Shure M 97XE Review 2021

After testing the SHURE M95ED, it is safe to say that I realized that Shure is actually worthy of the rep it has on the phono cartridge streets. I decided to pick out some other Shure phono cartridges that looked interesting. A little research pulled out the SHURE M 97XE and so my journey began. Before purchasing the M 97XE, I paid a little visit to the Shure site to check out the specifications.

The SHURE M 97XE phono cartridge is a moving magnet one. The tonearm mount was specified as a half-inch. It gives an output voltage of 4mV. Its frequency response is 20 Hz- 22k Hz. Its cantilever is made of aluminum alloy and it features a 0.2 mil x 0.7 mil elliptical stylus.

Shure M 97XE

From the specifications, one can easily expect that the SHURE M 97XE would have the same quality level present in the SHURE M95ED.

 

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PURCHASING

The SHURE M 97XE is much easier to get your hands on than the SHURE M95ED. This places less risk in acquiring one. While it isn’t available on the Shure website, you could easily get one. I had no problems with placing an order and when it arrived, I can say that I was pretty happy with it.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS 

As I now had a positive impression about Shure prior to purchasing the SHURE M 97XE, I expected it to look good. I expected a vintage twist t it, it. However, unlike the M95ED that seemed to have a vintage feel to it, this looked more modern. This made me assume that the SHURE M 97XE was released after the M95ED. As I expected, it had a great and sturdy feel in my hands. I particularly banked on it being durable.

In summary, I was pretty excited to test out this phono cartridge. It actually looked very promising and I definitely couldn’t wait to try it out.

FEATURES

My next move was to check out the detailed features. Due to my previous experience with the other model, I sort of had to compare them both in my head. I definitely hoped that the SHURE M 97XE  would be another gem. Of course, I told myself that it was pushing it a little bit to assume that this cartridge would be worth my while as well. However, I remained hopeful. 

Shure M 97XE

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TRACKING

Tracking Force Range: 0.75. g -1.5 g

The SHURE M 97XE features a tracking force that ranges from 0.75 g to 1.5 g. Depending on your settings, you may find that you’d need to adjust to 1.25g -2.0g. It is rather lightweight. Like one can expect with Shure, it found the perfect balance. Too high a tracking force is one of the top causes of distortion. On the other hand, if it is too light, it will lack the texture and depth that is very important.

The SHURE M 97XE handles sibilance well. It isn’t exactly accolade-worthy but it does get the job done. In summary, the SHURE M 97XE features a good tracking ability. If you are having problems with distortion or lack of depth, you should be able to trace where the problem is from.

 

CAPACITIVE LOAD

Recommended Range: 150 pF-200 pF

Finding the perfect capacitive load setting meant that I had to experiment a little. I found that the capacitive load I picked significantly affected the sound emitted. With a high capacitive load, the treble seemed to shrink a little bit. Whether or not this would work simply depends on what it is that you want to hear. Some would prefer to leave the capacitive load at a high setting as they appreciate the restrain that the treble would show. If you want a bolder treble, you’d be better off sticking to reducing. If you’re a beginner, do not be afraid to tweak it until you find what works for you.

COMPLIANCE                          

Dynamic Compliance: 25 CU (at 10Hz)

With the M95ED, one thing that made me wait for the SHURE M 97XE was the dynamic compliance and it’s not for the reasons you’ll imagine. No matter how much I searched, I couldn’t really find the dynamic compliance value for the M95ED. I was curious as to whether or not it would be the same with the SHURE M 97XE phono cartridge.

However, that wasn’t the case. The M95ED had a dynamic compliance of the SHURE M 97XE was clearly stated and capped at 25 CU. The dynamic compliance makes it best suited for light tonearms since the compliance is quite high. One nice thing about this phono cartridge is that it is has a built-in damping brush that allows users to be able to use it with tonearms that are heavy.

 

SOUND TESTS

Sound tests are my favorite parts of records. It is quite amazing how the same record can sound different depending on the cartridge or system you use. Sound tests simply have to do with testing the sound quality for the major parts.

The SHURE M 97XE is a very versatile phono cartridge and I knew that it would be interesting to work with.

Shure M 97XE

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MIDRANGE  

I had quite high expectations for the midrange. Testing the SHURE M 97XE revealed a good texture. It is detailed without being overbearing. I like how each instrument gets its own channel to shine without tiring the ears or being noisy. To some, however, the midrange does come off as a bit dull. I would call it really warm and soothing. The sibilance wasn’t perfect but you won’t have problems with it in good conditions.

I preferred the midrange of the M95ED phono cartridge. While it didn’t particularly impress me, it was good enough.

 

VERDICT: It isn’t bad but it isn’t great. I’d rate it a 6.5

TREBLE

I tested the treble next I expected lots of clarity and distinctiveness. I wanted softness but yet, a solid presence.

The SHURE M 97XE actually presented that softness that I wanted. It also showed clarity that I appreciated. While a lot of people would probably ask for more of a presence from this phono cartridge, I was actually pleased with it. I felt it blended well enough with the midrange. Perhaps, on its own, you could request for more but combined with the midrange, it hit the spot for me. The capacitive load also played quite a role in this. I chose to leave it light and soft as that was what I preferred. If you’re after a light or soft treble, consider increasing your capacitive load.

VERDICT: While there were mixed feelings concerning this, I was rather pleased with it. It gave me what I wanted. 7

BASS

The bass of the SHURE M 97XE has that punch that we all desire. It isn’t overly loud and it will not tire your ears. The bass is solid and strong. It has a texture that gives balance. The bass has a bit of mellowness to it. Most fans of this phono cartridge appreciate it for the warmth it gives. This was created for people who do not want loud sounds that have too much going on, this would suit you.

VERDICT: 7

BLEND

The SHURE M 97XE doesn’t have amazing dynamics. I’d say it does its own thing of giving out warm sounds. There is a beautiful blend as well as a nice balance.

Shure M 97XE

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FUNCTIONALITY

If you use records frequently, you’ll know that while the sound is the most important part of phono cartridges, other things matter. We’ll consider the pros and cons in our next segments.

Pros
  • It features a dynamic stabilizer (Viscous-damped)
  • In general, the SHURE M 97XE performs very well with a good balance and blend
  • It features an elliptical diamond tip that’s been well polished
  • It does well with high-frequency ranges
  • The SHURE M 97XE has an upper hand on some difficult musical passages
  • It features a Die-cast-aluminum mounting with the bass warm and yet firm
  • The full package has a cleaning brush as well a mounting hardware. Although suited for lighter tonearms, it features a built-in damping brush that allows users to be able to use it with tonearms that are heavy.
Cons
  • The midrange is surely lacking in some parts
  • It isn’t as loud as some would prefer
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FINAL RATING

If you are after loud and bright sounds, this isn’t for you. You’ll be better taking a look at the SHURE M95ED. If you aren’t, however, you’ll find that the SHURE M 97XE performs quite well indeed. The SHURE M 97XE isn’t available on the Shure website, however. This is because Shure seems to have stopped producing phono cartridges and styli.

In summary, whether or not you will like the SHURE M 97XE simple depends on what you are looking for. As a bonus, Shure cartridges are known for their durability and you can guess that this is no different.