ar turntable resurrection advice

I recently was given a mid 1980's AR ES turntable with an empty Sumiko Premier MMT arm. I'm anxious to get back into my pile of vinyl. What entry level cartridge can you guys recommend to an old guy with too many kids in college. I'm looking to spend $125 or less. I will be hooking this table up to an old NAD 1700 powered by an equally old NAD 2400 and played through Paradigm monitor 9's. I find my system a little on the "forward/edgy" side so a smooth musical cartridge is what I'm looking for. I listen to a lot of blues, guitar hero based classic rock, jazz and accoustic/folk/bluegrassy stuff. Does anyone have any input on the grado "color" series. I have heard good things about the ortofon om 20 but would like some second opinions.I appreciate your time and thoughts.
That table and arm were a very popular match in the 80s. The combination is capable of very good sound. Buy a moving magnet GoldRing for now and upgrade to a better cartridge later. Avoid the cheap Grados.
thanks narrod. that gives me a starting point. this table has a beautiful cabinet. i hope it can sound as good as it looks!
Tim, if you don't mind I'd like to open this up a bit. I actually own the exact same table and arm. Have been using it for over 14 years with a high output VDH MC cartridge. It's a good table, but does have a couple of weaknesses. It's a little soft and warm, and does not have the level of blackness or clarity that the better tables have. What I'd like to know from all the analog gurus out there is the same as Tim, except maybe a bit more. What's the best cartridge offering right now that could really bring good things to the old ES-1? I've been partial to MC carts, as long as they do not exhibit the sort of nasty steely behavior that I've heard from a few. Up to about $500 used.
welcome aboard tony. hope we both can pick the "smart guys"
Well, I would have to recommend that old Classic MC, the Denon DL-103, which seduces those from the budget arena to those in the Upper Stratosphere of the High End! They are cheap new, less than $200 shippped from Germany (William Thakker on eBay), but don't judge this particular book by its price-tag. The sound is very entertaining, with excellent balance, natural highs, excellent rhythm and swing and bass. Grados are very smooth and musical MMs, but can exhibit the Grado Dance (crazy wiggling) on heavier tonearms like the Sumiko on certain records.
sumiko blue point II (high output mc) or grado prestige gold(mm).....the sumiko may have a bit more of that darkness mentioned above.....a classic turntable
...back to Tim...try a Shure M97xe. Around $60 and a solid performer. It will definitely keep you amused as you contemplate upgrades later.
I agree with both the M97xe and DL103 at their respective price points. One more, which is right in between those two $$$-wise is the Ortofon OM-20 ($129 at Garage-A-Records). It's an excellent sound in it's own right, and you can later upgrade to the OM-30 or OM-40 stylus without replacing the cartridge body.
I agree the Denon is a wonderful cartridge but beyond your stated budget especially if you don't have a MC phono stage which would require the additional expense of a step-up transformer. The Shure and Ortofon are excellent recommendation, in my opinion.
thanks to all for the recommendations! my dependable nad 1700 does indeed have a mc stage so feel free to give me tips on the moving coils too. how much skill is involved in a diy installation of a cartridge? the only time i did it was 25 years ago on a p mount linear tracking piece of crap technics. is this the kind of job for a ham fisted, spasctic impatient 50 year old geezer? go ahead, be honest i can take it!
The Goldring and shure 97 are great choices. The ortofon sounds fairly nice. My only beef with upgrades to the ortofon is the needle price is quite high in comparison to finding a whole cartridge on sale.
I have the Goldring (1012?) on my table now and like it better than the ortofon or blue point. Didn't try the Denon. The shure was great for the money but can't keep up with these.
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Setting up the cartridge properly may be more important than what you buy. Find someone locally with the right guides and a nice scale.
The Denon DL-110 is a high-output moving coil that will meet your needs and fit your budget. I would also take a look at the Audio Technica AT-440ml, for a brighter, more foreward, sound at a similar price point.
Wow. Tons of good choices. I see a few mentioned that have been around almost as long as the table!

I had always heard good things about the DL-103. I actually tried a Grado (Reference? Statement?) on my table and didn't really care for it. Wonderful body, but seemed a little dark with my combination.

Elevick, I'd love to hear more about the Goldring versus the Ortofon and Sumiko. What table did you try these on?