Get a Hana SL mc cartridge (Shibata stylus - low output) $750. Add a Bellari SUT for $330 and you're within your budget! The Hana MC's got an enthusiastic review by Herb Reichert recently in Stereophile!
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Look for mid-high compliance cartridges with the most advanced stylus to track well the most complicated passages of the orchestra and to extract maximum from the record groove. The best is Audio-Technics AT-ML series from the 80’s (MicroLine stylus on Boron or Beryllium cantilevers), another winner is Victor X-1 (Shibata stylus on special Beryllium cantilever). Stanton and Pickering will work fine on your arm, look for Pickering XSV-300 or Stanton 881s mkII (both cartridges are great, Stereohedron stylus is very special).
Some decent (cheaper) carts with elliptical tips are Pioneer PC-1000 mkII designed for top of the line Pioneer turntables in the 70’s (Beryllium cantilever), Victor X-1IIe (Titanium cantilever).
Ignore low compliance MC cartridges, they are NOT for this tonearm. Some mid compliance MC are ok, but
you will get better with vintage MM (some of them are still cheaper and much better).
I will recommend two cartridges in your budget, but neither are a good match for your turntable and tonearm:
1- London Decca Gold, $1,200. Simply the most revealing cartridge and widest soundstage I have ever heard. Detailed but not bright, sterile or fatiguing. Can be used with any MM phono stage but sounds best with specific loading.
2- Any Ortofon SPU, but as an entry I would recommend the SPU #1 w/ either conical or elliptical stylus, under $650. My favorite on a budget would the Classic GM E MkII, $1,100. Revealing (not as much as the more expensive versions) but very musical. Very low output, requires a high gain phono stage or an SUT. I like the Ortofon ST-80SE w/ SPUs.
Both of these cartridges are "old school" but very modern sounding. What both of these cartridge families share that almost all new cartridges lack is great separation of individual sounds (so you can hear each instrument) and a big, wide soundstage.
Any good turntable could work, assuming it's quiet and doesn't generate a lot of rumble or motor vibration. The usual mantra for the London Decca cartridges is to use heavy, damped unipovot tonearms. These do work well but I have found that arm stiffness is more important than effective mass. Damping and unipivot were necessary for older LD cartridges.
A used Well Tempered turntable and tonearm would be a reasonable place to start. Just make sure you read how to set it up or find a good local tech. The Edwards Audio TT1 SE-J w/ Jelco tonearm is a reasonably priced new turntable that works well.
Here are the tonearms I have used successfully with LD cartridges:
- Fidelity Research FR-64 and 66
- Grace 704/714 tonearms. Reasonably priced, distinctive looking, work well with the Gold/Super Gold. Make sure to use damping oil!
- Graham 1.5T (later models would be even better)
- Jelco SA-750D (or the one of the newer models)
- SAEC We-308SX
- VPI JMW 10, mounted on an original VPI Aires 1 deck
- Any good linear tracking tonearm. The LD cartridges work very well on these arms. I would try to fins a used Revox B790, B791 or B795 turntable. Again, you will need someone to set this up who knows these decks.
The ultimate turntable for any Decca or London is the Townshend Audio Rock, the turntable with a damping trough at the headshell end of the pickup arm. As for arms, old favorites include the Zeta, Fidelity Research, Mechanic, and Mission, but any medium-to-high mass arm with great bearings (the cartridge places great demands on them) and a very stiff tube (ditto) will work acceptably well. Art Dudley used a Rega 300 when he tested the cheapest London a few years back, and thought it worked well with the cartridge. I’d say it’s passable, but the cartridge deserves and justifies better. I asked Max Townshend about using the Well Tempered arm with the Rock, and he told me the combination of the damped arm and the damping trough was unpredictable. For any other table, linear-tracking arms work well with the cartridge. Anyone getting a new London should pay the extra for the Decapod, the optional and superior mounting top plate.
^ Everything is a final statement. Well, I doubt about that Ortofon, I´ve read on other forums like Steve Hoffman Music that some people have had sibilant issues with it. And I ain´t no Shibata fan boy. Because I once had an Audio-Technica 20SLa and even with a new replacement stylus SS (w/ Shibata stylus) it was somewhat sibilant no matter how it was adjusted so I had to sell it as I can´t stand sibilant David Byron not to mention Greg Lake. Very annoying. Instead I recommend a MI like Nagaoka´s best models.
Btw, are they truly Moving Iron cartridges, Schubert ? They always are advertised as MM nowadays.
I’ve owned a good few cartridges with Shibata styluses, but have never experienced any sibilance issues with either. My strong suspicion would be that any such are rooted either in the recording or the set-up rather than in the shape of the stylus.
With a budget of $1200 or so I would suggest that the Audio-Technica ART9 is superb performer where classical symphonic music is concerned. It’s one of my favourite cartridges and does indeed have a Shibata stylus. I listen to a lot of classical (though very little Shubert...) and the ART delivers as well as pretty much any cartridge I’ve lent an ear to.
Should an MM be required I would recommend an Audio-Technica 150-series or a Goldring 1042. The AT once again uses a Shibata, while the Goldring has a Gyger S stylus and both are supremely articulate, transparent and better deals than the M2 Black. In my opinion.
+1 for the Audio-Technica ART-9. Since you're here on Audiogon, do a search on the Art-9. A lot has been written about it here, and I think virtually everyone has praised it, even as compared to much more expensive cartridges. I believe what I read in these forums, if there is a huge consensus, above any commercial reviewer. The Art-9 is a superb tracker by the way, having a compliance just a bit higher than many popular MC cartridges.
But @agrippa is incorrect; the Art-9 does NOT have a Shibata stylus.
Yes it has a Line Contact stylus and boron cantilever:
Vintage Audio-Technica carts 20SLa and 20SS had/have Shibata stylus.
Indeed the ART9 is superlative performer reviewed by so many, please read the threads about here on A`gon for start and continue on other forums.
As for my bad experience with my SLa/SS sample, it was evident with different pressings from different origins (countries). I´m positive that my new SS stylus (from Needle Doctor if my memory serves me right) was somewhat defective, as those replacement styli are mass production after all. And the cantilever was a few degrees off-center already from new so one can make some conclusions. ( However, a slightly off-centered cantilever is not a problem as cart´s body can be adjusted so that stylus itself will track right as is meant to).
I blame mass production and poor quality control, not Shibata per se.
Dear Schubert :
In my experience, my moving iron cartridges are the best and fastest at reproducing massed strings without sounding like mistracking. I have nagatron 210E plus adc, empire cartridges edr and 2000E iii and I am not a fanatic of Mi cartridges, trust me. I even sold my nagaoka mp500 because I was not impressed by its tonal signature. But I did an experiment after I noticed that most of of my other cartridges had trouble playing some old recordings with exaggerated crescendo passages and fortísimo string passages and the first violins sounded scratchy as if they were mistracking. I am talking miyajima saboten, audio technica ptg II and ev which are excellent trackers, plus akg 834p, astatic, even at 440 mla. For some reason, all of the Mi cartridges seem to handle these kind of transients better, especially in extreme cases like overcut recordings or overloaded dynamically. Again, because I prefer MC and MM, I don't have grado cartridges but a lot of classical music lovers like grado too.