I won’t necessarily recommend a particular cartridge but instead make a couple observations and ask a couple questions. I was of the school of finding the best cartridge I could afford and sticking with it. I went through a number of different cartridges over several decades, often sticking with a particular brand because of the house "sound." Some of these cartridges- low output moving coils- may require that you have a phono stage that can amplify a very low output signal or use some kind of additional device, like a head amp or step up transformers. So, one question is whether you’ve thought about that.
There is at least one long running thread here about the advantages of moving iron and moving magnet cartridges which have higher output, and in some cases, are older cartridges that are sometimes, not always, cheaper than current state of the art cartridges.
Where am I going with this?
I’ve started to experiment more with the different sound different cartridges bring to the table.
I did buy my first Koetsu very recently and I am smitten with it-- it just fits so well with the rest of my system’s strengths and weaknesses.
Budget? Top tier low output moving coils are quite pricey these days. Some of the lower priced offerings by the same manufacturer can give you some portion of that sound, perhaps without the degree of resolution, or dynamics or some other aspect, at a much less painful price of entry.
Sonic character- seems to be all over the map, from cartridges that tend to emphasize the leading edge and can be explosive in dynamics, to others which sound warmer. I don’t want something that is overtly colored but at the same time, do not want hyper-analytical, particularly at the expense of harmonics and midrange depth.
So, pick your flavor, or sonic preference, indicate whether you can or are willing to accommodate a lower output cartridge and provide a rough idea of budget. I think you may get more targeted responses.
One other factor you might take into account- the cost of retipping by the manufacturer--
there’s a lot out there which suggests that stylus wear is greater and happens more quickly than claimed and other advice which suggests that it can be exaggerated. The difficulty is that short of having someone with knowledge and equipment look at the thing, you won’t know until it is already past the point of no return.
I’m sure I’ve grossly oversimplified everything and can be taken to task. I hope others who chime in can help you narrow down the field. It’s vast, and it’s hard to evaluate as a consumer, even if you get a chance to hear a given cartridge in a system being demonstrated.
It’s also quite fun. I’ve had great experiences with Van den Hul, Lyra, Airtight and now Koetsu. There are many others, current production, that are held in high regard and I’m sure you’ll hear about them.
@tkr- I have always wanted to use a Decca (now London Decca). Just never had the guts to do it. Now, I just might given that I’ll have a stable of other cartridges I can also rely on. Haven’t heard one in years. A classic.