Shelter 501 questions/concerns

Ok, I've read all the archives from Twl and others, but I'm curious if there is anyone who is actually using a unipivot with the 501, or has heard such a setup. I got a good price on one from a dealer and I just pulled the trigger. My arm (Bluenote Borromeo) is a unipivot, so I guess I am taking a chance. But it does appear that a few JMW owners are having some success.

BTW, the Borromeo has an off-center additional weight behind the counterweight to aid in tracking duties. I think I will be ok, but would like some feedback from anyone with a personal experience to share.


I only voice concerns based upon trying to give conservative advise. I have heard of the Nottingham Space Arm, WB arms, and Graham 2.2 giving what the owners called good results with the 501. It is possible that your arm may work well also. I'm not sure.

My concerns, as stated in the past, regard not whether it will play in the arm, but how close to optimum it will be. This is something that you will have to decide for yourself. If you feel that it works well, please pass the information on to us, so that we can have some good user info to work with on future questions.

My general advise is to buy a tonearm with the cartridges that you plan to use, in mind. Then you don't get caught in a position where you already have Tonearm X, and then hope that it matches with Cartridge Y.

If the 501 works well for you in that arm, you are in for a treat, because the 501 is a really nice cartridge.
I had a 501 (known then as the "Crown Jewel," distributed by Sounds of Silence several years ago when I bought it) mounted on a Graham 1.5 t/c (medium mass) unipivot on a VPI HW19III. I had no problems with it, and it sounded pretty good. I don't know if I was able to get the nth degree of performance as TWL describes. Both Fremer and Pearson reviewed the Crown Jewel favorably in the magazines. I don't remember their setups, but I think it's likely that at least one of them used a unipivot during his review. I don't remember any negative comments. Good luck.
As I have previously posted (more times than anyone else likely wants to hear) the 501 sounds GREAT with my 'Not Spacearm uni. That said, Tom Fletcher has incorporated stabilizer bars within the arm pivot so as to improve lateral stability on that arm. I did have occasion to hear the 501 just this weekend with an OL Silver arm (without Twl mods!) mounted on my Spacedeck and really could NOT tell any appreciable difference between it and the Spacearm on that table. The OL Illustrious, yes - big difference; the Silver, no.

I am totally unfamiliar with your arm, so what I relate may be meaningless to you.
I know 4yanx has good ears for sound. I think if David tells you something, you can take it to the bank.
I appreciate the compliment, Tom, but I should also stress again to Ozzy that I am speaking only to my experience with the unipivot Spacearm. While there are some exceptions, I concur with the arm/cartridge compliance issue over which you have expressed concerns on many occasions. Since I am not familiar with the Bluenote arm, I would advise caution unless you have the opportunity to audition the cartridge at no risk.
TWL, 4yanx,

Just a comment 'cuz I DO NOT want to side-track Ozzy's thread here:-
Thanks for the info re. the OL Silver & Shelter 501. I have a OL Silver on my Bluenote 'table & was wondering what my next move should be (whenever the time comes!) - whether I should change tonearms to a Bluenote or stay w/ the OL Silver. Looks like you guys have answered my question - I should buy a Shelter 501 & keep the OL Silver! That should be a treat sound-wise.
I am really going to have to defer to Tom, or someone else, because I have no experience with Bluenote tables or arms, though I have neard that the Borromeo arm is a good value. Provided that the Bluenote table is of sound design and performance, it should sound very nice with the OL Silver/501 match, which is a very solid performer in combination.
Bombaywalla,The Origin live silver arm with TWL,Tom's HI FI mod and a shelter 501 cartridge is state of the art, at it's price point. You will have to spend thousands of $$$$$$ to beat it's stellar performance. I wonder how much better it could possibly be? That's why I recommend them.
check out this thread,

Strange Tonearm Tweak. Long

Bombaywalla let me know that you read Toms thread ok?