In the spite of the similarities to the other two the 901 has a much more powerful energetic and yet more natural sound. Switching between the Crown Jewel and 901 using two Graham ceramic armwands instantly reveals the increased "presence" of the 901 including more overall detail, a stronger bass foundation and a more realistic soundstage.
The Crown Jewel and 501 are great cartridges but the 901 is even better in all regards.
Stereophile 2005 Analog Source Component of the Year Runner Up
This is one of the finest cartridges in the world at present, and it "only" costs $ 1,500*. (It's a "bargain" of course, but only in the collective mind of our "Alice in Wonderland" audio world.)
It combines the best sonic features of the Lyra Helikon; speed, purity and precision, while also possessing the strengths of the finest single-ended triode amplifiers; neutrality, harmonic completeness, a sense of continuousness, low-level detail etc.
I've now listened to this cartridge now for almost 200 hours, and on 4 different turntables in 3 different systems. There is no question that it is an outstanding performer, the best I know for the money.
Shelter 901 Review By 10 Audio The midrange had some of the “Koetsu magic”. Voices and instruments were lightly sweetened, and female voices in particular had a nice accessibility that made listening to them very enjoyable. Being very critical, one could say that there was a small difference in the presentation of the somewhat warm midrange compared to the relatively dryer and more analytical bass and treble. While I heard this slight discontinuity in my system, another listener in another system might judge it to be a perfect balance. This cartridge might be ideal when used with older, classic tube gear that has a soft sounding bass and a slightly dark treble, or in a system that needs help in these areas. In a system that tends more towards “ruthlessly revealing”, you might prefer a presentation that is more balanced from top to bottom. But this is really a matter of fine-tuning a system, getting that last 1 or 2% after you have dialed in your cables and listening room. On the other hand, the 901 is good enough to warrant revisiting many of the choices you've already made in building your system. The Shelter 901 offers a wonderful set of attributes, and could be an excellent source component to build a system around. The overall quality of its performance makes the 901 suitable for use in even the finest high-end system, although careful system-matching is highly recommended.