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Comparing Shure M97xE and V15 Type III

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jls001

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Shure M97xE: bought new from Electronics Emporium, Mumbai, has may be a hundred hours of play. This is the replacement to the V15 series of cartridges and still in production.

Shure V15 III: (without the stylus) came with my TD124. Got the replacement stylus some months back from Ed Saunders but I never got round to actually using it. This cartridge has been out of production for a long time, and so qualifies as a vintage. IIRC, the reason given by Shure for its obsoletion was that it was increasingly difficult and costly to obtain the boron that was used in the cantilever.

Last night I suddenly remembered that I have this cartridge lying somewhere amongst my audio mess (tube light, anyone? :)) and decided to swap out the workhorse M97xE.

The tracking forces are practically the same, and even cartridge weight differ by only 0.6 gms (the M97xE being heavier at 6.6 gms). So arm re-balancing was not really required, though I will fine tune it later.

Here's a quick first impression:

Straight off the bat, it is obvious that the vintage cartridge has much better higher frequency extension. There was a new found shimmer in the highs. The difference is not subtle.

It also has better low frequency extension. The bass on familiar tracks is tighter. But this is a bit subtle and not as pronounced like the HF difference.

It also digs out more details from records.

It is no better at rejecting groove noises.

I think after 20-30 hours it should improve. Right now the sound is a bit harsh as the stylus has put in only 4 sides worth of play.

Some helpful user on audiogon has written about this detailed comparison on audiogon which seems to suggest that the two are roughly the same. For the most part, I tend to agree.

Sure, the M97xE is a very refined cartridge for its price and get you pretty close to what the V15 offers, but it lacks that last bit of extension in the highs and the lows, and will not extract as much details. I now agree with Shure's claim of the M97XE being "audiophile" on the packaging.

Since the V15 has a recommended capacitance loading of 400 to 500 pF, I will try with this value (need to open up my phono stage to check if 400-500 pF setting is supported).
 

sachu888

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The difference is only a cantilever.Shure V15 has Boron and M97xe uses Aluminium cantilever.
M97xe requires higher Capacitance and very sensitive to resistive loading.Try to load it on 62k

Regards,
Sachin
 

murali_n

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Hi jls,

Read catman's articles on Shure Mx97E (at audiokarma), where in he has suggested that a loading of 69pF makes the cart very balanced sounding and improves the highs.

Just my Rs.2/-

N.Murali
 

jls001

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Hi jls,

Read catman's articles on Shure Mx97E (at audiokarma), where in he has suggested that a loading of 69pF makes the cart very balanced sounding and improves the highs.

Thanks, Murali. Will try this out. I honestly don't even remember what is the current loading. Been a long time since I opened up the phono pre. If I remember correctly, the minimum loading available is 100 pF.
 

jls001

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The difference is only a cantilever.Shure V15 has Boron and M97xe uses Aluminium cantilever.
M97xe requires higher Capacitance and very sensitive to resistive loading.Try to load it on 62k

Regards,
Sachin

Thanks, Sachin. If one is to believe what that user-reviewer said in the audiogon link I gave, he seems to suggest that even the internals are quite different between V15 and M97xE.

So to collate your suggestion and Murali's suggestion, the best loading for the M97 would be 62 kiloOhms resistive and 69 pF capacitive.

I just read the short manual of my phono pre and it says one can set capacitive loading to either 200 or 300 pF.:sad:

The resistive loading options are also a bit weird: 59, 121, 175, 243, 1000, 2000, 50000, 100000 ohms. No 47000!
 

omishra

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Hi jls,

Read catman's articles on Shure Mx97E (at audiokarma), where in he has suggested that a loading of 69pF makes the cart very balanced sounding and improves the highs.

Just my Rs.2/-

N.Murali

+1, Yes I have experienced this too. This is because lower capacitance cable we used for IC.
I too added extra capacitance on my CNC phono for 97Xe. Same was reported by FM 'shaizada' somewhere in the same thread.
http://www.hifivision.com/phono-turntables/20115-batery-powered-diy-cnc-phono-stage-33.html#post330490
 

sachu888

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Thanks, Sachin. If one is to believe what that user-reviewer said in the audiogon link I gave, he seems to suggest that even the internals are quite different between V15 and M97xE.

So to collate your suggestion and Murali's suggestion, the best loading for the M97 would be 62 kiloOhms resistive and 69 pF capacitive.

I just read the short manual of my phono pre and it says one can set capacitive loading to either 200 or 300 pF.:sad:

The resistive loading options are also a bit weird: 59, 121, 175, 243, 1000, 2000, 50000, 100000 ohms. No 47000!

Hypnotoad added 62k resistive loading in CNC pre only because of Shure M97xe.

Regards,
Sachin
 

tek

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Instead of the Ed Saunders, you should try getting one of those new JICO styli from Japan for both your Shure cartridges, and then comparing.

I have no personal experience with either of these carts, but from what i've read the JICO stylus upgrade is high recommended.
 

jls001

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Instead of the Ed Saunders, you should try getting one of those new JICO styli from Japan for both your Shure cartridges, and then comparing.

I have no personal experience with either of these carts, but from what i've read the JICO stylus upgrade is high recommended.

Yeah, I heard about this but didn't pay enough attention. Perhaps the next replacement stylii for the M97 and V15 will be from Jico, but I guess that's a long way.
 

jls001

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Yeah, I heard about this but didn't pay enough attention. Perhaps the next replacement stylii for the M97 and V15 will be from Jico, but I guess that's a long way.

Update 1: I wrote to Jico. They have 4 replacement stylii for the V15 III. Cheapest is $78. Costliest is $138 (iirc). I asked them what is sonic differences out of the 4 types and they said all are same:lol: Now I am stumped!

Update 2: My V15 is having audible distortion which I thought was IGD but is beginning to sound like a problem in the cartridge itself. Two-point alignment doesn't help. I couldn't cure it yet so the M97xE is back from its bench-warming duties.

Update 3: yesterday I got hold of a Denon DL 160 high output MC. Used ONLY once to play about two record sides. The previous owner did not like it so he went back to Ortofon 2M Red. I fitted it on my arm using the lighter counterweight (I have a heavier one too for heavier carts) since the 160 is a high compliance cartridge, balanced it very carefully using a manual weighing scale, did two point protractor alignment (using Stupid Protractor) and off it glides into the groove. The first track I played had harsh and brittle highs and there was a big trough where the mids ought to be. By the time it had played the last track on Side A, there was a very noticeable improvement in all areas of music reproduction - upper highs have sobered down quite a bit and the mids made their appearance. After 5-6 record sides, I could hear details I had never heard on familiar tracks. Imaging became more specific and backing vocals too recessed in the mix suddenly stood out above the noise floor. By the time I played the last record for the night, Joss Stone was doing a jam session of her Soul Session in my room. Her vocals in this wonderful album is palpable even when using lesser cartridges.

I am hoping that by the time it puts in about 25-30 hours it will be much better. Will update as it puts in more hours. Will play around with phono pre settings later. Right now it is on MM setting.
 

tek

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I use the Denon DL 110, which is a HOMC as well. I have been very happy with it, i too heard a lot more detail in the music that was missing with my 2M Red. I'm surprised the person you bought it from preferred the 2M red. That said, the 2M was more "bassy", so some people prefer that.

I originally wanted the DL 160, but they stopped manufacturing it. Managed to get the DL 110.
 

Tanoj

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Hi,

if you have the Boney M disc ( DADY Cool ) , please play it and compare the sound of the Bass Guitar , with both the cartridges

i found that Shure M97xe sounds good than Denon DL 160 in the place of sounds like Bass Guitar,


Regards

Tanoj
 

sachu888

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Hi,

if you have the Boney M disc ( DADY Cool ) , please play it and compare the sound of the Bass Guitar , with both the cartridges

i found that Shure M97xe sounds good than Denon DL 160 in the place of sounds like Bass Guitar,
BTW: DL-160 is better than Dl-110 and Shure M97xe IMO

Regards

Tanoj

Hi Tanoj,
Denon DL-160 is mismatch with your TTs arm(low mass).Your tonearm will match perfectly with high compliance carts like Shure M97xe/OrtofonOM10 etc.DL-160 is low compliance cart and it requires medium to high mass arm.

Regards,
Sachin
 

jls001

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I use the Denon DL 110, which is a HOMC as well. I have been very happy with it, i too heard a lot more detail in the music that was missing with my 2M Red. I'm surprised the person you bought it from preferred the 2M red. That said, the 2M was more "bassy", so some people prefer that.

I originally wanted the DL 160, but they stopped manufacturing it. Managed to get the DL 110.

The guy did not have the patience for burning in the cartridge. Good for me:)

The 160 is still available online from Denon Phono Cartridges for $ 179 + shipping.
 

jls001

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Hi,

if you have the Boney M disc ( DADY Cool ) , please play it and compare the sound of the Bass Guitar , with both the cartridges

i found that Shure M97xe sounds good than Denon DL 160 in the place of sounds like Bass Guitar,


Regards

Tanoj

Let me check if I have that particular track. I do have some Boney M albums. BTW, that song was a dance favourite with the hip set when I was a small kid:lol:

In my setup, the bass weight from M97xE and DL 160 is almost same, with the M97xE having a slight edge. But what the DL 160 lacks in bass weight it more than makes up for it in quality, which I feel is more critical. But there is absolutely no doubting the superiority of the DL160 in the mids and highs.

This judgement is with my DIY balanced IC connecting pre to power. The DIY cable is a bit strong on bass, a fair bit more than my liking. BTW, this cable is also still burning in but sounds surprisingly good for the money I have spent on it. It has exceeded my modest expectations. I will have to revert to my primary (factory made) balanced IC to hear the real differences.
 

jls001

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@jls001 : which phonostage you use ?

I currently use the Musical Surroundings' Phonomena. This is MM and MC phono with various loading options for MC. But I'm currently running the DL160 in MM setting as it is a high-output MC which is designed to be run at 47 kOhms. I have gone through vinylengine forum discussions where folks seem to suggest that 1 KOhm resistive loading with about 160-200 pF capacitive loading produces the best sound. I will try this in future when I have the energy to open up the phono:)

Also, waiting in the wings, waiting to be tried out are:
1) Ortofon MCA 76 MC only Phono Pre
2) Hypnotoad MC only Phono Pre (still a work in progress.... due to my laziness)
3) Sachin is sending me the kit for the MM Phono Pre as well
 
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