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Shure Exits the Phono Cartridge Business

Cost, quality control issues are cited

For anyone who has worked in broadcasting for any length of time, the name Shure is synonymous with two things, microphones and phono cartridges. Today, the company announced it was getting out of the turntable stylus and cartridge business, effective Summer 2018.

In a press release, the company explained, ”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. We believe that the proud legacy of Shure Phono is best served by exiting the category rather than continuing production under increasingly challenging circumstances.”

When the compact disc was introduced in 1982, the handwriting was on the wall for vinyl. The market for broadcast and consumer turntable cartridges eventually plummeted, but did not disappear entirely. Clubs continued to play vinyl, as disco evolved into house and techno. Scratch mixing as an art form came along, demanding even more rugged styli. Beginning in the mid 1990s, the renaissance of vinyl as a high-fidelity analog medium also kept records alive. But the economy of scale was gone, and many of the remaining cartridge brands began on-demand production runs. The end result was often dealers out of stock for some brands, and increased cost when stock was available.

Shure started out in 1925 as a radio parts wholesaler, and grew to become a global player in the audio electronics market. Its current product line includes, wired microphones, wireless microphone systems, in-ear personal monitoring systems, conferencing and discussion systems, networked audio systems, as well as earphones and headphones.