AT440mla, ortofon 2m red, or JICO SAS tip for mx97

Due to an unfortunate cleaning accident, my cantilever on my Shure mx97e was bent beyond repair. Now I am in a dilemma. I have a Fisher MT-6330 turntable Low Fi I know but I have made enhancements. It's a direct drive unit but has a unique 120 pole motor and a repectable 1kg platter. speed is DEAD ON. I have assembled a Janus mat (dynamat and cork); a 680 gram record weight (custom machined with 45 rpm adapter) and choice plinth mods to quiet it down It is well leveled Was aligned to perfection with a protractor from vinylengine; and overall sounded way beyond my expectations
It is christmas time and I am torn between 3 choices I can score a new model AT440mla for 99.00 or ortofon 2m red or 129 for the JICO SAS Stylus

No question - I'd go for the M97xE with the SAS. It's the most even-handed and best performing of the bunch... and not by a small margin. I'm not a huge fan of the stock M97xE, although I think it's very good for the money - but no more. The SAS elevates it a shocking amount.
thanks, I appreciate the nod.. i find that even with my modest setup the mx97e has surprised me over the budget AT it came with... I was on the fence after much reviews... Seemed like it was AT 440mla is noisy on older records, ortofon 2m red is good but it elliptical and I think I'm ready for the next step... I found it at LP Gear for 129.00 is that going to be my best deal? And as far as alignment goes; Would you suggest a loefgren, baerwald, or stevenson alignment? I found the baerwald most pleasing with the elliptical diamond. However the shape of the SAS has me asking questions. I am not exactly a newb but I find myself only setting up my mediocre tables correctly now... i have found that properly alignment is key to the vinyl magic, though. Thanks for the insight...

I've bought all my SAS styli direct from Jico,

They ship quickly and have been great to deal with. I won't deal with LP Gear due to some prior problems I've had with them.

I use Baerwald whenever possible, Stevenson otherwise.
M97xE with the SAS
Yup, word is the SAS on the 97 is a really good setup.
I must admit to being somewhat tepid about the JICO SAS on my V15Vmr. I don't think that it is up to the sound quality of the original stylus on my other V15Vmr. That said, I found the 440 to be very bright and the Red has a bonded stylus, and that would put both of them out for me.

What concerns me is the SAS is a radical cut stylus that requires exacting VTA/SRA. I don't think that the Fisher will get you there. So my suggestion is to get the regular JICO elliptical stylus for the M97xE, or a Shure M97xE replacement, by process of elimination.
So I am going with the SAS... I'm gonna roll the dice with LPGear since JICO in japan is all backordered... Hopefully will be here in time for christmas break so that I can break in before I go back to work. I will use my handy protractor to get the baerwald alignment all dialed in. I have some old vinyl and some new. Some horrific pressings, some 180 gram, and some hot stampers. I will report back my findings over the stock stylus for all to read. I am starting to understand why people have multiple headshells and multiple tonearms.. It's like having multiple monitors on a computer... I will also transcribe some of the vinyl I had already done with the elliptical stylus to forensically analyze them. Thanks for all the insight...

I had my vta set with some custom machined shims for the headshell with the old stylus... (nice to have a friend who owns a machine shop) I realigned it when my custom made janus mat replaced the stock mat on the table. If realignment is needed i can get more shims made. This is as far as i can go with my current setup to get precise VTA adjustments... I will say the thin shims did make a lot of difference with the old stylus and that I should be shot for damaging it. However, I will take this into consideration and pay close attention to detail when doing so.
Viridian has expressed his dislike for the Jico on other forums and I totally respect that. It's worth noting, however, that a vast majority (in fact, I'd say he's the only one to the contrary) have noted significant improvement with the Jico SAS styli.

The Fisher MT-6330 appears to be fairly flexible in looking at pics online, you should be fine.

Look forward to hearing your impressions. FYI - Jico always shows the SAS backordered but they've always shipped within a week with all my orders.
Much appreciated... I know my low budget setup is no LINN or even a technics 1200 for that fact... But I have had good luck out of the fisher through more manual means... And best of all the price was right---FREE LOL... Beats my old technics sl-bd22 p mounter with a grado blue hands down... I am still looking forward to my stylus and I am pretty sure I will have good results even if the setup is a bit fiddly... Thanks for the vote of confidence Vinyladdict.
Vinyladdict, please keep in mind that I did recommend the stylus and I feel that this is the class that it competes well in. Also, I would respectfully take issue with your "vast majority" comment. In the last thread on the Asylum, half of those that actually state an opinion seem to indicate issues of various sorts with the stylus:
Interesting. In that thread you even go so far as point out that, "71.4% is not 'near 80%'"; yet seemingly 71.4% is now 50%!

I have no problem with you not liking the stylus. I understand how some might prefer the smoother more laid back nature of the original. However, it takes all of 10 minutes of searching to indeed determine that there's no question that a vast majority do find the SAS an improvement, with the exception of the brush, over the original.
My apology, I was making a joke by saying 50%, as that is my issue with OPUS, that he plays with numbers. I thought that those interested would read the thread and see that it was a joke. Sometimes these things do not translate well, and I am not a good communicator of humor, apparently.

Funny enough, the 71% was calculated before bajawisconsin chimed in; he makes it three out of eight that had issues or 62% in favor. 38% with issues. Weak praise, at best.

Three of us in that thread had issues with the JICO SAS stylus. Myself, vanmetterannie and bajawisconsin. As I said, this speaks to sample-to-sample variation in my mind, but of course there are other possible answers. I have been called deaf more than once recently.

If one looks at reviews of virtually any audio product on the internet the majority are almost always positive. I believe that is because those giving their opinion are financially invested in the product at hand. Additionally, consumers generally do not have a large sample of competeing products at their disposal. It's easy to "like" something that we are financially invested in, and it's another to say that it leads it's price class and that is what many people are looking for, purchase guidance. As I point out in the thread, if popularity is the metric that we are using to judge audio products, we would all own Bose.
When I was looking around in the same price range, I looked at both the AT440mla and the 2M Red. Ultimately I went with the 2M Red, somewhat against my better judgement, because I'd heard the AT440mla more. However, I've loved the 2M Red. It has been a wonderful cartridge. At this point (just under 2 years) I would immediately replace it if it were damaged.

Its versatile, resolute, smooth, gets better with break-in, and seems to have a long life, but then again, the same is said for the AT440mla.

I think it's the objective of that price range to be a jack of all trades, and not super specific and theres a lot of overlap in the character of the different options. Makes the options not CLEARLY different at all.

That price on the AT440mla seems unbeatable though. If I had found one for $99 at the time, I would have bought it with out question.
Well I made my choice... Haven't received it yet though... But for all interested: Here is a link to the AT440mla that I didn't buy and it is a steal at 99.88
SAS tip shipped 12/10/2010 I'm so excited I'm about to wet myself.... :D
Ok well I received it today... So here we go... Setup was not as fiddly as anticipated. There are some things of note however. It is like others have stated... A little shaky until break in.. Or at least I assume... I have compensated with the anti skate and a little tracking force (hopefully will speed up cantilever break in) Stylus overhang is radically different though; had to scoot the cartridge way up; but no big deal I got new headshell wires anyway. Even without being broke in; OMG!!! It is actually quieter than the stock stylus. I will posst more after break in.. but will have no trouble putting 50 hours on this quickly

About 8 hours in and i will tell you... I can't stop listening. The cantilever looks like a fine thread compared to the original. And the sound... omg the sound... FULL bodied bass, crystalline highs, warmth exploding. It is super quiet too. I thought the shure stylus was for sure more forgiving... WRONG!!! I may never stop listening... I gave up watching TV tonight for it.
That's great to hear. It's nice when things work out like that, isn't it? Happy listening.
I am pretty sure my stylus is almost ran in... Been about 40 hours... I have officially ditched my audiosource eq 8 out of my signal path. I thought before that I needed it... And to a point I did... This stylus has raised the output of the cartridge to almost DOUBLE. No joke. The spectrum analyzer is now at the same level as my CD's whereas before it was about half. The pure audio button on my onkyo is engaged and no tone controls are needed... My recommendation, buy the stylus. No matter what table you own. Calibrate it correctly and your shure mx97e will reward you as never before. A side by side comparison of vinyl transcriptions tells ALL. I compared them with a buddy who has a project iii and a properly setup bluepoint no. 2 and i will say i actually prefer the sound of 3 out 4 identical pressings on my setup. He could not believe it. We compared transcriptions before and I was disappointed in my prior setup. His were so much more musical and open. Now he is actually entertaining the idea of the shure with the JICO. Happy Holiday and joyous listening and thanks for all the sound advice.

I'm so happy for you, Ben. (... told ya you would love it!)

Have a great holiday spinning records!
It is with mixed feelings that I announce that I am shelving my Fisher MT 6330... Okay it's not with mixed feelings... I confess... I am acquiring a late model Technics SL-1200 for a mere 200 bucks and am preparing to put it through a full on treatment of KAB upgrades. Well not entirely KAB... I plan on sourcing most of it from sound hi fi... Their power supply has lured me in.

Here are my plans:
I plan on rewiring the stock tone arm with the KAB cardas wiring the 1200 tonearm with cardas wiring sourced from KAB

I am fitting an archomat to the technics platter

I plan on doing a bearing upgrade to the bearing

And adding sorbothane feet to the rig

I plan also on doing the soundhifi ps upgrade and strobe disable

I will keep my venerable m97xe SAS frankenstein. If money permits i may do a tonearm upgrade to either a jelco SA-750D or possibly an SME M2-9. I see no reason to discard my record weight as it is a fine custom piece. The wife gets the fisher with a re purposed grado blue.

Question is... KAB fluid damper on the stock arm? Or the SME piece? I plan on sticking with the cart i have now.. I know the stock arm has very easy VTA adjustment.
well the rig is setup... Audio bliss.. :D Now to get motivated on the table upgrades.