Audio-Technica AT-VM95SH Review

This Japanese cartridge expert isn’t exactly prolific, to put it that way. Since 1962, Audio-Technica has manufactured its own phono cartridges, but it has launched much fewer types than European competitors like as Ortofon. Despite its age, the popularity of its evergreen – forgive the pun – entry-level AT-95E moving magnet, which is now in its 38th manufacturing year, hasn’t waned. Sensing that it may be time for a change, the company has introduced a new line of low-cost moving magnets to clear the slate. The VM95 series, which includes the £29 conical-tipped AT-VM95C and the £179 AT-VM95SH with its fancy line contact Shibata stylus, offers significant advances over previous models.

The threaded inserts on the new VM95 body allow it to be fastened to a headshell or integral tonearm with just two screws and no nuts or bolts. The AT-VM95C, which costs £29, has a 0.6 millimeter conical stylus and a new aluminium cantilever. With a new aluminium cantilever and 0.30.7 mil bonded elliptical stylus, the £44 AT-VM95E is the spiritual successor to the AT-95E. The £99 AT-VM95EN with a 0.30.7 mil nude elliptical stylus and the £149 AT-VM95ML with line contact Microlinear stylus round out the lineup. The AT-VM95SH with line contact Shibata diamond, which costs £179, is the top model. Finally, there’s the £69 AT-VM95SP, which has dual balance outputs, a 3 mil conical stylus, and an aluminium cantilever for 78rpm SP records. It’s designed for vertical cutting disc replication by archiving specialists, with the option to choose the signal from either the right or left side of the groove.

The new cartridges are also available with fitted headshells, and owners of any VM95 cartridge can upgrade from lower to higher models by just changing the stylus — a terrific feature for would-be audiophiles on a budget. The new AT-95E cartridge features a 4mV higher output voltage than the original AT-95E, making it easier to match to phono stages and, as a result, less noisy. The good news for cash-strapped vinyl fans is that a review is on the way…