Cartridge recommendation please...


Jettisoned most of my record albums 20 years ago, but am considering a return to vinyl. I've dusted off my old but fully operational TT and would like to mount a new MM cartridge.

Equipment
Technics SL-1300 Direct Drive turntable
The TT would be mated to a Parasound 200 Pre, with a Parasound 2125v2 amp.
Speakers are PSB Silver i's, with an occasional switch to Vandersteen 1's for variety.
No current plan to add a separate phono preamp.

Sound
Jazz, classic soul/r&b, light rock is my preferred type of music.
I'm OK to trade some bass for better vocals and higher end clarity.
As my A'gon name suggests, I do not listen at elevated levels.

Technical/misc.
The SL-1300 currently has an equally old AudioTechnica cartridge (no obvious markings).
I'd like to target a cartridge in the $300 neighborhood.
Will get an additional headshell for whatever cartridge is purchased.
Any cautions for install, or brands to exclude?
If I've done it correctly, here's a link to the TT owners' manual.
https://usermanual.wiki/Document/technicssl1300OwnersManual.3287426015

I can certainly get recommendations from local retailers, though their choices would be for cartridge brands that they carry. My preference is to use the experience of... and hear from... the wider audience reading this post. Thanks much!
60decibels
Your Options on MM Cartridges is very Broad and will not be too financially unsettling to get on Board once more.

I have been away from using a MM for too many years to recommend one.
I do have MM's and a High Output MC in storage, that I intend on using throughtout the Winter Months on my New Phonostage to see how they deliver.

My main reason for adding the post is to suggest you take a bit of time to prepare your Vinyl for the return into listening to them.
There are many methods available to be used to give then a Clean.
I would suggest selecting Ten Lp's as a Sample and give to them a Clean, with a few receiving a Basic Clean and others receiving  a More Invasive Clean with a Solution of choice and a Stiff Bristle Goat Hair Brush' 
The return to the Vinyl System will be better to be assessed for its value if .the Hard Media is able to present at it best.      
A Grado MI (moving-iron) is an easy recommendation! The advantage over MM-types is immunity from cable and input stage capacitance. Prices range from under $100 to five-figures. A wood-body Grado Sonata (I have one) for about $300 would be a good choice! Unless you prefer to spend less on the various Black models ($79 and up).
Add a bottle of liquid stylus-cleaner and a bottle of Stylast (extends diamond life). Anybody serious about record care should own these two!
Look for Pickering XSV/3000 or XSV/3000SP cartridges for your tonearm, they are absolutely amazing for the money (between $300-450 for NOS if you are lucky). Pickering with higher number like XSV/4000 or 5000 are even better (but for double price). They are all comes with Stereohedron stylus tip (life span is over 1000 hrs). 
The problem (and it's a serious one) is buying NOS replacement styli for those great old MM cartridges. Because they all eventually wear out and need replacement! Those Pickering/Stanton Stereohedron styli are going to be particularly difficult to replace! Same for the Shure V15 series, and the Empires.
I have all of the above cartridges in my collection. Including a brand-new-in-box Shure V15 mkV MR (which I'm so far saving for posterity).
I just hauled out my old turntable as well.  I set up a independent system with a Project Xpression table, Ortofon OM Super 20e cartridge, Bellari 129 and Sennheiser 580 phones.  Am listening right now and am amazed at how much enjoyment I am getting from this gear I just had going unused!  Very thankful I saved most all the LP's of my youth.  

Regarding your question.  I have owned several Ortofon MM's over the years.  To my ear they seem neutral and balanced.  When my elliptical stylus becomes worn I would be tempted to upgrade to the om 30 stylus.  Another cartridge slightly above your range I have heard good things about is the  Audio-Technica VM750SH.  I would be curious if other members could comment on that cartridge, especially relative to my older model Ortofon.  

The mass of your arm is probably a bit higher so would also be mindful of compliance issues (a very high compliance cartridge would result in a too low resonant frequency).  Would also welcome others thoughts on this issue in practical terms as well.
chackster

pickering's published specs say life 250-300 hours for their stereohedron stylus which is more in keeping with other specs, it is an 'advanced elliptical' in my opinion.

conical: 150 hrs; elliptical 250 hrs; shibata/line contact 400hrs; SAS micro linear 500 hrs.

roberjerman

My Shure V15VxMR body, I ordered a Jico SAS on boron, there are several replacement options

https://www.jico-stylus.com/product-category/shure/?filter_cartridge-number=V15VxMR

lpgear has many options, including a line contact stylus for the Pickering Cartridges

https://www.lpgear.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=SRCH

and lp gear sells the Jico's and others for the Shure bodies
https://www.lpgear.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=SRCH


Exactly corelli.
60decibels a really good match for your tonearm would be the Nagaoka MP 150. $299.00 on Amazon. 
No need to replace styli from vintage carts in my opinion. Get a great deal on an NOS under $1000 and just play it. When it's done, sell it and have someone else retip but not with original stylus of course. Pull the next vintage cart from the museum and press play. 
pickering’s published specs say life 250-300 hours for their stereohedron stylus which is more in keeping with other specs, it is an ’advanced elliptical’ in my opinion.

Pickering never published less than 1000 hrs life span for Stereohedron stylus, I have all original manuals for many different models in my collection, read this. They do recommend to inspect stylus every 250 hrs at least.

Stereohedron is NOT an elliptical. There you go. Remember Quadrahedron stylus ?

Pickering introduced the second American-made CD-4 cartridge, preceded only by their sister company, Stanton Magnetics. Experience and continuing research with these very special cartridges led to the design of the remarkable XSV/4000 with its Stereohedron stylus (modified stereo version of the previous cd-4 Quadrahedron stylus). This XSV/4000 cartridge appeared to be superior version of the XSV/3000 (and its predecessor the XUV/4500Q). Pickering’s new XSV/4000 is a remarkable development.

The problem (and it’s a serious one) is buying NOS replacement styli for those great old MM cartridges. Because they all eventually wear out and need replacement! Those Pickering/Stanton Stereohedron styli are going to be particularly difficult to replace!


Don’t know what’s your problem. Original styli are still available NOS, at least I bought many. You can read more in my sold listing for NOS D3000 stylus.

One of the most dramatic developments of cartridge performance was the introduction of the Pickering XSV/3000 series (in the 70’s). It offered the consumer a first generation of cartridges, combining both high tracking ability and superb frequency response. It utilized a new concept in stylus design - Stereohedron, coupled with an exotic samarium cobalt moving magnet. The "SP" versions appeared on the market later when Pickering offered a top-of-the-line Stereohedron cartridge, the XSV/4000 with wider frequency response, higher compliance and smaller effective tip mass. That was one of the best MM cartridges in the 80’s.

For those who don’t know:

The manufacturer of Stereohedron back in the day was The Expert Stylus & Co in UK, this company is still active and they can re-tip every Stanton/Pickering with their own patented Paratrace stylus (one of the best profiles you can buy today). Actually Expert Stylus can retip every cartridge, people often retiping Decca MI with Paratrace.

Now please explain me why anyone should think about re-tip if a cartridge is NOS and minimum lifespan is 1000 hrs ??? I just don’t understand it ? Try to play music for 1000 hrs first and see how many years it will take.

If the cost for Pickering XSV/3000 is just $350 (NOS) then why do you think you have to retip it ? Just buy another NOS cartridge for $350 or find ore expensive XSV/4000 or XSV/5000 if you want to upgrade.

Read more about Pickering in my sold listing here.

Pickering XSV/3000 is equal to Stanton 881s (both are high compliance design) with outstanding trackability and neutral sound closer to the mastertape.  

P.S. If everyone would like to read only about new Nagaoka in every post then why asking about recommendations ? Nagaoka is a low compliance cartridge (nothing special). 




For about $400, and with a little luck or patience it may be $300ish, Soundsmith Otello is a good one. I have no idea how it compares to almost anything else, though.
I’d personally check out brands like Nagaoka, Goldring, and Grado. Good luck! 
Agree with the Otello probably being a good deal. It comes in two compliance’s though, a medium (22) and high (28). So would have to make sure which would work on that arm. Downside, it still has to be sent in for a re-tip.

You could hardly go wrong with the Nagaoka MP 150 IMO. A compliance of 18 should work on most arms, and has a replaceable stylus. Even though the Nag’s had a price increase, they still seem well regarded for their cost.

Or the Grado Gold. I liked my Grado, but beware of the Grado hummmmm


Audio Technica VM740ml.
Start there and just upgrade the stylus when it's time to replace. 
Nagaoka MP110 or MP200
Goldring E3. My sleeper cart of the year. Fantastic reviews and a wonderful sounding cartridge.

https://www.whathifi.com/us/goldring/e3/review

Retails for around $200, but can found for a little more than $100. Bested my Ortofon Red and Blue, (both of which I really like) and any of the non-wood Grados.

Highly recommended!
Why MM? Why not a high output MC like a Denon DL-110? 
This is a false statement:

A Grado MI (moving-iron) is an easy recommendation! The advantage over MM-types is immunity from cable and input stage capacitance. 

MI is identical to MM carts in every respect. Only difference is that MI uses a VIRTUAL MAGNET instead of an actual magnet on the cantilever. So all capacitive and resistive loading still has the same effects on an MI cart as for every MM cartridge.

Grado gets no “pass” for these effects. Hardly “immune” from cable and input capacitance!



My second turntable is a Technics SL1200 MKII and I found a good match in your price range to be the Ortofon 2M Bronze. It has a nude fine line stylus. It digs out more music from the groove than the lower priced 2M blue which has an elliptical stylus and the 2M red with a conical stylus.
+ Nagaoka MP110 or MP200

I also have a 2nd setup utilizing a Technics SL1200 M2 w/Nagaoka  MP200. Great match !
The Sumiko Moonstone would be another great choice. It has received great reviews from numerous publications. Also the Shure m97xe if you can get your hand on one, as they are selling at 3 times the original price, sometimes brand new on ebay. Lastly, I’ve read good things about the Shelter 201 mm cartridge, but it is not easy to locate unless you buy it from a seller in say the UK for instance. You could go the high output MC route as well. My pics would be the sumiko blue point no 2, or a goldring Eroica H. I have experience with both, and they are great sounding high output MC cartridges.
To all: Feedback is much appreciated and plenty to chew on thus far.

re: coachpoconnor question... I had noted a MM cartridge only because of my $300 budget range. Certainly am open to other choices.

Vette5451
rushfan71
You both wrote that you had SL-1200’s... are they still equipped with the original tone arm or did you change?

Thanks to all!
60decibels at $300 you best stick with MM or MI cartridges. There is simply much more value in them. High output MC cartridges have very high effective mass due to the large coils they have to use to get the output up. The resonance peak can fall into the upper audio range (very bright) and they do not track as well. MM and MC cartridges fall into different markets the MM buyers being much more frugal thus they are priced lower and you get more for your money. The Nagaoka MP 150 matches your tonearm perfectly and is a great performer. In order to surpass it with a MC cartridge you would have to spend $1000 on the cartridge plus you still need a high gain phono stage or step up transformer.
 A good example of the pricing disparity between MC and MM cartridges is the Clearaudio Charisma a MC cartridge that uses exactly the same stylus and cantilever as the Clearaudio Goldfinger. The Charisma costs $2K the Goldfinger $17K. 

No idea about current pricing but close to your budget; Audio Technica VM740 or Nagaoka MP200

If you decide to stretch your budget; Audio Technica VM760 or MoFi Mastertracker

Have experience with all of them using vintage Kenwood DD TT and newer Technics 1210GR. 


this is an excellent choice in your budget

https://www.audio-technica.com/en-us/cartridges/type/moving-magnet/vm540ml

microline stylus cost more but last much longer, around 500 hours.

I am using the prior version vm440ml actively, and compare it to my Shure V15Vxmr with Jico SAS stylus. I like the Shure brush feature, however The Audio Technica has wider channel separation and tighter channel balance, both important factors involved with imaging.
chackster

It's now your fault that I probably will buy one of these,

however, the 3000 says 4.7mv signal, the 4000 says .7mv signal.

file:///C:/Users/ellio/Downloads/ve_pickering_xsv_4000_en.pdf   

Is that a typo? Makes me think of recent MC thread with too weak/too strong issue, looking for SUT with only 5 or 6 x factor.

https://forum.audiogon.com/discussions/best-sut-for-van-den-hul-crimson-stradivarius-cartridge

................................

STYLUS LIFE: I now see what you are saying, however, I still have a hard time believing 1,000. hours.

The OEM instructions I got from Vinyl Engine:

file:///C:/Users/ellio/Downloads/ve_pickering_xsv-3000%20(1).pdf

said 'check' after EVERY 250-300 hours. I just skimmed it quickly, assumed 'replace after' when I saw the #'s which fit most other life expectancy charts.
.............................................

Stereohedron Shape

It's unique, but not a line-contact/shibata/sas/micro-linear correct? that's why I think of it as an 'advanced elliptical' although that doesn't sound 'special enough'.. I've never seen a true comparison, perhaps you know of one.

It has incredible 35db channel separation. I don't see a channel balance rating.




@lmnop   Would you elaborate on the sound quality of the cartridges you mentioned, particularly in the technics 1210gr?
@corelli  The MP200 has a nice full range sound. Pretty dynamic. The VM740 is leaner but more detailed. The VM760 has nice deep base and full soundstage. The MoFi is really smooth and detailed top to bottom. They’re both really good all around cartridges no matter your music preference. 
I have been thrilled with the entire line of Goldring carts. I started with their MMs and have moved all the way up to the Ethos. I have always been impressed and yet to find a cart below $2,000 that comes close for my ear.
I purchased the VM-95E with the para trace stylus for about $200, only available from UK, great mm for the price

https://theaudiofiles.co.uk/95p-paratrace-stylus-for-at95e-cartridge/
If I were using you’re setup,I would definitely have a look at the Soundsmith line.


It’s now your fault that I probably will buy one of these,

however, the 3000 says 4.7mv signal, the 4000 says .7mv signal.

I’ve seen it before and I can confirm that .7mV signal is a misprint in the documents. Check my sold listing for more info.

■ Pickering XSV/4000 Output is 4.9 mV (THIS IS CORRECT OUTPUT * )

■ * You have find misinformation in the internet regarding an output of the XSV/4000 series, I have original booklet from Tosy Corporation (Japan) with comparison chart of several top of the line Pickering cartridges, the output of the XSV/4000 is 4.9mV (not 0.7 mV as stated by mistake is some manuals online, it was a typo). The XSV is a high output series, while the low output series is XLZ. The Output of the XSV/4000 is 4.9 mV and this is correct information from the printed catalog.

I’ll tell you more: last week I just opened the sealed box and mounted my XSV/4000 for a friend who bought it. I checked the carts and it’s a HIGH OUTPUT moving magnet. Don’t believe anyone who will repeat that it’s low output, it’s not true.

I can confirm the Soundsmith Otello as a great choice for your table with a caveat. I had to add weight to the counterweight to get a good static VTF. Pretty easy to do. KAB and Technics both make thread on auxiliary counterweights. Once properly mounted this is an excellent performer. Outdoes Nagaoka, Shure, Grado woods, and ATs of similar price range. A superbly balanced performer at that price range.