Cartridge recommendations

I think I need to replace my MC cartridge.  It's a Madrigal Carnegie.  I'm no longer convinced that a replacement needs to be a MC.  That was true when I bought the Carnegie but time and technology have changed.  I read last night that under $500 you're better off getting a MM.  At the $500 point and up, a MC starts to make sense.  At the $1,000 point, absolutely, get a MC.  But that was one opinion.

I'm setting a tentative budget of $1,000 to $1,500.  At $2,000 I become Ukrainian (fierce resistance occurs).

I have a Grado cartridge that I use on my 'other' TT and have a preference toward Grado cartridges.  As an aside, I visited the Grado website last night and found it very difficult to navigate.  I wanted to start by selecting a price, then go from there.  I could not find any pricing in the brief time I spent there.  I know it's there, I've seen it.  I'll try again.

So I'm looking for suggestions.  MM, MI, or MC.  I prefer warmish (Grado is known for that), smooth and hopefully detailed.  Sound staging is irrelevant.

I've started a second discussion aimed at questioning if the Carnegie is truly dead, as I fear.  If you want to chime in on that I welcome your expertise.


Donatello Gold by GoldNote is affordable but sonically noticeably as it is so much cheaper than it’s larger colleagues like Tuscany reds (also by GoldNote)

You may want to check Soundsmith they have some outstanding sounding MI cartridges as well as a wealth of information on their website.

If you have the arm for it the Ortofon SPUs have a warm full bodied sound but they’re low compliance. If there’s a removable headshell than just worry about balancing the 30g weight of the pickup head but if you need 1/2” mounting than the naked N series weigh in at ~16g with the included adaptor so the arm needs to be on the heavy side, 15g is probably enough but a little more might help. I’m getting very good results from a Royal N on an 18g arm, so much so that I’m in no hurry to swap it out for my rebuild Transfiguration Proteus.


The various Hana cartridges keep getting recommended as good value, the low output ones more so.


If you have the arm for it...  That's an interesting question.  I don't know the answer.

I have an Eminent Technology II, (mounted on on a VPI HW-19 MK II)  I'll have to dig out the ET owner's manual to see what the specs are. Since the tone arm (a boron tube I believe, or some material that makes it stiff yet light) rides on a column of air, I think a heavier than usual cartridge might be too heavy.

And to all others, thank you for the responses. 

I'll check out LP Gear. 

I also sent an email to Soundsmith asking if they can rebuild the Carnegie.  If they can, that might the more cost-efficient way to go.  I also asked them a few questions about their cartridges.  No response yet.