Shelter 501III MC Phono Cartridge
TAS on the 501"Each of this Japanese manufacturer's products offers superior sound at a reasonable price. Shelter's 'low-end' model, the 501 Mk III, does everything well - and some things spectacularly well. Its superb three-dimensionality adds spaciousness to recordings seemingly lacking in air and bloom, while its neutral tonal balance, audiophile virtues (resolution, focus, transient speed, extension at both frequency extremes), and cohesiveness make its sound always seem as if it is cut from whole cloth. Shelter's top-of-the-line 90x is ever more impressive, as it should be at its higher price point. What the 90x does better than other high-end cartridges is combine transient speed with rich, fully articulated timbres, so, for example, on plucked violin and guitar strings you don't hear more of the starting transient than you do of the note's steady-state tone and decay. With the 90x you hear each with equal clarity and realism." — Jonathan Valin, TAS
Ratings & Reviews
Mind blowing. This is the best way to describe the Shelter 501 mkIII. I was recently recommended this beauty by one of the chap here. I'd never heard of Shelter before so was naturally a bit apprehensive. But following a little research and a plethora of praising reviews I thought I'd give it a shot. When it arrived I took it to local store where I had a new table waiting to be set up for me. The guy there had been trying to sell me some Linn cart that cost a bit more and turned his nose up at the Shelter as he'd never heard of them. Once my new TT was all set he put two identical LP's on my table and his Linn set up with the aforementioned Linn cart. His table cost a couple of thousand more than mine, but to see his face when he began comparing the two was priceless! It just dropped and he looked totally gutted. Once he'd swallowed his pride and just as I was leaving he asked me about the Shelter and when to get one.
I have owned quite a few expensive cartridges over the past 30 years but this bargain has got to be one of the most musically Involving low output mc's I've ever had the pleasure of listening listening to on my high end rig. Recently an old HIFI dealer friend from a famous NY shop told me I'd have to spend around $5000.00 to better the Shelter's sound quality. It's that good!
by Hal Whitlock
I set up my 501 Mk II last night and...WOW! Records that I have listened to for 20 or 30 years awakened with a life I had never heard before. Nuances of certain recordings that were lost are now clear and accurate. The highs are crisp, but not too bright and irritating. The bass is tight and deep. I have thrown many different records at this thing; Rickie Lee Jones sounds even more mesmerizing, and Barry White lights up the room. There are some cartridges that will be very detailed in their presentation, but the Shelter provides warmth of a very organic sound that is not heard in a cartridge of this price range. I have 10 to 15 very nice cartridges in my collection, but none compare to this. This one will spoil ya!!
by Rob Hughes
The Shelter 501 Mk II has a reputation as being an extreme value for the money. This is a reputation that is truly well deserved. When fitted to my Rega RB250 arm, the cartridge provides an amazing level of detail and transparency. The tracking is outstanding, and I never hear even a hint of breakup on even the densest passages. I dare you to find a better cart in this price range.