1K sleeper MC cart?

My Audio Technica ART9 is going to Soundsmith for a rebuild. Mine almost made it to 3 years!

I'm considering just getting another one because I've been so pleased with its performance.

Curious if any ART9 owners have found a similar "sleeper" in the same price point. I can't go
any lower(.5mv) in output. Its going on a VPI Classic table.

Don’t send it to Soundsmith. Complete waste of money. It will never ever sound the same and will not have the magic you like. Just buy a new one, it’s part of the hobby. ART9 is a fantastic MC.
If you like Audio-Technica you can try earlier models in the ART series, i’ve been using ART-2000 and it’s a killer MC under $750. If you want something different then Fidelity-Research PMC-3 with its unique Air Core Coil is the closest to fabulous FR-7f, but much cheaper, you can find PMC-3 under $800 if you’re lucky. Use FR cartridges never have any problem with dampers. Search for J.Carr’s comments on audiogon about FR cartridges including PMC-3.

Of course the AT-ML170 MM with MicroLine stylus on Gold-paled hollow pipe Boron cantilever is a strong contender to any MC including your ART-9 in case you would like to try Moving Magnet instead. Highly recommended.
Send it to Soundsmith it will probably come back sounding better.
I have the AT art9 , mc cart, i am wondering when you say rebuild the cart you mean  re-tip? If so it was my understanding you cant re -tip this cart, perhaps it means you cant do it yourself, but have to send it in, anyhow if you get this rebuilt i sure would like to know the end result, price paid for service and sound of cart after work, and the company name ,tele# etc. I got about 300-400 hrs on mine so i got lots of time before it poops , but accidents can happen too. BTW i didnt have a warranty on mine , i bought it for barely over 900.00 new w/o warranty
I've had both a Dynavector XV1-S, and Benz LPS done by Soundsmith.  Both time results were the same, as good as new.  I think if you search here and other places you will find many others who also had great results.
I own two med to high output cartridges that sound really nice. Benz Micro Ace SM, and Soundsmith  Carmen MKII. Both are in the $1k range or less.
I sent my benz for a retip and got a big glob of glue on the tip of the cantilever.  does not sound good.  I would not do it again
I've sent many cartridges to SS. I agree, they often don't sound exactly the same but they have always sounded better. And, not by a small margin.

@invictus005, I have a Shelter 901, Shelter 501, Lyra Helikon, Koetsu Blackline and a Miyabi Standard that says you couldn't be more wrong.
Agreed, a crashed cart just isn't the same with a replaced cantilever

The ART 9 really is a great all around package.Coming from Benz Glider and Sumiko Blackbird, those two, to my ears were opposite each other. The 9 is somewhere in the middle.

Taking the leap of faith for the 9 was rewarding. Finding a different cart that exceeds this time around, may be more difficult. Very subjective and

AT-33PTG/II and it’s only $500 from 2juki on eBay. 
The AT33PTG caught my attention a few years ago, but I passed because of extra expense of a step up/cables. I have also read the 33 may present itself as warm compared to the 9. Not my preference.

As mentioned, if I bothered with that, the ART7 is the one I’m curious about. I’d like to try this model, since it’s a different build than others. The AT50ANV looks interesting, but its still a few hundred more+
Air core/low output likely not happening$$.

Is the SA version just a tweaked PTG for the US market?


If you can find used Zu denon 103/R then send it to retip with MR stylus ,it was awesome!
mine go to Andy with sapphire cantilever,and with my classic is suit my taste of music and Best bang for buck spent to me.

The new Hana SL is terrific for the price ($750) and delivers .5mv. Very well reviewed and lived up to it as far as I’m concerned. A very reasonably priced cart that could keep the music flowing while your main rig is at Sound smith. And if you don’t like it, I’m sure you could sell for modest loss. Good luck with whatever choice you make. 
@invictus005 Why do you not recommend Soundsmith? I have a Benz Micro ACE LO there now for a re-tip. My first kick at the can with SS. Your above responses have me a bit concerned. I'm assuming you have been down this path in the past with them, and it did not go well.
Second vote for Hana SL, comes in under budget and is .5mv.  
Second vote for Hana SL, comes in under budget and is .5mv.  
@crazyeddy Because it’ll just simply not sound the same. Different cantilever, different stylus, different suspension, different materials. Why spend the money on something that will be different than the original you like, when you can just simply buy a new one? I just don’t get the logic. That’s all. You'll get it back working. Maybe it will sound better, maybe worse. Certainly it will be different. So why do it?
@invictus005 For any expensive cartridge with an exotic cantilever and a working suspension, Soundsmith's best program is to leave the suspension and cantilever intact, and replace only the stylus with his top OCL diamond.  For around $500, that's worthwhile.  I did this with my Helikon, and it worked out well.  I'm not sure it's worth doing with an ART9 or ART7(which I own), as the street price to replace either AT is only several hundred dollars more than the SS retip.     
BTW, I'm in process of running in a Lyra Etna and comparing it to a fresh ART7.  An ART7 can't kill an Etna.  But, factoring in the 8x difference in price, the ART7 is an incredible value.  I wouldn't bother to look elsewhere at the $1K price level. 
@dgarretson But if you can afford an expensive exotic cartridge, surely you can afford a proper replacement? If you bought a Ferrari and the engine failed, would you replace it with an engine from a Dodge minivan? Rich people who can afford expensive toys need not bother. It's the broke people who shouldn't have bought it in the first place that are using these services. I understand greed. But logically to me it makes no sense. 
Unlike everything else in high end audio, a cartridge is a consumable. 1000-2000 hrs. and it’s done. However, for many cartridges the suspension can outlast the diamond by several lifetimes. A Soundsmith OCL diamond is no Dodge. It’s helps justify the stretch for a more expensive cartridge by doubling its lifespan.
Soundsmith is introducing new versions of their carts and there are great deals on the old versions at Music Direct, Elusive Disk, Upscale Audio, etc.
The Otello, Carmen and Zephyr MkIII are all now under $1k and the $2k Zephyr MIMC is down to $1,200. All are very well reviewed and can be rebuilt for only 20% of MSRP when the time comes.

no affiliation, just a fan of Soundsmith