SME 3009 S2 Improved Tonearm problem...possibly

I’m struggling with my vintage turntable setup. I’ll give a run down of my setup and what all has been done and the problem I’m having.

Thorens TD125 MKII Turntable...New Walnut Plinth. Caps have been replaced. Strobe works as it is suppose to. It has a lexan tonearm board. It has been leveled and regulated. Still has original power cable. Original Thorens platter matt

SME 3009 S2 Improved tonearm with removeable headshell. Bronze knife-edge bearing properly installed. Aftermarket brass low hung weight. Original wiring in good condition. Upgraded to RCA connections. I have installed the SME fluid damper and using the recommended 200,000ct oil.

Soundsmith Zephyr MIMC * Cartridge with less than 50 hours just purchased new. This was spec’ed to me by Soundsmith.

Phone preamp is a Gold Note PH-10 with seperate power supply and is set to correct specs recommended by Soundsmith and tested by myself.

I just put a 3" walnut butcher block under my turntable. Put hockey pucks under the butcher block and installed spikes under my turntable.


I am experiencing midrange distortion. I’ve noticed today that piano is heavily distorted. The music isn’t as lively sounding with the Soundsmith cartridge as with the Shure Type III V15 I had on before. However, it should be a much improved sound.

I noticed today, as I’ve been tweaking the table constantly, while I was adjusting the tonearm height that with the table on and attaching the allen wrench to adjust height that I was getting a buzzing sound through the speaker. This would happen when the allen key touched the base of the tonearm or any point on the tonearm. Could this be the source of my distortion? If so, what is the possible fix?


This is driving me up the wall!!!



I will talk with Soundsmith about swapping the cartridge possibly. However, they are the ones that recommended it to me.

This is the link they sent to me when I emailed them asking what do they recommend with my setup. I gave them all the details of what I had and this is what they sent to me:


I'm going to get the table and arm 100% functioning correctly and then go from there. I am open to tonearm suggestions. I prefer something like the SME V with dial settings. Would that arm fit my table, Thorens TD125 mkii?


I agree with @dover re feedback coming the turntable, I had the exactly the same problem as you described and had to put turntable on a floor standing rack instead of wall mounted.

General rule for cartridges is low compliance cartridge use a high mass arm and vice versa.

Don't be fixated on arms with dials for downforce and bias always use a cartridge downforce gauge and do final adjustments by ear same for bias.

Peter Lederman sent me an email in reply to mine about the problems I'm having. He is the owner, designer and manufacturer of the Soundsmith cartridge that I own.

He stated after I asked if it was the wrong recommendation and he said, "lower internal mass makes a cartridge more compatible, not less."

I'm not going to question his statement or his abilities. He invented the Soundsmith Zephyr cartridge, so he should know more than anyone.

Anyway, he called me yesterday evening and said he felt I'm having a bearing issue. He said my description of my problem is a classic example of a bad bearing. So, I plan to replace the bearing with a nylon bearing as SME originally made the arm with. While I'm in there I'll rewire the arm as well.


Its more likely the pillar bearings that are an issue rather than the knife edge bearing.

They often get worn and sticky, inhibiting horizontal motion - there are 2 of them inside the arm pillar.

There's no stickiness in the motion of my tonearm. It's actually gotten away from me several times from how easily it moves.