The Shure M7D has been in our cartridge collection for just under a year. During that time it has been tried on a number of turntables with different tonearms, but it has never spent enough time in any one set-up to truly settle in.
The cartridge is fitted with a NOS N21D stylus. This is the version with the thin cantilever, designed to track at 1.5g-2.5g. Although this cartridge dates from the 70´s, so is not a contemporary of the Lenco P-77 tonearm, or the Thorens TD-124, both of which date from the early 60´s, it shares the same motor as the earlier Shure M3D from that period.
There were a few issues mounting the cartridge in the P-77 headshell due to the stylus being further back in the cartridge body than with most cartridges. To get the tonearm geometry correct, stand-offs were used to allow the cartridge to clear the lip at the front of the headshell. Although not ideal, the cartridge is well secured, and the mounting sled in the P-77 headshell allows the position to be easily adjusted when setting up the correct cartridge alignment.
Unlike previous attempts with this cartridge, this set-up sounds surprisingly good. It is easy to see why the Shure M3D/M7D have such a large following. With a decent stylus assembly the cartridge provides a good sound stage and, while not the most detailed cartridge, has a nicely balanced presentation. It has a warm tone with very good mid-range resolution, good bass, but is slightly less convincing in the upper range. The highs are there, but lack the detail we are use to with other cartridges like the Grace F9 and Supex SD 900. Overall, listening with the M7D is really enjoyable. It plays well with a wide range of music making it a great all-round cartridge. It works extremely well with the P-77/Thorens TD-124 combination, and will be staying as part of the regular rotation of arms/cartridges for the Thorens.
If the opportunity arises to get a Shure M7D, or the older M3D, with a decent stylus assembly, it is well worth try. In most set-ups these cartridges will perform admirably, providing a relaxed and enjoyable listening experience with most types of music.