I love Soundsmith, but in this case I'd go for a JICO/SAS stylus assembly. I hope someone here can provide a link.
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Thanks for the info. Certainly sounds like there is an agreement that the Jico is a reasonable alternative. Has anyone had experience with the new Saunders stylus to compare with the Jico? If not, I may invest in one Jico and one Saunders as I have two Shure V15vMR that need stylus replacement. Would be able to give my opinion on these two options after that. Thanks again and keep the opinions coming!
I recently bought the Saunders for this model and I find it to be an excellent stylus. Caveat, I don't use the damping brush and I haven't tried the jico. Although Soundsmith does superb work, many old timer audiophiles will tell you that the suspension on the original Shure stylus goes bad as fast or faster than the stylus. Therefore a simple retip won't get you there. I would try the Saunders or the Jico. Based on the photos, the damping brush assembly on the Jico looks a little higher quality than the Saunders, so if you plan to use the damping brush, I'd go for the Jico.
I have two V15Vmr cartridges (note, not the x model, which I once owned but did not care for), one with an original USA Shure stylus - later ones were made in Mexico - and one with JICO SAS stylus, and my JICO SAS is, IMHO, inferior to the original stylus and hardly a category killer. On the other hand, it is very modestly priced and represents fair value. I avoid labels like "mid fi" probably because I don't understand them, but for the cost, the V15Vmr is a fine performer, I own several better cartridges, though they all are quite a bit more expensive.
For a quality MM cartridge with a MicroRidge/MicroLine stylus, currently in production with a replaceable stylus, the Audio Technica AT150MLX is pretty hard to beat. It certainly has more sophisticated innards than the Shure, and is wired with PCOCC. I've been using mine for 3 years now, and every improvement in downstream cabling, electronics, and speakers has shown the cartridge's goodness rather than limitations so far. It *is* picky about capacitive loading; 150pF total (including tonearm/turntable cable) seems to be about ideal.
I am tempted, however, to get a Jico stylus for my M97xE to see how competitive it is.
I have listened to both the Shure V-15 V with a Jico SAS and the VN5MR stylus, and overall I prefer the Shure VN5MR to the Jico.
I know others prefer the Jico SAS. Like everything, you get something and you loose something. With the Jico SAS, I hear more detail and frequency extension in the highs and a very nice midrange. However, with the Shure VN5MR, I hear layers of midrange detail with real life texture, timbre, and emotion not quit equaled by the Jico. The highs with the Shure V-15 V stylus (VN5MR), although not as extended as the Jico SAS, still sound excellent and seem to be a little more delicate.
Which is better largely depends on personal listening preference and sonic priorities - and where you with to move the sound of your system on balance.
Unfortunately, due to apparently unexpected demand and being months behind in production, Jico has raised their prices of their SAS sylus in the last year by around 50%.
I heard a Jico SAS on a V15VxMR and while it sounded good, I have to agree with Plangco above that the replacement loses that "magic" in texture and midrange detail that I had on my V15VMR with genuine Shure stylus. IOW, the Jico was a fine performer otherwise, but was less musical to my ears. Still, I may pick a Jico replacement up as I hate to see my V15VMR sitting unused, and I now have a spare turntable.arm combo to use it on.
I always felt that this cart (which I've owned since it first came out in the early 80s) sometimes leaned toward the boring side of things, but you get out of it what you put into it--it reveals what is there without adding much (if anything) of its own.
Kevin Gray at Cohearant used to have an original V15VMR on his cutting lathe to check his cut lacquers with, BTW, likely for that reason. I don't know what he is using lately, now that supplies (and rubber cantilever supports ;) ) have dried up.
I thought it might be of some interest to point out the mechanical/electrical differences between the V15V MR versus the V15VxMR. Apart from the fact that the V15VxMR and stylus assy were mfr'd in Mexico. Then look at the V15V versus the V15VMR in the same way. "MR", what does that moniker indicate?
When looking at replacement stylii through the Jico catalog it is noted that the V15VxMR and V15VMR stylus assemblies are not interchangeable.
I also note that the Jico catalog does list a replacement stylus assembly for both types. their assembly uses a cantilever made from an aluminum sleeve that holds a solid boron cantilever with a line contact diamond stylus.
It must have been circa 2000 when I purchased my V15VxMR new from an online retailer. Then a few years later I was able to get a replacement stylus assembly directly from Shure for the same cartridge. (Vn5xMR) This was before their remaining stock became exausted.
At the moment I've been comparing this cartridge versus an ADC XLM II improved, with both being mounted to an Infinity Black Widow tonearm (with graphite arm tube). Either one seems to behave well on this arm.
I bring this up in hopes that someone else has some experience/knowledge they might add on the subject of the V15V models.
I just recently got a V15 type 11 supertrack off a TT I bought.I was rather surprised it sounded better than I expected.Looks like original stylus.It seems lacking mid range punch but has very nice side extension and treble height,nice soundfield.I have it mounted on an old automatic TT but even so it compares well with my Signet AM50 I just put a new stylus on,on same table.
The Jico SAS takes the performance of the original VN5MR (US & Mexico) for the SHURE ULTRA 500 to a higher level. Furthermore, it does not change f.r nor balance, simply adds information in all frequencies. Another evidence that Japanese take very seriously High Fidelity, and for reasonable price when bought directly from Japan.