Cartridge Recommendation and Other Issues

I really have 2 questions. One practical and the other someweher in between. The first is I'm looking for a recommendation for a replacement for my Sumiko BPS. I've got a Rega P-3 with a Classe 6 pre so I can pretty much use any output level. I've enjoy the BPS, but it probably time for a change. Anyway what do people recommend in the $350-$600 range.
My secong quesion relates to cartridge installation. What;s the minimum that I would have to spend to get an appropriate set of tools to install and align a cartridge. Its not something I've ever done but I realize that its probably time to teach myself. Is it work buying a cheap Grado to practice on? What do people think?
In that range, if you don't mind MM, my ears liked the Clearaudio Aurum Beta S, about $400, and the Clearaudio Virtuoso Wood around $650-700

To align the cart get yourself an alignment protractor--you can get them anywhere from about $15 to $50 or more depending on what you want. A stylus force guage doesn't hurt, either.
1. You can get precision alignment protractor and tracking force gauge from along with neccessary bolts washers and other tools to mount cartridge. Please note that you acquire heavy cartridge bolts in case if you need higher cartridge weight;
2. Never used any costly MM catridges but less expencive Grados are terrible and could hum quite loud no matter how you load it or isolate the ground path in your analogue rig nearly in any turntable you can ever imagine.
3. Any cartrige I've used from Goldring line has an outstanding for price performance
4. I'd still suggest staying with MC cartridges since they're in general more quiet, have larger bandwidth and natural midrange. The following are great performers in the price range you've specified that have high output: Dynavector 20XH, Dynavector 10X4, Benz Ace, Benz Glider(if ordered from internet), Goldring Eroica.
Hi Chanifin

With reference to your first question I have owned and highly recommend both the Clearaudio Aurum Beta S and a Grado 'Sonata'. Both these cartridges fall pricewise within your critiria. The sound of both of these cartridges is excellent. Fine inner detail with overall smooth and musical presentation.

The final decision would be one of personal preference.

Hope this helps and all the best.


I like everything Marakanetz said. Great recommendations.

AFAIK, the only rival to the $20 turntablebasics protractor is a $150 Wally, which is the best. Everything else I've seen is a toy by comparison.
Thanks for the cartridge suggestions. Any more out there ?

Other than the protactor. What do people suggest for the catridge install. I've seen a bunch of different force gauges. Are the super expensive electronic balance (e.g. clearaudio) worth it or can you make due with something less accurate. I'm concerned because (like many other audiophile I'm guessing" my anal-retentiveness tends to get focussed on audio issues and I don't want to be sitting listening to music wondering if all my cartridge parameters have been optimally set :)
You need some kind of VTF gauge, just to be sure you're within the recommended range for the cartridge. The $20 Shure balance is fine. After that, VTF must be set by ear. No one can tell you that your PDQ X1000 cartridge must be played at precisely 3.14159 grams. Each rig and each individual cartridge is different. A superaccurate gauge won't help you find your particular sweet spot.

It will help you reproduce it however, that's the only reason I bought a fancy scale. If I need to change my setup for some reason, I can quickly and accurately reproduce a VTF that I already know is good. My cartridge happens to be very sensitive to VTF, + or -.05g is audible. Other cartridges may be different so YMMV.

You can get a better scale than the audiophile ones for a lot less money. The Clearaudio is accurate to .1g and costs $400. I use a MyWeigh MX-50, which is accurate to .01g and cost me $95. Ten times the accuracy, one quarter the price. There's a catch or two however.

The MX-50 and other small jeweller's scales are highly magnetic. You can't plunk your stylus down on one and get an accurate reading, and you might even damage the cartridge. They also aren't designed to weigh at the plane of a record, which is necessary for accuracy.

On my TT solving these problems was simple and cheap (free actually). I place the MX-50 on the table next to the TT and stand a homemade, flat-topped tower on it. The top of the tower is the same height a record would be and that's where I drop the stylus. I made the tower out of a sheet of paper and 2" of scotch tape. Since my TT is nearly 8" high, this keeps the cartridge well away from the magnetic attraction of the scale. I don't know if you could rig up something similar for a P3 or not.