Phono Cartridges

Discussion in 'Vinyl Nutjob World: Turntable and Related Gear' started by JK47, Jan 12, 2016.

  1. Gallic Dweller

    Gallic Dweller Acquaintance

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    I use the AT 33EV and I'm going to go for the AT ART 9. The AT MCs are great and out perform a lot of much higher priced competition. The 33EV has no brightness issues, is slightly warm, great bass and mids, really there is nothing to dislike at all. Check out the ART 9 user reviews on Audiogon. I think it is available for around $860.
     
  2. deniall83

    deniall83 Acquaintance

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    Just a quick one guys, I bit the bullet and grabbed a VPI Classic 1 that was for sale near me (the only one I've seen for years). It hasn't arrived yet but I've completely blown the budget and now I need a cheap cart and phono cable. I'm going to grab a Blue Jeans LC-1 with ground wire and was thinking a Nagaoka MP-110 for around $150. Before I pull the trigger, are there any other carts to consider at the $100-150 mark? This will just be until I can get myself a decent MC cart and MC phono stage so not a permanent solution but I still want something decent.
     
  3. Ziva

    Ziva Friend

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    Congrats on finding a VPI. They really are great tables. There are some other cartridges around that price (Ortofon, AT, etc.), but my advice would be to skip the nervosa and just get the Nagaoka.

    If you are truly limited to that price, get the MP-110. If you can stretch a touch, go up the Nagaoka line. You may find you are happy with the sound for a long time. (And don't automatically assume you have to eventually get an MC set up. There are a lot of excellent sounding MM or HOMC cartridges out there).
     
  4. deniall83

    deniall83 Acquaintance

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    Thanks. I had just sold my RP3 and was going to hold off on a new turntable but this popped up and I couldn't say no. There aren't many in Australia. I've owned some nice carts before but just wanted something to keep me going until I can get into a good MC and dedicated stage.
     
  5. Ali-Pacha

    Ali-Pacha Friend

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    I've found a NOS Sony XL-50 cartridge in one friend's cellar. She was about to dump it, and I've just sold it $300 on ebay...it was so fast I'm wondering wether I was too low or not :D
    Your advice ?

    Ali
     
  6. westermac

    westermac Friend

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    I recently picked up a SL-1400 Mk1 with a Stanton L720EE, which I understand is more of a DJ cartridge. Can anyone recommend a good starter cartridge for playback? I'm all for going the used route too if that would be a better value. Thanks.
     
  7. JoshMorr

    JoshMorr Friend

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    Someone said used carts are like used condoms, nobody wants them.

    When it comes to selecting a cart, first decision is MM vs. MC and what your phono pre can handle.

    For MM - decent cheap carts are Ortofon 2m Red / Blue. Save money for the Blue if you can, big jump in performance. On the other hand, can buy a red, use it for a while, and buy Blue stylus and stick in Red body for cheap.

    For MC - Denon 103 and 103r are pretty popular tried and true high value carts.

    Lots of other options out there though
     
  8. Azimuth

    Azimuth FKA rtaylor76, Friend

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    We should really do a spiderweb chart like the amps and DACs that go through some of the more popular chart choices.

    It really depends on your budget. Just remember that you cant't replace the stylus on MC carts. Although the replacement styli for MM carts is nearly the price of a new cartridge due to the manufacturing and diamond costs.

    Used is difficult because the styli wear out much faster than tubes. And there are also vintage carts out there that's harder to find info on, and some of those carts don't have replacements available, or if they do, it is the generic Pfanstiehl, which are fairly low quality and not good as the original stylus and cantilevers.

    All that to say depending on your price range, a good AT95E is a good starter that will smoke the Stanton. The Ortofon 2M has more detail, and get less stiff and harsh up top as you move up the line. I have a 2M Blue and likely will not move beyond that for simple cost/performance and how much I use my TT for music enjoyment.

    Like @JoshMorr says, the Denon 103 and 103r are also very popular and are high output MC's - meaning you can use them in a MM phono pre. Although, the stylus is not replaceable.

    The Grado's I have found are not very good trackers, have hum issues, and are overall warm and V shaped sounding. I am just not a a fan.

    Shure M97XE is also a highly recommended cart, but I also find this one is great if like a warmer sound. It tracks pretty great though. It is good for rock. I keep one around for my not as good harsh sounding rock records and 45's.

    I also hear decent things about Audio-Technica VM540ML, but I have not tried one and likely will be my next cart to try once my Blue stylus wears out.
     
  9. Daveheart

    Daveheart Friend

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    Just a quick correction. The 103/103r are decidedly not high output cartridges (0.3 and 0.25mV respectively). Generally speaking a HOMC cartridge will have about 10 times the output (or more) of either Denon cartridge.
     
  10. Azimuth

    Azimuth FKA rtaylor76, Friend

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    You are correct. I was getting it confused with the DL-110, which has an output of 1.6V. Dawg dawg!

    However, it will be noted in this review of Sterophile of the DL-103:

    "Although these are moving-coil pickups, they have higher output than most moving-coils, and thus can, if used with a head amp, overdrive the input stage of many preamps."
    Read more at https://www.stereophile.com/content/denon-dl-103-phono-cartridge#LwUYt3vP843uDh8r.99

    So maybe higher output than most MC's, but still requires a MC preamp.

    Whew...got that cleared up.
     
  11. jpoyarzun

    jpoyarzun Acquaintance

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    Since you are looking for value here:

    If you have a MC capable phono preamp, just go for the 103 and forget about it... Not 103r, just 103. If you have a MM only phono preamp, dont do anything more expensive than a good MC+103 deal. A good starting point is grado blue (best value of the range), other is ortophon OM20 (and cheaper than ortophon blue)...

    For THIS price point; just don't go used on a cartridge...
     
  12. Gallic Dweller

    Gallic Dweller Acquaintance

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    It all depends - I would have bought a used ART 9 @ $550. I checked out his rating - 100%, his reason for selling and how few hours he had used it for, the new price in the USA and Europe, then came the deal breaker. He would only use FedEx and insurance, that was likely to be around $200. With an import tax of 20% of the total cost it was a no-no.

    A friend of mine down in Florida bought an AT 33EV for me from a store in New York. He unpacked it, stated it was s/hand - value @ $30, no insurance. It arrived just fine - $299 + postage @ $11. Cheapest price in Europe was the UK @ £546 + postage to Spain. At the time it was £1=$1.70.

    Amazon are selling a new 103 for $229 - for a first buy that's a really good buy - just make sure that the mass of your arm matched the needs of the cartridge.
     
  13. roscoeiii

    roscoeiii Acquaintance

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    Yes. Great point about matching the cart with the arm.

    I just got a used Shure V15 Mk. III and replacement needles are readily available still. Such as the highly regarded JICO SAS.

    But IIRC the v15 pairs best with low mass arms. The charts and calculators at Vinyl Emgine are your friend.

    Best
    Roscoe
     
  14. Biodegraded

    Biodegraded Friend

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    @westermac , welcome to the rabbit hole. For info on cartridge/arm matching, see here:

    https://www.ortofon.com/support/support-hifi/resonance-frequency

    And for the input data see here:

    https://www.vinylengine.com/tonearm_database.php

    https://www.vinylengine.com/cartridge_database.php

    One trick to be aware of is that Denon and other Japanese manufacturers specify compliance at 100 Hz, not 10 Hz like most (all?) European manufacturers. Multiply by 1.5 to 2 to get the correct figure to use in the Ortofon chart or Vinylengine calculator.

    At 15g, your arm will be compatible with a wide range of cartridges. The suggestions so far are generally well-regarded, but I don't know if there are models that have been found particularly good with the Technics arms. If you're going to use your TT in a bedside setup, I'd be inclined to recommend MM rather than MC so you can easily replace the stylus should there be any half-asleep accidents...
     
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  15. westermac

    westermac Friend

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    The rabbit hole is right... looks like I've got some number crunching to do. From what I've gathered thus far it looks like my tonearm (15g effective mass) is on the light side of ideal for the DL-103. And given that I'm starting out with a Mani (which is supposed to perform better with MC than MM) that rules out Ortofon 2M Red/Blue for now. The hunt is on.

    Thank you all for the valuable input; much appreciated.
     
  16. Biodegraded

    Biodegraded Friend

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    Actually on the heavier side. When using those charts, it's *total* mass (arm + cart) you want to be looking at.

    Edit to clarify: but still in the window for the DL-103, so if you're thinking of that one, all good.
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2018
  17. jpoyarzun

    jpoyarzun Acquaintance

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    My recommendation WAS considering your turntable and tonearm. Denon Dl-103 should be awesome on your setup.
     
  18. westermac

    westermac Friend

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    Already ordered :sail:
     
  19. Gallic Dweller

    Gallic Dweller Acquaintance

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    Around 1998 I bought a one owner Technics SL120/SME 3009/Shure V15 Mk111 and a new cartridge in the presentation box. I bought it for my wife and it sent me on the path of direct drive decks. Incidentally the arm was fitted by SME at their factory in Steyning, the owner lived just a few miles away. The SME and Shure were made for each other. Also a sad story as the seller was an old man living in sheltered accomodation . he had a crap doctor who over subscribed by a huge margin a med. that left him with raging tinnitus. I also bought another Technics SL120 with spare arm plates, both will be up for sale.
     
  20. deniall83

    deniall83 Acquaintance

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    Just bought myself a Benz Ace SL. Looking forward to setting it up but I need a new phono stage first. Thinking about the Musical Surroundings Phonomena II+ because it has a ton of adjustment options. Anyone have any other suggestions?
     

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