I’ll say it straight up: the Shure M97xE is a powerhouse of a midrange cartridge. Shure have been pumping out great cartridges for years, with their V15 range worthy of special mention. The Shure M97xE is one of the most frequently recommended cartridges by members of the audiophile community for any mid-range turntable. Considering that mid-range encompasses the vast majority of turntables, chances are you have considered buying a Shure M97xE. If you haven’t, you should.
The Shure M97xE Offers Faithful Reproduction
One of the M97xE’s main competitors is the Audio Technica 440 ML. In comparison to this cartridge, the Shure M97xE lacks that bright sound that is typical of Audio Technica cartridges. Some may find this a boon, since the M97xE will effectively play your music without embellishing it. Those dying for ‘that vinyl sound’ may be left disappointed by the M97xE though, since it really doesn’t add much to your music. On cheaper systems, the analog warmth will be there but the treble may sound a little hollow. What the M97xE does brilliantly is track very well for a moving magnet cartridge and avoid added noise from record wear. In this sense, this cartridge is the perfect all rounder, since its faithful reproduction will suit almost any form of music. Classical music may lack a little depth to some ears, but Classical music is difficult to perfect at this price range. Sceptics may wonder why a cartridge that minimises vinyl sound is worth the purchase: the depth and detail that this cartridge brings out is far superior to anything CDs have to offer.
Shure M97xE Cartridge Features
The Shure Dynamic Stabilizer is one of the main attractions for this cartridge. It purports to maintain a consistent distance between the record and the stylus. It does so by using a very fine brush with a dampener that rests on the record, allowing the stylus to track safely on undulating records. It also works well as an anti-static device and will clean some of the dust off your records for you. The Dynamic Stabiliser can be moved out the way as well which will improve the sound on well set up systems. The die cast aluminium mounting block does a good job of isolating the cartridge from the tonearm.
Some passionate reviews on the net have likened the Shure M97xE to Shure’s classic V15 range. Since Shure recommends moving on to a M97xE rather than replacing a worn V15 stylus, it appears Shure are confident in their cartridge’s performance. They certainly package the thing nicely in a metal box, and mounted it looks pretty great too.
The Shure M97xE is recommended to track at 1.25g, but most people have success tracking it a little heavier at around 1.5 grams. Tracking weight depends on whether you use the dynamic stabiliser or not. Run it a little heavier if it is used. The Shure M97xE is not the easiest cartridge to align due to the lack of straight lines on the cartridge body, so set aside a bit of time and prepare for frustration if you’re new to the art of cartridge alignment.
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An excellent value for money cartridge, with its neutral to warm sound the Shure M97xE will please a great many listeners.