best MM cartridge...

the general consensus, it seems, is that MCs are superior.
But suppose you wanted to stay with MM carts, before mpving on to MCs, in your expereince, which would you consider the best all around performer for MM? Does any one
have any experience with the Ortonfon 2M Black?
the at150 at around 300 bucks...
London Decca Super Gold - ~$1200 new, but you can move up the London Decca line to the Jubilee ~$2800 new, or the Reference ~$5200 new
The Clearaudio Virtuoso Wood ($800) is quite nice - believe it's recently been replaced by a new model at $1,000 - Maestro Wood, IIRC.
Shure V MR, if you can find one NOS, in original wrap. They are out there and generally go for $400. Rumor has it that with the come back of vinyl, Shure will put it back into production soon.

I have one and also a MC, Clearaudio Victory H. Its a tie.
I don't have any experience with the Ortofon 2M Black.

You're going to get wildly different recommendations unless you give us a price range and some other information about your system and what you like to listen to. If you haven't seen the forum below, you should check it out. It's long, but Raul has done his homework and he gives the reader a lot of good information.

Who needs a MM cartridge type when we have MC?
great suggestions all! although in current audio evolution the pricey models (>$1k) I can't yet(?) justify. I listen to almost all types of music to varying degrees depending on the mood. From small ensemble jazz to classical to world to flamenco to rock to punk on occassion, etc. I consider my system to be better than mid-fi, maybe even hi-fi! Simaudio I5, Rega Jupiter2000, Joseph Audio RM7 sig, Zu Cable Julian bi-wire and Warmouth IC. Current table is a 'found' Yamaha P220 with unmarked Audio Technica and a cheapo phono pre I picked at a TV repair shop for $25 new. I have an AR ES-1 on the way w/Linn Basik LVX arm and K9 cartridge. So I'm also thinking about phonos in the <$1k range.

Mingles, I started to read that tread but 'lost it' mid-way through! The AT150 is an interesting suggestion, how would it compare to the Linn K9?
¿So where is Raul?... oh well, I,m almost sure he is going to say something like: What,s the best MM.. but for what arm?
but lets wait for his opinion. As said above check out his previous threads on this subject.
what about one of the Grado References? Moving iron instead of MM but same output.
Dear Jlamb: I'm sorry to hear that you " lost " on that thread, well from that same thread:

+++++ " If you ask me which one is the best I can tell you that this will be a very hard “ call “ an almost impossible to decide, I think that I can make a difference between the very good ones and the stellar ones where IMHO the next cartridges belongs to this group:

Audio Technica ATML 170 and 180 OCC, Grado The Amber Tribute, Grace Ruby, Garrot P77, Nagaoka MP-50 Super, B&O MMC2 and MMC20CL, AKG P8ES SuperNova, Reson Reca ,Astatic MF-100 and Stanton LZS 981.

There are other ones that are really near this group: ADC Astrion, Supex MF-100 MK2, Micro Acoustics MA630/830, Empire 750 LTD and 600LAC, Sonus Dimension 5, Astatic MF-200 and 300 and the Acutex 320III. " +++++

you can find NOS or second hand many of these cartridges: B&O, Grace, Nagaoka, Reson, Clearaudio, Audio Technica ( 150 ), Empire, Garrot and Grado. Almost all of them are in your budget and are great cartridges.

Of course, like Cardani posted, with the right tonearm.

Regards and enjoy the music.
thanks to all for your responses!
being an analog newbie, I greatly appreciate everyone's input...
I can't believe nobody mentioned the Cartridge Man MusicMaker III or the Classic.
I certainly second the motion on the Reson Reca; I'd also add the Ortofon Super OM40 (and if the newer Ortofon 2M Black is better than the OM40, long their top MM cartridge, it will be excellent indeed).

I myself use the Reson Reca with a Rega RB-250 with full Origin Live mods and the Ortofon Super OM40 with a Signet (= Audio Technica) XK50 rewired with Cardas. Both are on a Technics SP-10MKII-P with DIY 20 kg Corian-MDF-birch plywood base.

I, too, have long heard about the superiority of MC cartridges, but once I put this rig together, I liked it so much, it defused any urge to upgrade. Of course, YMMV.


the AT closes in on the music maker and betters the linn
03-09-08: Jlamb
...cheapo phono pre I picked at a TV repair shop for $25 new. I have an AR ES-1 on the way w/Linn Basik LVX arm and K9 cartridge.

I encourage you to sit still with the K9 and get to know it before you start a quest for the perfect cartridge. Live with it and get a frame of reference. It'll help you understand what you want.

In my opinion, the only thing you need right now is a better phono preamp. Whatever your $25 unit is, it can't be doing justice to any cartridge. Phono stages are often overlooked by folks just getting into vinyl. There's a tendency to think "that little black box can't be doing much, so I'm not gonna spend much on it." Some of us need to learn things the hard way. I know I did. Phono preamps make or break a cartridge. Avoid the stuff under $150 (NAD, Parasound, Musical Fidelity, Music Hall). Of course, you have to decide what you can afford, but if you can strecth to $500 for a used piece, I think you'll be surprised how good that K9 sounds. I'm a big fan of tubes. In my opinion, a few units that stand out in this price range are: Bottlehead Seduction, Pro-Ject Tube Box SE, AES (Cary) PH-1, Wright WPP100c and WPP200c.
Dear Raul, Having read your post above on the "best" MM cartridges, I did a search for the Nagaoka line and found one company selling the MP-100 thru MP-500 models. (Each higher model number on the way between MP-100 and -500 costs more than the previous lower model number, of course.) Have you tried any of those? None of the above available Nagaoka's are labeled "Super". Does that matter? Thanks as always.
Dear Lew: No I never try those ones that are ( I think ) almost the same design but with a new name model.

The MP-50 was the one with Boron cantilever and line contact stylus ( MP-500 ). Now the " Super " model is because instead Boron cantilever the cartridge comes with Sapphire one.

Regards and enjoy the music.
actually the cheapo phono was purchased so that I could setup an old yamaha P220 and get reacquainted with what's left of my vinyl collection. In the future I plan to play those thrift store finds on it first to see if the records can be salvaged.
I'm also looking for phono suggestions, that can do both MM/MC. Your right though, that's an excellent suggestion to live with K9 for awhile
I've gone through SHURE, ORTOPHON,GOLDRING, A&R CAMBRIDGE, GRADO, SUMIKO and REGA MM cartridges. For my money the A&R P78/REGA Elys2 were/are the best of those - providing Stereo imaging is not important. But the last REGA price I saw was $285...the A&R...long gone...
Another vote for the AT150
It seems most of your excellent suggestions for MM cartridges are vintage and difficult to find. I'd rather spend more time searching for and listenning to vintage vinyl. What current production models would you reccommend?
Let's say <$1000, or better yet, <$500...Something I could order online. The only shop nearby (+50 mi.) carries Rega only!
Dear Jlamb: Please read this link:

the point is: to know where to look for, email me if you want.

Regards and enjoy the music.
I third the AT150. I was lucky to find a nearly new AT155LC about a year ago and it ranks right up there with the best cartridges I've heard.

I went through a period of buying a LOT of vintage carts and then a LOT of low output MC carts that sell for up to $800.

In the end I kept only two, the AT155LC and the Denon DL103D.

The MC carts that I gave up were the ATOC9MLII, Shelter 501II, and the Benz Micro Glider L2. The Vintage carts were AT15Sa, AT500DR, ADL XLMIII, Grace F9E and others.

I also tried a Denon DL103R and a Rega Exact.

The two I kept were the best by far to my ears.

Good Luck
Since Raul listed B&O MMC2s moving iron cartridges, how about SoundSmith's modified B&Os?
Try a Dynavector DV20XH - a MC that can be used with a MM phono stage. I use one on my Rega P7 with the phono stage on my Rotel RC-1090 pre.
No one spoke about the Adikt?
However, sticking with what you have for a frame of reference is a good chunk of advice.
(A sub 300 dollar cart will usually sound better in a 800 table than a sub 300 dollar table with an 800 dollar cart.)
Dear Jlamb: Right now there is a rare opportunity, you can buy an almost impossible to find MM cartridge ( one of the best quality performer ever made ): Audio Technica ATML-170 OCC in NEW condition ( boxed ) through ebay Canada.
This cartridge do justice to your title thread.

Regards and enjoy the music.
I've used a Stanton 981 HZS for over 25 years,my table is a Thorens 147 Jubilee, and have spent quite a few bucks with both MM and MC trying to best it. By far the best investment I've ever made in my system.