a nice house, like some of its competitors do.
The Model 60 is also about as easy to use and unintimidating as a top-of-the-line turntable gets. The Model 60 should be considered an heirloom turntable, as its build quality should allow it to continue making music for several generations.
Mike Trei, Stereophile, August 2023
Speed stability has been a given with previous SME turntables, but the switch from DC to AC motor drive has taken it Model 60 to another level. Its -0.005% absolute speed accuracy and mere 0.01% peak-weighted wow are comparable with the best of today’s direct-drive offerings.
The sintered bronze bearing, with its oil-damped ball, is so precisely machined and polished that both through-groove and through-bearing rumble are truly state of the art, at -75.5dB and -76.5dB respectively.
As with the Series V, the VA’s bearings are free of any perceptible play and for our purposes are essentially frictionless. The freedom from more complex resonances, and general clutter, is quite remarkable.
Paul Miller, Stereophile, August 2023

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