quinta-feira, 13 de agosto de 2009

Shure M97 XE

Shure M97XE Phono Cartridge

The M97xE is a superbly tracking, neutral, smooth-sounding magnetic cartridge, designed to provide long hours of undistorted, easy listening, without fatiguing the ear or tiring the mind.This cartridge is able to accurately reproduce very difficult musical passages, particularly in the high-frequency range, where audio modulations are the smallest and most concentrated, and stylus tip movement is consequently the most rapid. Its highly precise tracking ability and flat frequency response are made possible by Shure's unique Type II low-mass thin-wall aluminum alloy stylus cantilever, combined with a precision-crafted, finely polished, elliptical diamond tip.The very low mass M97xE cartridge shares several important features with the V15VxMR audiophile cartridge:Dynamic Stabilizer Damper/De-staticizer
· Shure's exclusive viscous-damped Dynamic Stabilizer, which maintains a uniform distance between the cartridge and the record under difficult playing conditions, such as those caused by warped records, or mismatched tonearm mass. When such stabilization is not required, the stabilizer brush can be locked up into its detent position, which, under ideal playing conditions, can provide even better sound quality.Die-cast Aluminum Mounting Block
· A die cast aluminum mounting block for secure, vibration-free attachment to the tonearm.Side-Guard Stylus Protection System
· The SIDE-GUARD stylus protection system that helps prevent stylus damage if the cartridge accidentally slides across a record. This unique feature responds to side thrusts on the stylus by withdrawing the entire stylus cantilever and tip safely into the stylus housing before the cantilever can be damaged.M97XE Technical Specifications:
· Output: 4.0mV RMS at 5 cm/sec
· Stylus:Diamond tip, Polished natural gemstone, Elliptical, Side x front radii: 0.2 x 0.7 mil
· Cantilever: Shure Type II - Very Low Mass, Heat-treated aluminum alloy / tubular, 1.0 mil wall thickness / 20 mil diameter
· Frequency Range: 20 to 22,000 Hz
· Tracking Force: 0.75-1.50g
· Weight: 6.6g
· Stereo Channel Balance: Within 2 dB
· Channel Separation: @1 kHz - 25 dB
· Recommended Load: 47 kilohms in parallel with 250 pf
· Height: 15.875mm
· Amplitude: 80 µm at 400 HzAccessories Included:
· Stylus Guard
· User Guide
· Mounting hardware
· Stylus cleaning brush
· Headshell Screwdriver
· Shure's Hi-Fi Cartridge Comparison GuideFeatures:
· Dynamic Stabilizer Damper/De-staticizer
· Die-case Aluminum Mounting Block
· Side-Guard Stylus Protection System

COMPARISONSThere are many choices at or near the M97’s price, none of which are quite as sweet-sounding. The Audio-Technica 440ML, widely available for $100, offers a finer stylus and slightly better tracing ability. Grado’s Black, Green and Silver, although very good, can’t equal the Shure’s trackability and in my experience, can sound a bit brittle. Ditto the Stanton and Goldring models below $100. The Ortofon X1-MC (discounted to about $110) may equal the Shure’s neutrality, but I found it to be ultimately less satisfying. The Ortofon OM10, sale priced at $60 these days, might give the Shure a run for its money in some respects, but I didn’t have mine long enough to say for sure. Denon’s DL-110 ($140) likely shares the DL-160’s bigger-than life-presentation and incredible speed, but it can also be an acquired taste. The Benz Micro MC20E2 ($175) is a rock star, with great bass and lots of life. Finally, there’s Rega’s Elys ($225), which I found to be disappointingly flat-sounding. CONCLUSIONSThe Shure M97xE may or may not be a baby V15. I’ll leave it to those who have heard both recently to answer that. Taken on its own terms, the M97 offers way above average detail retrieval, good imaging, decent soundstaging, excellent tracking and dynamics, and terrific build quality. More importantly, and harder to adequately describe, is its remarkable listenability and marked lack of harshness. I can easily imagine someone living happily with this cartridge for a decade or more, instead of ceaselessly clamoring for something better. (There’s a word for people like that: “sane.”)I’ve stayed up late on numerous occasions with this cartridge because it ‘gets out of the way’ (as they say in the magazines) and allows the music to shine. I suspect the few affectations it exhibits are more the doing of my turntable than the cartridge itself. True, surface noise can be slightly intrusive if you’re used to moving coils or more expensive moving magnets. I also wish the Shure had slightly tighter-sounding lows on some recordings, and improved soundstaging on others. Maybe you’ll find those qualities in the V15. Then again, maybe not. One thing’s for sure: the M97xE needn’t stand in its big brother’s shadow. It’s a wonderful little cartridge that deserves an audition in nearly any sub-$1000 analog playback system.

Price: U$$89,00 (August, 13, 2009).