$1000 bucks gives you many good options. My suggestion is to read reviews, searching for a reviewer who likes the same type music as you, and buy the cartridge he likes best.
No component is more music dependent than a "cartridge"; the best one is the one that sounds best when your music is played.
When you substitute yourself for the reviewer who like the same music you like, and purchase the cartridge he likes, then you have done a double substitution that will work.
Do not under any circumstances try to buy the best cartridge for $1000 bucks, because you will be buying the best cartridge for someone else.
Enjoy the music.
I recommend the Rega Exact because it's a good all around performer that is made to match up well with Rega tables and arms. I have a Rega RP10 and Rega Apheta 2 MC cartridge and the match is excellent. IMO, when you go with a non-Rega cartridge it's a hit or miss proposition. If you buy a non-Rega arm, you may have to shim it to get it to the proper height.
I have 2 turntables, the Rega RP10 that comes with the RB2000 arm and a fully upgraded Linn LP12 with the Ekos SE arm. I went with the Apheta 2 for the Rega and a Linn Akiva for the LP12 and I'm very happy with both of them. The engineers at Rega and Linn design their cartridges for their tables and arms so you know you're getting a good match. I'm not saying that the Exact is the best because that is a very subjective term but you could spend more and get a lot less.
Having owned all the Rega MMs over the years (Bias, Elys, Exact), they are all distinctly underwhelming performers. While Rega makes a hell of a tonearm and turntable, their cartridges are lacking IMO.
I’ve tried several MM carts over the years on my Rega, including one of the Rega offerings and compared to even my stock Denon DL103 MC cartridge, they paled in comparison.
I switched around 5 years ago to a Denon DL103 MC cart and the improvement in performance amazed me. Cost$230
I now have a re tipped DL103 from Soundsmith and the improvements were staggering. Cost $650 for the Optimized Contour Contact Line version.
The Denon is a pretty good match to the Rega Arm, but it does benefit from a little more mass at the head shell, so the model from ZU, with the alloy head shell, is also a top performer.
Soundsmith also has wood head shells that they install the "nuded" Denon into. They also have their own line of "Fixed Coil" cartridges which are very good high output carts and start at a reasonable $480
So as you can see, you can start with some very good and affordable MC carts that are well suited to the rega arm for much less than $1000 and then move up to some top performers.
Granted, you may need to change your phono stage if it is not MC compatible, but they are getting better as time goes by also - e.g. the Schiit Mani starts at $130 and is pretty good from what I have read
Don’t get me wrong, there are some exceptional MM carts out there in your sack bracket - I just thought knowing some of the other options/costs might also prove to be of use.
Thanks all for the recommendations! I'll be connecting to a receiver. Hence my request for MM or high output MC cartridges.
Willie, did you have to shim your Rega arm for the Denon DL103?
Goldring Eroica high-output MC. Good sound, under a grand, works well in the Rega arm and I don't believe you will have to shim. I think.
Not sure why you would spend $1k for a cartridge for a $1k turntable that you will be plugging into a receiver.
I have no experience with the Planar 3.
Not sure why the snarky comment, or how it helps anything.
If you read my post, I wrote UP TO $1000. I didn't say $1000.
Also, are you saying that when using a receiver one cannot tell the difference between a $200 cartridge and a $800 cartridge? I find that ridiculous. I have not run a turntable in maybe 15 years, but in the past I enjoyed great sound with a turntable connected to a receiver.
Not being snarky, I was just trying to understand the logic. If you look at some of the turntable packages out there (Pro-ject for example), their $800 or so turntables will come with a $200 or so cartridge.
Without knowing your receiver, it will most likely handle a MM type cartridge, but only a high-output MC type cartridge. So, at the mid to upper range of your cartridge budget, you may need to consider an outboard phono preamp to get the most out of your purchase.
So yes, you may not be able to tell the difference or possibly, the more expensive cartridge will not sound much better or you may need to crank your receiver up to a volume level where it maxes out.
On the surface, it seemed to me like you may wind up with a mismatch and orpheus' comments seemed to be the most on point.
Like yourself. I am back using a turntable after 20 years. It has not been a straightforward experience. Certainly not plug n play and enjoy. So, you may get the best cartridge for the Rega arm, but you will be limited by the rest of your components.
Ergo my questions.
Interesting enough, with all my noodling with turntables over the last 2 or 3 years, I have come to appreciate more what CDs add to the mix.
I wish I had experience with the Rega or knew your other components to add a useful recommendation. Personally, the Denon DL 103 is the one I would look at closely. Also, at $50, the Shure SC35C that Herb Reichert reviewed in Stereophile is a blast to use and the one that my ears seem to like. I included a link to Herb's review of the Planar 3, he liked the Rega Exact at $600.http://www.stereophile.com/content/gramophone-dreams-14-rega-planar-3#UmduaApH03MXfF1G.97http://www.stereophile.com/content/gramophone-dreams-3-shure-sc35c#IRdredCJIMf7BVhD.97
Erichsh - ....
Willie, did you have to shim your Rega arm for the Denon DL103?
if you are referring to shims under the arm post to adjust the VTA...
If I recall correctly, I already had shims under the arm post for the previous cartridge.
It's pretty standard practice to shim Rega arms for VTA adjustment - so I have a supply of shims on hand.
Now it's no longer concern, because I upgraded to the Audiomods Series III "Classic" arm with micrometer adjustment.
Mtrot - from reading your posts - you have a MM input and would like to use it.
But having been down that route, I would still recommend you to consider the Schiit Mani phono stage. It is more likely to provide much better SQ and give you full MC capability for a very reasonable price.
Granted - it is yet another component on the rack, but it is pretty small and can be hidden easily.
The total for the Denon DL103 + Mani is $360.
To mtrot and to add to williewonka's comments, you definitely might want to consider an outboard phono pre. I recently pulled the trigger on the Mani and am quite delighted with it compared to other phono stages I've tried. I also spent similar money on an outboard linear power supply unit that added more to mix and dramatically reduced noise.
As for cartridges, one that I've wanted to try is the Nagaoka MP-110. At $125 it's way below your budget but from what I've heard it's a screaming deal that delivers well beyond carts 3X more. Also, it has 5MV output so you can run it through anything. Currently I'm running HOMC's on my primary table so may not get around to trying one for a while unless I ever decide to set up a third table in a spare room.
As for the Mani and the DL-103. I'm, betting that this wouldn't be a great match. The Mani is inherently a little noisy and with the high-gain required by the DL-103 (.3MV) I don't know if it would cut it - I would think that it would be a little anemic and/or noisy. Most reviews I've heard about the Mani is that it does great (for the money in particularly) on MM / HOMC cartridges but not best suited for a low output MC. The Mani only offers a max gain of 59db at its highest setting - that would be the minimum gain I would ever want to run on the Denon.
Mtrot - Are you using a Mani with your Dl-103? If so, what are your impressions and are you running into a line level or an MM stage for the additional gain.
Thanks for the tips on the Mani. I may have to consider some phono stage that works with both MM and HOMC or MC cartridges, as it would give me a lot more options. I don't yet have the turntable, but leaning towards the P3. Just trying to learn.
That makes a difference. It sounded like you had the Rega already and that trying to get the best cartridge was the goal.
TT and cartridge selection seems to require a lot more knowledge these days. Almost too much information to take in and then use.
Have you considered buying a package such as the Project Classic?http://www.needledoctor.com/Pro-Ject-Classic-Turntable_2?sc=2&category=352
I am taking delivery on one today and will report back at some point. I wanted something that was clearly the next step or two up from an entry level TT and I wanted less fuss. It is a departure from my fascination with direct drive TTs.
I have a Mani in one system (with a Prima Luna PL5 and Musical Fidelity CD Pre 24). It was a no-brainer purchase at $130. The ADCOM GTP II preamp from 25 years ago was not cutting it (yet it seemed to do the trick 25 years earlier). The other amp in the other system (Rega Brio) has a built in phono section. Arriving at the right cartridge, or almost right cartridge, is a chore at times. Price is certainly not a good guide. Once you reach a certain price point ($250 or so), you move out of MM land and into the daunting world of MC cartridges.
Greg makes a valid point, but if the Denon DL103 is a little low on the output side, consider the Denon DL110 - another top performer. Should be a great match for the Mani, but you will need to add a spacer to increase the mass to be compatible with the Rega arms.
Read the reviews at http://www.needledoctor.com/Denon-DL-110-Cartridge?sc=2&category=369
In the past I’ve tried a couple of Nagoka’s, but despite their Very clean, extremely detailed and well behaved performance, they were not quite as warm and as well balanced as the Denon’s.. Perhaps compliance was the issue?
The Goldring was an OK performer, but lacked the dynamics of the Denon 103.
The Rega Elys was just an all round disappointment - lacked details, clarity and dynamics. Perhaps the phono stage was the problem? Maybe, but the other carts fared much better. It should have been excellent, not mediocre.
The Grado I had was returned because the hum increased as the cartridge got closer to the motor on the Rega. It was a very nice cart, but has poor shielding - if any - such a shame.
I must admit I have a bias towards Denon, but that’s because they are so easy to setup and they are very forgiving when it comes to less than perfect setup. They are also top performers if you get setup spot on. And they can be tweaked to a level of excellence reserved for carts costing much much more
As far as turntables - I own(ed) a Rega and have spent 30 years tweaking and upgrading to get it to where I am happy - if I had my time over I’d look at a VPI. But there are some stellar performers from Music hall and Project.
Here are my tweaks - http://image99.net/blog/files/category-turntable-mod0027s.html
Try to get a turntable that has the drive belt that goes around the edge of the platter - it puts far less stress on the drive belt and gets the platter up to speed much quicker. Having the drive belt driving a subplatter, like the Rega, requires the operator to perform the "Rega Nudge" to reduce startup time.
Also - the glass platter on the Rega looks cool and keeps wow/flutter to a minimum - and that’s all it’s good for. you will spend time and money trying to get the perfect mat, or end up replacing it with an acrylic platter for best results
Hope that helps
After 2 month of neurotic uncertainty , I recently went for the Planar3 with a dynavector10x5 and dynavector phono preamp I can't imagine you would be disappointed with the result
For me and various friends audio nirvana . Good luck with your final choice
I have a (more than a little upgraded) Rp3. Not much different than the planar. With a 3mm shim, I'm running an ortofon 2m black. I haven't heard a better match for the 3 range Regas. MM or MC.
The compliance issue is importatant with the rega arm as it's not high enough mass for the 103's imo.
As to recievers and integrateds, so much depends on the quality of the phono section. Maybe the most cost effective way to get the most bang would be to go with a moderately price phono pre into line level input. G Slee two, perhaps?
With a 2m black you could squeak in around 1k. Look on eBay for discounted 2m's
Btw. The Herbies mat on the stock platter is killer. No need for acrylic which can have its own coloration.
And do give it that rega nudge. Belt will last much longer.