Cartridge Limitations or Break In?

I've just gotten going with my first TT and cartridge, a Shure M97xe. So far I'm really impressed with it for the price ($56 or so). The only place where I'm having some problems with it is in certain tones and higher notes. In particular muted trumpets - Miles Davis at the Blackhawk just fell apart - and with the reverberations on some loud vibraphone passages - Milt Jackson on a couple of Pablo recordings. I've read that that this, and other cartridges, need some time to break in to smooth out. Is that what I'm experiencing here or am I discovering the difference between an inexpensive cartridge and pricier model?

Still sounds bloody good for the money.
Don't take your cartridge seriously until after 400 hours. It is interesting to hear it change...and change it will. Sometimes it will sound better than it did before...sometimes worse. Sometimes it will have no bass, and sometimes too much bass. Be patient!! All of audiophiledom is the same way. Just put on record after record, and think of it as FM. Go about your businss and don't even listen critically.
Stringreen couldn't have said it better. Just play yer records and be patient.
400 hours is a bit much with most cartridges I would say. My Denon 103R had pretty much blossomed by 50 hours. I've heard of extreme examples of around 200 hours. Given that you can break in most cartridges on the Cardas Sweep Record in about 2-4 hours, and that it is valuable for regular maintenance beyond that, I view it as a must have product for anyone owning a turntable.

From my perspective, it would be pretty depressing to go 400 hours and then figure out something was drastically wrong when you can do it in 3 or 4.
The Shure seems to take up to 200 hrs to totally break in, but being that it's a very compliant cartidge to start with, it's more gradual than drastic. You should get most of the sound by 50 hours.

The cartridge is pretty sensitive with high output, and if you scroll down to the frequency response graph in this review at TNT, you'll see that its highest output is at 100 Hz. That can muddy the sound a bit and in my experience (I have one I used on a Technics SL12x0 for several months) it magnifies resonances that may be in your equipment rack or coming up the turntable plinth. It was certainly more susceptible to footfalls and finger taps than a lower output cartridge or one without that 100Hz hump.

It's a very smooth and listenable cartridge, and if you put the damper brush in place it'll track very warped records.

The sound turns dull and murky very easily if you don't keep the stylus squeaky clean. I used a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser and it made a world of difference.
Most suspensions are fully broken in between 25-50 hours with higher compliance cartridges taking somewhat longer.

400 hours is nonsensical.
Whoops - I meant 40 hours - the written suggestion on both my Benz Ebony LP, and Ebony H. Sorry for the typo. "Nonsensical" seems a bit mean spirited to me
Hello Grimace, I respectfully disagree with the posts. A Shure cartridge not broken in will track most anything on this planet. Please recheck your setup and don't run it at the lowest tracking force, that can cause slight mistracking and not as good sound. A shure cartridge properly setup will sail through just about anything. Lower tracking forces will not result in less wear. If you are unsure (pun not intentional) about setting up a cartridge enlisting some expertise will be very helpful by way of a friend or local dealer.
Mean spirited?

Sorry, no offense intended my friend.

Enjoy your new cartridge.
And thanks to A-gon member Elevick for loaning me a setup tool and a tracking force scale. I was just a tad off - understatement of the year - on both counts. A little heavier and the stylus might have worn a hole in my platter.

Still though, I played that Miles Davis again with the weight adjusted and it still just explodes into distortion. Maybe the recording? Its just the muted trumet. The recording is Miles Davis In Person Saturday Night at the Blackhawk Vol.2. The track is 'Fran-Dance'. Its the Columbia brown label "limited edition" re-release. Other than the mute its a really really good pressing.

Anyone else have this one?
You're welcome, Grimace. It also could be the record, possibly from being played at too heavy tracking force.