Best cartridge


Apologies in advance, since I’m certain that topics like this have been posted ad nauseam.. 

While my digital music collection numbers in the tens of thousands of tracks, my vinyl collection is quite modest (50 or so albums). As a result, I’ve never invested much in my TT setup. I recently picked up a vintage Marantz TT and am interested in an updated cartridge to bring it into the 21st century. I’ve got an NAD PP-3 phono preamp I’ll be using which will feed into my Classe CAP-151 integrated. 

Let’s go on the assumption that I know nothing about cartridges, and please just make your best recommendation for a first upgrade that would represent a good value and work well with my other components. 

If this matters, I’ve found the synergy between my JBL Synthesis HDI-1600‘s & Classe Integrated to be quite laid back compared to my Monitor Audio REF 700 PMC bookshelves, and since I’ll primarily be using the JBL’s, if a cartridge can emphasize HF extension, that’s something I’d be interested in. 

Thanks in advance!
Ea08d73b 65f6 4000 abd0 37a15a83cfdbdougeyjones
Just like DACS, they all sound the same.
DAC’s don’t all sound the same, and I’m fully aware that analog sources and equipment in general are more sensitive to small changes. 

Appreciate the advice so far, including the recommendation of getting a “wheel of steel”, that’s in my eventual purchases list. 


In the meantime, I’ve bid on a Pro-Ject RPM 1 with Sumiko Pearl cartridge that’s listed here on AudioGon, which I believe would be a very meaningful upgrade from the vintage Marantz. 

As for the “why”, for me it’s more of a “why not?”. I enjoy music in general, my goals don’t include outperforming my digital front end, vinyl to me is a more tactile and involved medium that requires additional interaction with your system, which I enjoy. 
I decided recently to invest a modest amount in analogue going with a Pioneer PLX-1000 and Nagaoka MP-150. I am pleased with the sound,  and enjoy the novelty of playing a record. Music has become more of an event rather than sometimes being just background noise. I'm digging it so much that I might pull the trigger on the 1200G. 
Sumiko Pearl is nothing special, it seems like you don’t want to learn a bit about stylus profiles and cantilevers. You will not hear anything close to digital in terms of resolution if you will use donded elliptical stylus, it will be a muddy sound with rolled off bass and treble.

THIS IS THE WORST YOU CAN GET AND IT’S SUMIKO:
  • bonded elliptical diamond stylus.
  • alloy tube cantilever.

As stated in my earlier post here:

If you want a phono cartridge that can reproduce 10Hz - 50 000 Hz then you have to look ONLY for the cartridges with the most advanced stylus profile and high compliance! So the stylus must be something like MicroLine, MicroRidge, VdH, F.Gyger, Replicant-100, Line Contacct, Shibata, FineLine, Stereohedron ... just to give you some names. Cartridge compliance must be over 25cu @10Hz. Taking in count all these i believe you need an MM or MI cartridge with super lightweight cantilever like Titanium, Beryllium, Boron ... Those MM cartridges are not cheap (most likely over $500) !

You’d better mention the budget you are willing to spend on a phono cartridge.
If the budget is limited to $400 max then the best you can get is Stanton 881s (equal to Pickering XSV/3000) read this article.

But with double budget you can get much better MM with wider frequency response to compete with your digital.

@chakster
You are correct regarding the need to use advanced stylii, however your statement regarding compliance is an over-simplification.
I find your frequent reminders about the high level of technology and materials in best-of-class late 70s early 80s mm and mi carts useful btw.