I too, have a Garrard 401. I'm using a Dynavector 501 arm. My favorite cartridge is a Denon 103R, that has had the ESCCO white sapphire cantilever/Paratrace stylus modification. The 103R, in stock form, is fairly inexpensive (I believe around $250 US), and is noted as being a great cartridge on its own.
It comes with a radial stylus, having that changed by ESCCO (in Great Britain) brings it to a much higher level. The cartridge can also be re-potted in aluminum, or various hardwoods that are available.
So, that's my take on it, I'm sure you'll get some other replies yet.
Did you ever hear of VAS NOVA.... inexpensive and well, try it...you'll see.
I have owned and used the following Denons:
All of their cartridges are very enjoyable. They are not the last word in resolution but are very musical
My favorite is my 103 in an ebony body. It comes very close to higher priced MC but at a much lower price and is the best value out of all the above.
The 301mkii is my next favorite, then followed by 160 and then 110. The 110 was a scream of a value when you could get one from Comet for $89.00. At over $230 it is not as good a value and you would be better of with the 103, which at its retail price is still one of the best values in cartridges today.
That being said, many people swear by the Jico and believe that it is a good upgrade. In any case, both options are credible but if you go with the Denon consider the 103 and then modify the body. You won't be disappointed.
How about the Audio Technica AT150MLX? The ML stands for MicroLine, and it's reputedly the same cut as the Shure MicroRidge. Plus it's on a boron cantilever (boron is lighter than oxygen) with all PCOCC internal wiring including coils. Great tracker, retrieves good detail, very dynamic, reasonably affordable and still in production, which means the replacement stylus is too.
While I agree with the AT150MLX recommendation in that its tracking ability is superb, one needs a tonearm that can accommodate very fine adjustments in all parameters to get the best from its MicroLine stylus.
Having lived with a AT150ANV fitted with a MLX stylus for a few years, it has become an involved love affair in that the MicroLine stylus needs a close hand in fine tuning if every album is to sound its absolute best and a VPI unipivot tonearm accommodates this very well.
A lesser extreme stylus profile might be better for those that want to not be constantly adjusting azimuth/SRA because the MicroLine stylus will quickly expose difference's in pressing attributes but when it's dialed in for a particular record, the results are magical!
OK then. How about a Shelter 201? Rather than spending the $258 needed to replace my AT150MLX’s stylus, I sprang for a Shelter 201 from a Japanese vendor on eBay for $167. I’m *really* loving this cartridge. More dynamics than any .3x.7mil elliptical stylus mounted on a tubluar aluminum cantilever has any right to be, I’m astounded by this cartridge’s musical ivolvement, transparent and honest midrange, and stunning dynamic range at its price. I think everyone should have one--the budget-minded for its performance for under $200, and as the spare for the well-to-do while their 4-figure LOMCs are getting retipped.
Thank you everyone so far for some very good advice! My thoughts about the AT150MLX are that in the UK, even ordering it from Japan is is going to cost about the same as a Jico stylus for the Shure, the Same applies to the Denon 103 especially if I am to modify it. I would consider these options if they are likely be an improvement over the V15vxmr with a Jico.... I guess that is a matter of opinion and personal taste, but worth thinking about.
I have been very happy with the Shure and the 401/SME3009/V15 setup is a "classic". I hear people talk about the "synergy"
of this combination. However it is always good to try alternatives, so I am still considering my options. So far nobody has said the DL110 would be an improvement, or equal to the Shure so I am thinking I might be better off sticking with the V15 or consider one of the above mentioned alternatives as an upgrade.
I am not familiar with the Shelter 201, but I have looked at very good reviews The stylus is replaceable and it woud certainly be less costly .... but again my worry is how it stands up against the Shure.
For interest and in case it adds any relevance to the choice of cartridge, the other system components are a Quad 99/909 pre/power amp and the speakers are Audiovector M2 floor standing. I listen to a wide variety of music from Jazz to rock and I tend to like a good extended top end, possibly because after 40 years of working in radio and wearing headphones, the high frequencies are not as clear as they used to be!
Please keep the suggestions coming as I am considering all the options. I don't mind spending a little extra if I am going to get better performance than the V15vxmr ... rather that than be disappointed if I try to save a few pounds.
I don't know how you got the price for the Jico stylus to fit your Shure at £350.00 because Jico sell it direct for $211.00 for the SAS with other styli much much cheaperhttp://www.jico-stylus.com/index.php?cPath=18
I highly recommend the SAS implant which can make this cartridge compete with many high priced LOMCs or you can try the cheaper Jico replacement...
Thank you halcro .... The on line price seems to be $267 which is still cheaper than I thought ..... not sure (pardon the pun) how I came up with £350! I don't know if that includes postage or any import tax, but it does make the Jicro stylus look like the best option, especially as the SME has been set up for the V15. Thank you.
I've heard before of a cleaning person breaking off a stylus. I'm curious---do many of you actually let your cp dust your turntable? Why?! The girl who does our house isn't even allowed in the music room to vacuum, let alone dust.
bdp24, My cleaner has been told not to touch the turntable and she insists she didn't go near it. All I know is that the last time I used it, the stylus was intact and I certainly didn't break it. Proving it is another matter.
It's hard to get good help these days ;-)!
I had a Shure V15 iii with the Mr stylis and the dl110 replaced it at first audition. Just saying. Now using an ATOC9ML and it has a little more detail and a less fuller background than the denon but both were a good improvment in my system.
I ran a Shure V15/IV for years, happily.
I tried an Ortofon Quintet Black MC and was immediately satisfied that I had made a major upgrade in all respects.
BTW, my Shure V15 was fitted with the JICO SAS.
Even though a bit more expensive Audio Technica's ART9 is my recommendation. There are a few reviews on audiogon. They do not exaggerate!I had Denon 103R, Benz Glider, Lyra Delos, Benz LP-S, Air Tight PC1-Supreme. The Air Tight was my favorite but the suspension collapsed four times so I gave up. The ART9 gets very very close to the Air Tight. One review on audiogon suggests to have diapers close by when you first start to listen to the ART9. Switching back to LP-S after appr. 80 hours made the LP-S sound broken in comparison! An amazing value!
Synergy is a real consideration. I have 2 V15 RS. One on a Linn Basik with an LVX. Ah! The synergy. I'm sure nothing could substantially improve it. I have 4 styli: the original HE that came with it, and an old replacement, not sure if its an HE or MR; but both of these have the Beryllium cantelever. A Jico VN5xMR, and a Jico VN5xMR SAS.
The Jico - non SAS is on the Linn. The SAS was a tad too bright.
The other TT is an Oracle Alexandria with a Sumiko MMT. I was very happy with the V15 RS - SAS combination on this one. I wanted to see what the MC buzz was all about so I researched quite a bit and decided that the Denon DL-301 MKIII was the best fit for a Shure lover who wanted a bit more bass in my price range. I really like it! It spends more time on the Alex than the Shure. But when I want to listen to some old LPs that have been played too many times, I always switch back to the Shure wit the HE. It really quiets down the surface noise.
Conclusion: If you decide to try a new cartridge, or BEFORE you decide, try a cheaper replacement stylus for the Shure, especially if you have oldies like me. LP Gear has one for $90.http://www.lpgear.com/product/SHVN5xMRVL.html
Never give up your V15! Even though you could sell it for $300.