Shure m97xE- What have I been missing all these years?

the thin end of the wedge
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PioneerFan
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Shure m97xE- What have I been missing all these years?

Post by PioneerFan » 14 Jan 2019 04:37

I found one of these carts as NOS from an online seller, at a great price. As Shure had stopped making and distributing phono cartridges, I had to do a little hunting, as accordingly, prices have gone through the roof.

A couple of nights ago, I installed and aligned it. And....

All I can say is, wow. I am truly blown away at the sound of this cartridge. It is warm, detailed, and musical. Maybe because my ears are damaged from too many loud concerts, or middle age, but I haven't really noticed the well documented high frequency "rolloff" many listeners talk about. I think it's just about right. And the midrange seems about spot on for vocals. The bass, very pronounced, but clear.

And then there is that crazy brush/viscous dampener. I really do think it works, and works very well. This cartridge will track through just about anything. And that tracking, I do believe, adds to it being essentially distortion free.

I have several carts, including ones from Stanton, Technics, ADC, and Audio Technica. To my ears, this Shure is going to be my daily driver, the "go to" cart. Of course it is fun to swap, and all of the aforementioned are also ready to go in headshells. My previous daily driver was the AT95E. Which I do love still. But this one? I listen to mostly rock, and jazz. And tested both genres over this past weekend. Only regret? That I did not get this one sooner. Truly stunning.

My YouTube overview- https://youtu.be/rgXkGGux3CE

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Re: Shure m97xE- What have I been missing all these years?

Post by JDJX » 14 Jan 2019 05:42

You have discovered what all fans of the now discontinued M97xE have discovered.

Much too much is made of the high end roll of and it sounds very smooth
It has the classic shure sound that has often been described through decades as very musical by credible industry reviewers .


The classic criticism of it is "It's no V-15" .
Of course it isn't (I once had one ) but neither is an other cartridge by any other manufacture .
However it does retrain the classic Shure sound for the most part. :)

Also some mistake a rising upper mid range in some cartridges as as extended high end.

BTW I listen to classical , jazz, classic rock.. etc ... mono a well as stereo and the M97xE makes it all sound its best.
Last edited by JDJX on 14 Jan 2019 05:52, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Shure m97xE- What have I been missing all these years?

Post by lenjack » 14 Jan 2019 05:48

I share your view. I have been at this for decades and have used the entire Shure V15 series up to and including the Type 5-mr, until a year and a half ago, when I clumsily broke the cantilever. Shure discontinued replacement styli for this cart over a decade ago, and I chose not to go for the Japanese made replacement, so I bought the m97Xe, and was totally stunned by how good it is. It will definitely track anything in a high quality table and arm at 1.25 grams, and that includes the infamous first pressing of the Telarc 1812 Overture, which most cartridge/table combos choke on. I too am not bothered by the treble roll off--my receiver has a working treble control. :) :lol: Not as good as a V15, but amazingly close, although many folks here will put it down.

The stabilizer definitely works, and will reduce the low frequency arm/cartridge resonance by over 75%, which will allow successful tracking of wildly warped records. It will also pick up large quantities of dust, as well as neutralize static charge on the record.

Watched your Youtube, and agree on the cussing re mounting and aligning of the cart. Don't agree that the washers are a plus, and think that it's easier to mount with the screws from the top.

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Re: Shure m97xE- What have I been missing all these years?

Post by DualSpinsMyVinyl » 14 Jan 2019 06:17

Welcome to the M97xE experience. I have only been enjoying the M97xE for 12 years. I have two, one with a JICO SAS, and the other is factory issue. When I heard that Shure was discontinuing their cartridge manufacture I immediately purchased a second unit. The SAS stylus brought my first one up to paragee with the V15 III that I have and the new purchase cartridge did not seem to need any upgrade. It performes at the level of the V15 III as is. There are those that will protest that the M97xE is of lesser quality and is a poor performer. I just write this negativity off to the fact that "the cartridge does not fit their system as well as they think it should". Maybe not, but it sure (pun intended) fits mine. Could be due to the fact that my speakers use ESS Heil ribbon style mid/high reporducers. No frequency dropoff here.

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Re: Shure m97xE- What have I been missing all these years?

Post by 2002afan » 14 Jan 2019 06:28

I'm glad you are impressed. It just wasn't the sound I was looking for ( treble and mids are more to my liking).
When I got serious about vinyl again, I purchased two of them and a new replacement stylus because my kids had broken my stylus on my Shure VSTIII some years back (I wish I had bought a replacement stylus then). :( Running a M97HE stylus in it now). =D>
I recently sold both of mine on eBay. The first one (brand new) sold to a young lady for a measly $71.00 without complaints. :oops: The second one (At best 50 hours on the cart and maybe 5 hours on the replacement stylus) ($120.00 for both and clearly stated no returns) sold to a young man who complained about it as soon as he received them. "It must of got damaged during delivery" (packaged completely intact and unopened), "I'm getting insane inner groove distortion", yadda, yadda. I never experienced any of his claims. MY equipment must have disguised it. :wink: He even sent me audio tracks that I didn't waste my time to even listen to. :roll:
This guy didn't even know how to properly set up a cart. He told me he broke the last m97xE that he had. [-X I had to coach him thru the V/E overhang shift calculator and the Conrad Hoffman alignment template generator (he gave me his turntable model, a Technic SL-5200 and I ran the calcs for him). A retired Civil Engineer has to keep his mind sharp somehow. :lol: I had previously directed him to the V/E site, but he was totally clueless to do it himself. More complaints followed.
Finally, he made a false claim to eBay that it was defective. He got refunded and I even told him to keep it (a Christmas gift) because I wasn't going to lose even more to have to pay for it to be sent back. I reported him to eBay for being a fraud (good luck with that). :x
Sorry for the rant. Your post just gave me back flashbacks. Hope it lives up to your expectations and enjoy that vinyl.
Cheers.

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Re: Shure m97xE- What have I been missing all these years?

Post by 2002afan » 14 Jan 2019 06:52

Maybe mine was defective. :lol:

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Re: Shure m97xE- What have I been missing all these years?

Post by PioneerFan » 14 Jan 2019 15:10

Can not imagine inner groove distortion of any kind with this cartridge. To say it's a great tracker is an understatement.

Selling anything on FleaBay is such an absolute nightmare. I sold a pair of ADS speakers there a year ago- first and last time I do it. The cut they take is a true ripoff.

It's likely not a secret, but its sound truly is remarkable.

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Re: Shure m97xE- What have I been missing all these years?

Post by lenjack » 14 Jan 2019 16:19

"The cut they take is a true ripoff."
That may be, but you do know about it in advance, so it's at least, honest.

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Re: Shure m97xE- What have I been missing all these years?

Post by PioneerFan » 14 Jan 2019 16:27

I truly am in love with this cartridge! Next step is an obstacle test of sorts, with a couple of warped records. A copy of GNR's Appetite For Destruction, and Disc 2 of Woodstock.

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Re: Shure m97xE- What have I been missing all these years?

Post by vitw1844 » 15 Jan 2019 11:18

PioneerFan wrote:
14 Jan 2019 04:37
I found one of these carts as NOS from an online seller, at a great price. As Shure had stopped making and distributing phono cartridges, I had to do a little hunting, as accordingly, prices have gone through the roof.

A couple of nights ago, I installed and aligned it. And....

All I can say is, wow. I am truly blown away at the sound of this cartridge. It is warm, detailed, and musical. Maybe because my ears are damaged from too many loud concerts, or middle age, but I haven't really noticed the well documented high frequency "rolloff" many listeners talk about. I think it's just about right. And the midrange seems about spot on for vocals. The bass, very pronounced, but clear.

And then there is that crazy brush/viscous dampener. I really do think it works, and works very well. This cartridge will track through just about anything. And that tracking, I do believe, adds to it being essentially distortion free.

I have several carts, including ones from Stanton, Technics, ADC, and Audio Technica. To my ears, this Shure is going to be my daily driver, the "go to" cart. Of course it is fun to swap, and all of the aforementioned are also ready to go in headshells. My previous daily driver was the AT95E. Which I do love still. But this one? I listen to mostly rock, and jazz. And tested both genres over this past weekend. Only regret? That I did not get this one sooner. Truly stunning.

My YouTube overview- https://youtu.be/rgXkGGux3CE
Congratulations with your discovery PioneerFan, I had the same exeprience too around ten years ago, and also wondered what I had been missing all those years before.

Previously I used cartridges from Linn, Goldring, Ortofon, and Audio Technica, both of the MM and MC variety, and they sounded good, but I have stuck with this same Shure cartridge since 2009, and it is still serving me well. To me, and in my system, none had the same all round capabilities that it has.

I truly also believe that it sounds just right. Secure tracking quite simply means that it is doing its job of accurately reading what is pressed into the vinyl.

Every time I listen to music there is always a sense of solidity and stability to the sound that I had never experienced before.

The best way to describe it is that you simply forget you are listening to a component, rather the music itself is what comes forward to the listener.

Glad it sings in your system, and hope you continue to enjoy it for the wonderful audio bargain that it is.

All the best,

vitw1844

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Re: Shure m97xE- What have I been missing all these years?

Post by PioneerFan » 15 Jan 2019 14:11

It really does seem like a high end unit, even though in the cartridge world, it's probably considered to be mid-fi, at best, and many, like the Michael Fremer's of the world, likely see it as entry level to low-end.

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Re: Shure m97xE- What have I been missing all these years?

Post by lenjack » 15 Jan 2019 17:55

Fremer would like it if it went for $22,000, but with serious reservations. Of course, he'd need to have a few on permanent loan, for extended evaluation.

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Re: Shure m97xE- What have I been missing all these years?

Post by PioneerFan » 15 Jan 2019 18:03

lenjack wrote:
15 Jan 2019 17:55
Fremer would like it if it went for $22,000, but with serious reservations. Of course, he'd need to have a few on permanent loan, for extended evaluation.
It is the Fremer's of the world that give audiophiles the reputations many of them deserve. He is so hopelessly out of touch and ellitist.

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Re: Shure m97xE- What have I been missing all these years?

Post by lenjack » 15 Jan 2019 18:11

I sincerely believe he is on the take. I also believe he wouldn't have the balls to take a double blind test. He'd probably bs his way out of it.

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Re: Shure m97xE- What have I been missing all these years?

Post by PioneerFan » 15 Jan 2019 18:19

He often claims he is not, in his videos that he records at his house, he claims most of the stuff he paid for.

But it's that elitist attitude, that spending more money is the only way to go, and looking down on those starting out, or like most of us, in that lately "mid fi" space, that really does trickle down into the community, that gives many a bad name. It is sleazy and classless. And tries to make people feel better about what they have, by looking down on those who might have lesser gear.

I often ask people, so is this a science to you? Or do you actually listen to and enjoy the music that you buy?

This is one thing I love about the Shure cartridge- it allows you to enjoy your music, without the gear getting in the way.

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