Stereophile's Products of 2023 Analog Component of the Year

Analog Component of the Year

SME Model 60 Turntable W/Series VA Tonearm
($71,900–$85,900; reviewed By Michael Trei in Vol.46 No.8 review)

Finalists (in alphabetical order)
AMG Giro Mk II Turntable w/9W2 Tonearm ($12,300; reviewed by Michael Trei in Vol.45 No.12 review)
TW-Acustic Raven GT Turntable w/12" Raven Tonearm ($19,000; reviewed by Alex Halberstadt in Vol.46 No.7 review)
VPI Avenger Direct Turntable w/12" Fatboy Tonearm ($36,000; reviewed by Ken Micallef in Vol.46 No.6 review)

SME's new flagship record player is based on 1990's Model 30 turntable but with the latter's DC motor replaced by an AC synchronous motor and everything else maxed out and fully optimized. The tonearm is based on SME's Model V, which was originally reviewed in Stereophile's September 1986 issue but is still in production. The VA replaces that tonearm's cast-magnesium-alloy armtube with one machined in-house from a solid block of polymer resin. Michael Trei found that the Model 60 was exceptionally quiet. "How much of that is due to the VA arm and how much to the new motor drive and the more massive chassis isn't entirely clear," he wrote, "but the 60/VA manages to stay out of the way of the music more emphatically than the 30/Series V combination."

MT concluded that with the Model 60, "SME has managed to raise the bar on what can be achieved with their design philosophy. ... 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 other turntables can be judged."

Notes on the vote
It came as no surprise that the Model 60 from venerable British company SME won this category. But it was a surprise that the other three finalists were also turntables, given that tonearms, phono cartridges, phono preamplifiers, and MC step-up devices were also eligible. However, with no fewer than nine phono cartridges and seven phono preamps reviewed between the November 2022 and October 2023 issues, none got enough nominating votes to get through to the second round of voting.

It was satisfying to see that VPI's latest turntable was a high-scoring finalist, given that the New Jersey–based manufacturer's HW-19 Mk.IV turntable was the Analog Source of 1992, in Stereophile's very first Product of the Year awards.