Classic Cartridges

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Cressy Snr
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Classic Cartridges

Post by Cressy Snr » Wed Sep 09, 2020 3:37 pm

Here we have a 1960s Shure M55E, cleaned up and installed on my SME 3009 arm, awaiting its moment in the limelight.
24CA7704-D5BD-4EF4-BA6B-CDD5D1257C47.jpeg
It came off a knackered old Ebay Lenco of our Ant’s and the stylus is shot.
I gave it a try with an old record I wasn’t bothered about wrecking, and tracking at 2.2g, it sounds big-boned, big-toned and dynamic; definitely a valve cartridge. :) :D
An aftermarket replacement needle for this classic gramophone pickup, is on it’s way from Musonic for £39, so it’s right in my cheapskate ballpark and not too much of a hit, if it sounds crap.
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Mike H
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Re: Classic Cartridges

Post by Mike H » Wed Sep 09, 2020 8:42 pm

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IslandPink
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Re: Classic Cartridges

Post by IslandPink » Wed Sep 09, 2020 10:11 pm

I'm surprised you don't get fat, with all that popcorn, Mike !
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Cressy Snr
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Re: Classic Cartridges

Post by Cressy Snr » Fri Sep 11, 2020 6:51 pm

New Musonic stylus arrived this morning:
C160EFE5-0D5C-47D2-97CE-46ED59B6AC71.jpeg
It looks to be of good quality.

I had it up and running within 5 minutes:
39B862BA-0533-45B0-98C6-2623B4C8B1C1.jpeg
It’s nice. :D
“One of the foundations of democracy, is knowing where to place your machine gun“ (Foggy Dewhurst)

JamesD
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Re: Classic Cartridges

Post by JamesD » Fri Sep 11, 2020 7:28 pm

You have found a gem :-)

Here is a contemporary account of the M55E:

'The M55E was introduced about the same time as the original V-15 (1964).
It was touted as having the same design (though different in appearance, it
had the same circuit design, compliance rating, elliptical stylus, etc.),
but built under "standard" quality control conditions rather than the
individual testing of the V-15.

High Fidelity reported on it in January 1966. They found that the curves
for frequency response and separation were nearly carbon copies of the
V-15, but with a slightly higher response peak above 10 Khz and slightly
less separation at extremely high frequencies. They concluded:

"Indeed, the sound of the M55E on playback is extremely clean,
well-balanced, well-articulated, and fuly agreeable. It stays with the
most thunderous crescendos and appears capable of presenting the full
signal engraved on a record--including much of the elusive air and space
that are characteristic of good stereo. If the "numbers" indicate a pickup
not quite in the same class as the V-15, judgements based on careful
listening put it very, very close behind."


Good to see it on an SME arm and on a Lenco too :D Amazing what good sound was available in the mid 60s...

Nice one Steve!

Cressy Snr
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Re: Classic Cartridges

Post by Cressy Snr » Fri Sep 11, 2020 8:01 pm

Yes, I do seem to have found something of a gem. As far as the sound quality is concerned, it is a great cartridge. It was all a bit congested and flat with the new stylus, straight out of the box; in fact it was as if I’d put a blanket over each speaker, but after a couple of hours continuous playing, the sound began to open out, treble began to appear, and the size of the soundscape increased substantially, so that in terms of ‘bigness’ and space, we were now well into DL103 territory.

Like my SME 3009 S2 Improved arm, the M55E is very much of its time, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but my modern, Audio Technica VM540ML beats the Shure in terms of absolute top end detailing, the top end of the Shure sounding somewhat wispy and slightly vague in comparison. What’s more, the AT’s more advanced, modern stylus profile gives better end-of-side performance, but in terms of the sheer size of the presentation, the tone, texture and timbre and the sheer musicality, the ancient Shure has the modern AT soundly beaten. Voices are natural, and sibilance is noticeable by its absence, which is always a good thing in my book as I can’t stand it. And it tracks like a train, so the third party stylus is obviously a good one and doesn’t sully the Shure reputation for trackability.

I’m pretty confident there’s more to be had as the new stylus breaks in. And the 50 odd year-old M55E has found itself a perfect home in the shape of the 48-year-old SME tonearm, which of course is exactly the arm it should be on. What’s not to like?
“One of the foundations of democracy, is knowing where to place your machine gun“ (Foggy Dewhurst)

Cressy Snr
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Re: Classic Cartridges

Post by Cressy Snr » Sat Sep 12, 2020 8:48 pm

Another day with the Shure and it keeps improving as the stylus suspension continues to loosen up.
Been experimenting with turntable mats; rubber, cork and felt. It turns out that it is my mate Clive’s old Rega felt mat that allows the M55E to give of its best; the very same Rega felt mat that had been bloody awful with my Audio Technica carts. Oh well, horses for courses.
“One of the foundations of democracy, is knowing where to place your machine gun“ (Foggy Dewhurst)

Cressy Snr
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Re: Classic Cartridges

Post by Cressy Snr » Sat Sep 12, 2020 8:52 pm

Oh, and I’m using KT66s in the amp, as these sound great with the Shure cart. The slight treble roll off of the EL34s combined with the soft treble from the Shure made things just a bit a bit too cuddly, whereas with the bright AT cart, they had been sonic bliss. In Menno Van Der Veen’s so called ‘super-triode’ cathode feedback mode, the KT66s certainly sound better than I’ve ever heard them. Synergy is a funny old thing.
“One of the foundations of democracy, is knowing where to place your machine gun“ (Foggy Dewhurst)

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