Shure SC35C Highly recommended

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Bebé Tonto

Shure SC35C... Highly recommended

Post by Bebé Tonto » 02 Nov 2011 04:39

After experimenting and researching a little bit (thanks to the posts of ld and Dlaloum), i got to the conclusion that i had to try a very low compliance (and heavy VTF) cartridge. I had faith that this, coupled with a heavy arm, should have great potential for vinyl nirvana. The same tried and true formula of the late 50s, and of all broadcast studios.

http://img.etonals.com/p/300/MC_SC35C.jpg

PROFESSIONAL CARTRIDGE? O RLY?

Enter the Shure SC35C. Originally introduced in the 70s for the professional market; it supposedly created to be paired with a BBC tonearm that was fitted on the BBC-spec Technics SP-10. Of course, today's SC35C is not exactly the same thing; the vintage one supposedly had a nude conical stylus. Still, i see sometimes on eBay those BBC arms and it seems the BBC used the modern SC35Cs too. By the way, that arm has no antiskate. The tonearm manual is here at VE.

This is silently marketed by Shure as their "Standard" do-it-all catridge, the only one that is OK for "scratch, mix, spin", and one of the few that is listed as "tonal balance: clarity throughout the audio range". It is sometimes billed as a "professional" cartridge which is correct IMO.

Curiosly, it has an inductance of 425mH. The only other Shure cartridge that is specified at that specified at that inductance is... the Shure V15-VxMR ! Of course, this doesn't mean that the magnetic yoke will be the same deluxe "laminated core" yoke of the good V15s. But still... a nice thing. For the more technically inclined, the modeled freq response of the cartridge itself (sans stylus) is near flat. Quite unlike the Shure M44 series for example, which have a immense high frequency drop at 10-20KHz to compensate for the ugly cantilever resonance at that very same area. So we may suppose that the cantilever resonances aren't so strong.

To be honest and fair, i didn't have a SC35C cartridge body available so i used the M25C which has a slightly different inductance. I've computer-simulated the frequency response difference and this makes the M25C darker at the high freqs (5dB less response at 20KHz). Which i compensate for now using an equalizer (yes, i use an equalizer and i enjoy it... deal with it, dear purist.)

Specs of the SC35C
- 0.7mil conical stylus, bonded. Stylus = SS35C.
- Shure "type I" cantilever, just like the one on the M92E
- Tracking force 4.0 to 5.0 grams, 4.5g recommended by Shure.
- Badass looks
- Badass tracking force to scare your audiophile friends
- Reasonably priced

So this is what happened. I tried the SC35C on a Sansui SR-4050C modified with a Linn Basik Plus tonearm which has 10g of effective arm mass. The sound was OK but nothing special, and similar to the N97xE, which is not a bad thing.

So i left the SC35C aside until i decided to test it on my trusty Lenco L75 with the classic, ugly, hated Lenco arm (modified). I installed the cart using the included headshell weight (which i guess it's 2g). All in all, the Lenco headshell installed was 24g heavy which should give you an idea of the mass i'm using.

The sound?
- The bass... Whoa! Real bass! The bass is well defined, very solid, very likeable, very natural. I think this is a virtue of heavy tracking cartridges, the AT11 (another sleeper... we have a thread on it) had that virtue too. The L75 is known for great bass and this cartridge surely realizes that potential.
- Surface noise was well controlled, very reduced. Again, heavy VTF is supposed to be beneficial for this.
- Stability or warp-wow or warp-flutter was phenomenal, it gave a sense of naturalness in the sound, especially with piano music. The L75 is known to be excellent in this regard, but i think that the fact that the SC35C's heavy compliance and strong damping keeps the tonearm+cartridge resonance way out of the warp-zone frequencies, noticeably helps a lot. Tonearm+cartridge resonance appears to be 15Hz (if i analize a music track) or 12Hz (silent groove). In both cases it is well controlled (well reduced in amplitude) which is a great thing. Compare it with the typical 8Hz-9Hz obtained in other systems.
- But one of the most positive impressions was soundstage or channel separation if you prefer. It was wide and realistic, for starters far better than the one obtained with the M97xE stylus [i believe because of the cantilever on the 97xE), and i would say near to the ADC XLM II which is a champion in this respect. Center voices stayed center perfectly, as they should.
- Tonality was fairly OK (after the EQ adjustment i did, but with the actual SC35C wouldn't be so necessary. I don't really care too much for cartridge tonal balance as long as it isn't way off. In this case the cartridge was OK so this is not to be a problem.

Now on the drawbacks or things that are not so good.

- Cymbals lose a little bit of definition at the inner grooves. I would guess you could expect this for the typical conical stylus. But the sound is still satisfactory. Other cartridges are much better on this respect. On the mid-outer grooves, cymbals sound fine and clear.
- Loud vocals -at the mid-inner grooves particularly-, can sound "with effort" on some records. Not exactly mistracking; I guess this is the 2nd harmonic distortion of the conical at work, since the distortion sounds similar to what i got when overmodulating a tube tape recorder. Can be a good thing for some.
- Sibilance at the inner grooves is not stellar (like for example a JICO SAS stylus-equipped cartridge would show). It still under control, if you track at 5.0g. At 4.0g it showed some sibilance issues so better use 5.0g. Record wear? You shouldn't be worried as long as all surfaces are clean.

CONCLUSION

The best part of this cartridge is that it motivated me to sit down and listen to my records again and again. For this, and considering the low price, i give it a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating. Thanks to its great "stability", stable stereo presentation, phenomenal bass, and correct tonal balance, i would say the "listenability" or "fun factor" of this cartridge is extremely high. I would say it has a very "analog" sound while having some of the advantages of digital sound (low background noise and good channel separation).

SERIOUS LOOKS

Plus it has a nice "serious" look, unlike the Ortofon 2M (girly look), the Grado Prestiges (plain ugly), the M97xE (wannabe V15), the AT440ML (boring), the AT95E (cheap looking), or its direct competitor the ATP-2XN (ugly), which IMHO should sound as good or even better than this Shure. Shure should make deluxe version of the SC35C with a nude stylus and special cantilever. That would be quite something!

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR GOOD RESULTS

Make sure you track at 5.0g, the tracking force that real macho men use. Otherwise i'm afraid the inner grooves will show a bit of sibilance, which is bad for the record. So 5g is actually less harmful than 4.0g in this case.

Also, this cart should better be used with a HEAVY (>20g arm mass) arm. If your arm is light, you should try the Longhorn modification which will add arm mass AND lots of azimuth stability. The longhorn modification can reportedly make a Grado Black cartridge sound fantastic (which is an achievement comparable to finding the cure of cancer), so i would like to have someone on this forum try a Longhorned SC35C.

Keep your records (and stylus) pristinely clean. 5.0g is safe for the record IF AND ONLY IF there is no dirt on the record. If there's dirt, it's a whole different story. I clean the records using the vinegar technique and works fantastic.

Don't try records with extremely high bass modulations (such as the Telarc 1812) on this!! That record is to be used with high compliance cartridges. Shure's specs of this cartridge, trackability wise, was fairly good except for the bass regions.

Finally, Made-in-mexico Shure styli has some quality control issues. My dealer had a SS35C that was with a kinked cantilever, for example. So double-check what you're getting before testing.

Bebé Tonto

Re: Shure SC35C... Highly recommended

Post by Bebé Tonto » 02 Nov 2011 15:36

Hmm... No replies. Strange, this forum used to be more dynamic!

dualhead
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Re: Shure SC35C... Highly recommended

Post by dualhead » 02 Nov 2011 16:47

I believe it! Thanks for having the courage to post such blasphemy. I dig the low compliance carts like the Stanton 500 and the Shure's. There has been concerned raised about the quality of polish though (Not necessarily the VTF). I wonder if Shure does a better job than Stanton currently?

Bebé Tonto

Re: Shure SC35C... Highly recommended

Post by Bebé Tonto » 02 Nov 2011 16:52

dualhead wrote:I believe it! Thanks for having the courage to post such blasphemy. I dig the low compliance carts like the Stanton 500 and the Shure's. There has been concerned raised about the quality of polish though (Not necessarily the VTF). I wonder if Shure does a better job than Stanton currently?
I don't have a microscope, only a high power loupe. Stylus seems to be polished only on a narrow bottom surface (on the contact surface, where it matters), so can't comment. At least it shines on that part!!

The old (Plainview) Stantons used to have a beautiful mirror polish!

In any case, i doubt that the diamonds themselves are polished in Mexico, so i wouldn't worry so much.

bauzace50
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Re: Shure SC35C... Highly recommended

Post by bauzace50 » 02 Nov 2011 17:37

@Flavio,

Holy War Mongers! Fiiiiiyive grammes! Of all people! #-o That could dig a hole into the earth, all the way to the other side, presumably China :mrgreen: ! And all that massive cantilever with all the irridescent red glue on the very large and heavy tip! It is all the no-no's [-X collected into one Verbotten Tank :shock: !

I trust you don't suffer a catastrophic catastrophy in your vinyl labs. And in the meantime, I might just get me one, just to try it out with my rig.

Regards,
bauzace50

PS- got to admit, though, its cousin M35X might look even better, with higher voltage and significantly lower rated tracking force.

ipapb

Re: Shure SC35C... Highly recommended

Post by ipapb » 02 Nov 2011 18:15

Flavio,
Thank you for this interesting experience.
I thought to try this cartridge on my L75 arm for old records but I did not !
But for the low price, I am tempted. 8)
PS : Is it possible to mount the SC35 stylus on the M75 body (M75/6) ?
Hi

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Re: Shure SC35C... Highly recommended

Post by pivot » 02 Nov 2011 19:29

Bebé Tonto wrote:Hmm... No replies. Strange, this forum used to be more dynamic!
I think a lot of members are in SHOCK!!

5 grams!! Holy tracking force, Batman!! I have been toying with the idea of trying a heavier arm and a Denon 103 with 3 grams...and THAT seemed radical.

I assume you are using the wet playback method you have championed in the past?

Bebé Tonto

Re: Shure SC35C... Highly recommended

Post by Bebé Tonto » 02 Nov 2011 19:48

ipapb wrote: PS : Is it possible to mount the SC35 stylus on the M75 body (M75/6) ?
Hi
Hi,

I think it's not possible. And even if you could, the highs will be absent. The M75 is a high inductance cartridge that severely rolls off the highs. The styli for the M75/44/55 have a strong HF resonance, so both cancel out and you get (somewhat) flat response. I don't like that approach, btw. The cartridge of the SC35C, like modern Shure cartridges (i.e. V15, M97), don't have such strong rolloff.

Bebé Tonto

Re: Shure SC35C... Highly recommended

Post by Bebé Tonto » 02 Nov 2011 19:52

pivot wrote:
Bebé Tonto wrote:Hmm... No replies. Strange, this forum used to be more dynamic!
I think a lot of members are in SHOCK!!

5 grams!! Holy tracking force, Batman!! I have been toying with the idea of trying a heavier arm and a Denon 103 with 3 grams...and THAT seemed radical.

I assume you are using the wet playback method you have championed in the past?
Not exactly. What i do is wet clean every record before playing, with the vinegar-distilled water cleaner. I got too lazy to do the wet play thing. I'd do it with more expensive styli though.

As i just posted on AK: There is an interesting article by famed audio-mathematician Michael Gerzon on the subject. According to him (and in concordance with VTF-wear papers by Walton of Shure), geometrically, applying 5g to a 0.7mil conical stylus is equivalent (wear-wise) to applying 1.2gm when using a 0.7x0.3mil elliptical, or 0.75g when using a 0.7x0.2mil elliptical. This according to my calcs using his formulas. Some record sleeves say to use "10g or less" with a 1.0mil (mono) stylus, "5g or less" with a 0.7mil stylus or "3g or less" with a 0.5mil stylus. The L75 manual says exactly the same, and doesn't recommend using an elliptical at more than 1.5g. This is 100% consistent with the maths on Gerzon's article, which tells wear is equivalent in all the combinations i just listed.

Of course, this assumes that there is absolutely no dirt on the surfaces. That's why i clean before each play.

The article "record wear" (HFN magazine) is here at VE.
Last edited by Bebé Tonto on 02 Nov 2011 19:59, edited 3 times in total.

Laudanum
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Re: Shure SC35C... Highly recommended

Post by Laudanum » 02 Nov 2011 19:53

What about the M44G ? From what Ive read, the M44 was Shures top of the line cart in the mid/late 60's before the V15 and M55E. The M44G comes with a conical .7 and recommended tracking of .75-1.5G Im not sure of the differences between it and the M44-7 which is a higher output, higher VTF and spec'd for a different replacement stylus, also conical .7.
I've read that the N55E stylus can be used with good results in the M44, and some of the cart and stylus vendors descriptions seem to bear this out. It isnt mentioned which M44 so I would assume the N55e will work with all versions but I dont know how well.

Just thought it was worth mentioning as a related topic.
Anyone try the M44G or M44-7 either as is or with the N55E stylus?

Bebé Tonto

Re: Shure SC35C... Highly recommended

Post by Bebé Tonto » 02 Nov 2011 20:05

Laudanum wrote:What about the M44G ? From what Ive read, the M44 was Shures top of the line cart in the mid/late 60's before the V15 and M55E. The M44G comes with a conical .7 and recommended tracking of .75-1.5G Im not sure of the differences between it and the M44-7 which is a higher output, higher VTF and spec'd for a different replacement stylus, also conical .7.
I've read that the N55E stylus can be used with good results in the M44, and some of the cart and stylus vendors descriptions seem to bear this out. It isnt mentioned which M44 so I would assume the N55e will work with all versions but I dont know how well.

Just thought it was worth mentioning as a related topic.
Anyone try the M44G or M44-7 either as is or with the N55E stylus?
Note that the current M44 series (eigher G or 7) has a big fat cantilever for scratching, and doesn't get good sound quality reviews even in DJ-oriented forums! Seems the highs are harsh. Which wouldn't surprise me considering the extra fat cantilever (increases effective mass) and the low VTF in the case of the M44G (more effective mass at the tip requires more VTF or else there will be a lot of potential for mistracking).

The SS35C stylus has a narrower cantilever, of the same dimensions on the N92E stylus (another decent budget performer). The N92E effective mass is 0.970mg, i would bet it's is exactly the same for the SS35C. For reference purposes, 1mg is the same quoted effective tip mass for the Ortofon SPU cartridges (heavy trackers too). Not a super light effective mass, but pretty safe if coupled to a high VTF.

To continue with this topic, heavy VTFs are subjectively associated with old cartridges, and some of these old cartridges had effective tip masses that were too high and indeed would cause undue wear. For example:

6.000mg ELAC STS-200 (1958, first stereo MM pickup?? 4-6g VTF)
6.000mg GE VR-II (1955, mono, variable reluctance, 4-7g VTF)
4.500mg Sonotone 9T (1960, stereo, ceramic)
3.000mg Philips GP316 (1958, crystal, mono, 5-7g VTF)
1.400mg Philips GP380/GP390 (1968, high fidelity ceramic cartridge)
----

As a reference:

1.000mg Ortofon SPU (all classic and 'mono' models)
0.500mg Ortofon OM10 stylus (bushed elliptical, MI) and many other Ortofons
0.370mg Shure Elliptical (0.2x0.7mil, MM -- like in the N97xE)
0.270mg Denon DL-301 (MC)

The SPU has passed the test of time so i'd say 1mg is the minimum we should ask for.
Last edited by Bebé Tonto on 02 Nov 2011 20:09, edited 1 time in total.

Laudanum
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Re: Shure SC35C... Highly recommended

Post by Laudanum » 02 Nov 2011 20:06

Flavio ...

Is the comparison assuming no dirt for all of the Styli?

Or only for the .7 conical at 5 grams while the ellipticals may be allowed some debris?

Im not sure how well that is worded but there is a difference.



Regarding the M44 ... what about the N55E stylus with an M44 body then?

Bebé Tonto

Re: Shure SC35C... Highly recommended

Post by Bebé Tonto » 02 Nov 2011 20:14

Laudanum wrote:Flavio ...

Is the comparison assuming no dirt for all of the Styli?

Or only for the .7 conical at 5 grams while the ellipticals may be allowed some debris?
Ideally you should never play a record with any kind of dirt on it. Since it's dirt cheap (no pun intended) to mix 50% white vinegar and 50% water, which is an effective record cleaner, there's no reason to risk it.

What i guess is that tracking over an [abrasively] dirty surface at 5g is always going to be worse than tracking over it at 1g, since in this case it is not the (rounded and polished) stylus the one that is contacting the vinyl but a more abrasive particle.

Styli should always be kept completely clean or otherwise their effective masses will go up to the ceiling. I always clean my stylus after each side.

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Re: Shure SC35C... Highly recommended

Post by Blue Angel » 02 Nov 2011 23:02

I still have two of these. One nos cartridge body with no stylus for it and the other doing duty to play my 78's. The one in the pic has been changed with a stiffer suspension and fitted with a conical diamond stylus.

Years ago when I played the cartridge with its original stylus, I never went near 5g - usually playing at 3.5g VTF.

When playing 78's with the modified stylus, I use 4.5g VTF

Perhaps your cartridge has a suspension which has hardened, requiring 5g?

Nice of you to bring up all these old timers.

I also still have a brand new (nos) ME75P which has a nice, hefty cantilever which looks a lot like the SC35C's cantilever as I remember it.

ba14833

Bebé Tonto

Re: Shure SC35C... Highly recommended

Post by Bebé Tonto » 02 Nov 2011 23:33

Blue Angel wrote:I still have two of these. One nos cartridge body with no stylus for it and the other doing duty to play my 78's. The one in the pic has been changed with a stiffer suspension and fitted with a conical diamond stylus.

Years ago when I played the cartridge with its original stylus, I never went near 5g - usually playing at 3.5g VTF.

When playing 78's with the modified stylus, I use 4.5g VTF

Perhaps your cartridge has a suspension which has hardened, requiring 5g?
Well perhaps you have the (better) original stylus, not the Mexican-Shure-era stylus. The cartridge works without problems at 4.0g VTF, however on some records the inner grooves are showing a bit of sibilance that is gone with 5.0g VTF. Hence my use of 5g.

I doubt the suspension has been hardened, TBH. The stylus is new and the stock was something like 2002 or 2004.

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