Audio Technica recently released their latest range of cartridges, this time in the form the VM Series. This range and individual cartridges lately went under the microscope of both HiFi World and HiFi Choice, and they faired up pretty well.
In HiFi World, they praised the value for money aspect of this range, stating, "I had to keep reminding myself that the basic unit in this new range from Audio Technica, The VM95C costs just £29.00 - peanuts." They continued by saying in their conclusion, Audio Technica's new VM95 range offers extraordinary value at a time when rivals are pricing up." They continued by saying, "They have better insight, speed and inner groove performance."
HiFi Choice primarily focused on the VM95E, and for good reason, which we will mention later. Again, a flattering conclusion stated, "Judged purely as a replacement for one of the best selling cartridges of all time, the AT-VM95E is a significant step forward." and continued by praising its refinement and civility, but mentioning that this doesn't affect its ability to get stuck in.
Our staff at Kronos AV, have also had a play with this range, and we must say we concur with these reviews. For us HiFi World really hit it on the nose, the price of these cartridges is incredible. Our favourite from the range (although that took some debating) was the AT95SH, which features a Shibata Stylus and sells for only £179.00! We found this cartridge to be incredible value for money, given it spec! Even on more expensive turntabels and arms, the VM95 Series doenst seem out of place. Yes of course you will get more form a higher priced cartridge, but the VM95 Range really doesn't hold back your turntable, they are very impressive little cartridges, and they look great too!
However, with all this being said, our favourite aspect, which relates back to what we believe HiFi Choice was getting at, is the upgradability. The VM95 range can be fully upgraded to any of the more expensive models, just by simply swapping out the stylus. So in theory, you can jump straight from the VM95E at £29.00 straight to the top of the range VM95SH at £179.99 in a matter of a 2-minute stylus change!
Lets look at this in more detail:
As we all know every cartridge diamond stylus becomes worn after a period of play.
Around 500 hours for a conical stylus, 300 hours for an Elliptical stylus, 1000 hours for a Microlinear stylus, and 800 hours for a Shibata stylus.
Audio Technica's VM95 Series dual moving magnet cartridges can be used almost forever by replacing the interchangeable stylus. It is no longer necessary to purchase a complete cartridge when your diamond is worn out, you can simply buy the matching replacement stylus, but also enjoy the experience of upgrading your cartridge with a different stylus.
The six models of VM95 Series cartridges all use the same electromagnetic engine-body, therefore each of the six replacement styli are perfectly compatible.