Shelter Model 501 III MC Phono Cartridge

Shelter Model 501 III MC Phono Cartridge

Shelter has been hand making moving coil phono cartridges in Japan since 1986. It ships two series of cartridges, the ‘Ultimate Line’ and the ‘Legendary Line’. The 501 III moving coil cartridge is mid price point in the Legendary Line, at $1295. The original 501 was produced in 1990. The Mk. III under consideration has the combination of an aluminum clad boron cantilever and an elliptical diamond stylus. 

I first heard of Shelter when my Audiophilia colleague Martin Appel purchased a 9000 moving coil (top of the Legendary Line) a few years ago. He uses it on his VPI Avenger turntable. It sounds wonderful. Detailed and vibrant. 

The 501 III arrived at the office in tandem with a few other high end pieces and the superb Phasemation PP-300 moving coil cartridge, which is roughly the same price.  

Phasemation PP-300 MC Phono Pickup Cartridge

Phasemation PP-300 MC Phono Pickup Cartridge

Japan’s Phasemation began life in 1970 as Kyodo Denshi System. The company name was changed to Phase Tech in 2002, morphing into Phasemation in late 2010. Much like Britain's SME and other precision analogue companies, Kyodo made its real money in more lucrative tech. In this case, developing measuring devices for the IT industry. It just so happens the company CEO is an audiophile.

I became aware of the company a decade ago after brief listens to sundry Phase Tech cartridges. The company was gaining some ground in the advance notice stakes; lots of analog buzz on the forums. In fact, they were splendid and for a reasonable cost. My local dealer went nuts for them.