Cartridge-- M/M or M/C

Even though I have been back into vinyl for about 9 or 10 months now, I am still a relative newbie. I used to listen to vinyl in the 70's but not the way I do now.
I have a MMF-7 TT with the stock Eroica cartridge. As you know this is a M/C cartridge with what I assume is high output. 2.5 mv. (is that right?)
I guess because of my stupidity it is time to upgrade.
I don't want, or let me rephrase, I can't spend more than $500. What are the character differences between M/C and M/M?
What should I be looking at in this price range?
Thanks, Scott
With your current setup I'd recommend to "chill out" about looking for another cartridge since Eroica is one of the best ones in $500 range(especially if you have a possibilitity to change the load of your phonostage). It's very hard to beat with any MM cartridge unless priced very high. There are two types of Eroica one is with .5mV(L) and another is with 2.5mV(H). For L you should have an expencive high-gain phonostage with at least 60dB of gain. For H 50...54dB is enough.
I set up an analogue rig to my friend from Oracle Alexandria, stock RB250, Goldring Eroica(new $220) and Michell ISO phonostage used designed by Tom Evans. This setup gives a perfect accuracy, presence and descent bass.
The other great thing about probably all of goldrings is they track so damn good no-matter what.
Think of probably upgrading phonostage or any other of your components instead.
Happy tunes!

What gain and loading options does your phono stage have? Makes a huge difference in what cartridges you can use.
Why do you need to upgrade? Not satisfied with your current set-up? With a MC vs MM debate you've opened up a whole can of worms. This is as polarizing as the tube vs transistor debate! Since this is a matter of taste and system, then the best way to understand the differences is to try the alternatives. But generally speaking, MMs are more relaxing to listen to, mellower (kind of like tubes) and easier on the electronics, as they don't require too much gain (though now Grado has released low-output MMs to further confuse the issue). They are also generally cheaper than MCs, though MCs are generally more detailed and focused. But of course, this is a generalisation, as someone with a bright MC could find a mellow MC to improve the sound of his system, just as someone with a mellow MM could brighten up his system by buying a bright MM.

If you closed your eyes and threw a dart at a board with little stickers on which were written various MMs or MCs and hit an MC sticker, you could generally expect more detail, more focus, better "microdynamic shading", meaning the small-scale dynamics, like a more-intensely plucked guitar string and such, but there would also be a slight (or major)emphasis towards the high frequencies. If your dart hit MM, chances are the sound of the piece would favour the bass more, perhaps be better at large-scale dynamics, and in my experience at least, be better at conveying the piece "as a whole" and at preserving the rhythmic interplay (I don't know why). Bear in mind that there are exceptions to all these rules of thumb. MCs are quite energetic in comparison with most MMs as well, and so require higher-quality arms. But again, a higher-quality arm, once bought, will make the most of MMs as well. And a given MM will extract more detail than a certain MC, and there are MCs which will be better than given MMs at conveying rhythm. Then there is the issue of matching a cartridge to an arm to achieve the correct resonance.

Confusing enough? I am interested in reading other opinions. The best thing is to listen to some examples of each - usually via friends - and decide which ones ring your bell. For myself, I went through the usual beginning with a high-output MM, then discovered MCs which were superior in some ways and turned my back on MMs, and now I find myself swinging back to MMs. Good examples of each in your budget are the Shure V15 MM (very neutral), various Clearaudio MMs (which kind of sound like MCs), the Dynavector 10X5 high-output MC (a partier), the Denon Dl-103 (low-output, however, be certain you have an MC stage), various wooden-bodied Grados (very musical).

So, get out there and listen!
First I will state that I am no expert here. I, too, have MMF-7 and after researching this question myself I came to the conclusion that the Pro-ject 9 arm will not mate well with most, if any, MCs that are low compliance carts. If that is the case it does cut down on the field of choice for cartridges. But I think there are alot of decent cartridges left that will mate well with the Pro-ject arm. FWIW, I'm running a Shure V15vxmr and am happy with it, but I am curious what other cartridges are available to use on our MMF-7s that would significantly improve the performance.
Well I am not sure if this info will help but, here is my present system. Rogue M-120 Magnum monoblocs, Rogue Magnum 99 preamp, Rogue Stealth phono stage, Music Hall MMF-7 TT and Proac Studio 250 speakers. And of course last but not least from the digital end, California Audio Labs CL-15 CD player. All with Discovery Cable interconnects and Signal Cable Power cords.And Apature silver speaker cables.
Now with that said, I have never been very fond of the Stealth phono stage. Right from the beginning it sounded thin and bright. And that is what I still have. The stealth is pretty flexible in it's terms of selection of set up parrameters. It has opened up some in the last 9 months of operation but, it is still not to my liking.
But to be honest, I was never sure if it was the Rogue or the Goldring Eroica H cartridge. I would like to darken it just a bit.
Does that help at all?
Thanks guys, Scott
A shorter answer this time: Dan has probably hit the nail on the head. Your cartridge is not suited to your 'table, and your 'table is totally outclassed by the rest of your equipment. And given a chance, the Proacs will sound bright. If you keep your 'table, then the Shure - my personal favorite in the "play music and forget about audio" field - will flesh things out considerably. Being an excellent all-rounder with perhaps the best bass of any cartridge, it will also improve in sound when you get a 'table to match the rest of your system, at which point you can start to consider more exotic and risky cartridges. You can enjoy a larger record collection and get an idea of what your Stealth can really do.
What table combination would you recommend for my system in the $1000 used market?
The proacs sound wonderfull with the CD player. That is what is killing me. I know that the TT should sound better than it does.
Considering that brightness is your problem, the 'table which immediately springs to mind is Sota. They recondition their trade-ins to as-new and sell them at a significant discount. In this way you get a guarantee as well, I believe. The website TNT-Audio has an excellent review with these matters explained at

The Sota is perhaps the best isolated 'table out there, and a good suspension usually means less brightness: it's hung from four springs, and if you get the plain vanilla Star Sapphire (with a sapphire bearing plate) you are getting a true high-end 'table at close to your budget (you'll have to call), finished in excellent real wood. Add the ubiquitous Rega arm to go with this, and you can keep and get the maximum out of your Eroica, which is reputedly very good. There's also a used Sota for sale on this website, with air-bearing arm (complicated, though very good), and a used Well Tempered, both very smooth, both on your budget, though I favour the WT for musicality. Maybe you could find a used VPI Mk IV, very warm in the bass, again with Rega arm. Or a Roksan/Rega, great if rhythm is your thing, as is Linn (only consider the LP12, and make sure it is recent). Look around: you're probably better off keeping the cartridge and upgrading, just as you're thinking, given your very high-resolution system. Since this website is crawling with Teres 'table fans, I'm sure they'll advise you this way. But I'm not familiar with this 'table or their variety, so I leave it to them.

Just to throw out a cheap and controversial alternative: one of the rockinest, best rhythm and best-isolated 'tables out there is for sale on this website for $255: an Acoustic research "The Ar Turntable". Try it with it's stock tonearm, but upgrade soon: this 'table is so good you can consider better even than the Rega tonearm, though this is very good. Some have mounted SME IVs and Vs on this 'table. (Just so eveyone knows, I'm a Rega arm fan). I'd buy it myself if funds allowed right now. Of course, there are more detailed 'tables out there, if you're willing to shell out a lot of dough, but none more'll have to organize the replacement for the armboard and such yourself...and check the bearing! Good Luck.
I see Scott wasting lots of money--the Psychic's prediction...
I got a Basis 1400 w/ Rega 300 and Dynavector 10x (4 originally, now replaced with a 5) for a little more than your $1000 target. It's a great combo for the money, the Rega arm and Dyna cartridge work very well together. There is one currently on the "gon
I can concur with Johnnantis about the Sota. I just recently purchased a Sota Sapphire series II used on the 'Gon. I am using it with a modded Rega 250 (w/2etreme endstub & F2 titamnium counterweight.) The Sota did bring my brightness down from my P3 table. It also quieted my bass response a little bit too much for my .5 Maggies though. The SOTA does get knocked around quite a bit here on the 'Gon, but is a LOT quitier than the P3 on quiet passages. Just my experience.
I have been listening to records for 40 years and have had several turntables and a good list of other gear. I, too, am now using the MMF-7. I chose it because it does have a very flowing, balanced sound and a dark background. I auditioned several turntables before buying and found the the MMF-7 and MMF-9 and the Rega P25 and the P9 were the only ones under $3000.00 total cost that could produce this sound. The mids with these turntables proved to be full and there was remarkable bass extension for vinyl playback. There are a few other considerations, however. Strip out the ground wire from the interconnect provided and use it and throw the rest away. In fact, I considered sending it back to Roy Hall. I am currently using a Transparent Ultra phono cable with very satisfactory results. I have also used a pair of Chord Anthem interconnects with good results. I have experimented with some other cables, and this turntable seems to be very sensitive to the changes in sound that you can make with different cables. Please note that I do not run out and buy new cables all the time. In fact the only ones that I have bought new are a couple of Kimber digital coax cables. AudiogoN is a good source to use in trying different cables by buying them cheap on the used market. Over a period of time I have acquired a number of different ones that I experiment with. Phono stages are also an area to consider. I auditioned, in home, several in the $1200 and under range when I bought the new turntable. I didn't like any of them. With the exception of the Coph Nia, I thought that they all sounded thin. I am using an old Marantz PH-22, which has been with me for a while and that I bought used, also. It has an almost tube-like warmth. I have also found than some addition isolation under the footers on the MMF-7 also helps darken the background. I used some Sorbothane pucks that I bought from Vera Starr, who is a AudiogoN vendor. To keep them from squishing, I cut some disc from the back of a pad of paper, put them on top of the pucks, and put the footers and cups on the paperboard. It made a serious difference. I hope that this is helpful. As you know, we don't hear things exactly the same way, so I have to stress the idea of experimenting. You have a good turntable. I think that with a little experimenting and listening you'll have it working to your satisfaction.
Psychic--- You are amazing. How did you see that? Or do you just know me? I was born to waste money. I have spent thousands on this system and I want it right damn it:)
I think Jependleton has stated some very good points.
I also own the mmf7 and am very pleased with the performance to price ratio.
I also replaced the stock interconnects with different cables and found ones to my liking. Scrap the original interconests but save the ground wire.
I also have a Target TT wall shelf which made a BIG improvement.
Are there better turntables? Yes. For the money.... this table is a bargain.
Try new cables and make sure the cartridge is broken in.
If you can't find happiness with either, sell it and upgrade to a different table.
I'm betting that you won't if you try new cables.
Just my $.02.
Scott, I read all of the responses on this thread and I am reminded of just how difficult it is to know what is going on in a system. Systems work as a system, meaning that even the speakers can directly affect the sound of a cartridge via the chain, by feeding back eletrical signals to the cartridge via the electronics. So that a given cartridge/arm/'table combo which works well with a given preamp will suddenly sound like crap when you change amps, or wires, or speakers...there are no hard and fast answers. Give more details on how your 'table is set up: shelf, cables, and so on. Psychicanimal has a point, but you opened that door when you got into serious audio, too late now. Dougdeacon has a point: have you played with settings, cables and so on? Jependleton has a point, but I wonder what cartridge he is using, perhaps he could enlighten you. Perhaps you originally had a point: your phono stage is not good (for a fun test Radio Shack sells quite a good little phono stage for $30, battery-powered, which will not match your Stealth, but may shed some light). A better record player will improve the sound. The Rega arm is unpredictable in its bass response on given 'tables. Perhaps it is not a good match for Sota in this regard. A moving magnet cartridge will smooth out the sound, providing it is a good one like the Grado (terrific), or Shure (gets out of the way of the music). Do you have any friends who will lend you their cartrides or phono amps or cables? Alternatively, you could go to a good (friendly) audio store, promise you will buy something, and talk them into letting you try some alternatives. This is the safest option. The problem here is that in the old days when phono was king, a beginner in analog had a beginner's system, and so learned while he/she was moving up the ladder. Now beginners have top-flight systems which are ruthless with problems...Good Luck and don't worry, vinyl is worth the trouble.
In response to the question, I am using the modified Eroica that comes with the MMF-7. I should point out that there was a run of bad cartridges on tables that were manufactured about 8 to 12 months ago. The cantilever would not loosen up and the bass was affected and there was midrange distortion. My dealer replaced the cartridge. He also went through the set up of the azmuth and alignment of the arm and cartridge and found that it was wrong from the factory. A dealer that knows turntables should check this on any turntable before sending it home with anyone. I should point out also that the replacement cartridge took about 50 hours to break in properly. The dealer that I used took care of about two-thirds of this before letting me have the turntable. Hope this helps.
Sounds to me like we found the problem. I'm a newbie to any form of internet chatting, and I wonder if after all these entries Scott is even paying attention anymore. If you are, Scott, then get your 'table and cartridge checked before you do anything else! Now I must go take care of my own system, as a recent "upgrade" has thrown everything out of whack! Ah for those innocent days when I downgraded all my equipment and just listened to music!
I'm still here. I have tried many different cables and such. I will try some more options. I was plowing my driveway today thinking about some of my issues. At one time I was happy with the sound ( I think :)) Now after all of this farting around and changing everything I'm in a rut again. Maybe I just have the upgrade bug for a new table.
So if you are wondering , it is up for sale here at AG.
I hate this hobby!!! Maybe I throw away all of my subscriptions, and disconnect my internet, and then I might be able to live with my system and enjoy the music.
I will try some other options with the TT tonight and let you know what I come up with.
I hear you, Scott. I've only been on the 'net for a couple of months now, and since I've been tinkering for a couple of decades (I rewired my first Rega arm in '88) I don't look for advice much, just want to share my experience a bit and save others some trouble. A while ago I did sell all my high-end stuff - except my record players (source is most important) - and bought a used Pioneer Elite preamp with switchable MM/MC (reliable and remote-controlled) a couple of ASL Wave 8s amps ($200 new, and rhythm demons) and a pair of cheap but incredibly musical (best rhythm I ever heard: I grinned from ear to ear everytime I heard them) Sound Dynamics (now Athena Technologies). The system was reasonably detailed but not enough to be distracting, and it made everything sound good. I manfully resisted every temptation to upgrade my system and listened for hours every night. Then one day, a couple of months ago, I saw what I recognized as a pair of classic BBC designs in real walnut going for $20 at the Salvation Army store, and stupidly bought them. Sticking them in my system made my Sound Dynamics sound like mud, and I couldn't return to them. I've been in audio hell since, bought new amps, and am looking for a good preamp and so on... I'm finally close: join the club. The only advice I can give you as to a new 'table is this: if it doesn't do rhythm, it ain't worth a damn. If you're looking for fit n'forget, reliable, hassle-free and serious as well as close to your budget, then go Rega 25, new. Sky's the limit for cartridges, and you can add platter mats and so forth afterwards with very little trouble. Sometimes I wish I had never moved on from my Rega Planar 3 (but then I lower my Decca into the groove and groove myself...).
A stock Technics 1200 will smoke the Rega 25. No need to stay in Hi-Fi hell...
Psychicanimal may have a point: I'm an idler-wheel man myself. Both direct-drive and idler-wheel 'tables are theoretically superior to belt-drives in speed accuracy - the trick is in the execution. But I still keep a few belt-drives around for entertainment: as long as they have rhythm, I can dig'em. And my Decca absolutely needs a damped unipivot and loves the AR. Too bad the Technics doesn't come with one.
It's a no brainer to me--but here's actual testimony of someone who went through these troubles:

I know he dumped a 1200 for a Rega 25 and then had to come back to the 1200. This time fully modified.

Idler wheels can be killer TTs, like the EMTs. It akes a lot of money to come with an adequate ( "rhythmic" ) belt drive, that's for sure...
Sorry, it was a Rega P9, not a 25. Oh, well, more power to the Creature!
I guess I'll have to buy one eventually: after I had discovered how superior idler-wheel drives were to belt drives, my mind was opened to the possibility of the Technics, and I collect record players (rhythmic ones), but my idler-wheel drives are so good (I build the bodies myself for recreation, changing the design and materials each time) I know their abilities are far beyond the abilities of any preamp I will ever be able to afford! Nevertheless, the Technics has been on my shortlist for a long time.

But even a truly good belt-drive can draw an astonishing amount of information from the groove (as I discovered one day when I stuck a Classe DR-8 in my system). And while a lot of high-end belt-drives suck in the rhythm (musicality) area, it's not really a question of money: any of the ARs rock incredibly well, through simple application of an intelligent design philosophy: a low-mass subchassis, cast from thick aluminum and ribbed for resonance control, extremely well-designed springs which give it about the best isolation out there (truly), a light but well-machined platter and bearing assembly, and a low-torque motor to go with all that low mass. The result is incredible lightness of foot, good detail, excellent rhythm. It's just that people do not go to the trouble to match them up with quality tonearms. Of course, well-designed idler-wheels and direct-drives (though I have yet to actually test DDs) are superior overall (IMHO), but the AR - usually available used from $30 to $300, is right up there with the best when it comes to making music.

Anyone ever try a fluid-damped Technics tonearm with a zero-compliance Decca? Also, the Decca, like the Grados, has a tendency to pick up hum: do Grados do well on the Technics? Are we confusing Scott?
Scott has to learn from the pros--not the parrots.
No, I'm still with you. I have negotiated a price on a AR table. Still wondering if I should get it. Is it much or even better than my MMF 7 ?
Hmmm, difficult subject. The thing is this, there is the road to Audio Hell which is paved with detail and a soulless presentation of the music, and the road to Audio Nirvana which is paved with musical equipment. Emphasis on detail means an endless series of upgrades and a lot of dough; musicality means a fairly stable system and a lot of hours spent listening to your entire record collection, and not just Amanda McBroom. But we each get off in our own way. Your choice of tubes for amplification suggests you belong to the musical camp, but nothing is certain.

The AR is tremendously musical, and quite good at detail, depending on the quality of the arm you put on it. Detail is tricky too, as some 'tables and cartridges strip the music and emphasize some upper-frequency detail, while others present the whole enchilada, emphasizing nothing, and so appearing less detailed. The AR is one of these. Sam Tellig of Stereophile used one for years mounted both with a Rega tonearm and a SME 309. Now he uses a Rega 25.

Considering the money, which is pocket change relative to your budget, consider it a learning experience. You're a newbie, so I say experiment without spending a whole lotta cash. But I also know newbies want to be dazzled by detail and such, and I don't want to be blamed for any shortfall. Last night, I sat awestruck listening to my AR with outdated Mayware toneram mounted with a Decca, which I had taken the trouble to assemble due to this discussion! (I've just come back from some serious travel and everything is in boxes). The detail! The slam! The immediacy! But much of this is due to the Decca, which given a suitable tonearm will perform miracles due to its bizarre technology. I suggest the ubiquitous Rega in any of its incarnations for a tonearm, but listen to the stock AR arm first, with a new cartridge, as Jependleton has reported some bum Eroicas. Some people like to spend a lot of money, in which case there is a large variety of musical 'tables which will suit your budget. If you go the money route, read advice, but then seek out a physical specimen and listen. The soul, or soullessness, of a table will reveal itself by whether a smile does or does not appear on your face. May the Force be With You.
I like this guy. He's going to overthrow TWL very soon...
Yikes! I don't want to overthrow anybody! Besides, Twl has a much better understanding of the physics involved than I do. I'll be looking forward to knowing more about his designs. You sure like to stir it up, don't you Psychicanimal?
Your posts are very informative. I enjoy them. Thanks for the commentary. The old AR has a special place in the heart as well. I went from it to the Linnie route and then heard a Merrill Heirloom that simply did everything right. The Merrill has had an honored place in my system for about 10 yrs and is still going strong w/a ET 2.5. About a month ago I picked up a Music Maker II, a MM that is blowing my socks off. Check out the reviews on 6moons and TNT. It seems to combine the best of the MCs w/the best of the MMs for an extraordinary listening experience.
Thanks, Rlxl, maybe you could give some details on the Heirloom, which I have heard referred to often over the years, but which I haven't had the pleasure of seeing or hearing. I believe it is a modified AR, or am I totally off the mark?
Me--stir things? Nah...
Since the conversation had went towards decks,
I'd say my understanding on that issue:

Collector DC motors have the largest chaotic electro-magnetic noise. Under chaotic I assume freequencies of a different spectrum with no exempt to transients. Please note, MC cartridges are less affected by such noise thus perform more quiet and more accurate.

AC motors have significantly smaller noise but fully or mostly depend on power-line freequency stability.

Quartz digital motors have even less noise than AC motors thus the most suitable IMO in analogue turntable applications. Yes, DD tables could sound better depending on its construction since the quartz motor influence factors out compared to DC collector motors.

What about belt-driven tables with quartz-digital motors? Probably VPI does that so-far...?
Belts constantly react to groove modulations, stretching and contracting without end, which is why 'tables which offer both belt- and thread-drive capability universally sound better with the thread (which doesn't contract). Get rid of one problem, introduce another, which is why I keep a stable of players. It's been a while since I did any research into various motors: by Collector DC motors I assume you mean the type commonly found on idler-wheel drives? And are you saying that electro-magnetic noise is a bigger issue than speed stability? I am ready to be educated, you seem to know your motor lore and history (I do remember the issue of e-m noiswe in the development of record-players). I have the feeling this thread is a runaway train...What's Scott up to now?
The brushes of DC motors are the main culprit of EM noise. The motor rotates from the physical contact from the brushes-collectors and due to physically unstable contact the transient EM noise occurs while the motor is working.
To visualize or audiolize that effect larger you can bring a drill(corded or cordless) closer to the cartridge and turn it on. You may even see your speaker drivers moove picking up transient pulses. Certainly such are much smaller from the supplied motor but they're present and definitely affect the performance of the system.
Cartridge pickups, microphones and speakers are working on the same effect of electromagnetics. when the current flows through the conductor it induces a magnetic field and bacwads: the moving magnet inside the electric field creates emf i.e. electro-motive force. One way or the other all magnetic systems are vulnerable to EM interfearance.

In AC motors there are no collector brushes and so is EM noise is minimized. The quartz-digital motors we can consider as a special case of AC motor where the freequency of pulse is dictated by quartz.

I never compared or analyzed issues of stability of EM interfearance, but more often myself had issues especially in cheap analogue systems where the system picked up too much of the motor noise that had been a primary reason of poor cartridge performance.
Marakanetz, to pursue this conversation...I'm no electrical engineer, so don't string me up if I get this wrong. I am currenlty using a Grado Reference on an idler-wheel 'table, and it's as quiet as the grave, which is significant as the Grados are very sensitive to e-m fields. Now, looking at a prime example of an idler-wheel motor - a Lenco L75 (weight something like 3 pounds) - I see that it does not physically contact the brushes but spins freely like a well-designed platter bearing, which it in fact resembles, with the caveat that it has two bearings, one at each end, of polished stainless steel. So your comparison with the spark-throwing drill motor is incorrect in this case. From previous research into these motors (due to my first and shocking exposure to the idler-wheel principle) I had identified the motor as an "induction" motor. Maybe I was wrong, I never had a chance to find out as I was traveling at the time. Now I am only trying to remember what I read years ago, but the idler-wheel motors are "non-cogging" and so actually give out less physical vibration than AC motors (assuming my induction motor is not an AC motor itself!), assuming they are balanced, as all idler-wheel motors are. And, for instance, Origin Live is marketing an after-market DC motor which has received universally good reviews as providing a significant upgrade over AC motors and the expensive power supply regulation they require. Maybe you could elucidate these arcane matters for me, as I truly am interested. Probably I should get off my ass and take some sort of course in electronics. Much appreciated.
Without looking inside of your Lenco motor which is I guess an advanced tech stuff, I can't say wether it's idler-wheel, AC or digital one.
If you're saying that the motor doesn't physically contact the brushes, than I assume the motor is driven by magnetic field that could either be due to the AC or quartz clocking pulse.
I can also assume that there are no brushes and ball bearings instead. In this case the noise will be much smaller but the fact of surfed contact is present still...

The drill example is only an example of an open problem arround all DC motors. Certainly there are ways to tame such noise and make it's influence area much smaller.

AC motors while do have vibrations have much less EM noise than DC ones. Kill one bitch and another will rise.

EM noise can interact with cartridge's magnet and change it's specified properties almost as well as Vibrations and speed instability.
Thanks for the info, Marakanetz. The Lenco is an idler-wheel drive with an extremely heavy four-pole motor, which I calculate spins at about 1600-1800 RPMs. It has polished stainless steel bearings with pointed ends (but the motor lies horizontally), in bronze bushings. There's no quartz regulation, but this is not necessary, as the heavy and hand-balanced motor creates its own flywheel effect. The heavy and hand-balanced platter,with roughly 50% of its mass concentrated on the periphery, further smooths it out, because of the direct contact via the idler wheel. Garrards have similar motors, but different from the Lenco implementation. Thanks to you, now I begin to understand their inner workings.