Inspired by a consultation request we heard today now in a duel: SHURE N 95 ED [ JC ] against the SHURE N 95 ED BLACK DIAMOND
The setup consists of a Thorens TD 126 MK IIJ with SME tonearm 3009 Series II.
The N 95 ED BLACK DIAMOND…
… is discreet in imaging and unobtrusive in action. Compared to simple replica needles, it sounds more pleasant and very unobtrusive. With the BLACK DIAMOND you can enjoy very long, even somewhat harder sounding pieces. Its foundation is exhilarating, although not as precise as the [ JC ]. In the vocal range, it shows a few weaknesses typical for the price range, here it can be a bit more nasal in terms of reproduction. In the rather low extreme case, we could also perceive a few silvery facets, which, as experience shows, will probably disappear after a longer play-in time (20 hours). The needle is not yet completely played in with its 9 hours of play-in time.
Tracking test: 70 μm, the image of the diamond under the microscope is – as is unfortunately typical for BLACK DIAMOND – not particularly worth seeing. But this should not deter now, after all, we do not want to see the needle but hear it.
The N 95 ED [ JC ]…
… plays very clear and full. The volume is impressive, but never “too much” due to the clear reproduction. Voices come across brilliantly and with a certain lightness, the room is noticeably filled. This needle is not far from the hyperellipse. Great. It also does “everything right” in the fundamentals, perhaps not as flatteringly beautiful as the BLACK DIAMOND, but very cleanly contoured, almost glassy, somewhat reminiscent here of the Elac 796 Van den Hul. The instruments are better separated in detail, which will please friends of classical and jazz.
In the tracking test, the needle managed 80 μm and under the microscope, the eye is pleased: very cleanly set stone with a precise elliptical cut.
With a price of about 40€, the BLACK DIAMOND unrivaled plays all typical replica needles into the ground. A great piece of technology for the small purse.
For about 60€ you can buy the [ JC ]. Not naked, but sonically on par with the BD, with further tonal advantages.
Of course, this test always reflects personal listening habits and is therefore purely subjective.