Shure V15--A Good Cartridge?

I've noticed that there seems to be violently mixed opinions on the Shure V15. The quotes from reviews are good, but then some people (mostly dealers) don't really seem to like it. One person commented that he thinks it's too bland, another says it's not good for anything but rock because it can't resolve complicated details. At the same time, however, one person (a dealer whom I respect) thinks it's a great cartridge for people with ordinary record collections, and I've heard some people say it's great for classical and jazz, and it does just fine with complicated musical details.

I am not in the market for a V15--now, at least--but I have been really wondering why the opinions are so mixed. Other cartridges seem to be pretty simple--the strengths and weaknesses are well known.
Put me down as one of the admirers of this cartridge. For its street price of $275 or so, it's tough to beat, and it's one of the highest value purchases in audio. I have owned several versions of the V15 over the years, and the current edition is the most musical of the lineage and does a good to excellent job on all types of music.

I'm not surprised that many dealers don't like it -- not enough high-end panache or audiophobia attached to it (not to mention markup profit). What the V15VxMR does better than most other cartridges is track like a champ -- it will play LP's that no other cartridge I have owned can handle, such as the Telarc LP of the 1812 Overture (the digital cannon shots at the end of the LP have caused severe mistracking with every other cartridge I've owned).

The V15V does not have the last bit of resolution or detail, nor is it incredibly fast like the best moving coils. What it does do well is reproduce music in a very enjoyable fashion, at a very low tracking force, and with sufficiently high output that it will easily drive a moving magnet phono input stage (thereby keeping phono stage noise very low). In its price bracket, I'm hard pressed to think of a better all-around cartridge than the V15VxMR. The Sumiko Blue Point Special and the Grado model that sells for $300 both have much to offer, but for pure "connect it and enjoy it" ease, I'd still take the V15V as my first choice. I'd describe the V15V as the cartridge for the analog enthusiast who wants to listen to music without the audiophobia of worrying about equipment.

For the record, I have a Grado Reference cartridge in my current analog front end, and while it's a wonderful cartridge, it's certainly not 4 times better (based on price) than the V15VxMR I had previously.

OK, let the flack begin.....
On another note, the Shures come with setup instructions that would embarass the shoddy setup sheets that come with most high end cartridges. My Koetsu basically came with no instructions at all.
I agree with Sdcampbell that this is a very good series of cartridges, and with high output and excellent arm tolerance even novice users can get the most out of them. My personal choice is for the previous model, the V15VMR as it is a little spicier on the top than the current xMR, but this is more a matter of taste and system matching.
I, too, love my VMR! Have'nt owned the newer version, yet. I
also own a Koetsu Rosewood Signature. Koetsu is definitely a
superior performer, but for the $-value, the Shure is the
winner. I actually use the Shure more than the Koetsu. I
believe that speaks volumes of the Shure. Thanks.
Put me down on the list of those who think the V15 is non-dynamic, and lacking in the resolution of many other cartridges in (or close to) its price range. And run away very fast from the person who said:"It's not good for anything but rock because it can't resolve complicated details." What the heck rock records are they listening to? No complicated details in rock music? Wow, that's one of the silliest statements I've ever seen in print - no offense to you, of course. People don't have "ordinary record collections." Only ordinary equipment that won't allow the owner to hear what is really in the grooves. Trust your ears, and hold out for gear that makes your favorite music come alive. And don't listen to anyone who tells you differently.
Happy hunting!
The Shure is the best value in cartridges. they are also one of the oldest mfg's of cartridges out there. They invented the MM and you can see they have not lost a thing. I used to own the Grado The Reference, and it is no better than the Shure. If I am not mistaken, I sold one of my Shure's to SD Campbell.(should have kept it and saved money). Sure, it does not produce every bit of detail, but is that all wrong? If you want a more lively cartridge on top, get the VMR. It is more like it. If you want a lush cartridge that just makes your system and record collection sound good, save some of your money and buy the Shure. You can then use the money left over and upgrade one of the other items in your system. I have had many cartridges and the best I have heard for the money is the Shure. I am one of the few that has the Shure Ultra 500 cartridge. If you ever wanted to know the limits and the full potential of a MM cartridge, get it (if you can find it) I had a new Benz Micro Glider at the time and well....... I still have the Shure at (1/5 the price to boot.) Wonder why a large number of the reviewers at Absolute sound have Shure V15Vxmr cartridges as their reference? They love the sound and what the cartridge does to their collection. So do I!
make that my error in typing. I purchased SD Campbell's Shure cartridge- glad you sold it! My error.
Hi, Mitch: thanks for the correction. I sold you my V15V, and bought the Grado Reference from another regular on A-gon who uses the name "Khamma". I got the Reference for a good price, and it is, to my ears, a better cartridge than the Shure V15V -- at least in my system. But the statement I made in my initial post still holds true: the Reference is not 4 times better than the Shure V15V (based on price).
Hi Scott

Yes, I had sold my Grado the Reference because the Shure held up so well. Best bargain in audio.

Hope things are going better than when I last spoke to you.
I would disagree with the post by Sdcampbell. I think the Shure is overall better that the Grado Reference. My experience is that the Shure V15V is a great cartridge in the right arm. I have owned several Shures over the years as well as many other high end cartridges. It will not perform it's best in higher mass arms. In the right arm it is tonally more neutral and right-on than any cartridge I have heard. Although it is very natural sounding it will not produce the detail of some of the most expensive moving coil cartridges. I have had a great deal of enjoyment listening to jazz and classical music with it and that is the bottom line for me. It is a true bargain but will never be highly recommended (or carried) by most high end dealers because it is sold by so many discount "lower end" stores.
Just a short note to mention why some dealers "don't like"
the Shure V15. They don't get a big discount on Shure
products if they don't move a serious amount of merchandise.
Shure is one of the commercial audio industry's largest
makers of equipment - with an extensive catalog of equip-
ment that includes microphones of all type, audio mixers,
connectors, cables, field mixers, and much, much more.
Cartridges and associated equipment is just a small part
of their offerings. If they are selling say $20-30K a month
to a large commercial audio dealer; and maybe $1-2K a month
to Joe the Audiophile dealer - guess who gets a serious
discount on their pricing?
I am curious what my Audiogon brethren would recommend as the best low mass arm to mate with the Shure. I still use a Grace 707 (20 years old) and would love to be introduced to a current production design that is as good or better.
Thanks. Dan
When I was a student I purchased a used Mapleknoll - which is now in pieces (a subject for another thread - help to build a new plinth!) - I only had a few $ left and bought a Shure V15 - it sounded surprisingly great.
I have been using the V-15 for over 20 years
now. During this period I tried several others
and always went back to the V-15. I currently
have the the VMR version, that will probably be
my last cartridge.

The V-15 is an open sounding cartridge, with
extended, smooth highs that are never shrill. It
tracks just about anything you throw at it. I
have it mounted on a ReVox B-791.

I suspect the reason dealers hate it is that,
at the price, there is nothing that comes even
close to the performance. Since it has always
been very popular -- a commodity product,
almost -- it was widely availabe through mail
order. As a result, profit margin was low.

-- Ron
The Shure is not particularly arm sensitive, but is very VTA sensitive. It mates well with the REGA arm as well as the Audioquest. Many older arms also match well such as the SME3, Sumiko MMT and FT-3 and even the old unipivots, Mayware, Hadcock, etc.
I am using the Shure V15 (latest) and have been very impressed. I have been a Sumiko person in the past, but the Shure delivers the goods. Very wide, expansive, fast, detailed, and just musical. To me, the biggest factor is the quality of the phono preamp, and the matching of the cartridge and your system. Put me down as one who thnks that it is a great bargain. Jeff
Poor, poor, pitiful Shure V-15. It suffers from the same problem as Paradigm Studio 100 v2s: providing way too much value for money so that total lack of snob appeal becomes the limiting factor.