From the Desk of Kermit V. Gray 
Woods & Waters/KVG Labs 
16371 Lake Point Drive 
Bonner Springs, KS 66012 USA 
 
www.woods-and-waters.com
 

Technical Review
Aftermarket Replacement Stylus for Shure V-15 Type III, February 5, 2006 

DESCRIPTION 

Aftermarket replacement stylus for Shure V-15 Type III, features a .2 X .7 elliptical diamond mounted on a 
tubular heat-treated aluminum alloy cantilever. The cantilever has a 1.0 mil wall thickness and 20 mil diameter 
exhibiting very low moving mass. Tracking force ranges between 0.50 to 1.75 grams (5 to 17.5 Newtons), 
with the optimum at 1.25 grams (12.5 Newtons). Sold as a direct replacement for the Shure VN35E and 
VN35HE styli, and a functional replacement for the Shure VN35MR stylus. Manufactured by: Ed Saunders, 
http://www.ewsaunders.com. Price as of this review, $45.95 each plus shipping. 


INTRODUCTION 

This project began unexpectedly. I was shopping on the Internet for a replacement stylus for my Shure V-15 
Type III, one of my longtime favorite cartridges. My search was for only genuine Shure styli, because I’ve found 
generic styli for the V-15 Type III to be audibly inferior to genuine Shure styli. Unfortunately, nearly all the styli 
I found were generics, except for one or two new-old-stock Shure styli selling on eBay. 


Along in my search I encountered Ed Saunders offering a replacement elliptical stylus for the Shure V-15 
Type III. Ed’s description for the stylus was intriguing, and stated it was the exact same as the original Shure 
stylus. I was skeptical because all the aftermarket styli I’ve seen so far had either spherical tips or had very 
poorly made broad elliptical tips. One especially awful example that I once purchased for $18.90 (and should 
have known better) would not track any of my audiophile albums and made my V-15 Type III sound cheap, 
shrill and distorted. 


I soon contacted Ed, who was very gracious and tolerant of the almost accusatory tone I adopted when 
questioning him about the stylus. He explained that he was actually the manufacturer, having made the stylus 
for over ten years, and that the stylus was not one of the well-known generic brands of aftermarket styli. More 
importantly, he told me the stylus was indeed an exact copy of the VN35E, with a 0.2 x 0.7-mil elliptical tip, 
described by Shure as “biradial.” He remarked that he chose the elliptical stylus because he preferred the sound 
of the elliptical stylus over the hyperelliptical or the microridge. This got my attention, because I’ve always 
preferred the original biradial elliptical Shure VN35E stylus over the newer VN35HE hyperelliptical or the 
VN35MR microridge. Each of the V-15 Type III styli are excellent, of course, but the VN35E seems more 
natural and it seems to more accurately render the texture of sounds (such as the woodenness of a
guitar or  the metallic sheen of cymbals). After numerous emails back and forth, Ed said,
"Why don't you send me your address and I'll sample you on a stylus?
You have credentials which cause me to value your opinion (good or bad)."
I eagerly agreed, and awaited the arrival. 


The stylus arrived in only three days, which surprised me. Pleasantly. It was packed in a clear plastic box with 
foam rubber padding. Physically, it looked okay, although the blue label on the stylus grip was trimmed sloppily. 
This is not a complaint, merely an observation. 


TESTING CONDITIONS 

Test measurements were carried out using a Shure TTR-103 Laboratory Test Record, KVG Labs TR-1 
Frequency Response Test Record, KVG Labs TR-2 Harmonic Distortion Test Record, KVG Labs TR-3 Inter-
modulation Distortion (IMD) Test Record, Shure C/PEK-3 Cartridge Analyzer, Heath IM-22 Audio Analyzer, 
Heath IM-5258 Harmonic Distortion Tester, B&K dual-trace oscilloscope and Hewlett-Packard 400 audio voltmeter.
 

The Ed Saunders stylus was measured then compared to a vintage genuine Shure VN35E stylus using an 
early-production Shure V-15 Type III cartridge made in 1976. The cartridge was mounted on a Dual 1249 
turntable for both the measurements and the listening tests. Tracking force was set at 1-gram (10 Newtons). 


Listening tests compared the Ed Saunders stylus to vintage genuine Shure VN35E, VN35HE and VN35MR 
styli. The other equipment for the listening tests used two stereos: one system used a Kenwood KA-7100 
integrated amplifier with JBL 4311 loudspeakers, and the second system used a KVG Labs 76EQ phono 
preamplifier, KVG Labs 60A 40-watt power amplifier with KVG Labs L-81G loudspeakers. Ten listeners, 
including the reviewer, listened to the styli and both stereos, involving 47 different LPs and 22 different 45 rpm 
records, covering every almost genre of music and level of record quality. The listening tests were informal 
and asked only for broad preferences. No scores were taken and no statistical tests were calculated, because 
such was deemed unnecessary. 


TEST MEASUREMENTS 

Ed Saunders Stylus

Shure VN35E Stylus

Peak Measured Velocity:
400 Hz — 
1000 Hz —  
5000 Hz — 
10,000 Hz —  

26 cm/sec
 38 cm/sec 
35 cm/sec
26 cm/sec

26 cm/sec
38 cm/sec
 35 cm/sec
 26 cm/sec

Output Voltage:

3.37 mV

3.53 mV

Measurement referred to 5 cm/sec peak recorded velocity at 1000 Hz. 

Channel Balance:

2.1 dB, left

1.9 dB, right 

Measurement denotes toward which channel the imbalance leaned. 

Frequency Response: 

12 - 24,000 Hz +/- 3 dB
 25 - 16,000 Hz +/- 2 dB
40 - 10,000 Hz +/- 1.5 dB

10 - 25,000 Hz +/- 3 dB
 20 - 14,000 Hz +/- 2 dB 
40 - 10,000 Hz +/- 1.5 dB 

THD, 1000 Hz, at 5 cm/sec:

0.87%

0.83%

IMD, 700+3500 Hz, 4:1

1.2%

1.1%



SUMMARY OF LISTENING TESTS 

The listener panel, as expected, was split among who preferred the biradial elliptical styli over the hyperelliptical or the microridge. The vote was unanimous, though, that the Ed Saunders stylus was indistinguishable 
from the genuine Shure VN35E.
 

CONCLUSION 

Despite my initial skepticism, the Ed Saunders replacement elliptical stylus for the Shure V-15 Type III is 
excellent and every bit the equal of the Shure factory stylus. 

The sound is the same under real-world listening conditions and the diamond tip is made good enough that 
won’t prematurely wear the records, unlike other aftermarket styli. The price is a fraction of the cost of new-old stock Shure styli and is less than most other aftermarket styli. The Ed Saunders stylus will keep your V-15 Type 
III sounding sweet, detailed and accurate for years to come. 

If you have a Shure V-15 Type III that you still enjoy and need a replacement stylus, I’d recommend you 
buy it from Ed Saunders — unless you enjoy paying $200 for the privilege of having Shure’s name on the 
box. If all you care about is the sound, then you cannot go wrong buying Ed Saunders’ stylus. As for myself, 
I will not hesitate to buy a stylus from Ed for my other cartridges as well, like my Ortofon VMS-30’s nude fine line stylus.


CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE THIS STYLUS

Our Customers say...

 

Dear Ed

Just a brief note to say how pleased I am with the stylus I recently purchased from you for my Shure V15 cartridge. It took a little time to reach me here in the UK but was well worth the wait.

I have been listening to top grade cartridges in numerous systems over many years and, to my ears, this stylus in my V15 system is an improvement over the original in my second vintage system (Quad 33/303, Garrard 401/SME2 , Rogers LS 3/5A speakers). The bass is at least equal to the original and the high register treble is smoother yet just as detailed. So far I have discovered that I need to track at a slightly heavier weight to achieve the best results but that is no problem. It is truly a breath of fresh air to receive something that performs as advertised - keep up the good work!

Regards

Chris Bates (UK)

PS If you feel it of any benefit to use this testimonial on your web site- feel free.

hi ed, very impressive stylus and at $40, unbelievable. detailed with a great soundstage, extended highs as well as great bass extension. i can't imagine the "real deal" sounding any better.i put it on a dual 701 i just replaced the interconnects on, nice combo. thanks and have a great weekend! john

Hi Guys, This is a repeat order I had a stylus from you a couple of years ago and was happy with it so I'm buying again. You're not the cheapest but the quality is undisputable!! Cheers. . .jd

Hi Ed,
Just received the V15 - IV stylus & it's great. I work in the Mastering Dept at Abbey Rd Studios. We use V15s for all our playback & noise testing on lacquer & DMM cuts. I've never heard such a good copy. Keep up the good work.
Geoff Pesche.

Dear Ed,
A quick note to thank you for sending me the replacement stylus for the Shure V15 3.
It is a delight to listen to, pulling out more information from my records than I thought would be possible.
It's been a pleasure to do business with you, your attention to detail and speedy service are a credit to you.
Once again many thanks for a great product
Regards
Steve Spencer

Hi Ed,

I got your CUSTOM VN35E stylus the other day and thought I would drop you a line real quick…

This stylus is GREAT.  It really does restore the V-15 Type III to it's classic, natural sound that the original U.S. Made VN35E (prior to the "south-of-the-border" outsourcing of SHURE) provided.  The last time I replaced this stylus (2001 time frame), SHURE had already gone to the Micro-Ridge stylus.  This MR profile sounded GREAT on the V-15 Type VxMR cartridge, but all it did for the Type III to my ears was make it sound to clinical and digital.  I wound up pulling the V-15 Type III from my table and mounting a type VxMR for the last 6 years. 

Upon getting your VN35E stylus that is made to SHURE'S original VN35E specs, I must admit that I was a little skeptical about just how close it could be to the original.  After all, $39.95 for a Hand Made stylus with a .01 mil thick cantilever wall and .2 x .7 elliptical stylus seems like robbery.  The only aftermarket styli I ever saw were either clunky Conical styli OR had very crude, poorly polished .3 x .7 tips.  YIKES.  Well, I put your stylus under the scope and looked at it only to find that if it were any closer to the original, it would BE the original.  The cantilever was thin and ultra low-mass, the stylus was spotless like a fine Swiss jewel.  Further more, I actually like the unlabeled appearance of the stylus on the cart over the SUPER TRACK PLUS labels.  It looks much cleaner and more sophisticated.

I ran through a number of recordings for about 10 hours.  Everything from the Also sprach Zarathustra to Dire Straights' Brothers in Arms.  The stylus was EXCELLENT.  Finally, we can properly restore the original SHURE V-15 Type III cartridge to it's intended sound V's an alternative.  Face it, the V-15 Type III was not designed around a Micro-Ridge stylus, .2 x .7 was high tech at that time and from what I can here is still the best profile for this cartridge.

Again, thanks for this excellent product and for furthering the cause of FINE Analog Playback at a time when the iPod is about to kill the modern recording industry.

Respectfully,

Joe Aschwanden
Audio Enthusiast!

Ed,
I installed replacement stylus for Shure V-15 type IV tonight, and WOW, it was like rediscovering music the way it was meant to be heard. Thank you so much for a fantastic stylus. I will leave positive feedback for you. Thanks again,
Glenn Lovell

And Raskin calls himself The Needle Doctor. You're the one with the PhD!
Many thanks for the knowledgeable reply.
Glad that I stumbled upon your site and that I kept my old V15/III. Just getting back into playing my vinyl (10,000+ LPs) after a long flirtation with CD.
Best,
Rick