MM cartridges under $700.

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MM cartridges under $700.
« on: 28 Jan 2022, 02:25 am »
Hi guys,

What do you think is the nicest sounding cart under $700?

I bought this AT 750sh ... I think it sounds fine and I think I'm done upgrading my analog path for a while.


I have a week to trade in this cart for something else... Your thoughts?

I don't want a 2m Black.

Thanks for reading.

I.Greyhound Fan

Re: MM cartridges under $700.
« Reply #1 on: 28 Jan 2022, 02:50 am »
Look at a Nagaoka MP-300 and MP-500.  Also look at Hana cartridges.  I own a Nagaoka MP-200 and 150.  They are smooth, dynamic with a bit of warmth.  No added sibilants.  They need 30 hours of break in to sound good.  The MP 200 and 300 are the sweet spot for the MP line.  As you go up there is more detail.

What do you not like about your current cartridge?


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Re: MM cartridges under $700.
« Reply #2 on: 28 Jan 2022, 10:04 am »
Brief comments:

1) the VM family are excellent cartridges - and the level of performance is determined by the stylus... (and its effective mass)
2) The current versions of this family have relatively high tracking force (2g) - they are mid-low compliance, and designed for mid-high mass arms
3) From the picture, it appears you are using a low mass arm linear tracking TT (Sony?) - I would suggest that increasing the arm mass may provide optimum results - get the arm into this cartridges "sweet spot" in terms of mass/compliance, and the whole thing will track better. (increase the weight of the headshell - and adjust the counterweight to match)

Given my assumption that you have a low mass arm - optimum cartridge matching for that arm, would be cartridges with tracking forces around 1.2g - and no more than 1.5g

The current Ortofon 2M styli, are also designed for a mid mass arm - slightly lighter than what the AT is designed for - but definitely still heavier than your arm.

Given that the current "fashion" is in mid mass - I would suggest adjusting your arm accordingly and then enjoying your cartridge.

You can also adjust the "voicing" of the cartridge by changing the capacitance and resistive load of your system.

Both the Ortofon and the AT are great cartridges - but I prefer their earlier versions of 20+ years ago which had high compliance styli (the bodies have not changed, although the names/numbers have varied, what has changed is the styli) - mostly because I prefer low mass arms.

If your arm is an electronically damped biotracer - then it will adjust and compensate for the mismatch - but even then you may be able to eke higher performance out of it, by increasing the mass a bit - match arm to cartridge, and reduce the work that the electronic damping has to do.


Re: MM cartridges under $700.
« Reply #3 on: 28 Jan 2022, 10:30 am »

I use an Audio Technical's AT-VM95SH with my Bryston turntable. It sounds great. On another turntable I had an ortofon bronze which I also liked and I thought it sounded a tad better than the audio technica cartridge. But the AT cart is half the price.

I haven't heard the nagaoka cartridges but they get stellar reviews.  Whenever I buy a cartridge I have liquid audio set it up for me as I've found that I get the most out of the deck and cartridge combo.  Most dealers aren't that great at setting up cartridges and neither am I.

Personally, I'd advise you to ensure that the cartridge is properly setup on the turntable to get the best out of it. 

Cheers Rod :)


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Re: MM cartridges under $700.
« Reply #4 on: 29 Jan 2022, 04:43 pm »
Ortofon 2M Black....simply the best


Re: MM cartridges under $700.
« Reply #5 on: 29 Jan 2022, 04:59 pm »
I have a Soundsmith Carmen MKII that I really like. It is a "moving iron" cartridge with a 2mV output. Don't know if compatible with your tonearm. It's now on sale to hit your price target because of a newer model.


Re: MM cartridges under $700.
« Reply #6 on: 29 Jan 2022, 07:15 pm »
I like the Goldring 1042, it is perfect for a low mass tonearm. The cartridge has a replaceable stylus for easy replacement. The stylus is a nude, natural-diamond with a line-contact Fritz Gyger S profile which extracts everything on the album and because it tracks deeper surface noise and scratches are less apparent, this is a quiet cartridge.

The downside is the Gyger S profile, tonearm setup is critical. The vertical tracking angle (stylus rake angle) has to be close to perfect. If your turntable arm doesn't have height adjustment then the Goldring 1042 is not the best choice.

The installation instructions are pretty basic

Mounted in my turntable

The Microtrace Tone Arm by ITO has an electronic arm lift at the end of the record, a real nice touch.


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Re: MM cartridges under $700.
« Reply #7 on: 1 Feb 2022, 11:08 pm »
I ended up keeping the AT 750 SH - I forgot about the deadline on returns.

It sounds good, in fact, better than a CD.

Craig B

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Re: MM cartridges under $700.
« Reply #8 on: 2 Feb 2022, 12:24 pm »
If your objections to the 2M Black are related to its Shibata stylus shape, the same cartridge is available with a Fine Line stylus as the 2M Bronze, and at a not insignificant savings. I love the Bronze I put on my VPI. It's even better than my old Sumiko BluePoint Special (the first bare-armature model, before the EVO III).


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Re: MM cartridges under $700.
« Reply #9 on: 2 Feb 2022, 04:01 pm »
for me it is still a grace f9(x)... hard to find but worth the search imho