LP Gear N97xVL ViVid Line Contact Stylus for Shure M97xe--Also compared vs JICO SAS Stylus
So FYI LP Gear continues to have some of the best values in replacement styli on the market. I owned said JICO SAS stylus on a Shure M97xe for a while and then the suspension failed... Always sounded excellent to my ear. However, to my wife it sounded nasal, critical, and did not separate harmony and instruments well... She actually preferred a Grado Blue to it... Me I detested the Inner Groove Distortion, etc... So I got an Ortofon 2M Black and the problem was solved for both of us... At the same time, however, I acquired the Vivid Line stylus for the Shure from LP Gear... Figured at 79.99 how could I go wrong... I needed a something for the second table in my office I just really didn't want the Grado... It has been with me for about 10 years and I have come to not like it. Also my second table is a cheap Fisher MT-6330 and it suffers from the Grado's direct drive hum issues they are know for...
So I installed the LC stylus... OMG WOW!!! I couldn't believe it! Like for real the whole sound COMPLETELY changed. No longer critical, soft sweet and warm! The highs soared but weren't brittle! The bass might have been slightly less pronounced that with the JICO, but it is super balanced. It's not nasal! My wife was so floored that we just had to swap on the primary table and shoot it out against the 2M Black... Well the black won hands down... I mean the Shure gave it a run for its money... Actually on less than ideal condition albums I prefer it... It does track a badly warped record better, and the LC stylus profile is a bit more forgiving than the Shibata for surface noise, but there is a reason the 2M black is at the price point where it sits.
The real revelation was pitting it against my wife's retired favorite; the Grado. Immediately she was able to notice how dead the Grado sounded. I was most concerned about her opinion on the separations of instruments and harmonies (she does have the better ear). Hands down the Shure was propelling from the loser by a large margin to the winner by an equally large margin. She thought the JICO sounded better than the original but still disliked it initially. She then said the whole cartridge had completely flipped its personality. We then shot out the Shure and Black again for grins... The Black won but not by as large of a margin according to her...
So that said... Save yourself $150 or more and replace your Shure M97xe's stylus with this:http://www.lpgear.com/product/SHN097xVL.html
The JICO is just somehow outclassed by it... It certainly doesn't look like it should be... On paper, in pictures, and even close up the JICO looks like it should walk all over this stylus... However, that is just NOT the case!
Hope this helps and isn't too much of a TL;DR...
These are just our personal experiences.
**Stock arm rewired with Cardas
**Soundhifi Timestep Bearing Upgrade
**Soundhifi Timestep Power Supply
**Custom .75kg record weight
**Vinylengine Technics Arc Protractor
**Hi-Fi News Test Record (for cartridge setup)
Schiit Mani Preamp
**Upgraded crossovers with new components (high end)
**New tweeters (Peerless Copies)
Onkyo TX-8522 Receiver
**Pure Audio mode on
(M-508 amplifier is in the shop for a recap)
**Cardas tonearm rewire
Insignia NS-R2000 Receiver
(It's my office! I know it's a POS; but it's what I have... The Onkyo TX-8522 goes in here after the amp is back from the shop)
Polk Audio T15 bookshelves
Dayton Audio SUB-1000