I would like to see if there is any common experience among the members of this board regarding cartridges, performance, design and cost. So, to start out, I would state that the best performing cartridge I own, and have used in a number of arms and on different tables is my Lyra Delos. I have used it with SMe 309 and 345 arms, as well as Helius Omega. I have used it on my Sota Cosmos IV, Oracle Delphi V SE and Transrotor Fat Boy. All of these have run through a Simaudio LP5.3 phono preamp with PSX5.3 power supply loaded at 100 ohms.
So, why is it my best performing. Because it seems to hit all the bases as far as frequency response, clarity, detail, soundstage, musicality etc. Specifically, it seems effortless in its presentation, with no specific area that stands out as being better or worse than any other area of musical presentation. For me, that effortlessness adds to the realism of the presentation. The Lyra Delos lists for about $1500. It uses a fine line stylus and is a low output MC putting out about .2mv. The theory behind the Delos is to locate the coils centered in the magnetic field and therefore, the VTF of the cartridge is a much narrower range than most, not because it cant track outside that range, but because Lyra designed the cartridge to work best within a certain area in the magnetic field. I believe that principle helps achieve the effortless and linear nature of the resulting presentation.
I have experience with many mid/hi MC cartridges including Dyna 17d2, Monster Alpha 1 and Genesis 2000, Sumiko Talisman B and S, Benz Micro Glider, Coral EX777 and GAS Sleeping Beauty, Accuphase AC-1, Madrigal Carnegie One and ClearAudio Sigma. Each of those are excellent cartridges that I could live with, but none are quite as competent across the full performance spectrum as the Lyra Delos. I have to assume that a good portion of that performance is attributable to restricting the stylus movement to that certain area of magnetic field.
My experience with MM cartridges in better arms and tables is more limited. I currently use an Ortofon 2m Black in an SME 309 on one table. It is very good also, and very linear, but not quite as effortless as the Lyra. I have also listened to Shure V15mxr, Stanton 681eee and some other cartridges and have found them to lack energy. they play the notes, but don't touch me in the same way. I realize that words like effortless and energy are not very technical, but they are the best way I can describe what I hear and why I prefer one over the other.
Note that all of my MC cartridges would fit into the lower to mid range price zone. Most of my MC cartridges would be considered vintage, whereas the Lyra is a current model. While part of the difference may be due to age, I have no way to allow for that in my listening.
That being said, I recently bought a dynavector Te Kaitura Rua, a cartridge I have long had an interest in, which was recently available for a fraction of its list price. I have only listened to a couple of albums with this cartridge, and am still trying different loadings, but it seems promising. Hasnt yet surpassed the Lyra.
So, for the purposes of this discussion, I'd like to know what cartridges forum members have owned or listened to extensively in their own systems, what cartridges they decided worked best in their system, and why they think that cartridge was better than any others they tried.