Should I upgrade my tt cartridge stylus?

pglbook
pglbook Posts: 1,979
edited February 26 in Electronics
I am condsidering getting the JICO SAS replacement stylus for my Shure M97xE cartridge (Thorens TD 160 tt). I have heard good things about it but it is pricey: $229 + tax. Would the upgrade be worth it? Will I hear a noticeable sonic improvement with the JICO SAS stylus compared to the original M97xE stylus?

The original M97xE stylus is still good and it should have a couple of years of life left. It is about 6 years old but probably has less than 1500 hours on it.

I am taking my tt to get serviced (belt change, lubricate, check alignment, etc) in a few weeks since I have not had it serviced in 6 years and I am debating about also changing the stylus at that time so the service tech can install it for me.

Please let me know your thoughts and recommendations (especially from those who have the JICO SAS stylus).

Thanks.

Comments

  • dromunds
    dromunds Posts: 9,241
    The JICO SAS is good but their prices have really increased. It’s a tough call if you really like the M97xE, but I can’t help but wonder if you wouldn’t be pleased with an upgrade to your cart, of course it’ll likely be more cash unless you can find a lightly used cart for a good price. In the past, I’ve picked up some real nice carts cheap that had broken styluses, then got either an SAS stylus or a Soundsmith rebuild which worked out pretty good.
  • jdjohn
    jdjohn Posts: 1,928
    If you have been digging the Shure house sound, then it is probably worth it for you to get a replacement JICO SAS stylus. Since you've enjoyed it for 6 years, it is perhaps safe to say that you enjoy it! The JICO SAS would definitely be an improvement over the OEM/stock 'bonded' elliptical.

    Personally, that cartridge has never 'done it' for me, but that's just my opinion. Shure carts, in general, are known to have a 'warmer' sound, and my preference actually leans more towards the 'bright' side (e.g., Audio Technica).

    For your reading pleasure:
    https://www.vinylengine.com/turntable_forum/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=117804&hilit=m97xe+sas

    https://www.vinylengine.com/turntable_forum/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=121940&hilit=m97xe+sas

    "This may not matter to you, but it does to me for various reasons, many of them illogical or irrational, but the vinyl hobby is not really logical or rational..." - member on Vinyl Engine
    "Sometimes I do what I want to do. The rest of the time, I do what I have to." - Cicero, in Gladiator
    Regarding collectibles: "It's not who gets it. It's who gets stuck with it." - Jimmy Fallon
  • pglbook
    pglbook Posts: 1,979
    edited February 27
    dromunds wrote: »
    The JICO SAS is good but their prices have really increased. It’s a tough call if you really like the M97xE, but I can’t help but wonder if you wouldn’t be pleased with an upgrade to your cart, of course it’ll likely be more cash unless you can find a lightly used cart for a good price. In the past, I’ve picked up some real nice carts cheap that had broken styluses, then got either an SAS stylus or a Soundsmith rebuild which worked out pretty good.

    Thanks. I think you are right. It is probably best to look at a cart upgrade in the future. More bang for the buck with upgrading the cart rather than the stylus.

  • pglbook
    pglbook Posts: 1,979
    jdjohn wrote: »
    If you have been digging the Shure house sound, then it is probably worth it for you to get a replacement JICO SAS stylus. Since you've enjoyed it for 6 years, it is perhaps safe to say that you enjoy it! The JICO SAS would definitely be an improvement over the OEM/stock 'bonded' elliptical.

    Personally, that cartridge has never 'done it' for me, but that's just my opinion. Shure carts, in general, are known to have a 'warmer' sound, and my preference actually leans more towards the 'bright' side (e.g., Audio Technica).

    For your reading pleasure:
    https://www.vinylengine.com/turntable_forum/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=117804&hilit=m97xe+sas

    https://www.vinylengine.com/turntable_forum/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=121940&hilit=m97xe+sas

    Thanks, John. I like the Shure cart but am definitely open to learning about different cartridges.
  • jdjohn
    jdjohn Posts: 1,928
    Here's another thread that just came up this morning: https://www.vinylengine.com/turntable_forum/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=124204 Might be worth trying the $31 nude elliptical they mention from Voice of Music.

    I like the AT house sound, but not everyone does. It's on the brighter side vs Shure's warmer sound. The new AT carts, such as the AT-VM95 series, get a lot of recommendations. AT MM carts do prefer very low capacitance, so you need a phonostage that has an MM capacitance setting of 100pF or less. At higher settings, the high frequencies can spike, which is probably why some folks don't like AT carts...they use a capacitance setting that's too high.

    There are also several nice older/vintage MM carts that still have new replacement styluses made for them. The Grace F9 and Technics EPC-205C are two that I really like. Soundsmith makes replacement styluses for the F9, and JICO has several different options for the EPC-205C. But like the AT carts, the EPC-205C also prefers low capacitance.
    "This may not matter to you, but it does to me for various reasons, many of them illogical or irrational, but the vinyl hobby is not really logical or rational..." - member on Vinyl Engine
    "Sometimes I do what I want to do. The rest of the time, I do what I have to." - Cicero, in Gladiator
    Regarding collectibles: "It's not who gets it. It's who gets stuck with it." - Jimmy Fallon
  • pglbook
    pglbook Posts: 1,979
    edited February 28
    jdjohn wrote: »
    Here's another thread that just came up this morning: https://www.vinylengine.com/turntable_forum/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=124204 Might be worth trying the $31 nude elliptical they mention from Voice of Music.

    I like the AT house sound, but not everyone does. It's on the brighter side vs Shure's warmer sound. The new AT carts, such as the AT-VM95 series, get a lot of recommendations. AT MM carts do prefer very low capacitance, so you need a phonostage that has an MM capacitance setting of 100pF or less. At higher settings, the high frequencies can spike, which is probably why some folks don't like AT carts...they use a capacitance setting that's too high.

    There are also several nice older/vintage MM carts that still have new replacement styluses made for them. The Grace F9 and Technics EPC-205C are two that I really like. Soundsmith makes replacement styluses for the F9, and JICO has several different options for the EPC-205C. But like the AT carts, the EPC-205C also prefers low capacitance.

    Thanks, John. I appreciate the info.

    I am going to stay put for now and just get my tt serviced in a few weeks. But I will start researching different cartridges for a planned cart upgrade in the next year or two.
  • dromunds
    dromunds Posts: 9,241
    I have a Thorens TD-160 and I have a Goldring 1012GX on it that I really like. I have not used that table in quite some time and it has a wooden arm rather than the stock arm, so I don’t know how the Goldring would match the stock arm. The 1012 cart will accept the upgraded 1042 stylus, so some guys look for a 1012 cart body with a broken stylus which may sometimes be found very reasonably priced and then try to pick up a slightly used 1042 stylus. However, a good used complete 1012 has gone up in price lately. But there lots of good options out there for cart upgrades that won’t break the proverbial bank. It’s too bad, I had two styluses for the Shure m97xE that I gave to somebody on the forum not that long ago and one was a slightly used OEM stylus IIRC (the other was a new aftermarket stylus). I originally gave the cart to Mycca I think his name was, that young guy in Florida, but I think he moved it along.
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