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Shure M91ED w/Hi Track vs. newer cartridges like Ortofon Red, etc.?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by shnaggletooth, Jul 21, 2019.

  1. shnaggletooth

    shnaggletooth Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I'm digging through my box of old carts, and there's a Shure M91ED w/ a Hi Track stylus, which I've never used before. I'll need a new headshell to listen to it, but how does this old cartridge compare to the new, popular carts like Ortofon Red, Nagaoka MP-110, etc.? The specs I found for it look sort of similar. I've been thinking of spending some $$ on one of the new carts, but would I really need to if the Shure if pretty much the same quality, even if it is 40 years older?
  2. stereoguy

    stereoguy Its Gotta Be True Stereo!

    Great vintage Cart, perfect for 50s, 60s and 70s Rock. You can also get a JICO stylus on EBAY for it.
  3. qwerty

    qwerty A resident of the SH_Forums.

    The Shure M91ED was a good cart in it's day, it was a good upgrade on the stock cart's that were supplied with many entry-level tables. There are better cart's out there if you have a high-end turntable. I'm confident it would hold it's own against many current carts.
  4. Tim Irvine

    Tim Irvine Forum Resident

    Austin, Texas
    I had one mounted on a TD150 and loved it. It was, as noted above, solid for rock, but I also enjoyed it a lot for classical and jazz.
  5. Doctorwu

    Doctorwu Forum Resident

    One of my favorite carts, powerful and very punchy sound,with Jico SAS it's sensational, prefer it over many new much higher priced carts i tried.
    The FRiNgE and timind like this.
  6. Cylontymany

    Cylontymany Active Member

    Agreed! I was raised on this cart and love the sound of it!
    Doctorwu and The FRiNgE like this.
  7. Daniel Thomas

    Daniel Thomas Forum Resident

    I have one that came with a turntable (MCS 6700) that I purchased several years ago, and it sits in storage as a spare tire. It's an okay cartridge, nothing special. A Jico stylus would help a lot, no doubt, but I would take any modern budget cartridge over it in a heartbeat.

    Personally, I'd go with Ortofon or Nagaoka.
    Mister Triscuits likes this.
  8. The FRiNgE

    The FRiNgE Forum Resident

    The M-91ED with its original Hi-Track stylus, unused, is getting very hard to find. The stylus is a genuine gem diamond (light passes through it) has very long life, and to my knowledge does not suffer suspension degradation over time. But, do check to see that the cantilever does not recess too far at 1.25g tracking force.

    The original stylus is vastly superior to generic replacements, probably a close second would be a Jico.

    The sound of the M-91ED is very sensitive to the tracking force. I have found from experience it is happiest at 1 gram. This cartridge is an outstanding tracker. Many will recommend 1.25 which is ok, and may be better at tracking an exceptionally demanding inner band on an LP... but usually 1 gram is fine. At the max recommended 1.5 grams, the M-91ED sounds a little darker, or warmer. I attribute this to its highly compliant suspension. The cantilever angle changes quite a lot with tracking force.

    The M-91ED is best suited for rock music IMO, very punchy, and has a detailed, extended top end. Try some Boston, or Zep, or Stevie Wonder "Innervisions". The high frequencies are not in your face, but very sweet and present. I consider this cartridge as others in the Shure line to be a little on the warm side, very low distortion, no grain on the top end, and happy with almost any MM phono input.
  9. Doctorwu

    Doctorwu Forum Resident

    Very well said!

    I have the second generation made in Mexico hi track stylus, I don’t think they are as good as the US made ones that I would love to try one day in the future if I’m lucky.

    It’s also important to note that the 91ed has quite a high output, which can be great for rock but can accentuate surface noise on quieter albums , especially with the jico SAS.

    Compared to my Nagaoka and Dynavector carts the 91 is nowhere as refined or open but it has balls and energy and a punchy sound that I always miss when I take it off my TT.
    The FRiNgE likes this.
  10. Bobsblkwax

    Bobsblkwax Forum Resident

    Spot on. It's a beautiful thing to see the clear nude diamond of a M91ED under the scope. They were sold so cheaply too. I like the replacement M95ED even better.
    The FRiNgE likes this.
  11. shnaggletooth

    shnaggletooth Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I look forward to trying this cart out. Ordered two headshells -- one for the Shure, and, from the same box of old mystery carts, for an Audio-Technica AT90E, which I read is a rebadged AT11E, supposedly another good cartridge.
    Benzion, The FRiNgE and qwerty like this.
  12. Ben Adams

    Ben Adams Forum Resident

    Phoenix, AZ, USA
    Just picked up a vintage Sanyo TP 600 SA turntable with a M91ED/Hi Track. It sounds absolutely sensational. I wasn't expecting the clarity, punch, and the ease with which it handles inner grooves.
    Doctorwu likes this.
  13. Leeds

    Leeds Active Member

    I have the M91EDED/HiTrack and I agree with Ben that it very exceptional. It's better than the JICO SAS that I have. Hooked it to a Rega Planar 3 with the R200 arm (pre-RB300).
    Doctorwu likes this.
  14. action pact

    action pact Music Omnivore

    I have a couple of M91ED bodies, as well as a low hours OEM Hi-Track stylus (the original kind with the thin cantilever) and a early JICO SAS from about 10 years ago.

    I haven't used it regularly for several years, so I decided to remount it today with the SAS, and I'm really digging it. It's punchy, fulsome and spacious, and the top end is clear but not exaggerated. I'm gonna leave it on for a while, I think.
  15. timind

    timind phorum rezident

    Westfield, IN USA
    This was the cart that came with my Technics SL-3300 back in the late 70s. Might've been on the Dual tt the Technics replaced as well. I do remember buying them for something like $19.99 back then. Always seemed like an excellent cart for the money.
    Jim Chrislip likes this.
  16. Jim Chrislip

    Jim Chrislip Well-Known Member

    I remember buying them at Circuit City for $20.00. They came in a prescription bottle with the spec sheet wrapped around the inside. I'm now using a LP Gear Vivid Line stylus and it sounds amazing.
    timind likes this.
  17. MCM_Fan

    MCM_Fan Senior Member

    This is where, IMHO the M91ED/Hi rack blows away the Ortofon 2M Red. The 2M Red is the worst sounding cartridge I have ever heard, especially on the inner grooves where it suffers from terrible IGD.

    BTW, there are new Swiss made synthetic nude styli available from Mr. Stylus, EVG and others that are great, affordable replacements for the original Hi Track stylus. I'll stop short of saying they are as good as the original. They aren't, but they are closer than expected given the price. I have one for my M91 (and another for my M75) and at 40 bucks a pop, they sound pretty darn good. I'd gladly take vintage M91 body with one of these new nude elliptical Swiss synthetic styli over a new 2M Red any day of the week.
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2020
    Ben Adams and Roycer like this.
  18. soundhoundvt

    soundhoundvt New Member

    Montpelier, VT
    Hi y'all... I am a new member and am looking for a little help regarding the M91ED.
    I have 2 of them as well as styli (pfanstiehl) and am hoping to use one of them, along with a soon to be purchased 3mil stylus to play 78s on a BSR turntable.
    My problem is that both, having been slid out of Dual headshells (from defunct tables) apparently need an adapter so they can screw into screw-in headshells.
    Is there such a beast? If not how can I adapt these carts to work with non-dual headshells?
    Any ideas or direction will be greatly appreciated.
  19. Bobsblkwax

    Bobsblkwax Forum Resident



    The M91ED body has open slots for using screws to mount to pretty much any headshell. So, any screw and nut combination of the proper size should work. What turntable / headshell are you going to use?
  20. soundhoundvt

    soundhoundvt New Member

    Montpelier, VT
    My carts do not have the screw/nut open slots. I need the upper part that I would slide the cart into... which has the logo and the holes. What is it even called? And where would I get a couple? Alternately- some generic piece?
  21. Bobsblkwax

    Bobsblkwax Forum Resident

    Your carts may be versions that were made specifically for Dual turntables then. Were they both on Duals? Can you post a picture?
  22. Pythonman

    Pythonman Forum Resident

    The M91ED was a great cartridge period. My brother in law had one packaged with a new Sony PS X7 in 1977 and he always tracked it at 1 gram and it sounded fabulous and played cleanly and quietly and never got close to wearing out any of his still mint record collection. On his system, that Shures playback bested or equaled the sounds from FM stereo broadcasts that routinely played LPs and were the gold standard for what records were supposed to sound like as far as I was concerned back then.
    Bobsblkwax likes this.
  23. DaMoodyBlues

    DaMoodyBlues Senior Member

    I have a M91 mounted on a Dual 1219. I have 4 or 5 different styli for it. My favorite is a Jico HE. Warm and detailed. $85 well spent.
  24. soundhoundvt

    soundhoundvt New Member

    Montpelier, VT
    Yes- made for dual, and reside in dual headshell. When you slide it out there are the rails for sliding and between them a metallic silver flat area. Is there no other fitting this can slide into... beside the dual headshell? When I get to my computer monday will try and send a pix. Looks like the only way is to send a link....(?)
  25. Bobsblkwax

    Bobsblkwax Forum Resident

    If it is the made for dual type of body, then you're out of luck, most likely. There is no adapter that I am aware of. Your best bet is to just buy a used body on ebay. They are not very expensive without the stylus. But post a picture and let's take a look. You just need to upload a picture file from your computer.

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