Shure M97xe preferred over Ortofon 2m Blue

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by H8SLKC, May 6, 2017.

  1. H8SLKC

    H8SLKC Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Boston, MA
    I splurged for the 2m blue when I bought a new turntable several months ago now. I had been listening to the m97xe, Grado blue and AT95e on older turntables and assumed that the 2m blue would be fabulous in comparison. Objectively it was fabulous, but at least in my set-up (Orbit special, pluto pre, mid-level Pioneer AVR, Focal 726) it also was spare in a way that was always difficult to define. There was more there, lots of detail, highs and lows, but I kept on wondering why I didn't love it. I'm sure part of it was that the Focals I have are bright, and the AVR surely doesn't bring warmth to the sound.

    Anyway, I switched to the m97xe today and so far I like it better than the 2m blue. I'll probably swap in the LPGear 97vl stylus at some point to see how that does, but I really like the smoothness, the bass, the overall sound is just more appealing to me. My hearing isn't what it used to be, so I suppose I'm not missing the extreme highs that supposedly get rolled off in the Shure cartridge. It also doesn't hurt that the m97xe is extremely affordable, comes with an advanced stylus profile, and there are at least two stylus upgrade paths for it. I know I'm in the minority in preferring a cheaper cartridge to a 2M cartridge, but there it is.
     
  2. CCrider92

    CCrider92 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Cape Cod, MA
    Your experience sounds like mine! I much agree with you.
     
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  3. Slick Willie

    Slick Willie Decisively Indecisive

    Location:
    Sweet VA.
    Big Ortofon fan here. I actually have a Blue on my 2nd system. But I also run a vintage table with assorted AT carts on my main system as well. There are times when I want a more forgiving and/or romantic sound. So yeah, I understand, not everyone enjoys that Joe Friday presentation..
    Bottom line is - ya' gotta' go with what makes you happy......price be damned!!!!:righton:
     
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  4. macster

    macster Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Diego, Ca. USA
    You like what you like because you like it. I am also using a M97XE/Vividline at the moment and I'm in no rush to replace it. At first the Vivid line stylus just sucked in comparison to the the stock stylus. It wasn't worth the difference in the price between the two. But now that it has a few hours on it, I can see what the fuss is about. IMHO, it's no SAS, but it will do quite nicely as a stop gap or back up. It images quite nicely and has that midrange thing going (this with CV4004 tubes in the phono section) and it's not too fussy about the quality of vinyl ( a must in my system) that you feed. As the man said "Bottom line is - ya' gotta' go with what makes you happy......price be damned!!!!:righton:"

    M~
     
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  5. 33na3rd

    33na3rd Forum Resident

    Location:
    SW Washington, USA
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  6. Jelloalien

    Jelloalien Stylus Genie

    Location:
    Toronto, Ontario
    As an FYI I sell the v15xmr and it sounds soooo goooood compared to stock.
    I do hear the jico sas is the grail for the m97xe however....never got to try it before I sold my m97xe sadly
     
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  7. Helom

    Helom Forum Resident

    Location:
    U.S.
    I have the SAS mark 1 on my M97xe and it is absolutely wonderful. I have no desire to upgrade my cart for any reason. It bested an $800 Soundsmith Carmen that now collects dust. My dealer thinks the Hana carts might be a potential upgrade, but I can find no sonic faults with the Shure. The stock stylus is no slouch either and probably preferable if your gear is bright or edgy. I preferred to have the brush engaged with the stock stylus.

    The Ortofon house sound is very different from that of Shure. I'm not surprised you prefer one over the other.
     
  8. H8SLKC

    H8SLKC Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Boston, MA
    After some more listening, the thing that is so good about the m97xe is the way it handles bass. The lower stuff is much better coming out of this cart than I heard from the 2m blue. It is true that the Shure is missing some of the high register shimmer that I got from the Ortofon but I guess I love the smoothness lent to the overall sound by the bass.
     
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  9. Slick Willie

    Slick Willie Decisively Indecisive

    Location:
    Sweet VA.
    I found that a lot of it has to do with the synergy between the cart and the phono-pre. I was not that impressed with my Ortofon/McIntosh synergy...then I added a stand alone and everything changed. That may not be where you want to go at this time. Your Blue should be easy to sell on this forum (I assume low hours), if you choose that route.
     
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  10. ssmith3046

    ssmith3046 Forum Resident

    I had a Blue on a turntable that I gave my son. I think that it's a decent cartridge for the money but I've been a Shure V-15 fan since 1973.
     
  11. H8SLKC

    H8SLKC Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Boston, MA
    Stupid question but is the V-15 still available? Styli? If so, are they cray expensive? I struggle with the idea of paying almost $300 for a JICO stylus for the m97xe at some point.
     
  12. picassoson

    picassoson Forum Resident

    Location:
    New York
    I have had the Shure M97xE for years (paired with a Technics SL-1200MK5), and really enjoy the overall sound and affordability for replacing the stylus. I don't mind the roll off of the highs at all, as it suits my general listening preferences.

    The one thing I struggle with that I still can't get to the bottom of is inner groove distortion, and the narrowing of the soundstage on the last track. I've tried several times myself with a cartridge alignment protractor to align my cartridge, and when I saw no improvement I finally gave up and brought it in to my local high-end shop to have a professional set it up. But no matter what I do, my records start out sounding incredible starting on the first track - and slowly slide into mediocrity as the stylus moves in towards the end of the side.

    I've read several threads on IGD on this forum and elsewhere, and still can't really make up my mind what to do. Invest in a Microline cartridge like the AT44oMLB even though I know I won't like those higher frequencies? Try and find a JICO SAS for my M97xE even though they seem nearly impossible to find from mainstream/domestic retailers? Buy a $50 dollar MoFi Geodisc and try once AGAIN to see if it's just my alignment situation? I'm kind of at my wit's end...
     
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  13. Slick Willie

    Slick Willie Decisively Indecisive

    Location:
    Sweet VA.
    I'm sure you've played with tracking force and anti skate settings?
     
  14. picassoson

    picassoson Forum Resident

    Location:
    New York
    Yes, a little bit. For the initial set-up I was recommended a 1.75 grams tracking force with anti skate at 1.5. I've tried messing around with those in small increments, bringing the the tracking force up to 2.5 and anti skate higher - but really haven't noticed a discernible difference.
     
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  15. Helom

    Helom Forum Resident

    Location:
    U.S.
    I believe you can get a sapphire cantilevered SAS for $250. I'll have no struggle buying a new SAS when the time comes. Saving $500 over a comparable cart is easy for me.:winkgrin:
     
  16. 33na3rd

    33na3rd Forum Resident

    Location:
    SW Washington, USA
    My IGD problems decreased dramatically when I replaced my N97xe with a Jico Hyper-Elliptical. At $140, it's more than 2x the price of the N97xe, but much less than the SAS. It pulls much more detail out of the recording than the stock N97xe, but I would assume not as much as the SAS. Surface noise is handled nicely too.

    Shure VN5xMR type JICO Brand HyperElliptical Stylus- our Needle 77x3-DHE

    Here's LP Gear's VividLine. Many say it is made by Jico also. $115
    LP Gear N97xVL ViVid Line replacement for Shure N97xE stylus
     
  17. picassoson

    picassoson Forum Resident

    Location:
    New York
    Thanks so much for this! I may definitely spring for one of these, as it's getting time to replace my stylus anyway, and seems like less of a commitment/risk than completely switching cartridges at this point. Pricing looks reasonable - leaning toward the JICO over the LP Gear.
     
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  18. thoutah

    thoutah Forum Resident

    Location:
    SF Bay Area
    I had the exact same problem with the M97xe. I liked its beefy tone, it sounded great on the outer tracks, but I couldn't eliminate the inner groove distortion. I even had a reputable local audio repair shop check the alignment, but nothing worked. I then bought an AT440MLa, and IGD and sibilance were gone. That was 11 years ago, and I've never looked back!
     
  19. picassoson

    picassoson Forum Resident

    Location:
    New York
    Ah well, before I saw this I made the decision to just go ahead and buy the JICO HyperElliptical to give the M97xe one more chance. I guess I'll see how it works out and if I'm still not satisfied with the IGD I'll buckle down and buy a AT440MLb when Christmas rolls around.

    Thanks for sharing your experience!
     
  20. macster

    macster Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Diego, Ca. USA
    If you want the Jico product for the M97XE buy it from Jico, if you want the Vivid-line then LP Gear is the place where you get it from. I'm currently breaking in the Vivid-line on my M97XE (week four) and it just now surpassed my stock M97XE stylus.

    M~
     
  21. picassoson

    picassoson Forum Resident

    Location:
    New York
    Well, I just bought the JICO from turntableneedles.com so I hope that works out...
     
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  22. thoutah

    thoutah Forum Resident

    Location:
    SF Bay Area
    Just note that Audio Technica has completely revamped its line of cartridges. That means the AT440MLb has been discontinued and replaced by the VM540ML. I haven't heard it, nor have I heard from anyone who has, but I'm really hoping it's essentially the same cart, just with a different name and color. (According to AT, it basically is, and you can fit a VM540ML stylus on 440MLa/b cartridge body.) If you search through some threads around here, you'll see this has caused no small amount of confusion and mild concern among this board's members!
     
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  23. picassoson

    picassoson Forum Resident

    Location:
    New York
    Thanks for the heads up! I saw that some vendors where still selling the AT440MLb on Amazon so I didn't realize it had been discontinued. What's up with all these cartridge/stylus manufacturers constantly discontinuing their apparently popular products? It's not like they're selling iPhones for cripesakes...
     
  24. macster

    macster Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Diego, Ca. USA
    I was talking about this vice this. There is some dispute as to whether or not that they are the same stylus.

    M~
     
  25. thoutah

    thoutah Forum Resident

    Location:
    SF Bay Area
    I know, I really don't get it.
     
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