ADC XLM mkII Cartridge. Should I bother...

Wondering if anyone has any first hand experience with the ADC XLM mkII.

I purchased an SME 3009 Series II and the seller threw in this cartridge. Cantilever was broken so there is no trying it.

Jico sells a shibata stylus that I’m thinking might be a decent sounding fit for this.

My 2M Black is in need of replacement - too many hours - and I am not ready to get a MC cartridge at the moment, so I figured this could be a good bridge that won’t cost too much to get going.

If anyone has had any experience with this particular cartridge, would love to hear your thoughts.



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Not an easy cartridge to find any "real" info about online. 

I could always get another stylus for the 2M black, but it would also be a temporary measure until I sort out a MC cartridge. Suppose the 2M could be sold easier than the ADC. 

Thought it might be an interesting experiment also.

Have you had/heard this cartridge?


If you can get a Jico replacement stylus, why not try it if it isn’t too expensive. Seems that cartridge was well regarded back in its day. Harry Pearson seemed to like it.

I would say it’s worth a shot with the Jico and then figure out what direction you want to go in the future. Chances are, you will want to spend significantly more in the future. That arm can handle a very nice cartridge.
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The cartridge is nothing special, even their Best ADC Astrion with Sapphire cantilever is nothing special.

Don’t know what’s your budget, but you can find much better MM cartridge than new Ortofon or old ADC.

Stanton, Pickering, Grace, Garrott, Audio-Technica, Pioneer made exceptional MM cartridges if you know exact model (according to your price limit).

JICO is only alternative, even if the stylus tip is good nude Shibata you have to take in count the compliance, cantilever material, the marget. 
Thank you all for your thoughts! 


Can I ask which stylus you are using?

It is the non removable headshell version. However, it was been modded by original owner who upgraded the internal wires (to what, I do not know) as well as putting an ADC magnesium headshell on the arm. (Which is 1g heavier than the original...)

The cartridge was originally used in the SME 3009 II set up (along with the headshell and FD200 fluid damper - all of which I bought off Kijiji for 400 incl shipping - great deal for this I think) so I would imagine it should work well together. 

The damper does an amazing job on managing the resonance with the 2M installed on the SME. When it was used on my Clearaudio, the arm would shake like crazy around 7-8 hz. Now, there is only the slightest movement around 9hz

The arm is being used on a heavy plinth DIY Lenco L70 I built as an experiment, and it's sounding very nice indeed!

Reason for delaying getting an MC cart is I would be wanting to upgrade phono stage at the same time and seeing as a Jico stylus is a very reasonable $140, as a temporary solution, this could bridge the gap.

For those who are curious, test build on Lencoheaven:

Final build:
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Thank you for the info! I did read some were having issues with distortion with the shibata, but there are so many variables with setting up a shibata properly, I was wondering if the issue was in set up more so than stylus. 

Your explanation makes perfect sense as to why some may be having SQ issues with that particular tip.

The elliptical is almost half price to the shibata also. Which is great as I am only wanting to try this out and use as a stop gap measure.
ADC XLM was once a very highly regarded cartridge.  Because it was relatively inexpensive yet so widely loved, I would guess that the production run was huge, as cartridges go. Problem is it requires a very low mass tonearm, as others have mentioned, and it was therefore often abused in medium to high mass tonearms.  In keeping with J Carr's notion to replace like with like, when it comes to re-tipping, I would suggest you use a new stylus assembly that is most like the original.  Was that aluminum cantilever with an elliptical tip? I think so. (I am not saying elliptical is state of the art by any means, only that the rest of the cartridge was designed around that shape.)
Because the replacement market stylus have yet to mimic
faithfully the original ADC designs I don’t recommend them.

If you happen to find an NAD 9300 original buy it they are out there
for little money until an advanced aftermarket profile is produced, they are in the works.

FYI the 9300 was made for NAD OEM by ADC.

Well, as much as I like to go with original replacement parts, I just need a cartridge to bridge the gap until I'm in a position to upgrade cart/phono stage. Hence my desire for an inexpensive solution.

If looking for a cartridge that rivals your last HQ MM, consider the Teo.

Your money back if you don't agree.
Dear @perkri :  That cartridge has a very good cartridge motor and as lewm said was and for me is a well regarded quality performer. It's very competitive with today cartridges as your 2M Black and your tonearm mates very well to the cartridge. I still own it.

You can try the Jico stylus replacement or buy an ADC new replacement that are higher in price.

Here a source for ADC original replacements:

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,


I'll have a look. Thanks. Again, I'm just looking for a low cost bridge to get to the other side for now.


Thanks for the link! Yeah, I've been on that site already looking at their product. They are a bit more than I want to spend for a temporary solution.
My 2M Black is in need of replacement - too many hours - and I am not ready to get a MC cartridge at the moment, so I figured this could be a good bridge that won’t cost too much to get going.

What is "not too much" for you ?

I forgot to mention that SONY XL-50 is amazing MM with Boron Pipe cantilever and Jico styli also available for this model (but can’t compete with the original). It took me a while to find XL-70 with Sapphire cantilever to complete my collection of the best SONY MM. I have NOS XL-50.

ADC Astrion with Sapphire (NOS) was the worst cartridge I ever heard compared to many vintage MM from the same era. And this ADC Astrion was promoted here on audiogon in MM thread, I bought it NOS and was totally disappointed! The XLM mkII is lower model (same cartridge body, but cheaper stylus). Those carts must be avoided in my opinion, almost any new MM like Garrott P77i is so much better.

Few years ago I shipped Grace LEVEL II Ruby to another audiogon member, this year he told me it was superior to his Ortofon M2 Black and I am not surprised. But LEVEL II is more expensive than Ortofon.

If you really want something cheap and great then Stanton 881 or Pickering XSV/3000 are "best buy" in my opinion. often on ebay for $350-450 even NOS. 

If you need only new then look for Garrott Brothers cartridges from Australia.


Thank you for the link to Garrott Bros., I was not familiar with their line of products at all.

The story of the founding brothers is tragic. And what happened after their deaths and how the company continued on is bordering on unbelievable. 

Certainly, any product produced with this level of obsessive passion should be considered. 

Went to your website, but could not find any information on the Teo cartridge?

There was some info on the CAM site, but that was all I could find.