Start with a Shure97, great sound and great value, especially for vintage TT's.
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Thanks for the responses. I brought the table to my local hi-fi shoppe and he checked out the tracking force, alignment etc. Tracking force was a bit low, and he adjusted it correctly for the cartridge. We hooked it up to their system and played some of their records. No change- distortion, and then skipping towards the end of every record.
He said that he's had zero problems with the Grado Prestige carts on many vintage tables with lighter arms, and he suspected that the tonearm bearing is shot. Either way, any further exploration of the problem and I'm facing an hourly labor rate equal to what I paid for the table.
I walked out with a new Rega RP1, and I'm thrilled.
If you still have that Shure M97xe; get yourself an LP Gear Line Contact stylus for it!!! OMG it is 1000x better than the JICO SAS (which I owned until the suspension gave out) and you will NOT regret it!!! Totally different, full, rich, open, and not nasal (which I found the JICO SAS to be).
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