best cartridge under $500


I purchased a VPI HW19 Mk3 w/ sme 3009 series 2. I would like to stick with a $5-700 price range. I have lot of used records and 180 gram ones, also "rough" records that have some scratches. Is there any particular cart or stylus type would you recommend?
jhorsh
Benz ACE MC cartridge $700 retail.
Is there a slight possibility you sell this cartridge Audiomax?

LOL
What phono stage will you be using? Without knowing that a cartridge recommendation is worthless, especially an MC recommendation, since MC's often have specific requirements for phono stage gain and impedance.

That said, unless you're prepared to spend $2K+ for a high quality LOMC, and have the rest of the system to get the most from it, IME you'll do as well or better sonically and much better financially with a good MM.

My reference cartridge is a $5K LOMC and I've had many other MC's in my system, from $500 to $12K. I also own an Ortofon M20FL Super, a really good MM ($150 on ebay). It outplays any of those LOMC's up to around $2K. For my money that makes any MC for < $2K a waste.

Check out Raul's MM vs. MC thread for ideas. Buy a few good MM's for $200 or less until you find one you like. Sell the rest and put $3-500 toward upgrading something else, like those scratched LPs! ;-)

I have to second Dougdeacon's comments. I owned a denon d160 and a denon 103R prior to reading Raul's MM vs. MC thread. I purchased 3 different Empire cartridges and all for $70 or less. Originally I purchase one and it blew my moving coils out of the water. This brought on the need for a second as a backup cartridge. The second is better than the first. This convinced me to sell my moving coils. Finally I purchased a third Empire which is rather astounding. With re-tips down the road I could possibly be set for life. Read and learn and enjoy Raul's MM vs. MC thread.
Sincerely,
Shure 97, must be heard. I know, can a $50 cartridge be good? Yes!
Agree with Doug with a single caveat. IME there are a handful of moving coils under $2K that are just as enjoyable or perhaps more than some of these excellent moving magnets. Zyx Airy 3 being one example.

However, I'm a big moving magnet fan and almost 50% of my cartridges are moving magnet/iron. Cut my teeth on the original Shure V-15 (old fart). They are by leaps and bounds much better values than moving coils. No contest.

For the past month or so I've spent a fair amount of time with these moving magnets:
ADM-TRX-2
Audio Technica ATN-150MLX
Audio Technica AM-30s
Signet TK7SU

I owned the Signet back in 1977 and parted with it foolishly. Recently came across an NOS and jumped at it. They are very difficult to find (NOS stylus almost impossible) but simply one of the finest cartridges I've heard/owned. If you find one buy it or email me.

It's stunning how wonderful many moving magnets sound.

No financial interest involved
I am a moving coil user but with the SME I would use MM, they are a better fit for the characteristics of the arm; they are the type of cartridge it was designed to use.There are many choices, I like the contemporary Ortofon "color" line up but NOS is also good.
I'm using a Jolida JD-9 Tube Phono Preamp to a mcintosh c-30 preamp
Jon
The Ortofon 2M series (moving magnet) are very good,especially for the money!I use a Blue on one of my vintage Dual tables.The sound is incredibly good,much better than the OM30 Super it replaced.The 2M cartridges are easy to mount as well.I find the "Bronze" to be the sweet spot in the line-up.It can be purchased under your budget limit.
Ortofon Black 2M great cart with a lot of favorable reviews. around 650 new
Have you considered any of the Soundsmith cartridges?
i tried a denon 103 because it had high rating but it sounds dull and cheap.
and it was cheap 120.00
jon
can i use a MM or a MC with a jolida jd-9?
do i even need to use a jolida jd-9 with a mcintoch c-30?
Jhorsh, if you want to have very good quality MC sound with INEXPENSIVE Denon DL103, you MUST build your SYSTEM around it, not vise versa. There is a possibility that accidentaly Denon will sound good, but thats a lottery.

The hard work you do setting Denon DL103 gives you almost FREE vinyl replay - the price difference between NEW cart and worn/broken is so small its almost irrelavant. Therefore, this Denon is top destination four budget-minded audiophiles (SUTS and Phonostages you have to invest to, do not wears out like carts needles).



________
i tried a denon 103 because it had high rating but it sounds dull and cheap.
and it was cheap 120.00
jon
Jhorsh
can i use a MM or a MC with a jolida jd-9?
do i even need to use a jolida jd-9 with a mcintoch c-30?
The Jolida can be set to accept either MM or MC. The C30 has a moving magnet phono stage. If you're going to use a moving magnet cartridge and like the sound of the C30's phono stage better than the Jolida, or if you just like the convenience of not having an extra box in the system, then you don't need the JD9.

Never having been a VPI or SME owner, I don't have a recommendation for you in terms of cartridge choice. In general, I've preferred moving magnets to moving coils and tend to stick to the cheaper end. At present, I'm using a $39 Audio Technica CN5625AL on my Linn LP12/Ittok rig, and am getting lively, engaging sound. The .7 mil conical tip is tracking at 2.25 grams and deals nicely with all my records, including some rather beat-up, bargain-bin albums. I've also liked the Shure M97xE mentioned above; its stabilizer brush really helps handle warped records, and the slightly shelved down upper frequencies make for pleasant long-term listening, never bright or fatiguing.
If the Denon 103 sounded dull then you have the wrong loading or phono stage.
The 103 is a legendary match with the SME 3009 S2.Mine sounds superb through my Dynavector 75 phono with the same arm.It does sound dull through a Cambridge 640 P phono however.
A little over $500 but worth every cent:

Dynavector DV-20X Low MC catridge
Dear Jhorsh: The Jrtrent advise makes a lot of sense if you go for the MM/MI cartridge alternative.

In your price range and even lower IMHO thre are many MM/MI cartridges that not only " disappear/makes dust " ( on any set up . ) the 103 but that can compete with LOMC cartridges in the 2k price range The MM/MI alternative can give you this very fine high quality performance where for a MC cartridge could even it you need to spend a lot of money not only in the cartridge but in the phono stage and tonearm too.

One of the reasons why the MM/MI alternative is so good is because due to its higher output level needs less gain from the phono stage ( you only need the C30. ) and this less gain means less gain stages where the cartridge signal must pass: in a MM/MI alternative the electronic degradation to the cartridge signal is a lot lower than with any LOMC cartridge.

In the other side the MM/MI alternative give you a better LP tracking performance that means lower tracking distortion than MC cartridges, especially over low compliance MC cartridges like the 103 and many others out there.

Regards and enjoy the music,
Raul.
09-21-10: Audiofeil
... However, I'm a big moving magnet fan and almost 50% of my cartridges are moving magnet/iron. Cut my teeth on the original Shure V-15 (old fart). They are by leaps and bounds much better values than moving coils. No contest.

For the past month or so I've spent a fair amount of time with these moving magnets:
ADM-TRX-2
Audio Technica AT150MLX
Audio Technica AM-30s
Signet TK7SU
My cartridge experience is microscopic compared to yours, but after trying an Ortofon, a Shure, Denon DL-160 and the Audio Technica AT150MLX, the AT eclipses them all by a considerable margin, and has continued to show great balance, clarity, detail, and musical perspective even after a complete signal chain upgrade south of the phono stage--cables, electronics, power cord, and speakers.

I owned the Signet back in 1977 and parted with it foolishly. Recently came across an NOS and jumped at it. They are very difficult to find (NOS stylus almost impossible) but simply one of the finest cartridges I've heard/owned. If you find one buy it or email me.
Wasn't the Signet sourced from Audio Technica as well? (Not implying that they're the same cartridge.)
as of now i have the jd9 connected to my aux on the c30. on the jd9 it connects to low output (not hi output) do i need to remove the small cover plate and mess with the impedance switches and the voltage gain switches?

also it would be great!!!!! if i can get rid of the jd9. so if i go with the c-30 i have to stay with an MM. whats the diffenenc between a MM and a MM/MI

sooo what does the jd9 buy me?

thanks
jon
Moving iron and induced magnet designs are usually considered subsets of the moving magnet category as they typically have similar output and are attached to the moving magnet input on your preamp or receiver. The difference is that magnets are fixed in place and a piece of iron moves in the magnetic field to produce the signal rather than moving a tiny magnet.

Only you can decide what the JD9 buys you. Do you like the flexibility of using either moving coil or moving magnet cartridges? Does the JD9 offer a performance enhancement over the C30 that you don't want to give up? Yes, you might have to adjust the JD9 to work best with whatever cartridge you use with it. It's also possible that the C30's phono stage will simply sound better to you.
Audiofeil, how did you like the AT-150MLX verse some of the vintage you have tried ? Nice, current, easy to buy, but how does it compare do you think ?

Any info appreciated.
well any decision yet, just curious ?
Dynavector 10x5 is the definitive $500ish cart IMO.