Audio-Technica AT-VM95SH

Notable for the selection of styli that can be attached to its body, the VM95 cartridge range ensures that a £44 AT-VM95E (HFC 444) can be upgraded to a AT-VM95SH thanks to a simple £159 stylus change or you can buy a complete VM95SH cartridge for £179 or pre-mounted into a headshell for £204.

The 95SH is almost identical to the 95E and uses twin magnets and an aluminium cantilever. The cantilever is finished with a nude Shibata profile stylus. This is a line contact style that Audio-Technica uses on its more costly models. The good news is that the solid build of the 95 Series models and the presence of threaded cartridge inserts mean it feels solid and so is extremely easy to install on most tonearms. 

Sound quality
Considering it shares almost every part with the 95E, the improvement in performance is impressive. Listening to Cinematic Orchestra’s To Build A Home, the delicate, slow building is delivered with a level of detail and texture that eludes the entry-level stylus sibling. Vocals are vibrant and well separated from the piano, helped by the impressively low noise levels. Intergalactic by Beastie Boys sees the 95SH keep the same impressive bass extension as the 95E, but improve the fine detail and definition – further aiding the realism of the music.

Most importantly, this extra detail and definition doesn’t come at the expense of energy and fun. It manages to grab any time signature and deliver it well – never forcing slower material, but sounding suitably lively with more energetic music. It sounds better towards the inner groove of records than the more affordable VM-95E and will work brilliantly with a variety of different vinyl systems. ES

Product: Audio-Technica AT-VM95SH
Price: £179
Type: Moving magnet cartridge
Read the full review in February issue 446

Audio-Technica Limited
Technica House
Unit 5, Millennium Way
Leeds, LS11 5AL
0113 2771441