SME’s New Synergy Integrated Turntable
England’s SME has long been associated with high end turntables and tone arms since the release of their Series II tone arm in the 1960s, arguably kicking off into the upper eschelon of the high end with the release of the SME Series V tone arm in 1986, and its sibling, the Series IV, a year later. Fast forward to the 1990s, when SME launched the Model 30, Model 20, and Model 10 turntables (in that order).
Since that time, SME turntable and tone arm owners have had to look to other manufacturers for their cartridge and phono stage needs. But not any more: SME has just announced their first integrated turntable, the Synergy.
The Synergy consists of a brand new turntable, packaged with a Series IV tone arm, an Ortofon “exclusive series” MC Windfeld Ti cartridge, and a specially designed NAGRA phono stage. Mono crystal silver wire by Crystal Cable completes the package, which retails for £14,950 in the UK, including VAT at 20% (at the time of writing North American priceing hadn’t been announced. Here are more details, culled from SME’s press release.
With a compact footprint, Synergy’s main chassis is precision machined from a solid billet of premium grade aerospace aluminium, ensuring an inert and stable base for the suspension and sub-chassis to reside on. With 10 CNC machining processes required during the manufacturing process of this crucial component, once machined the main chassis goes through multiple and extensive finishing processes, which includes significant hand finishing to reach the standards the company is famous for. Only then will it receive its unique black SME paint finish.
Mounted on the main chassis either side of the SME logo is the main on/off button and a Low Voltage indicator.
The turntable is supported on four large polymer isolators inside adjustable feet, which allow for quick and easy levelling. Machined from a single billet of aluminium, the trilateral sub-chassis, which firmly holds the close tolerance main bearing and tonearm, is mounted on three suspension columns, providing impressive isolation.
The main spindle is 19 mm (3/4”) machined from high chrome tool steel. It is machine ground, super finished, and supported in a sealed housing with individually matched sintered bronze bearings of generous proportions needed to support the platter.
Machined from aluminium alloy and weighing more than 4.6 kg (10 lbs), Synergy’s platter is perfectly dampened with an ultra-specialist space grade isodamp material unique to SME. The top surface is diamond-turned with a fine scroll carefully calculated for firmly engaging records to the platter. The substantial chrome-plated and logo engraved reflex clamp ensures the largest possible platter contact, even when an appreciable record warp is present.
The turntable is driven by a 3 phase, brushless out runner motor with 8-pole Neodymium magnets and three integrated hall effect sensors. Contained within a precision-machined housing, the total motor assembly is virtually vibration-less, as its 2.5 kg (5.5 lbs) weight is isolated from the sub chassis by urethane mounts and spikes.
The electronic control unit uses a high-performance microprocessor, optimised for motor control. Closed loop speed control is implemented using a proportional plus integral (PI) algorithm. Speed ranges are 33.3, 45, and 78 rpm, with fine pitch speed adjustment allowing increments/decrements of +/-0.01% of the selected speed.
The electronic control circuitry and power supply unit are housed in an external one-piece CNC machined case. This new design offers complete isolation and support and is the perfect environment for the electronics. Speed selection controls are mounted on the front facia panel with LED indicators.
Based on the renowned SME Series IV, Synergy’s tonearm uses the same unique one-piece pressure die-cast magnesium arm tube. Internally damped to be acoustically inert, it is mounted on a precision yoke housing with 10mm ABEC 3 ball bearing races. This unique SME assembly gives high rigidity and allows the bearings to be critically adjusted before the tonearm is installed to the turntable. The yoke is mounted to the 23mm diameter heat treated, ground and honed steel pillar, with a pair of 17mm ABEC 7 ball bearing races that are widely spaced to resist tilt. The cartridge head shell mounting is precision machined and enamel free to avoid interference resonance. Internal wiring is supplied by specialist high end audio cable manufacturer Crystal Cable.
Fitted and factory set for immediate use, Synergy comes complete with Ortofon’s “exclusive series” MC Windfeld Ti moving coil cartridge. Utilising the company’s SLM (Selective Laser Melting) technology, whereby fine particles of titanium are welded together to create a body-core optimised for overall rigidity and cartridge weight, the MC Windfeld Ti is fitted with Aucurum coils of gold-plated 6NX oxygen free copper. A specially designed cantilever, which holds the company’s Replicant 100 diamond, known for its thin and light profile and extraordinarily large vertical contact surface, completes the package. A low output impedance of 7 ohm and a medium output voltage of 0.2 mV makes this high calibre cartridge the perfect partner for Synergy’s integrated phono pre-amp.
Housed within Synergy’s main chassis, the ultra-compact phono stage is specially developed for Synergy by NAGRA. It is battery powered, offering complete isolation from other power sources. Utilising premium grade electronic components, the amplification is provided by individually selected and matched bipolar transistors combined with audiophile-quality capacitors and precision MELF (Metal Electrode Leadless Face) resistors. The MC input transformers are designed and wound in-house by NAGRA, benefitting from the company’s unique experience in this precision field. Connected to the tonearm by Crystal Cable, this reduces the risk of any interference to the sensitive signal. The NAGRA phono stage comes set up and matched with the Ortofon MC Windfeld Ti cartridge. The built-in phono stage resistor values are fully adjustable should the user want to change the cartridge in the future.