Go for the Blue Point Special...hard to beat for the $$
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Thanks for the responses. Since posting this I've been rummaging through my stash (well, a box really) of old audio odds and ends and have come up with 3 more cartridges (Ortofon MC-10, MC-20, and a B&O MMC-20EN) that I'm also unlikely to find replacement styli for. So it looks as though a new cartridge is going to be in order.
With respect to the Sumiko cartridges, how do the Blue Point and Blue Point Special differ sonically, and is it worth the difference in price?
Also, I found an old Ortofon MC step up transformer in my junk box (model STM-83 - the label says it'll handle CD-4 format to give you idea of its vintage) and was wondering if this kind of device is sonically reasonable for the current flock of MC cartridges.
I recently went through a grado red, and then switched to an audiotechnica 440ml. As you can see by my recent postsover the past week or so, I am very impressed with the audiotechnica. It is quiet, very clear and crisp, and eliminates a heck of a lot of the vinyl cracks, sizzles, and pops because of the shape of its stylus.
pcannis is right where i was going. at $100, this is a fine cart that wont disappoint. then at $200, the atOC9 is a bargain. it is low output mc so a stepup is necessary, that may affect your decision.
another $100 item would be the shure m97xe or its $65 brother the m94. the 97 has a metal base, and they both have the microwall cantilever. no stepup needed.