For the past four decades the Shure V15 series of phono cartridges have reigned supreme! This is no accident as Shure has put forth meaningful technology into the design of its wonderful transducers.
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The first V15 floored the audio world along with the M3D model in the early 60's with its unusually accurate tracing of the stereo groove at two grams or less! The "15" designation stood for the ideal fifteen degree stylus to groove vertical angle.
Then Shure introduced the elliptical stylus which offered improved high frequency tracing in its model V15 Type II Improved. From there, in 1973 Shure climbed to the top again with the introduction of its V15 III which offered even better tracking ability and lower harmonic distortion at a mere 1 gram tracking force.
The Type IV introduced the biggest leap in high frequency tracing in the late 70's with its hyperelliptical stylus putting to shame other designs including moving coil types. With this entry Shure introduced the Dynamic Stabilizer which effectively eliminated warp skipping in just about any decent tonearm only to be outperformed by Micro Acoustics and Pickering's XSV series!
Then in 1981 Shure introduced the V15 Type V. This outstanding model leaped over the competition with its Micro Ridge stylus in 1983 with the Shure V15 Type VMR. The longer footprint of the stylus tracked everything on the record groove with the utmost accuracy!
Then along came the compact disc and it seemed as though phono cartridge companies were doomed!
By the mid 90's Stanton/Pickering had moved from New York to Florida dropping their highly acclaimed XSV series of cartridges with the Stereohedron stylus and Shure moved production from Illinois to Mexico!! This certainly spelled the end for the V15 Type 5MR. But no...the outcries of analog enthusiasts forced a rebirth in 1997! As Shure introduced the V15 in its current status...the Shure V15 Type VXMR with even better performance, audiophiles' demands were met and surpassed!
Well...Phew!!!!!....That brings us to our current subject for review. First off, I realize that great moving coil designs from Koetsu, Ortofon, Denon, Dynavector and Benz Micro [BM's are fantastic cartridges!] are all outstanding performers but I have to wonder just how useful these models are in practicality!
For the most part, the styli are not user replaceable on these models. Secondly, the prices are generally outrageous on said models and I'm sorry but $800 or $4000 for a cartridge is way out of line! But they are cool aren't they!...In their own way. Most of us just don't have the bucks for such elite hand crafted gems!
Yes, I do understand that the performance is spectacular on these models but not any better than the $325 Shure V15 Type VXMR!! In fact...none of them can touch the Shure's outstanding trackability!
The Shure V15 Type VxMR comes complete with easy mount hardware and a very wonderful two-point stylus protractor with shims for perfectly level stylus to record contact. This is a very serious phono cartridge! Tracking force and anti-skating should be set to 1 1/2 grams. When done so the effective tracking force is 1 gram. I used a Dual/PE [Perpetuum Ebner] 3048 turntable for testing.
The PE's tonearm is flawless with absolutely no friction laterally or vertically. The combo behaved exceptionally well!
Output of the cart is rated at 4mv. This means that the Shure has enough output to drive virtually any magnetic phono preamp without overloading any receiver or amplifier one can think of!
The Shure is wonderfully natural-sounding on all recorded material. Classical records are simply reproduced with orchestral majesty and good 'air' about the instruments with unmatched accuracy of musical timbre!
Percussion on recordings of the Rock type is crystal clear with dynamic impact. Beautiful voices sound just as that...beautiful! Equally impressive is the fact that s-s-sss-ss sounds from voices are reproduced without the slightest hint of splattering or sandpapery quality!
Even more amazing is the fact that the high frequency detail remains clear on the inner grooves! This is in part due to the low mass but rigid "Microwall Be" Type II cantilever and also because of the longer footprint of the Micro Ridge stylus.
The ever-so-snobbish high felootin' reviewers are nuts! They will rant and rave about a low priced Grado Red and then treat the Shure with an "Oh, by the way" attitude. Sorry, folks! Grado just cannot equal Shure's overall performance though well they may try to!
Those of you that still own classic Dual 1200 Series turntables will be happy to know that your well crafted German made turntables have tonearms designed to work to perfection with Shure cartridges. Putting a V15 Type VxMR model in them will only heighten their overall performance.
If you wish to purchase a great turntable/phono cartridge at under $800 then look into a Rega Planar 2 with the Shure V15 Type VxMR. The Rega's tonearm is outstanding and this combo would prove flawless!
Remember...When setting up the Shure to take into account its Dynamic Stabilizer when adjusting tracking force and anti-skating copensation. Simply add a half gram more to offset the brush. It pushes off by 1/2 gram.
The stabilizer in no way interferes with the quality of sound like some audiophiles claim. Just keep it clean with the supplied dustbrush. The hardware kit comes complete with an easy mount installation bar. The price is generally under $325.
After all is said and done you will own a highly desireable sound reproducer that leaves the competition far behind at a most reasonable price! Analog never sounded better than with the Shure V15 Type VXMR! Highly recommended!!! God Bless!...PETER
Please see these reviews:
Shure VN5XMR Replacement Stylus...http://www.epinions.com/content_179811028612
Important Update 4/16/2006:
In a recent press release Shure made this sad statement..."We regretfully announce discontinuation of our legendary V15VxMR audiophile phonograph cartridge due to scarcity of exotic materials essential in the manufacturing of the VN5xMR stylus. These materials are increasingly difficult and costly to obtain, and substitutions of those materials would compromise the performance standards expected of the V15VxMR.
In keeping with the tradition of the Shure phono line, we attempt to provide replacement styli for at least five years after a cartridge model is discontinued. This V15VxMR cartridge must be discontinued immediately so that remaining VN5xMR styli can be placed into our replacement parts inventory.
We strive to continue offering innovative audio products that provide outstanding performance and value, and apologize for any inconvenience that this may cause."
The Shure V-15...may it R.I.P....1960-2004
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