My son is trying Vinyl and so I bought him a Pro-Ject Expression II with a Pro-Ject speed box. The guy at music direct said the cart on the unit is garbage and I believe him after looking at it. My question is what would be a good cart for this set up. Carts I have looked at are Dynavector 10x5 and Clearaudio Beta. Are these any good or do you experts have any other suggestions. Also, the carts have to be MM or high output MC. I am not ready to buy him a stand alone Phono Stage.

It has been many years since I have been into Vinyl and my knowledge is very little. Thanks for all your suggestions in advance.
A couple of comments. . .when I first got back into vinyl I used a pretty cheap ($75) Grado that didn't look like much but was enticing enough to keep me interested. I currently have the Clearaudio Virtuoso Wood which is a more expensive relative of the Beta and I'm completely pleased. The Beta was very well reviewed and I think is still considered to be a winner at it's own price level, as well as at even higher ranges.

Regarding the phono stage, your son may need one regardless. While MC cartridges generally are lower in output than MM cartridges, even MMs are not putting out line level voltages like that of CD and Tape.

Generally speaking, phono stages are far less common as 'built in' features than they were back in the day before CD. His pre-amp or receiver MAY have a phono input and if so, it's likely to have enough gain for an MM cart, but possibly not enough for an MC cart. In the event his rig does accommodate phono input, it might be useful to find out how much gain it has--this is usually expressed in dB. Hope this helps!
The Grado Gold is not a bad little cartridge.
Typically it can be found for $150 or so new.
My brother and my brother-in-law both use it.
(Not the last word in resolution or the darkest of backgrounds, but it is pretty good, and a good bang for the buck cartridge.)

My two cents worth anyway.
I assume you want entry level price as you didnt mention the all important budget for your purchase, I have the Clear Audio Beta and I own a Dyna 20x, tho I dont know the general the Dyna from what I know is a more musical cart, make sure it is high output.
To answer some of the questions posed:

1. Yes I am looking for a budget cartridge. Less than 500.
2. He has a amp with phono stage that is MM 2.5mv. So most high output MC carts should work.

Thanks again for your advice. It is very helpful!

One more thing I am also slighty interested (may be more money than I want to spend) in the Dynavector 20xH. Let me know the your compairsons between the 20xH and 10xH. Thanks again!
I come from the old school, which believes that putting a cartridge on a budget table, that approaches a significant percentage of the cost of that table, is akin to putting Pirelli racing tires on an Accord. With that in mind, I would cheerfully suggest some excellent cartridges of more moderate price, Denon DL-110 or DL-160 for hight output MCs, Audio Technica AT-440MLa and AT-120, Ortofon Super OM-20 or Shure M97xE for MMs. None are particularly arm sensitive. The price range of these cartridges is anywhere from $60.00 to around $160.00 and they cover most of the diffent flavors out there.
come from the new school that continues to believe that a resaonably priced TT will play well with a similarly priced cartridge -- anything more is a waste of money.

Viridian's vhoices are fine. I would add another one: the cartridge the TT came with. Have yr son use that up a bit before you buy another one.

{Alternatively, and in true a'phile spirit, I can cheerfully also recommend you purchase one of the carts I use -- and, being my choices, they're excellent (clearaudio)} :)
I agree that Viridian's choices are great. Good luck, Dave
He has used and I have listened to the cart that is on there and it sounds terrible. Closed off, non musical and dead. This is sort of an experiment but I still want to sound decent. Right now it's not so good.
i agree with vridian's budget choices, but be careful of what flavor you're looking for. the AT's can be bright depending on what your taste / hearing is like. i find them a little grating on most decks. i use a denon 110, not bad for the money. for the level of tracking ability it has, sounds quite good (i like the tone of grado platinum and garrott k1 better, but they don't track nearly as well in my arms (linn akito 2 and rega). shure 97 not bad either, but a bit boring. maybe a benz ace would be the right ticket, just a guess... i never used it in my setups
I second the Grado Gold IF you're looking for rich and sweet which can go a long way towards being forgiving of non-ideal records. I wouldn't pair them but the Grado Sonata lists for $500 and is a major step up but overkill for that table. If you're thinking of possibly upgrading the table if the vinyl thing takes, then you'd be wasting less money by going with the Sonata even though it would be a better match for the eventuality of the better table. Either one tracks light at 1.5 grams and has loads o' gain at 4mv. Along those price lines, the Clearaudio Beta S lists for $500 and is another nice jumping off point, a little less compliant, tracks much heavier at 2.2 grams but still with plenty of gain at 3.6mv and much more neutral and resolving.
So what you guys are thinking is don't spend much more than 300 bucks on a cart for that particular table? In speaking to people at Music Direct and Needle Doctor they are saying that the table is good enough for a $600 cart. I realize they are trying to make as high priced sale as possible. I just want to realize the full potential of this table for my son. I figure I pay for most all of his gear I sure want it to sound good when I go over to have a listen. Again if a $600 cart will out class a $200 one than I am ok with spending the money. If he decides he likes vinyl then the table will most certainly get upgraded. Thanks again for all your help!
First, realize the implications of the guidance that you are getting from those with a financial stake in your decisions. Cartridges have a much greater dealer markup than electronics or tables. For a dealer, cartridges and accessories are where the cream is. If the table will, most certainly, get upgraded, then the sky is the limit. But, in the hear and now (bad pun intended), a budget table will regress all cartridges to the mean. Maybe that is what is meant by the table being "good enough", rather than optimal. That is not to say that the better cartridge will still not sound somewhat better.
Viridian -

That is very well put. Thanks for all your help on this issue. I know a lot about amps, speakers, cables and digital but nothing about good old vinyl. I wouldn't have had these questions 20 years ago. Thanks again.
I second the Shure M97, this is a cartridge known for it's neutrality. Mounted on a friend's VPI Scout it is a giant killer. Enjoy!
To clarify, a good table and arm is a little more of apriority than the cartridge. A better TT/arm will allow the cartto it's job. As I said before, in your position of possibly upgrading the table, it wouldn't be stupid to put a $500 cart on your table but you would be throwing away half of it's superiority on the existing rig.
Wow... lots of reasonable responses to your question. As an owner of three Pro-Ject tables including the Expression 11 I would say that Viridian's advise is on the mark. The table is a little dark sounding particularly compared to a Rega. I started out with the Audio Technica 440 (which is a little bright) and found it to be synergistically a good match ---the carbon fibre arm has an effective mass of about 9 grams and the fairly compliant 440 matched the relatively low mass of the arm quite well.

Smart move getting the speedbox as that liitle device provides improved speed stability and elevates the performance of this table even further.

If you desire a richer sound but not quite as detailed on top, the Grado Gold (which I own) is the ticket, but it is twice as expensive as the 440. The Grado people in fact make the Pro-Ject K4 and K6 cartridges. Both these are an easy match for a normally aspirated phono stage (i.e MM phono stage). The AT sells for about 90, the Grado about 180. I also own the Shure 97 and The Denon 110 103 and 160 which are great cartridges but seem to work better on other tables such as the Rega which has a heavier arm.

Good luck, have fun, and enjoy the vinyl experience.
In talking to my local dealer I am not going to upgrade the cart. Instead I am going to upgrade the table. You will see it on Audiogon today. Thanks again for all your help!
What do you guys think of a Music Hall 7? Let me know. Thanks!
Rega is coming out with an upgraded P3 shipping any day now. My guess is that this will be the one to beat at or near it's price which should be similar if not the same as it's current $695 list. I'd pair it with the forementioned Grado Sonata or Clearaudio Aurum Beta S depending on your taste. Grado designed his carts for the Rega BTW.
I have an MM7 and VPI Aries 2. The Music Hall is a great value and has excellent isolation. Mine benefited from a cartridge upgrade; I am now running a Shelter 501 II and I am very pleased with the results. Having said that, over the holidays a friend brought over his MM7 with a Lyra Argo i and this was an improvement over the Shelter; more detail and extension were heard. We compared only the tables and carts through my tube based system. Also running this with an EAR 834P phonopre.
I was at CES today and bought the not yet released Music Hall 7.2 directly from the room. I got a great deal on and I am just excited to hear it in my sons listening enviroment.
Congratulations Diamonds, just make sure you install a decent cartridge on that table.