Audio Technica's VM 540 ML MM cartridge is derived from the famous Audio Technica AT 440 ML cartridge. It is partly derived from the innovations and technology developed on the manufacturer's high-end models, like the VM 740 ML cartridge. However, to be able to market it at an affordable price, a few technical comprises were necessary.
It uses the manufacturer's generator that is standard on the 500 series. It features dual magnets that use the 'VM' technology. Instead of using one large magnet, the two magnets are arranged in a 'V'. They are accurately positioned according to the positions of the left and right channels. The VM design makes for better channel separation and frequency response. Para-toroidal coils with high purity PCOCC copper conductors improve the efficiency of the generator and offer great linearity. A shielding plate has been added between the two coils, hence reducing crosstalk between the channels.
Audio Technica's VM 540 EN comes with a great Nude Microline stylus. This high-end stylus has a response in the high frequencies with less distortion and minimises surface noise compared with a standard elliptical stylus. It is mounted onto a conical aluminium cantilever. Its weight has been reduced for more velocity and hence better harmonic reproduction and dynamics.
The cartridge structure is made of a low resonance polymer. This minimises vibration for more precise and clearer playback. The connectors are gold-plated. Its tilting stylus guard built into the cartridge is very practical. Its weight, tracking force and compliance make it compatible with most tonearms.
The sound reproduction with this VM 540 ML is quite similar to the famous and now discontinued Audio Technica AT 150 MLX cartridge. Tracking is amazing, with a very low noise level. The bass is perfectly controlled and articulate. Overall transparency is superb with striking clarity across the entire spectrum. The mids are very neutral and rich in terms of harmonics. As with all Audio Technica cartridges, the overall balance is clear and favours definition. The treble is typical of Audio Technica, namely defined, fine and very fast. The frequency response is one of the widest in this range.
Audio Technica's VM 540 ML cartridge is one of the best phono cartridges for less than €300. Would recommend! Franck
Frequency response: 20 Hz-27 kHz
Channel separation: 28 dB
Channel balance: 1. dB
Output voltage: 4. mV
Tracking force: 1.8/2.2 g
Recommended tracking force: 2 g
Stylus tip shape: Nude 0.12 x 02.2 mm
Compliance: 18 x 10-6 cm/dyne
Coils: para-toroidal, PCOCC conductors
Moving magnet: VM dual magnet
Load impedance: 47 kOhms
Load capacitance: 100-200 pF
Cartridge weight: 6.4 g
Height: 17.3 mm
Mount: ½ inch screw
Replacement stylus: VMN 40ML, VMN 50 SH, VMN 60 SLC