Some five years ago, the DJ scene was rife with rumours (which we squashed) about the discontinuation of Shure’s legendary and iconic M44-7 carts and needles. But things have moved on since then, and Shure this morning announced that their entire phono line of products will stop in Summer 2018.
The official word from the Shure site.
Niles, IL., May 1, 2018—For more than 90 years, Shure has been committed to manufacturing and delivering products of the highest quality, reliability, and value. This commitment requires consistency in materials, processes, and testing, as well the capacity to react to fluctuations in demand.
In recent years, the ability to maintain our exacting standards in the Phonograph Cartridge product category has been challenged, resulting in cost and delivery impacts that are inconsistent with the Shure brand promise.
In light of these conditions, and after thorough evaluation, we have made the difficult decision to discontinue production of Shure Phono products effective Summer 2018.
Given our decades-long history of participation in the Phono category, we recognize that this decision may come as a disappointment to our channel partners and end users.
We are grateful for the support and loyalty demonstrated for Shure Phono products through the years and we are proud of the impact that these products have made on our customers’ lives and the reputation of the Shure brand. We believe that the proud legacy of Shure Phono is best served by exiting the category rather than continuing production under increasingly challenging circumstances.
Shure will continue to bring reputable, high quality products to market and we look forward to meeting and exceeding customer expectations on our current and future offerings. As Shure expands into new markets and product categories for audiophiles, our enduring commitment to premium performance and technological innovation will remain at our core.
A SAD BUT INEVITABLE DAY
As mentioned above, rumours have swirled for years. The demise of Technics and general downturn of turntables and vinyl for DJs were always going to impact on the future of cart manufacturers. Despite what you might think about the resurgence of vinyl, that doesn’t translate well to turntable sales, unless you’re Crosley.
The exact reasons for making the decision now are unclear, but I suspect that it’s not purely sales, but more to do with things like tooling and spare parts for the carts and needles themselves. Moulds only last so long, and are expensive to make. It’s unlikely that Shure makes every part that goes into the M44-7 either so consistency of 3rd party supply will factor in too. These factors have seen other products discontinued in the past. And let’s not discount rampant counterfeiting too.
GOOD NEWS FOR SOME
While I don’t think that street parties will be happening in Denmark, I imagine that this news will be greeted warmly (with a tinge of sadness too) by Ortofon. Having just relaunched their DJ cart range, the lack of credible competition now makes their job considerably easier. I changed from being a loyal Shure user to Ortofon because I got a chance to use some for an extended period, and never looked back. I’m sure that this will be a similar story for many in the future too, especially when being faced with no viable alternative.
And let’s not forget MWM and their new cart killing Phase tech. Shure just did them a favour by offing their cart range, which makes Phase sit just that little bit prettier right now. Not a lot though — I suspect most will just move to Ortofon rather than entirely reconsider their DJ workflow.
LIFE GOES ON
Shure will be just fine, and DJing didn’t just end. You’ll still be able to grab some from retail channels while stocks last, and I imagine that spare needles will be available for even longer — that is until some rich bastard buys up every scrap of stock from around the world right after this post goes live, and then pushes them out through eBay for 2-3 times whatever todays’ going rate is.
Side note — while I don’t use M44-7 anymore, mine are totally battered. So I just grabbed the last pair from Juno. I figure that it’s a good idea to have fresh ones in for future photography projects.
Ultimately, you’ll still be able to play music to crowds, and listen to it at home. And that dear reader is all that matters.