• Shure Whitelabel Review

    Shure Whitelabel

    The Whitelabel is a merger of the V15VxMR audiophile and the M35X DJ cartridges. The combination of those carts alone would make the Whitelabel a phenomenal cartridge, but Shure pushed the envelope by presenting those great components in a striking one piece integrated cartridge. The Whitelabel is truly unique; no other needle offers the features, performance, or looks quite like it.

    Attachment 42

    The Whitelabel uses the same stylus as the M35X, which has the least record wear, best skip resistance, and clearest sound of the 35 series. This stylus provides a very clear, tight sound with very deep bass. Frequency response is flat for the bass and midrange and there is a small boost in the high end, which gives the needle a sparkling sound without being too bright. Because the Whitelabel uses the internal components of the V15VxMR, the Whitelabel has a richer sound than the M35X. There is more detail and music is more dynamic. The Whitelabel does not come off overly cool or punchy like M35X. It has a full, smooth, natural sound and when mixing I found myself refraining from using the EQs and letting the music speak for itself.

    The Whitelabel is sharp, strong looking cartridge, and pictures do not give justice to its striking and aggressive stance. The needles physical design is another source of its unique characteristics. The cartridge body is suspended over the stylus in a “forward mass” configuration, similar to a cartridge and headshell, but with a difference. Because the Whitelabel is a one piece cart designed from the ground up, Shure had absolute control and was able to give the Whitelabel optimum weight distribution. The Whitelabel tracks better at lower tracking forces and has less mass than the combined weight of a headshell and cartridge. This also keeps tonearm resonance to a minimum. The cartridge has an adjustable overhang, which allows the Whitelabel to be used with both s-shaped and straight arm turntables. On the side of the cartridge body there are markings to aid calibration, making it very easy to switch between types of tonearms without needing a gauge to verify adjustments. Changing overhang is done by loosening a single screw, and Shure includes a screwdriver with every cart.

    One of the problems with one piece cartridges designs has been maintaining a reliable tonearm connection. Other once piece carts have had flawed contact designs which lead to over tightening of the connection, which would eventually damage of the tonearm to the point that it would need replacement. The Whitelabel has rounded, gold contacts very similar to the standard Technics headshell, but with a definite improvement. Under a magnifying glass you can see that the contacts are slightly flattened off at the end. When the cartridge is properly aligned the Whitelabel contacts connect with more surface area than a standard Technics headshell, providing an improved connection. The Whitelabel also has a large gasket that prevents over-tightening, which protects the tonearm. The stylus has a deep cut-out to help cuing, something Shure needles have always lacked.

    The Whitelabel is a lovely sounding cart. It’s accurate and clear, without being punchy or bright. Bass reproduction goes very deep and remains clear and smooth. Overall the cart leaves a clean impression that does not leave the ear wanting or reaching in any way. Over long-term use I have found that I don’t really like straight mixing with any other needle, and when I listen to records purely for pleasure I usually chose the Whitelabel as well. The Whitelabel is suited for most genres of music, but really shines with drum’n’bass, techno, house, and rock. Hip-hop comes off a little thin and antiseptic sounding, but my ears could be in love with the way the four-coiled M44 series makes hip-hop. For scratching, the Whitelabel holds very well, probably on par with the M44-G. It stands up to back cueing and most scratches, but for serious turntablism the M44-7 is still better suited.

    I really couldn’t be happier with the Whitelabel and feel that it is well worth its premium price, especially when compared to other carts in its price range. The Whitelabel does not have any true weaknesses, and its advantages are impressive. If you’re in the market for a mix cart, or if you want to upgrade, you can’t do better than the Whitelabel. Due to its solid performance and amazing design, it’s going to take something truly revolutionary to top the Whitelabel.

    Ratings: (1 lowest - 5 highest)
    Sound Quality: 5
    Tracking: 5
    Record Wear: 5
    Price: 4
    Overall: 5

    by: mr.smashy
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