rebuilt shelter 501 with ruby cantilever from soundsmith.
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I have only used a SS Level 2 stylus on my 501 since buying it used: under a microscope it the original stylus showed a lot of wear and the seller kindly and immediately paid for a retip. Pretty cool.
So: the Level 2 is revelatory for me, particularly against the elliptical styli Shelter likes to use. It simply gets into areas of the groove that haven't been played before, and reawakens a lot of older records I'd written off. I really am an adherent of the Level 2 upgrade because its profile isn't as severe and difficult to line up as the Shibata Level 3 tip. Hope this helps.
I do not believe in re tipping. If you want it remanufactured send it back to Shelter. The Clearaudio Essence MC and the Audio Technic AT ART9 are both excellent trackers and solid sonic performers. I have never listened to the Shelter so I can not compare but to get significantly better performers than these you would have to spend 3-4 times as much.
"I do not believe in re tipping."
I can assure it’s a real thing.
Sorry, the temptation was too great....
Anyway, retipping/rebuilding by a third party is just as good as a rebuild by the manufacturer as long as said party knows their stuff. It simply depends on whether you want/need the cartridge to sound the same when it returns, or if you’re happy with one that sounds somewhat different but most likely equally good.
I’ve had both done, but likely won’t ever go with a manufacturer rebuild ever again, simply because the wait is usually waaaaay longer than when using a third party. Benz Micro in particular has been particularly tardy in my experience. Besides, making use of a trade-in option is often only marginally more expensive and you don’t need to wait for months on end for your cartridge to be returned.
However, third parties like Soundsmith saves both time and large chunks of money and the results have invariably been excellent in my case.
I've had retips done by both Andy Kim and Soundsmith. I was happy with both, but liked using Andy a little better because he was local (at the time) and got the job done pretty quickly. Perhaps if I had a new copy of the same cartridge with the stock cantilever and the retip to compare I may have noticed some differences in sound quality, but I did not and I was happy with the way they sounded.
I've also had Van Den Hul retip and rebuild the suspension in one of my cartridges and was very happy with the results. It did take a looooooooong time, but it was rebuilt by AJ Van Den Hul himself. How cool is that? I bought that cartridge used and when it arrived there was no diamond on the stylus, so I never got to hear how it sounded "before". The seller gave me a full refund and it cost about the same as I paid for the retip/rebuild, so it all turned out well.
Audio Technica ART7, if your phono stage has sufficient gain for about 0.2 or 0.25mV cartridge output. It’s technologically advanced beyond the ART9 (because it uses amorphous core coils and ART9 does not), yet costs a bit less. Can be had for ~$800/$900 brand new.
And, I don't pray to the great re-tipper in the sky, but I believe in him.
Years ago I tried the Shelter 501 mk ii based on reviews and comments in Audio forums. At the time the cost was a real leap. I felt it was a big waste of money and sold it after a few months. Looking back I felt it had cost vs performance issues. It was not worth the cost for what I got. Since then, I don't spend more than $500.00 +/- on cartridges and stick with AT, Denon or Ortofon.