Cartridge selection

I have an Oracle Delphi with an ET-2 arm and am looking for a cartridge. The cartridge should be low to medium compliance and have at least 2.5mv output due to the fact that I'm planning on using a Bottlehead Foreplay phono preamp. I would like it to be a MC cartridge, I do not want to use a step-up device, and it should be capable of good performance listening to all types of music. I'm not sure how much I'm going to need to spend to make this worth my while. $500.00? $800.00?

I know my choices are limited, so I am actually wondering if I might be better off getting a MC phono preamp or selling my LS7 and getting a full function preamp. This would give me a lot more options as I would then be able to use a low output MC cartridge.

I would love to hear what some of you think about this.
I'm not clear. Do you have a Foreplay linestage or a Seduction phono preamp? (I don't see a Foreplay phono preamp on Bottlehead's site, that's why I'm asking) and your system pics don't show it.

Here's what I'd do (without knowing exactly what phono preamp you had in mind.) Your system is too sophisticated already, and with the OD TT and ET-2 arm, you don't want to settle for a high output cart (even a HO MC cart) just for the sake of using a low gain (38dB) phono preamp. Do yourself and your system a favor. Get yourself a nice used ARC phono preamp to go with that LS-7. You just missed 3 ARCs under a grand, one w/ black faceplate to match your LS-7 ;--)

Then get a decent med/lo output MC cart to stick in that great arm. There are excellent mid-priced choices from vdHul, Lyra, Transfiguration, ZYX, Shelter, Dynavector, Ortofon, and Sumiko.

Why cut of your nose to spite your Bottlehead?
Thanks for your thoughts. There is no Foreplay phono preamp, I goofed. It is a Seduction. I originally built the Seduction to use as a tape head pre but changed my mind at the last minute when I bought the Delphi, so maybe I will just go back to that original plan.

You mentioned that it's not desireable to settle for a high output MC cartridge. Are they generally inferior to low output MCs, or are you refering to the fact that I will just have too few choices in high output MCs?

Thanks again!
Yes, use your Seduction for the Technics if it can be so adapted (you won't need the RIAA section for instance. The ARC phono preamps are tube units with higher gain, and a good synergistic match for the LS-7.

HO MCs are better than MMs IMO, but still don't have the finesse of the more conventional lower output units. van den Hul might be a little bit high compliance for the ET-2, but you should specifically to ask some ET owners what carts have worked well in that arm. My personal favorite med compliance cart right now is the Transfiguration Temper W, but the new Orpheus just came out so I'm waiting to hear what the early adopters have to say ;--)
If its HO MC carts, you should consider the Sumiko and Dynavector carts. I agree with Nsgarch, a low output mc would be best and there are lots of good low priced ones nowadays.
Would anyone care to comment on the effectiveness of using a .48mv cartridge with a phono preamp with 54db of gain and a linestage with 13db of gain?

Will this be enough gain?
Ketchup -- that combo would be on the dividing line. If you have reasonably efficient speakers and the .48mV cartridge is spec'd with the JVC test record (3.54 cm) then it would be a definite yes. Otherwise, you might want a phono preamp with more like 60dB+ gain.

As for the gain of your main preamp, well its gain has to drive your amp/speakers properly, but it's not the place to compensate for low phono preamp gain or cartridge output. The object really, is to work with the output(s) of the front end sources (CD, tuner, phono, etc) so they all drive the preamp with roughly the same signal strength producing the same dB output at the speakers without adjusting the volume control between sources.

Secondly, you'd like for your customary listening level to occur with the volume control on the preamp at 12 o'clock +/- because that's where you get the optimum performance (gain vs. distortion) out of the preamp.