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Do I really need a $500 MC cartridge?
Old 7th August 2007
Lives for gear
zemlin's Avatar

Thread Starter
Do I really need a $500 MC cartridge?

As a tangent to my "Which Cartridge" thread, I'm struggling with whether the purchase of a $400 or so cartridge is really justified. In the event a customer sends me a good quality vinyl, I want to be able pull as much out of the recording as I can. On the other hand, I really don't make much doing transfers and don't do all that many, so it's very hard to justify several hundred dollars - especially if it's a matter of splitting hairs compared to a decent MM cartridge.

I would be extremely grateful to anyone who could record a bit of decent vinyl with a low-mid ($400-$500) range MC cartridge and the same sample with a $100 or so MM cartridge so I could "see the light" and decide if the step up in quality is worth the cost.

Another wrinkle in this equation is that a majority of transfers I do are old, well worn records - obscure discs that weren't all that well recorded in the first place, so that makes a higher-end cartridge even more difficult to justify.

I have a feeling something like the AT440MLa really makes more sense than a Goldring Eroica or a 10x5 - that the quality gained with a better cartridge will be lost on 95% of my customers, and not missed by those who have the ears to hear it.

Old 7th August 2007
Lives for gear
max cooper's Avatar

Yeah, depends on where you wanna put the money. You can get a Goldring Elektra for not much and it'll probably do the job better than it needs to be done. I've used them often and they never kept me from enjoying my LPs. The stylus is also user-replaceable.
Old 8th August 2007
Gear Nut

I use a $200 cartridge for my transfers - it is probably a great point to look; actually $200 to $300. Ortofon Super 20 is the one I use.

Keep in mind that your phono preamp is just as important as the cartridge, a better one will reveal more detail and be better balanced. So you may want to upgrade to a Project or a Trigon ($400 to $500).
Old 9th August 2007
Lives for gear
zemlin's Avatar

Thread Starter
Any opinions on the Denon DL-103? There seem to be a lot of folks out there who really like the sound of this classic cartridge - and it can be had for less than $200.
Old 9th August 2007
Lives for gear
jmikeperkins's Avatar
I have had a lot of luck with the classic Stanton 681 EEE phono cartridge and the phono pre in my professional grade (late 1980's) Crown pre-amp. The Stanton 681 EEE is about $140 - $150 and easy to find. As someone else pointed out, the quality of your phono pre is very important. Some audiofiles always claim to hear "more" with various esoteric and very expensive MM phono cartridges and strange exotic phono pres, but something like a 681EEE and a good phono pre will get you a very usable set up.

J. Mike Perkins
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