Shelter Harmony Cartridge Lab Report

Lab Report

As Shelter's flagship moving-coil, the Harmony successfully builds upon the already very fine performance achieved by the now-discontinued Model 9000 [HFN Feb '19] from the brand's 'Legendary' MC pick-up range. The '9000 was a particularly impressive tracker and the Harmony follows suit despite its lower (stiffer) 11cu compliance, though I would certainly err on the upper end of its 1.4-2.2g recommended downforce and partner it with a mid/heavy effective mass tonearm. Tested at 2.0g the Harmony tracked up to the maximum 80µm groove pitch, clearing the +15dB test (315Hz lateral cut, re. 11.2μm) at 0.3% THD and +18dB at ~2% THD. Importantly, the Harmony's equalised distortion shows good symmetry between lateral/vertical cuts [black/red traces, respectively, Graph 2] and resolves to <1% THD up to 2.5kHz and <3% below 6kHz for stereo cuts [re. –8dB re. 5cm/sec; dashed trace, Graph 2].

Shelter offers a limited specification for the Harmony but its rated 0.5mV output was more than met at 585μV (re. 1kHz at 5cm/sec into 100ohm) together with a phenomenally tight 0.05dB channel balance – the Harmony will work well into phono stages offering ~65dB gain. The Harmony's frequency response is usefully extended albeit with a mild +1.1dB peak at 18kHz and 0.5dB depression through upper bass/lower mid [see Graph 1, below]. The reduced high treble emphasis with vertical cuts [red trace, Graph 1] suggests some diminished brilliance at the edges of the soundstage, but it's also less sensitive to surface noise here. Finally, as the Harmony's VTA is slightly high at 28o, some adjustment of rear arm height might be useful in tweaking its tonal balance. PM


Freq. resp. curves (–8dB re. 5cm/sec) lateral (L+R, black) vs. vertical (L–R, red) vs. stereo (dashed)


Lateral (L+R, black), vertical (L–R, red), stereo (dashed) tracing and generator distortion (2nd-4th harms) vs. freq. from 20Hz-20kHz (–8dB re. 5cm/sec)

Generator type/weight Moving-coil / 8.5g
Recommended tracking force 14-22mN (2.0mN)
Sensitivity/balance (re. 5cm/sec) 585µV / 0.05dB
Compliance (vertical/lateral) 11cu / 12cu
Vertical tracking angle 28 degrees
L/R Tracking ability 80μm / 80μm
L/R Distortion (–8dB, 20Hz-20kHz) 1.1–18% / 0.55–14%
L/R Frequency resp. (20Hz-20kHz) +0.05 to –1.3dB / +1.2 to –1.45dB
Stereo separation (1kHz / 20kHz) 26dB / 19dB
Price £4300

Shelter Inc.
Ibaraki, Japan
Supplied by: Padood Ltd, Cambridge, UK
01223 653199