Audio-Technica AT-VM95SH

Audio-Technica AT-VM95MLWell, you can’t exactly call this Japanese cartridge specialist prolific. Audio-Technica has made its own phono cartridges since 1962, but in that time has released far fewer models than European rivals such as Ortofon, for example. Yet age has not dulled the appeal of its evergreen – pardon the pun – entry-level AT-95E moving magnet, as it is now in its thirty-eighth production year. Sensing that it might just perhaps be time for a change, the company has come up with a new range of budget moving magnets to wipe the slate clean. The six-strong VM95 series offers useful improvements over what came before, and ranges from the £29 conical-tipped AT-VM95C up to the £179 AT-VM95SH with its fancy line contact Shibata stylus [pictured].

The new VM95 body has threaded inserts, so it can be mounted to a headshell or integral tonearm with just two screws, and no nuts or bolts. The range starts with the £29 AT-VM95C with a 0.6 millimetre conical stylus and new aluminium cantilever. The £44 AT-VM95E is the spiritual successor to the AT-95E, with a new aluminium cantilever and 0.3×0.7 mil bonded elliptical stylus. Next up the range is the £99 AT-VM95EN with a 0.3×0.7 mil nude elliptical stylus, and the £149 AT-VM95ML with line contact Microlinear stylus. The top model is the £179 AT-VM95SH with line contact Shibata diamond. Finally, there’s the £69 AT-VM95SP version for 78rpm SP records, with dual balance outputs and a 3 mil conical stylus and aluminium cantilever. It’s designed for archiving specialists for vertical cutting disc reproduction, with the ability yo to choose the signal independently from the right or left side of the groove.

The new range is also sold in fitted headshell versions, and owners of any VM95 cartridge can upgrade from lower models to higher ones by the simple expedient of changing the stylus – which is a great feature for would-be audiophiles on a budget. The cartridge’s new coil design has an increased output voltage of 4mV compared to the old AT-95E, making it easier to match to phono stages, and in effect less noisy too. Exciting news then for cash-strapped vinylistas; expect a review soon…

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