My Shure M97xe has finally given up working and I see they’ve been discontinued, which is a chore because I was always really happy with how the Shure sounded.
So my question is: what’s the next best alternative?
Deck is Thorens TD160 Super with a SME Series III S arm. So, as I understand it, that means I need a high compliance cart, hence how I got to the Shure (from memory).
Why I liked the Shure was the smooth balance and punch. It had solid, focused bass with slam and was musical, unfussy. It just got on with it and disappeared.
I listen to all genres so it’s much more important to me that the cart is reasonably forgiving than the last word in detail. Most important, I can’t stand brightness in the treble or upper mids - so a smooth top end is essential with no forwardness.
System is 32.5/110/hicap/EposM12.
Cartridge budget is £150-200ish
What I’m considering after a bit of reading:
Sumiko Rainier - might stretch to an Olympia. Audio-Technica VM530 or might stretch to VM540ML if it’s the one Goldring 2100
Welcome experiences with those, especially on a SME Series III arm.
I run a TD160S with SME IIIS too. My cartridge is a Grado Reference Sonata but this is outside your current budget (and stylus is not user replaceable). Before the Sonata I had a Grado Prestige, never had any compatibility issues and loved its presentation. If keeping the Shure going turns out to be problematic then Grado well worth considering.
I’ve found the sound of the M97xe very difficult to match with other, current MM cartridges in the same (1x - 2x) price range. Reading the internet analyses of the frequency response/preamp loading offers insights as to why this is.
You may just want to get a used body and a new replacement stylus as I think you’re going to have difficulty finding a suitable alternative.