3 Top Cartridges Picks

What are your choices,3 Top CARTRIDGES.I want to know what was your experience with them,(if any).
Thank YOU
For which tonearm and phono stage?
thank you
I have listened to a goodly number of good to excellent phono cartridges over the years, but have really owned only one that I consider to be a true high-end analog product: the Grado Reference (4.5 mV output, $1200 MSRP).
I have a Lyra Titan in a Basis Vector arm and this combination sounds terrific. According to a test record, this combination is just inside of the ideal range for mass/compliance compatibility. This combination brings so many records to life, both in terms of speed and dynamics, as well as rich harmonic palette. I don't know if this is a problem unique to the Titan, but I hear a big difference in sound for relatively small changes in VTA (thick records sound a bit dull when VTA is set for average records). I am not one inclined to fiddle with VTA, but if you are, the Vector arm is a pain in the ass to adjust VTA. I understand that Basis just came out with a retrofittable upgrade for easy VTA adjustment, but it costs something like $700 dollars and I think something (arm, armboard?) has to be sent back to Basis.

I also like the Temper W cartridge a lot -- extremely smooth and neutral sounding. I could live with either.

I don't like the sound of Grados myself -- overly rich in the midbass, muffled sounding (like sound coming through many layers of cotton) and the music seems to just slow down. However, if you like that kind of rich, creamy sound, I would suggest looking into the Allaerte cartridges which have that kind of sound, but not to the extreme of Grados.
Decca cartridges, because nothing yet designed has ever managed to equal their slam, and they are extremely detailed while being incredible at imaging to boot. However, they are a bitch. And I've been using it for years. Shure V15VxMR, because it has some of the best bass in the business, bar none, is extremely tonally accurate, tracks anything, is easy to set up because it is relatively insensitive to tonearms (but does respond to improvements), and simply gets to the heart of the music via its great ability with small and great timing cues: and it can be afforded by most. I have lived with this too. While I have owned several MCs, I would here name a third which I haven't heard but have read a lot about, the Ortofon SPU, said by many to be the most organic-sounding cartridge out there: and it has cool Art Deco styling! My next great acquisition.
Well, with due respect to Larryi, I disagree with his comments about Grado cartridges. In my system, at least, there is nothing overly rich, nor muffled, nor creamy, about the sound of the Reference. In my system, the sound from the Reference is very well-balanced, and sufficiently detailed without being etched, as is the case with many moving coils.

For what it's worth, the Grado Reference was one of The Absolute Sound's picks for "Editor's Choice" among the upper-priced cartridges.
My picks would be :

Jan Allaerts MC1B
Koetsu Urushi
I am waiting for an Allaerts MC1B Mk II, and I am afraid my Audio Note II won't have enough gain for it. Any suggestions for a good stepup device (even a good phono stage that I could run through my aux input)?
The Bent Audio Mu step-up transformers are very good for $750.

The K&K Lundahl step-up trannys are a well-liked at $250.
The MC1B Mk II has an output of 0.7mv, which is on the high side for an mc cart. Are you certain the AN II doesn't have enough gain?
Sorry, I just saw your post. You're right: .7mv is on the high side, and it may work. I think I'd rather have a little more tube noise than introduce another component and interconnect into the equation if I don't need it.
Do you own the MC1B MkII? How do you like it? I heard it briefly at CES and ordered it based upon forum chatter.
I thought I'll put my 3 cents in:

1)Miyabi cartridges in various disguises ( Cello, "Red Rose" etc), I own one and love it, but lowish output (.2 mV), requires transformer for sure. Fast, clean, detailed, great dynamics/bass, very good tracker at specified pressure (medium to heavy arm required);

2)Koetsu Onyx Sapphire. Classic sound, much more neutral than the rest of Koetsu line. Sapphire version originally built to Krell spec in 80's is also faster and cleaner, but still somewhat too polite and rolled-off at the top;

3)Ikeda cartridges, again in different versions (Cello, Rowland, may be others), if you can optimize one to work. All the problems of Decca on set-up but MC. Will sound great in Ikeda (FR) arms and Dynavectors. Again. lowish output.

Other impressive carts I've had over the years: Goldbug Mr/Mrs Bryer (also version built for McIntosh), Ortofon MC 2000 and SPU, Alpha Genesis 2000, Denon 103 of course, Shelter 901. There are more cartridges than years in life to play with. Keep on tracking, M. S.
I'll add just one: The Magic Diamond cartidge from the Swiss maker, MagicMicro. Lloyd Walker sells this cartridge and it is stunning in its combination of musicality, neutrality, natural detail and soundstaging. Top to bottom the best cartridge I've ever listened to -- it stays on my Walker Proscenium turntable. Lloyd has comments on his web site regarding what he hears and why he choses to demonstrate his turntable with this cartridge. http://www.walkeraudio.com

The only review of this cartridge I've seen is J. Peter Moncrieff's review. What he says about the sound of the cartridge matches what I hear. (I won't begin to vouch for his technical ruminations.)
http://www.iar-80.com/page62.html (scroll down two screens)
No, I don't own one, though I would like to. ;)
I've only heard the MC1B many times and I do really like it. Really think it is a very fine cartridge that extracts all there is between the grooves and let's you hear it without pretence.

I once had the opportunity to listen to MC1B and the Urushi through my Herron phono stage. All I can say is that at this level, these carts sound very similar, only slight biases towards warmth with the Urushi. Hard to go wrong with either.

Do let us know how you like the cart once its run-in.
The Magic Diamond cartridge has been recognized by David Robinson of Positive Feedback for a 2004 Brutus Award. I'm revisiting this thread because so few people have heard this cartridge that I find so superb. Here's the link and what D. Robinson had to say...

MC cartridge (medium output): the Micromagic Magic Diamond (pictured here in action on the Walker Audio Proscenium Gold Signature turntable)

This is the current reference cartridge from the Swiss firm, Micromagic, and was recommended by Walker Audio for use with their Proscenium reference system in preference to the Clearaudio Reference that was their previous choice (at twice the price). It's already a "vinyl underground" classic, with a number of cartridge connoisseurs buzzing with the news of an important new reference standard. There's no doubt about it at all in my mind: the Magic Diamond is simply superbÂ… unquestionably the best MC that I've ever had in my listening room, or have heard thus far along my audio journey. Extraordinarily detailed, extended at both ends, natural, and running over with effortless ease and transparent soul, listening through (not to) the Magic Diamond has been a watershed event in my turntable experience.

Thanks for Art Manzano at Axxis Distribution for carrying this cartridge in the USA (www.axiss-usa.com/contact.html), and a BIG "gracias!" to Walker Audio for drawing my attention to this truly amazing MC.

This is a cartridge worthy of consideration among the very best available today, regardless of price. Available from Walker Audio (http://www.walkeraudio.com).
Dear Blcube: Independently of Phono stage/tonearm/turntable the next cartridges can be on your list of top contenders:

- Allaerts MC2 Finish.
- Dynavector XV-1
- Van DenHul Colibri

The Myaby 47, Ikeda REX9, Clearaudio Insider, Koetsu RSP, Sumiko Celebration and Benz Micro LP, will be a second option ( I never hear the Magic Diamond and the Lyra and Grado are not really top performers ).

For cartridges that are out of production ( if you can see it, second hand, buy it ):

- Goldbug Brier,
-Ortofon MC 2000 and MC 7500.
-Audioquest 7000Fe5
-Accuphase AC2
-Audio Technica ATML 180
-ADC Astrion
-Empire EDR .9
-MicroAcoustic MA-630

Regards and always enjoy the music.
Well, my favourites :
Miyabi ( Alnico, the original, not the 47 Lab version )
Allaerts MC2

There is and will be always some hype about cartridges, the marketing is a real special chapter ( When I remember right, the Magic Diamond is from Swiss and I heard, it is based on a Denon DL103 - regardless of it's qualities -, the Cardas Heart is a regular Benz Reference with a few drilled holes in the wood body...)
Anyway, fun counts ....
I have owned various vandenhul grasshoppers, Clearaudios, a Lyra Helicon and most recently a Lyra Titan. At least in my Rockport, the Titan has been a very nice match and a rather significant improvement over the Helicon and I would highly recommend it to you. One further thought, matching the cartridge to the tonearm is really important. If the mass and compliance of the cartridge is a mismatch for the mass of the tonearm or the tonearm does not do a good job of dissapating any energy sent by the cartridge into the arm, you will not be happy with the end result. Another way of saying this is that there are some combinations which are very synergistic, for instance the Colibri in a Rockport arm. I would focus on trying to identify what cartridges work optimally with your particular set up.
Dear Fcrowder: You are totally right.
Regards and enjoy the music.
So many choices all dependent on type of music you listen to, what you are using it on, the tonearm particularly of course and what sound you like, detailed, musical verging on coloured. For me I remember:
Dynavector D17, not expensive, but only .17mv
Ortofon Kontapunkt B, again great value
My current favourite Koetsu Rosewood Signature.
None as expensive as those others have recommended and I am sure not as good, but for me in a price range I can see as realistic.