AR-XA and a Shure M91ED

the thin end of the wedge
OldRelayer
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AR-XA and a Shure M91ED

Post by OldRelayer » 02 Feb 2006 11:12

I just bought an AR-XA from Ebay that has a Shure M91ED installed. I must admit I knew nothing about it and still know very little. Apparently it is the predecessor to the M97xE. And frankly I don't know very much about it either, other than it seems to be a favorite for people with XA's. Would anyone have any information about this cart or if not information at least an opinion if it could be used or should it be upgraded to Gawd any number of choices. I did read some vague reference to the XA using the M91ED as an OEM cart but that would have been after the one I am buying which is probably closer to 1970 than to the vintage of the M91ED which seems to be more like 1977.

I don't know what to expect actually, even though I owned an XA for many years, it is hard to remember not having wiring problems, and the main reason I bought the one I did is because it has been re wired. Some carts are not recommend for AR because the tonearm wires are not sheilded, I think I have that right. Grado being one but then again another table I was looking at had a $150 Grado G+ and it was suppose to be very nice. Who knows?

On the Vintage speaker forum that I like to frequent had a post that went something like choosing speakers is like choosing a religion, I am starting to think that the same rules may apply to picking a cartridge.

Gatto Murr
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Post by Gatto Murr » 02 Feb 2006 11:36

Hi, some info about the M91ED:

- Shure mm cartridge
- elliptical stylus
- tracking force: between 0.75 and 1.5 g (I use it at 1.25)
- load impedance: 47 kohm
- load capacitance: about 450 pF

Hope this helps.

regards, Piero

bauzace50
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Post by bauzace50 » 02 Feb 2006 11:58

Hello,
The M91 preceded the M97-HE during the 1980's. I owned one M97-HE, and only recently, one current M97xE. Their results are different.
The old cartridge tracked better and sounded more alive. The current one (xE) does not track as well as the original, and is somewhat treble-shy. Shure does not have any more stylii for the original (HE model).
If your M91 styus is worn out, you might try some imitation stylus at your own risk. I have tried imitations on other cartridges, and never got anything close to the original quality.
If you decide on a replacement cartridge, the options are many and bewildering. But one decidedly satisfying cartridge, at a true rock-bottom price, and truly compatible with the AR XA is the Stanton 500 E MK II. Note that the 500 series has several models designed for DJ's. But for "audiophile" use, the exact model mentioned is the better choice.
This is an owner's testimonial, preceded by rigorous comparisons with very expensive alternatives. The unassuming Stanton is truly excellent, regardless of price. There are competing alternatives, but my testimonial comes from actual use.

OldRelayer
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Post by OldRelayer » 02 Feb 2006 11:59

Thanks for the reply. I like the nice light tracking force, how does it track problem records especially close to the spindle?

I haven't had a table for a couple of years and I only had one cart for 30 years a Stanton and at the moment I couldn't tell you what it sounded like in those glowing reviewer type words, but always liked the sound and the way it was gentle on my records.

Have you used other carts, if so how does this compare?

Thanks
Barry

OldRelayer
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Post by OldRelayer » 02 Feb 2006 12:07

bauzace50 wrote: If your M91 styus is worn out, you might try some imitation stylus at your own risk. I have tried imitations on other cartridges, and never got anything close to the original quality.

This is an owner's testimonial, preceded by rigorous comparisons with very expensive alternatives. The unassuming Stanton is truly excellent, regardless of price. There are competing alternatives, but my testimonial comes from actual use.
Thanks for the reply. You have real insight into this cart. It sounds like it is unlikely to have an OEM stylus and as such is probably not very good. I won't know until I get it, which could be another 2 weeks.

I always used a 6 series Stanton and liked it very well, I wish I had the good sense to keep the cart, actually I wish I had the good sense to keep the whole table.

Tracking is obviously a big issue, I guess a cart that has all wonderful attributes and can't stay in the track isn't a very good choice.

Thanks so much, any other ideas, please post them.

Barry

bauzace50
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Post by bauzace50 » 02 Feb 2006 12:24

Barry, My 500 E MK II tracks almost as well as my Shure V15V MR, including the inner LP bands (on Kind of Blue Miles Davis, on complex orchestral works, and on the Sheffield Harry James LPs). It tracks perfectly ALL the Shure Test LPs, except for some strain on the toughest violin test on the Shure Era IV. THAT'S excellent!
The sound is spacious and free of any strain. It's never excessively bright, never dull...just believable. I have compared it closely with Ortofon Super OM 20, Shure V15V-MR, Ortofon Jubilee, ADC XLM, Stanton 881s, Audio Technica OC9 ML-II, Sumiko Blue Point, Shure M97xE, Sumiko Oyster, and others.
Of course, there are alternatives, and this testimonial is offered in good faith. Happy hunting!

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Post by Gatto Murr » 02 Feb 2006 12:34

OldRelayer wrote:Thanks for the reply. I like the nice light tracking force, how does it track problem records especially close to the spindle?
... Have you used other carts, if so how does this compare?
no problems with tracking - at leas till now - except with very very worn LP (that means an hole in the grooves ).

About other carts, can't help you on this side.. I have an M97xe as well, but it's in another table with a different tonearm. Suppose a comparison wouldn't have any meaning...

regards, Piero

OldRelayer
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Post by OldRelayer » 02 Feb 2006 12:35

[quote="
Of course, there are alternatives, and this testimonial is offered in good faith. Happy hunting![/quote]

Thanks you so much, you have obviously done your homework and I thank you for sharing it with me.
I will keep you posted, I have to go on a job site today, so it will have to be later.

Thanks
Barry

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Post by bastlnut » 02 Feb 2006 13:29

hallo all,

funny isn't it. how it is often said that grado's hum, i think it is that the wiring is a mess and when put right is no longer a problem.

i find shure cartridges dull and slow, even the modern v15v series are sluggish to my ears. if you are interested in vintage speakers, i guess electronics too, then a detailed fast sound will work best.
stanton cartridges, or pickering for that matter, are pleasant and a bit ''tizz boom'' like a loudness button. if you like that, good for you then. tracking ability is important with middle of the road tonearms, but with a better arm which has more control it is again less important. yes the stanton 680/1 is nice and the pickering xv series is also worth a look.

with high efficiency speakers, you may be better served with an ortofon or goldring cartridge. the ortofon 530/40 or goldring 1012/22 are good
performers and worth a look. you can try a grado if you don't mind having to work on the wiring if it hums, you said you have seen a similar turntable with a grado cartridge.

do you know anyone who can loan you a cartridge? listen to what cartridges you can so you get a better idea of what you like the sound of, and what works with your arm.

regards,
bastlnut

OldRelayer
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Post by OldRelayer » 02 Feb 2006 17:51

Back when I picked the Stanton, we didn't have the resources that we have today and forums like this to discuss the attributes of one cart over another. A couple of stereo magazines and a very few friends that were interested in HiFi. It has come a bit of full circle with most people more interested in how realistic a bomb and sound in a movie not very many people interested in music an fidelity. What I had and listened to became what I knew as music and I guess it was pretty realistic, sounds like what I heard in concert halls. In all likely hood this will be the last cartridge I ever buy, so I don’t mind spending what I have to, so listening becomes enjoyable again.

Thanks for all your help.
Barry

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Post by djkent » 03 Feb 2006 03:23

Just for your reference, you can still get a stylus for the M91ED. They were produced for a very long time and most places have them for under $30. They have a very nice neutral sound that belies their modest price.

Enjoy

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Post by OldRelayer » 03 Feb 2006 03:52

Thanks for the reply DJ. You are the first person who has said that they are available, everyone else has said the replacement is crap and when you need a new stylus the best thing to do is to replace it. Do you know the genuine stylus replacement number, the one people say to stay away from is I think the same number rather than an M its an N. The guy I bought the table from says the stylus has plenty of life left but when it needs replacing, get the newer Shure replacement cart, I think 97xe is the number. I won't know much until I get the table, but I am pleasantly surprised that most people think it is a fine cartridge but for the hard to replace stylus.

Thanks
Barry

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Post by djkent » 03 Feb 2006 04:56

The correct replacement for the M91ED is the N91ED. It is pale yellow and says "Shure Hi-Track" in red letters. The generics I've seen don't have any lettering. The last time I checked, even Shure had them in stock although they might be made at the Mexico plant.

Some of the "genuine" replacements have a cantilever (shank) that is easily 2 or 3 times the size of some others. My guess is that these are the newest. If I were looking for one I'd try to find one that was old stock made in the USA as there is a distinct difference in the sound.

Enjoy

p.s. - If you opt for a new cart, I'll add a vote for the Ortofon OM 20. Nice open, neutral cart that doesn't get in the road of the music. Something a lot of higher priced carts don't seem to be able to do well. - djk

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Post by OldRelayer » 03 Feb 2006 06:05

Oh, ok. So once I get the cart and like it, I probably should start the hunt to find a replacement syslus.

thanks again for all your help
Barry

Gatto Murr
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Post by Gatto Murr » 03 Feb 2006 07:10

yes, Barry, the replacement stylus is N91ED.

Believe you can find it (original) at needledoctor or garage-a-record - I got one last year from Joel at The Turntable Factory.

If you are in Europe, a source could be phonophono.de (quite costly).

Sorry, I forgot to mention the stylus in my previous message.

regards, Piero

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