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Stanton 681EEE New Cartridge Equivalents

Discussion in 'Turntables' started by mccalljd, Dec 25, 2017.

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  1. mccalljd

    mccalljd Active Member

    Messages:
    263
    Location:
    Ottawa, Kansas
    I am curious as to what level of new cartridges are considered to be comparable to the Stanton 681EEE as far as its audio performance goes. I love the 35 dB separation on my 681, but I wonder how much improvement in sound quality I would get by switching to a new cartridge. I am pairing this currently with a Pioneer PL- 520 turntable. Any recommendations would be appreciated.
     

     

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  2. jrtrent

    jrtrent Super Member

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    3,269
    I consider the Shure M97xE to be comparable to the 681 EEE, but that's in terms of tonal balance and musical involvement, not stereo effect. I really don't have a good gauge on their differences with respect to separation, but that's because I really haven't cared that much about that aspect of performance when running either Stanton or Shure cartridges. When I did want to emphasize soundstaging and image localization, I found Grado to offer the best performance for me. Audio Technica was good in that regard, too, but I didn't care as much for their, in my system, rather bright and thin tonality.
     
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  3. danj

    danj modern primitive

    Messages:
    4,989
    Location:
    Somewhere in Oregon
    Very few currently produced cartridges would be better, imho, unless you want to spend $1K for one of the few remaining Grace 9 cartridges, an Ortofon Bronze or Black or a wood-bodied Grado (great sound but not the best trackers). If you want to try a moving coil, I can highly recommend the Dynavector brand. Whatever you decide on, remember to try and match its characteristics with the requirements of your Pioneer tonearm.

    Maybe one of the JICO high end styli for the 681 would make sense.

    Others may have differing opinions.

    Merry Christmas!
     
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  4. Stanton681EEES

    Stanton681EEES Addicted Member

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    7,293
    Location:
    NE Ohio
    I totally disagree at best the M97XE is a better that average entry level cartridge and at one time the 681EEE was Stanton's top of the line.
     
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  5. mccalljd

    mccalljd Active Member

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    263
    Location:
    Ottawa, Kansas
    I thought perhaps the Shure might be close in tonal quality. I have had Sure cartridges back when I got my first turntable/changer back in high school. Of course, they weren't very high end. but for a kid with a part time job and only use to ceramic cartridges, they were a revelation.
    The reason for asking what might be equivalent was to see how deep I might have to dig into my pockets in order to consider it an upgrade to what I currently have. I realize with this turntable the ROI might be limited, but my Pioneer was one of their best when I bought it in the late 70s, and the arm tracks quite well. Trying to determine if I should just stay put and be satisfied with what I have. Top of the line back then might be light-years behind what's out there now for the adjusted-for-inflation equivalent price.
     
  6. danj

    danj modern primitive

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    4,989
    Location:
    Somewhere in Oregon
    I like the M97xE very much but do not consider it the sonic equal of the 681EEE, which has a much more balanced sound. Of course, everyone has their own opinion but my ears tell me the M97xE is not as accurate as the Stanton - not even close.
     

     

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  7. mccalljd

    mccalljd Active Member

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    263
    Location:
    Ottawa, Kansas
    I do think my Stanton sounds pretty good. It tracks amazingly well at just a gram. I recently replaced the stylus with a Russell brand elliptical stylus, but I have been thinking about upgrading to the Jico Shibata. That might be a good investment over replacing the cartridge. I have been out of the vinyl hobby for so long, I haven't kept up with current equipment. My family got me a few toys for my turntable, so I am stoked to get back into it (on my limited budget, of course).
    Merry Christmas to you.
     
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  8. mccalljd

    mccalljd Active Member

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    263
    Location:
    Ottawa, Kansas
    Yeah, I was really proud of myself years ago for investing in the Stanton when I only had a college student budget to work with.
     
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  9. danj

    danj modern primitive

    Messages:
    4,989
    Location:
    Somewhere in Oregon
    A good idea, the Shibata. That's a stylus profile I've always been a fan of and can do nothing but keep your Stanton going strong. Have one on my Stanton 780Q and it's great.
     
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  10. guitarlvr

    guitarlvr Super Member

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    1,888
    Location:
    die
    I have a NOS that I use daily and LOVE it. They can be had on the bay from $100-$200. Check them out if you want the real thing.
    I can only speak for myself but it s one of my favorites. I have around 15 cartridges new and old. The 681EEE is still my fave.
     
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  11. jrtrent

    jrtrent Super Member

    Messages:
    3,269
    The M97xE is, according to Shure, the best cartridge they've made other than the V15 V models (i.e., better than the V15 IV), and at present, it sits at the top of Shure's line. The 681 was, at one time, Stanton's best, but it was then superceded by the 881, then the 981, then the WOS 100. Having spent at least a decade with both a 681 EEE and an M97xE, my opinion is that they are comparable. I use the M97xE now because Stanton no longer provides replacement styli for the 681, and I have no interest in either old-stock or third-party styli. I don't consider that a knock against the Stanton, and I've had and enjoyed various 681's starting in the late 1970's (including the, in my opinion, underrated 681 EEE Mk III that came out in the 1990's). At present, the M97xE sounds so good on my Rega RP3 with Audio by Van Alstine phono section that I don't believe any cartridge at any price would let me enjoy my records more.
     
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  12. JFRACE

    JFRACE AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    840
    Location:
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    I personally thought the M97eX wasn't even close to the 681. In my system anyway. The details are missing in the Shure when compared to the Stanton. I'd just go with the Jico shibata, or even the Pfanstiehl 4822-DEE. That is close when going by diamond tip to the EEE. The shure was very bland to me as well.
     
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  13. mccalljd

    mccalljd Active Member

    Messages:
    263
    Location:
    Ottawa, Kansas
    I was unaware that Shure did not produce a more expensive cartridge for their line. Interesting. I am certain that what one gets out of any particular cartridge depends, at least somewhat, on the system one has and individual sensitivities (preferences) to how we each perceive the difference between sound and noise. However, getting a consensus from a number of different sources helps in making sensible choices on how ti best spend one's resources. I appreciate everyone's chiming in on this. Any other cartridges that compare favorably with the 681EEE?
     
  14. needlestein

    needlestein AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    7,316
    Location:
    West Hartford, CT
    I would recommend the Pickering versions over the Stanton version and buy only from Jico directly. Others say Jico Shibata, but they are not.

    The Pickering D1200 by Jico is also excellent.

    To me, Stanton and Shure are almost opposites. Stanton is very dynamic, flat and plenty of bass and punch. Shure is smooth, behaved, could say civilized and the M97xE has a bit of a high end roll off. Dynamics are much less, um, dynamic, with the Shure.

    Either tracks about equally well, so not much to worry about there.
     
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  15. mccalljd

    mccalljd Active Member

    Messages:
    263
    Location:
    Ottawa, Kansas
    By the way, did anyone else with the Stanton have an issue with the brush causing additional skating? I could never apply enough anti-skate force with my settings to completely overcome the brush. I finally decided to remove the brush and now I can adequately compensate on the bias.
     
  16. UncleBingo

    UncleBingo AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    898
    The Shure M97 is decent, but not really in the same league as the Stanton (and I've heard the 97 on many properly set-up tables). The Dynavector 10X5 the Nagoaka MP-200 aer both quite good, but cost significantly more than the M97. More in-line with what you paid for the Stanton when adjusted for inflation. M97 is very good at it's price point, imo.
     
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  17. UncleBingo

    UncleBingo AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
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    Only with the aftermarket brushes. I took the original brush off of my old stylus and transferred it. Problem solved.
     
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  18. KentTeffeteller

    KentTeffeteller Gimpus Stereophilus!

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    25,522
    Location:
    Athens, TN
    needlestein's stylus advice will serve you well and wisely. And the Stanton is better than the Shure at musicality, and is accurate. Shure's more HiFi and blase. I'd get the Pickering D1200 stylus from Jico directly, and it will make that 681 EEE sing again dialed in right.
     
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  19. Grenadeslio

    Grenadeslio Super Member

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    1,800
    If I'm not mistaken the diamond on the Jico D1200 is more akin to the D750 but sold as the replacement for the D1200 and why I haven't purchased one.
     
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  20. KentTeffeteller

    KentTeffeteller Gimpus Stereophilus!

    Messages:
    25,522
    Location:
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    Nothing wrong with the D750. It's good enough for Classical radio station use by the demanding. And every other kind of music.
     
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