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Audio

Sad news, vinyl lovers: Shure exits phono cartridge business

Shure has been making cartridges for turntables since 1937, but no more. Its mic and headphone businesses will remain.

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Shure phono cartridges.

Shure

It came as something of a shock to hear Shure is getting out of the phono cartridge business at a time when turntable and LP sales are booming. Shure announced all phono cartridge models will be discontinued, but Shure's microphone and headphone production is unaffected.  

It's a safe guess to assume most folks have at one time or another listened to Shure phono cartridges, if not at home then in clubs when DJs spun LPs, or when LPs were played on the radio. 

Shure is an American company, founded by Sidney N. Shure in Chicago, Illinois, in 1925 as a supplier of radio parts kits. Shure entered the phono cartridge market in 1937 with the Model 99A Zephyr crystal cartridge. I'm sure audiophiles of a certain age will have fond memories of the Shure V15 cartridge introduced in 1964 and which remained in production until 2005! Used V15s are still plentiful on the internet.

I spoke with Shure's Mark Brunner, vice president of Global Corporate and Government Relations, to learn more about the company's decision to cease phono cartridge production. He explained while sales numbers have remained steady over the past 15 years, the 36 parts suppliers that made Shure cartridges, styluses, cantilevers, magnets, wire, etc. were struggling to keep up with demand and maintain the quality standards Shure requires.

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Shure currently lists six cartridge models -- M44-7, M97xE, M92E, SC35C, M44G, Whitelabel -- and inventory may last through summer, according to Brunner. Shure will provide service for the length of their two-year warranties. Stockpiles of replacement styluses for these cartridges should be available for some time, but if you own a Shure cartridge it might be a wise move to buy a few replacement styluses right now.

Brunner said some companies have expressed an interest in licensing the cartridge designs, but he said Shure isn't about to do that.

I'm still shaken by the news. Shure cartridges have been mainstays for as long as I can remember, and I have a pretty long memory. George Harrison's song, All Things Must Pass is running through my head as I write this.