Replacing the Shure M97xE Cartridge/Stylus

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by retroboxman, Aug 7, 2018.

  1. retroboxman

    retroboxman Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    I have used the Shure M97xE for about 10 years as an affordable entry-level cart. I am fairly convinced I want to upgrade to the Ortofon 2M Blue. Has anyone made this specific jump? Does the 2M Blue sit deeper in the grooves resulting in a quieter reproduction? I was looking at eBay and saw a low-hour (150) used 2M for about $150. Was considering purchasing that. Also, can anyone recommend any good videos or websites for accurate calibration of the cart on the head shell?

    Thanks,

    Travis
     
    H8SLKC likes this.
  2. Thorensman

    Thorensman Forum Resident

    I cannot help you in regard of transition
    From Shure to Ortofon

    I would be wary of any cartridge
    Offered for sale with ?"Low hours".
    Why not buy a "jico" SAS and see how that grabs you
     
  3. Mitsuman

    Mitsuman Diamond Tone Junkie

    Location:
    St. Louis, MO USA
    I agree with Thorensman, as there must certainly be something about the sound of the Shure that you like to have kept it for 10 years. The Jico SAS is not a subtle change regarding improving the cartridge vs. the OEM stylus..........there are literally dozens of threads and testimonies reinforcing that. As far as calibration, tell us what TT and arm you have currently, and then specific advice can be given as to how to best set up your cartridge.

    You mention sitting deeper in the groove and allude to problems with noise. There are many possible causes for that, and IMHO you should verify the root cause of this issue before assuming buying a 2M Blue will solve that issue. It certainly might be an improvement, but knowing more about what TT you have, how you clean your records, etc. might help to find a better solution..............and possibly less expensive.
     
  4. retroboxman

    retroboxman Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Thanks for your willingness to share your wisdom and insight:

    1. To clean my records I use a Music Hall WCS-2 Vacuum with a solution made from a surfactant, 91% isopropyl alcohol and distilled water. It is essentially the Discwasher formula. I had a chemist break down the specific ingredients and measurements. I complete the cleaning process by using my Zero-stat gun in four quadrants, releasing the static away from the TT. I then use a an anti-static brush, lightly touching the vinyl and bringing any debris to the spindle to release any remaining static charge.

    2. I have a 1976 Pioneer PL-550 with a felt melt. I am running the Shure M97xE with a two month stylus with the tracking guard down, calibrated as per spec at 2 grams on the arm and anti-tracking.

    I essentially want to try something that's different because I never have. I want to have a choice between my Shure and another cart. I play a LOT of 60s soul and rock and enjoy the punch of Mono. Many of these pressings are deep groove and can have cosmetic flaws without them being audible. I want another cart that offers accurate reproduction but that may sit even deeper in the groove than the Shure for some of my Stax/Motown pressings that have some cosmetic flaws.

    Thanks for your insight,

    Travis
     
  5. retroboxman

    retroboxman Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Thanks for your reply.

    Can you please tell me more about the Jico SAS? Is it a stylus or cartridge? From my quick search it looks like it's a stylus that would fit my Shure cart. What are the hallmarks of its performance? Does it sit any deeper in the grooves?

    Thanks for your time,

    Travis
     
  6. Helom

    Helom Forum Resident

    Location:
    U.S.
    I'd have to double check but I'm fairly certain the maximum recommended tracking force with the brush down is 1.75g

    As far as surface ticks and pops are concerned, I've owned nothing that's quieter than the stock 97xe stylus with the brush down. Pops and ticks are best alleviated through proper record cleaning. I would use the Zero-Stat as the very last step, and the brush as the first.

    Since you have a removable headshell, why not get a dedicated Mono cartridge?
     
    SandAndGlass and Mitsuman like this.
  7. Mitsuman

    Mitsuman Diamond Tone Junkie

    Location:
    St. Louis, MO USA
    OP, give a read at this. Jico SAS upgrade for Shure N97xE stylus - For US, Canada & Americas only

    This is an upgraded stylus, designed to mate with your existing Shure cartridge. Read beyond the little bit of marketing jargon, and you'll see the difference between it and the stock stylus. And as Helom stated, a dedicated mono cartridge with a conical stylus would be a great way to enjoy the mono records that you have. If your budget would allow for a mono cartridge and you can swing the Jico SAS stylus, you won't be sacrificing the information retrieval you would get when swapping the upgraded stylus/Shure cartridge back onto your arm when you are listening to stereo recordings.
     
    SandAndGlass likes this.
  8. retroboxman

    retroboxman Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Hi Helom -

    I checked with the Shure instructions, and I believe I am reading it correctly at 2 Grams with brush down. I am following the order of your recommendations for cleaning - thanks.

    Can you recommend a dedicated Mono Cart?

    Thanks!

    Travis
     
  9. retroboxman

    retroboxman Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    I am so glad I asked these questions. This is very helpful. Few questions for you:

    1. Do you have experience with the Jico upgraded stylus? Does it sit any deeper?
    2. Have you used a dedicated Mono cart/stylus? What differences have you noticed?
    3. Can you recommend a dedicated Mono cart/stylus?

    Thanks!

    Travis
     
  10. sturgus

    sturgus Forum Resident

    Location:
    St. Louis Mo
    Travis, I think you have gotten great advice so far. I agree the SAS is the way to go for the N97xe. I have one on mine and love it. Beware that the sound will change. It will no longer be a laid-back warm sounding cartridge. Since you like the Shure as is take this into account. Since you are looking for options you could also look at a few of these.
    1: Grado Black Prestige 2 - Black / Green
    2: Audio Technica - 7v Audio-Technica AT7V phono cartridge My fav in the under $200 range
    3: The Vessel: The Vessel A3SE cartridge
    4: Nagaoka 110 Nagaoka MP-110 phono cartridge
    Just something to think about :D
    I guess I should ask, what table are you using? This could make a difference in recommendations.
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2018
    SandAndGlass likes this.
  11. retroboxman

    retroboxman Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Thanks so much, brother.

    Do you have any recommendations for a designated mono cart?
    The JICO stylus seems to have a lot of price variants. Does this seem authentic to you:

    JICO record needle SHURE N-97xE exchange needle Dian needle 192-N97xE from japan | eBay

    Thanks!
     
  12. retroboxman

    retroboxman Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    One more thing -- out of all the carts and styluses you have recommended, which ones for you sit deep and are the quietest?

    Thanks for your wisdom and insight,

    Travis
     
  13. Helom

    Helom Forum Resident

    Location:
    U.S.
    My bad, you're correct. 1.75 is what they consider "optimum."

    I don't have experience with mono carts but this one looks interesting:
    Grado-Prestige ME Mono High Output Phono Cartridge-Hi Output Cartridges|Acoustic Sounds

    Ortofon makes a 2M Mono - priced over $300.

    I'd call Acoustic Sounds or Needle Doctor and get their recommendations.

    A deep sitting stylus won't necessarily be quieter than an elliptical. Shibata styli are somewhat known for accentuating surface noise despite their smaller profile. The SAS is a significant upgrade over the standard 97xe stylus. It will retain not all, but a lot of the stock tonal balance when set up correctly. It requires some change in VTA.
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2018
    SandAndGlass likes this.
  14. sturgus

    sturgus Forum Resident

    Location:
    St. Louis Mo
  15. Mitsuman

    Mitsuman Diamond Tone Junkie

    Location:
    St. Louis, MO USA
    For an easy on the wallet conical stylus solution, I know the Shure SC35C is well regarded. It's not a true mono cartridge, and it's a heavy tracker, intended nowadays more for DJ applications, but if you only use it on your older mono records it might be a cheap way to see if you like the conical stylus. I personally would never use it on any of my favorite LP's, but the price of admission is low, and you can continue to use the mono setting on your preamp (assuming you have a mono switch based on your original post).

    The Jico SAS stylus design, in theory, will ride deeper in the groove than the standard N97xe eliptical (.7 x .2 mil) due to it's shape. That said, as was said by Sturgus, alignment/setup of the more advanced diamond shapes requires much more patience and skill than elipticals and conicals. If you pull the trigger on the Jico, lots of folks here can help walk you through the process of properly setting it up in your PL-550.
     
    SteelyNJ, SandAndGlass and sturgus like this.
  16. Mitsuman

    Mitsuman Diamond Tone Junkie

    Location:
    St. Louis, MO USA
    Pioneer PL-550. Might not be the best match for the Grado as I believe that is a medium mass S-shaped arm. That said, I've run many Grado's over the years, but never one of their mono cartridges. On my Japanese S-shaped arm decks, I had to do the longhorn mod to get my Grado's to sound their best. Not sure if the ME+ would suffer from the Grado "dance."
     
    sturgus likes this.
  17. sturgus

    sturgus Forum Resident

    Location:
    St. Louis Mo
  18. sturgus

    sturgus Forum Resident

    Location:
    St. Louis Mo
    Yeah that Grado dance is a real thing. Is there a mono stylus for the Shure 35c? I have a buddy with the 35c/Paradox mount and it's quite nice.
    Travis, where in the country are you located? A member may be able to help you sort it all out.
     
  19. sturgus

    sturgus Forum Resident

    Location:
    St. Louis Mo
    Hey Mitsuman, one day I would like to get a chance to hear your system.
     
    Mitsuman likes this.
  20. Mitsuman

    Mitsuman Diamond Tone Junkie

    Location:
    St. Louis, MO USA
    That’s certainly possible. We can listen to a couple of them LOL. Did we meet at Scott’s house once?
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2018
  21. arisinwind

    arisinwind Forum Resident

    Mitsuman likes this.
  22. H8SLKC

    H8SLKC Forum Resident

    Location:
    Boston, MA
    I own(ed) both the m97xe and the 2m blue. I actually recently sold the 2m blue on the bay for just over $150, with ~15o hours. An earlier poster was a skeptic about such sales/purchases, but someone just scored a nice lightly used 2m blue from me for that amount, so there's that.

    I never loved the sound of the 2m blue. I tried it in multiple systems on different turntables. In every instance it sounded dry and overly clinical to my ears. It sounded precise but uninviting and it pissed me off that I enjoyed other, cheaper cartridges so much more. I wound up feeling that it was an overpriced, overhyped cartridge that I couldn't love. Eventually it was relegated to a shelf and I finally got around to selling it just a few weeks ago.

    I believe the m97xe to be a wonderful cartridge, although in stock form it can sound overly smooth and dull in some applications. I wound up buying a 97HE stylus from TVOM that made it delightful. Smooth liquid bass, great midrange, just enough sparkle up top to shine. A real winner IMO. Then, I mounted it in a paradox pulse universal aluminum body a week ago and it sounds even better to me now.

    Your money, your ears, lots of varied advice above, but my money would buy a new tip for the cartridge you already have.
     
    Thorensman and SandAndGlass like this.
  23. retroboxman

    retroboxman Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Thanks for your help! I am in beautiful Naples, Florida where it's summer every day and hurricanes only one month out of the year ;)

    There seems to be a large consensus on simply buying a new stylus for what many on here feel is a capable cartridge.
     
    SteelyNJ likes this.
  24. retroboxman

    retroboxman Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Read through the JICO site information. Thanks, Gents for all the info.

    My favourite type of music is 60s Soul and R&B, specifically Stax, Motown etc.
    I do enjoy Mono recordings because I feel they 'punch' differently.

    Spoke to an older gent I used to work for who knows his stuff. He wasn't convinced a mono cart would make that much of a difference unless I am truly setting it up to play through one speaker. Would not the Mono cart deliver in "duophonic" (minus the horrible echo) when played through stereo speakers?

    That said, can any one speak to the JICO's stylus or ANY OTHER replacement stylus for the M97xE cart that's good for enjoying punchy mono recordings?

    As an aside, when Motown did it's slate of Tamla/Motown reissues circa 1981, I am not sure if they made new lacquers or what but many of those reissues sound brilliant. I love the story of Phil Spector first hearing "Stubborn Kind of Fellow" and having to pull over because of how overcome he was by the production of that song!

    Another great 'audiophile' record I enjoy is "Dancing in the Dragons Jaws" by Bruce Cockburn . . . but alas I digress . . .
     
  25. sturgus

    sturgus Forum Resident

    Location:
    St. Louis Mo
    I think we did. Let me know when you have time for a session.
     

Share This Page