Cartridge choices under $300

I want to upgrade from my AT 440ML and I must spend $300 or less - firm. My system is posted and is as follows: NAD 533, ARC SP9MKII, ARC VT60, Vandersteen 2ce Signature.

For the price, the NAD/AT combination is not bad but I feel that a change would allow a great improvement.

If you have a suggestion, please let me know the improvements that you feel I would notice.
Try low output mc. The SP9II can go down to .3 as long as you're not looking for 100db rock concert levels. For classical and vocals it should be perfect. So try Denon 103-$200? Just wait for the next release of supplies in a couple weeks-check ebay. No question. If not try as second best the ATOC9-$300. What a waste to use the SP9 for HO MM like AT440. Given the drawbacks of the SP9 it's greatest advantage as a hybid phono preamp is its neutral very quiet high gain. So take advantage of that get a high responsive low output MC.
Second on the AT OC9.. I had one for years and liked it alot.
What about the better Grados?
Also Benz makes some great low cost units.
A Denon DL-160 at $180 would be a good choice.
Thanks for the suggestions! I thought that I understood that NAD/Rega - Grado combinations did not work well.
I would suggest a Grado Platimum.Entry level wood Grado at $300.00 list you can get in H.O. version at 4.8Mv. or low output at .5Mv,Its $300.00 list you can probably pick it up elsewhere for much less used.
Second the Denon-103 or 103R. Considered by many to be almost as good as Shelter 501 II and Shelter embarass many $2k cartridges out there.
I have very much the same question. What do you guys think about the Dynavector 10x...whaterver the name is?
go with the denon dl103 or 103r...It is almost as good as my shelter 501
Denon DL-103...There is a store in Germany that sells it around $150, instead of the $225 that you need to pay for when through Audiocubes. The owner of Galibier turntables (a ala Teres) was raving about it in Audiocubes. TWL, a member here has a review of it. Now the question goes, does your preamp section handle MC well?

the link for the German website

Yup, around $150 for the Denon. That is the bargain of the decade!

In you situation, it's best to go with Low-Output Moving Coil cartridges. I just purchased a Lehmann Black Cube Phono Pre-amp to go with my HW 19 Mk. IV/ RB-250. I went to ready to buy a Denon 103R, but the compliance leads me to believe it isn't the best mate for a Rega 250 tonearm. However, all is not lost....

I purchased a Denon 301 Mk. II. The specs are great and the price is greater ($215 shipped). It's a low-output Moving Coil cartridge with a good compliance for a Rega tonearm (13), low tracking force (1.5g) and a stylus so small you can barely see it (half the length and half the width of the Shure V15xMR). Also, it has that classic Denon sound.

Another option is going 'low hours'. You can keep looking and find a Dynavector 17D used for around $350-$450 USD. I've seen an old Ruby 17 on Ebay once for $199 used!

If you are frugal (like some vinylphiles like me are) you cannot go wrong with a Denon for the price. If you can spend more, the Dynavector Karat and the Shelter 501 are also good candidates.

marty nickison