A Tribute to the Shure M97xe

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A Tribute to the Shure M97xe

Postby zenaudio » Sun May 06, 2018 10:26 am

Now that Shure has announced that it would discontinue its phono products ( viewtopic.php?f=33&t=29210&p=497304#p497304) some DJs and audiophiles are suddenly taking stock of their Shure cartridges and styli. "Turntablists" specially are talking about the M44-7, which has become the standard DJ cartridge. It is now out of stock at Amazon, except for some vendors selling at $150 (previously $79).

The M97xe, aimed at audiophiles, doesn't have the mid-bass hump that the M44-7 has, and has a lower output. There were some quality-related issues reported, particularly incidences of a channel going dead. Nevertheless, for those who got good copies, not a few preferred the M97xe for home audio listening.

Save for a couple of years when I put in a Rega Exact on my Technics SL1200 mk2 (the Exact is now happily singing on a RP3), I have been using a M97xe on this table. I got it for $61 when it went on sale at Amazon almost 9 years ago. I can say it's the best $61 I've spent on analog gear.

The M97xe I would describe as neutral sounding. It is more detailed than the M44-7, maybe due to its elliptical stylus. It's neither brash and "in your face" nor bright, perhaps due to an early roll off at the top end. Definitely analog sounding, not CD-like analytical. Still got that Shure sound, specially the midrange. Steve Miller Band puts a smile on your face when they sing

'Cause I'm a picker
I'm a grinner
I'm a lover
And I'm a sinner
Playin' my music in the sun
I'm a joker
I'm a smoker
I'm a mid-night toker
I get my lovin' on the run

It makes less than perfect records sound listenable, and very good recordings sound very good indeed. The horns in Michael Franks "Underneath the Apple Tree" are sensuous and you wanna join in when he sings

Underneath the apple tree
Mama's got her eye on me
Just wearing suntan lotion
This is how we spend each day
May, June, and July
Sunning in our birthday suits

Properly set-up in a good system (look for "stereophile" Doc Lito's posts in the WS archives) it can reveal differences in recordings quite easily. It's a cart one can live with.


Some audiophiles report that using a Jico SAS stylus on it would make it match the iconic Shure V15. So maybe it's worth keeping, if not for collecting purposes, then for a possible future upgrade.

It's inevitable that Shure carts will become rarer. Like most things taken for granted, this cart may soon get more appreciation once gone.
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Re: A Tribute to the Shure M97xe

Postby kabubi » Mon May 21, 2018 11:30 am

thanx for sharing Nes.
for a while there were problems with the M97xe with some owners we know.
biggest issue was that only one channel could be heard.

regardless of the issues, i fully agree this is one hell of a cartridge.

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