Cartridge recommendations?

High compliance
4-7 g weight
easily sourced
replaceable stylus
balanced good sound
In general, I would strongly advise a good MM or MI cartridge over any HOMC at that price point and maybe at any price point.
Nagaoka MP-200  great cart and I have a MM specific phono section the Lejonklou Gaio 2  review below.
Reviews are very subjective.
You budget is a joke for a good cartridge, you need at least $350 for an OK moving magnet.

With $100-200 look for Grado Black or Audio-Technica if you want new. Don’t expect a miracle.

Grado is a high compliance and lightweight MI cartridge. I believe Grado DJ100i is cheaper than Grado Black. 
High compliance? At that price point Grado is the only one that comes to mind. Their compliance is stated as 20 cu’s. Not exactly high compliance. More of a medium. To what tonearm will the cartridge be fitted?
" You budget is a joke for a good cartridge, you need at least $350 for an OK moving magnet."
That statement is BS!

You won’t go wrong with a Grado Prestige!
Post removed 
the AT VM540ML is really good, and within your budget...

Very musical sounding cart as is the MP-200 mentioned previously. 
Stereo Imaging: go for wide channel separation, combined with tight channel balance. Check those specs for any cartridge you consider, then read reviews.

I’m a fan of Audio Technica Cartridges.

You budget is a bit low, this one fits, it is an elliptical cartridge with good separation and balance

I’m a fan of advanced stylus shapes (Microline, Line Contact, SAS, Shibata, etc.

My recommendation is that you find some more money, even if it takes a bit longer, to get this $250. one, wide 28db sep; tight 1 db balance.

This is AT’s least costly advanced stylus, in your budget, you might think better, BUT: poor channel separation, only 23db

Note: any cartridge, and especially advanced stylus shapes require careful alignment to hear their potential, you need some basic tools and skills, or a friend with either/both.

Also: advanced stylus shapes last longer, so eventually you will actually be spending less money.

Stylus Shapes Info

  • Spherical / Conical - 150hrs
  • Elliptical - 250hrs
  • Shibata/Line contact - 400hrs
  • SAS/MicroRidge - 500hrs

The Nagaoka MP-110 is in your price range. Have compared it against higher priced Ortofon, Dynavector, Sumlko, Grado, etc. It's a killer....:-)
High compliance
4-7 g weight
easily sourced
replaceable stylus
balanced good sound

Nagaoka MP100,110,200 compliance is VERY LOW for a moving permalloy (mm/mi) cartridge! Dynamic Compliance is listed as 6cm/dyne at 100hz, so at 10hz dynamic compliance of this cart is just 10cu which is very low compliance!

If you are looking for high compliance cartridges (as you said) stay away from Nagaoka.
I am very happy with my Goldring 1042 MM cart, switching from an AT one some time back.  I believe it is medium to high compliance.
Compliance is over-rated. I have used high and low compliance carts on my turntable with excellent results with both. While I wouldn't recommend a total mismatch, give various carts a listen if you are able. You will be surprised at the results. Some here follow nothing but stats. A little knowledge with them can be :-) 

Also OP, the Nagaoka MP-110 easily meets all of your other requirements including balanced good sound.
@mr_m When OP looking for a HIGH COMPLIANCE cartridge your recommendation for a LOW COMPLIANCE cartridge for the same person is strange.

Lightmass tonearm is the reason for High Compliance cartridge.
If you do not follow OP’s request then you can recommend any cheap cartridge just because you have it. The value of such recommendation is ZERO.

From the Ortofon website:

“To maintain a cartridge/tonearm system resonance frequency within the acceptable range of 7 to 12 Hz, whereas 10 Hz recommended, it is necessary to choose a cartridge with the mass and compliance matching the tonearm”

“A phono cartridge with the compliance in the range of 5 to 10 µm/mN is considered as a very low compliance cartridge, a cartridge with the compliance in the range of 10 to 20 µm/mN is moderate compliance cartridge and a cartridge with the compliance value above 35µm/mN is very high compliance cartridge.”

If you made a mistake do not recommend to make the same mistake to others. 

What is excellent for you with tonearm/cartridge miss match may not be ideal for others. 

A low compliance (stiff) cartridges designed for heavy mass tonearms (heavy headshells). 

CHAKSTER, I said I don't recommend a mismatch. I also don't have the cart I recommended but DID compare it to others. In other words I DID make the comparison to other carts therefore not invalidating my comparisons.

Try comparing the MP-110 against any carts from the likes of Ortofon, AT, Grado, and others in the same price range of the Nagaoka, and you will hear as well as see that the Nagaoka is superior. I have the MP-200 on a light weight tonearm and I am getting fantastic results.

You simply don't like Nagaoka. You have stated so in the past. I've tried to be diplomatic with you, but all you insist on doing is spew a un-ending line of stats and figures.

I'm not trying to steer the OP on to a "mistake" as you call it, and I agree not every combination will lead to great results. If you can audition a specific cart. from a dealer, or maybe a friend, such as I did, you will then have a greater scope for comparison. We're not talking thousands of dollars here.

All the best,

What specific tonearm and TT will it be used on?

I may have a few suggestions if I can research the above.

Also, are you still using the Belles phono?

the Belles is in a different system..
I outlined the needed specs.
very light low mass tonearm
Then, that rules out Grado based upon the very low mass arm IMO (too bad).

Good luck with you mystery setup.


Cant believe all the recommendations that dont fit the requirements.

Two cartridge ranges that fit the requirements of
under 7g
high compliance
under $200

Grado Prestige series - high compliance, 5.5gm
Ortofon OM Series - high compliance, 5gm

Note that Audiotechnica 95's/Nagaoka's are NOT high compliance.

all to often I see brand prejudice so I gave the needed specs the brand becomes not relevant 

Grado red3 Compliance CUs: 20

at 95  Static Compliance20 x 10 – 6 cm / dyneDynamic Compliance10 x 10 – 6 cm / dyne (100 Hz)
You can calculate arm and cartridge compatibility putting in the information in this chart. Like I said , the Grado will work fine in a low mass arm!
A slight correction to my previous recommendation. The Grado is a moving iron cartridge, not a moving magnet. Alas the Grado recommendation in null and void. If one chose the Grado route regardless of the iron vs magnet engine, the infamous Grado hum scenario now comes into play. 

No attempt to brand shame you - just look @ my listed system.

More info equals (hopefully) better advice.

Like Grado (currently using a Silver that I recently resurrected with a NOS replacement stylus that I forgot I owned), but my experience is with their older Prestige line.

Lot's of conflicting views on Grado as to tonearm effective mass compatibility, but from my experience with their budget line they sounded best with the medium mass tonearms I've tried (9.5-12.5 approx.).

Never tried fluid or other dampers, which others have with lighter arms, so no comment there.

If the newer budget versions are different (more compatible) then great - I then suggest Grado.

But once again, the deck/arm/preamp info would help.

Soundsmith SMMC4 and 1/2 inch adapter.  High compliance, just under 4 grams without headshell screws.  Closer to $300, but I think Soundsmith does have a eBay store.  Maybe there’s a deal on the cartridge and adapter.  
well a friend gave me a grado red to try it sounds good but no amount of fiddling is getting rid of the sibilance ..
Ive tried 2 after market styli for my old cart r1000edt and both were massive failures ( the old cart sounds fine, good even BUT is OLD)
I ordered  AT-VM95ML will see how that goes
also have a stanton L747 on the way so....

@sryeager now thats a very interesting idea over budget though
My B&O tt died, so I’m using a SMMC1 on a new MoFi table with the Soundsmith adapter.  Sounds amazing.  The conventional wisdom is that it’s not a good compliance match, but nothing I can hear.  I took great care with setup, especially anti skate and azimuth.   But it could be the rest of my system is not resolving enough to hear a mismatch, which is just fine by me.
Are the older SMMC series Soundsmith's still made? Unless they are still made under the B&O name.
Yes.  Under B&O compatible, I think.  If you look at the specs, they’re a great deal.  That’s why I tried the one I already had on the turntable that’s supposedly not the best match.  I never did get an answer here about how that “mismatch “ might manifest, and I haven’t noticed any ill effects

I remember the 440.

Funny, as I was looking at the new AT95's before I found the spare stylus for my Grado (considered the red and orange models).


At that price level I also second a Grado Prestige or an Audio Technica.If you listen exclusively to Jazz and Pop, Grado will take you to (relative) heaven, but it's abysmal for classical (to my ears). Has rich but muddy midbase that adds a lot of meat, but also adds a lot of mess.
Audio Technicas are much better for classical music, but might be too lean for many pop and some jazz. ATs have a leaner midbase, but very clear spectrum otherwise.

Shure m97xe, but you will pay a premium. Now going for $300 or more new on eBay. I have one in use on a vintage Lenco, and one new in the box. Very high compliance and a great tracker, plus the damped brush. The replacement shure stylus are fetching a high price as well. However, you can grab a used m97xe and go to LP gear and buy a jico replacement stylus. 
If you really can't swing the extra $60 for the gold, then the Grado Prestige Green is a very good alternative. I have both and while the green is a good all around performer, the gold presents a broader soundstage with better imaging. 

tried a grado red a friend let me borrow could not tame the sibilance so no to grado