Cartridge recommendations

Just had an unfortunate accident. While putting my Shelter 501 mk 11 cartridge on a new Audiomods arm, one of the electrodes on the cartridge snapped off. Almost impossible to repair.

I've been very happy with that cartridge. Bought it second hand for $500  
off Audiogon seven yrs ago, still going strong. Can't afford a new one, but if anyone has a used one in good condition, I'd buy it. Or are there any comparably good sounding carts people would like to recommend?
Denon DL103 or DL103R.
You could also check with SoundSmith to see if they could repair it.
+1 no romance

Denon DL-110 is also an option with a nice lush (polite in the treble) FM radio vintage sound with great soundstage and forward mids. I like vinyl to sound like vinyl and that is what you will get with Denon DL-103 too.
In addition to Sound Smith another option for repair may be the Needle Clinic
Andy@ Needle Clinic <>
Most of us who are record devotees will experience cartridge trauma at some point.

A good read regardless of current budget is this thread on the Audio Technica ART9

Worth including on your wish list.
@noromance dl103 or 103r for shelter 501 mk2 owner? For those who like refined cartridges the Denon 103 is on the opposite side like the Ortofon SPU.

@houseofhits why not look for decent vintage MM cartridges of the highest caliber in the same $500-700 budget (such as Victor X-1 or X-2, Geace F9 or F14, Stanton 981, Audio-Technica AT-ML150 or higher)? Those MM carts will cream many expensive MC, but for much less money. 
@chakster the OP said he couldn't afford a new one so I figured these would be a good option.
What the heck is an electrode on a cartridge, Do you mean one of the pins? Can you post a picture?

You could take a look at the new Hana line of cartridges. They have been getting some nice press. They have 4 models (HO/LO Elliptical) $450 US(HO/LO Shibata) $650 US. The Elliptical  is in your price range. Worth a look.


@sturgus I wonder what is special about those Hana MC carts under $650? Do you own any or your advice based on other people reviews online? 
I would send the Shelter to SoundSmith if you are very patient, or to Phono Cartridge Retipping for evaluation and possible repair.
What is the difference in sound between the Denon 103 and the Denon 103R??  Is it the type of stylus shape?? or better sound quality. Th Denon's MC's  also have notoriously low output... like .030.

Even the DL-110 MM  is only 2.0 mV which is low compared to Ortofon cartridges and some other MM's  What about the Nagota cartridges from Japan, like the MP-150 which gets very good reviews   
It's pretty funny when people suggest something they have probably never owned based on review online @sunnyjim 

DL-103 has conical tip, people love it or hate it, to my ears conical tip is the worst ever and it will be the worst choice for people who love extended and detailed sounds. Reviewers will tell you the conical Ortofon SPU is very musical cartridge, but in reality (at least for me, in tube high efficiency system) it is dull and uninvolving with lack of details on both ends. This is total oldschool. It is in the same caregory as cheaper DL-103. So many cartridges does it much better and so many vintage MM carts sounds incredibly good for the same price as conical DL-103 or elliptical 103R. People invest in mods of 103, but for the cost of this mods they could buy much better cartridges without any mods required. I just don't understand it. Denon S1 or DL1000 were the best Denon cartridges this company ever made, not the 103 or 301 series. 
To Chakster:  I did not ask my question to be insulted as indicated by your opening remark to my query  

Don't show off your knowledge of a product at my expense or  any another members of this site. It is bad manners and discourteous......Sunnyjim
@sunnyjim i’m not trying to insulting you or anyboby else on this forum (never), but if you leave a comment or advice something, trying to be helpful, please refer to your own experience with certain cartridges, not to the reviwers experience (who’s often got paid for review somehow). Before you will teach me good manners, It will be much more helpful to share your personal experience, don’t you think so? That’s why people ask questions here, including myself.

Apart from the stylus tip, The 103r model has different coil wire compared to 103, i hope you got the answer to your own question.

Nagaoka’s top of the line pm-50 (vintage model) and current pm-500 model are frequently mentioned in Raul’s post here (loads of personal experience), while the pm-150 is just an entry level model and can’t compete with Shelter 501 mk2 MC cartridge.
I personally love the 103. Modded either nude or in an after market body it sounds very good. My experience tells me it needs to be loaded at around 400-500 ohms and then it sings with the best of them. At 100 ohms it is a bit closed in and blah!
I have one which I came with a turntable I bought on Audiogon. I never used the turntable because I have no amp for it so I don't know how good the cart is.

pm if interested 

     I have had the 103 and the 304 denons yrs ago they always performed well for there price.I as tablejockey spoke of am hot to swap my benz for the at art9 the reviews are very good .It is rare in the u.s. but available . and seems to hit well above its price range ..
good luck

@sunnyjim Please don't hold the sanctimonious, self-promoting preachings of some put you off of this fine forum. I certainly interpreted your post as a request for information.

@tablejockey  & @oleschool,  I too looked at the ART-9 before I bought the DL-301mkII.
However, I could not justify spending almost 3 times as much for my first MC. Now that I've tried one, I like them. We'll see where it goes from there. That's why I'm reading this thread. The ART-9 is definitely on my wishlist.

To 2channel8  That is what I thought when I ask the question, that is, just looking  for information about the Denons not a mini lecture.. 

I don't have the money or time to buy and sell cartridges to see which works best In addition, I don't want a desk  drawer of  used cartriges. 

Though I am always willing to  listen to the advice of other members.  Nevertheless, I hope to list the cartridges I have used over the last 45 years.   Thank you for the comment

To raymondo: What outboard phono pre-amp allows  loads up to 400-500 ohms to maximize the Denon 103's potential??.  I have only  seen  loading  standard options of 47 ohms, and 100-200 Ohms but no higher.

Our colleague "Mofimadness" has a short list of phono pre-amp but not on this thread. . Look for his response to a thread about phono pre-amp..  But let's hear from you first.   Thanks


Our Liberty B2B-1 can be set to any desired loading 500Ohms is one of several standard selectable load settings, any customized load can be requested on ordering of this little gem.

The Denon DL103 and 103R are very nice cartridges for what they are asking for them, and properly set up and in the right tonearm they are very musically satisfying - there is a reason they are still making them after 40 - 50 plus years. The 103 in the very affordable Jelco SA750 Tonearm are is a stellar combination for the price.

The only difference on the 103 and the 103R is the coil wire the 103R has a "6 nines" wire the 103 a lesser quality wire of the coils.  The stylus shape is the same on both : 16.5 Micron round tip.

Good Listening


I have an audiomods classic 4 about 5 years old.  Great arm, especiallly for the price-But the cartridge tags he uses are too small for anything, and they are cast. they won't spread so something has to break; I had a tag crack.  Took tags off my rpm-4 and put on arm.
I llove the AT 95E OR EX very capable and cheap to replace..I have a Linn Basik mk 1 turntable with a B2  Akito arm with leak tl12 power amps
a msical fidelity iclic pre and spendor s6e speakers..
I'm unable to find a better cartridge than the 2M Black and I've been trying many cartridges for a long time now. It's the closest to analog tape sound.
@invictus005 do you have tape machine?
Have you tried the AT-ML170 OCC or maybe Stanton 981?
This is the T.A.S. article to check about the cartridges that sounds closer to the mastertape, but this is the opinion of the guys who actually cut and master from the tapes:
@chakster I have not tried those two cartridges yet, but I'm working on getting at least one of them to try, possibly the ML170. Great article BTW. I always knew that MM cartridges produced the closest sound to master tapes. However, 2M Black was not around when the article was written. 

I have a B77, but there are not many good prerecorded commercial reels available. I personally know two awesome people in Chicago who record jazz music on reel to reel tapes. Those sound tremendous. One of them sells 1:1 copies of his masters. Good stuff. 
Well, my real to real is too old, it is more for the decoration and looks very attractive, got it from my gradfather. 

Anyway, i have mentioned in another thread that one of my AT-ML170 is looking for a new home. I have the AT-ML180 OCC to keep.

I really doubt that any new MM cartridge can compete with AT-ML170 or Technics EPC-100c mk4 from that article, just because nobody uses such revolutionary technologies in MM design nowadays, materials are not available, and the market demand is not so high. It's hard to imagine the price for something like AT-ML180 OCC or Technics EPC-100c mk4 if they were made today. It's a pinnacle of the MM design and very few cartridges can compete with them, but i can mention a few: Grace F-14 BR/MR, Glanz MFG-61. 

But a friend of mine has replaced his Ortofon 2M with NOS Stanton 881s mkII and was very impressed even on his cheap project turntable.

Personally i like a lot my Stanton SC-100 WOS signature model with sapphire coated cantilever and nude Stereohedron tip. 
I actually thought Chakster was giving good advice.  You might not like how he presents it, though.  I prefer his no b.s. way of speaking.