I lately look at the noise created around the Shelter cartridges and I wonder what is going on. Shelter was doing wonderful cartridges, more or less responsibly priced and people use it for years. Bunch of the typical industry scams in past did their dirty things to Shelter cartridges, those stories are well-know and the Shelter cartridges, like the Energizer’s Bunny, were keep running. I’m personally since 1999 in love with my 901. Now the second 901 finishes its last hours on my TT and the third 901 is sitting in a box ready to jump into the game, that it will be certainly doing soon.
A year or two ago a new name in the Shelter family is emerged: Shelter 90X. Before Shelter did not give a damn about the existence of American audio propaganda and all out typical audio-vampires did not any dip into the Shelter’s destitutions (with the exaction of the famous stories). We kept buying it in Japan directly and showed a big middle finger to all audio industry hoodlums.
Suddenly, since the Shelter 90X become available the dealer of the Shelter 90X become to pop up like the mushrooms after a rain and the each audio publication begin to push the 90X more aggressively then they push the cheesy-naked women on their advertising pages.
Well, I thought that perhaps Shelter got a new proactive US distributor of something else was going on. A friend of mine (who sold the Shelters before and after the boom) was at the time in Japan and I asked him to enquirer about the 90X. He was told me that he Japanese associates expanded him that the 90X was the Shelter 901 cartridges that was explicitly produced for US market ($1500 more expansive), than it has the very same motor, needle and suspension and it has only some non-imperative, primary cosmetic differences.
Then the reviews and the privet comments came form the 90X user who swear that the 90X is a “major leap for mankind” form the 901. Well, I would like not to speculate and it is possible that 90X is way better cartridges but when I try to interpret what people say to me about the 90X I detect some inconsistencies.
For instance to take a lucid review from someone calling himself JerryS (I have no idea who is he)
Jerry says about the 90X:
“the performance at both frequency extremes far outperforms even the Rosewood Signature Platinum”
Well, the Koetsu Rosewood NEVER was a good performer in any of the extremes. So why JerryS suddenly brings it up?
Or for instance Jerry says:
“The 90x has the very neutral overall tonal balance of the Shelter 501. It relates to the great bass and excellent treble extension of the 901. The 90x leaves these two siblings behind in several important areas. The midrange does not sound at all disconnected from the lower midrange and treble as it can with the 901”
….and further on:
“But the biggest improvement over the 901 is not just the complete integration of the midrange into the rest of the audio spectrum – the major weakness of the 901”
Well, again. Jerry is using the Graham 2.2 tonearm that generally is very discolored at midrange. Does Jerry confuse the “integration of the midrange into the rest of the audio spectrum” with a discolored midrange by the silicone suspended Graham? There is one more important thing: I heard much exuberant comments about the Shelters 501, 901 and 90X from many audio people but I always was superiors about their cheerfulness. They all use this Shelters with the very light contemporary arms and I NEVER was able to get out of the Shelters fine sound using the arms of 12-18g. In order to let my Shelters 901 to begin to work more or less noble I loaded my 3012 with 16-23g of extra mass making it over 25g (actually I like it when it dose 32g). When I ran the 901 cartridges at the 12g of the 3012 default mass then I did have that “disconnection of everything”. Now, Jerry said that the 90X is taller and heavier… so I am wondering…
There are very similar moments in any single review or in a single privet comment that I head about the 90X cartridge....
However, the biggest problems that I experience from all people who love to do not like today the 901 and to admirer 90X is the fact that none of them (NONE!) when the 90X was not available ever complained about the problems with 901. No one was saying at that time that 901 had problems with midrange integration or not sufficient LF, HF or anything like this. How came that the 90X has all of that better?
Does it mean that they were clueless how a cartridge should sound while they evaluated the 901? If they were clueless during that time then what changed since then in their evaluation expertise?
Anyhow, considering that this idiotic industry do not facilitate to the end users an ability to audition the cartridges then I wonder how to get more or less objective information about cartridges, or about the 90X for instance. Are any of the readers if my site could share your thoughts on the 90X? It is quite possible that the 90X is a different and better cartridge but I would like to hear a responsibly rational comment about it.
Romy the Cat
"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche