Cartridges: low output vs. high output

Could someone please explain why these variations exist? I have only had high output cartridges. Why is there low output? I recently saw an ad here on Audiogon where the seller stated he wanted to move back to high output…

So, what are the +’s and –‘s of each?

Thank you.

BTW, I have a Sota Star with a SME IV arm and am thinking of upgrading the cartridge.
In most cases the lower output is better; it requires fewer turns of wire and is generally considered to give a better sound quality. However, the high output requires less boost; can be used directly into a MM input most of the time while the LOMC requires either a much more sensitive phono preamp or a SUT. So to summaries: for absolute best performance use LOMC; but they are usually more expensive and are more demanding of associated gear. HOMC can give very good performance [ will be preferred by some] and is probably cheaper and much easier to work with.
I have a somewhat different answer than Stan. Since the stylus must track minute groove modulations, the lower the mass of the moving part of the cartridge system the more likely it is to preserve the fine detail in the recording. The less turns in the coil of a MC cartridge, or the less iron in a MM will lower that moving mass, but also lessens the output of the cartridge.

However the higher the output of the cartridge, the more likely it is to have an optimal signal to noise ratio with a given phono preamp. Assuming that it is not overloading the phono preamp.

Preference for the later is a completely acceptable choice and I would take issue with one type of cartridge being thought superior to the other. In fact Raul Iruguias, who has many fine turntables and a collection of tonearms and cartridges to rival any around, is quite taken with certain vintage MM cartridges. So I would say that, as will all things audio, this comes down to a matter of personal taste and system matching.
Both are equal your move.
For me the answer starts with what Phono stage you plan to use, because matching is the most important factor. Also helps to know in absolute terms which input (MM or MC)sounds better on your Phono. There aren't a lot of cartridge manufactures that sell different output levels of the same cart, are you willing to change brands?
Thanks for the responses guys and shedding some light on this.

As Vusi mentioned, I will first start with an inquiry to Conrad Johnson on their phono preamp I have, namely the EF1, for compatibility with a LOMC. If my suspicion is correct that the EF1’s gain can be adjusted sufficiently for a LOMC, I’ll consider them for replacement. I’ll look to gather info on the experiences others have had with them and go from there.

As Viridian alluded to, this will come down to personal preference I’m sure.
I believe in the past, the general scuttlebutt was that LOMCs were superior to their high-output brothers. Of course, most of the people who said this, probably had phono stages, with their associated costs, that could handle the LOMC.
There aren't a lot of cartridge manufactures that sell different output levels of the same cart, are you willing to change brands?
Um, there are several who do exactly that. Benz and ZYX come instantly to mind and a little research would turn up others.

I've A/B'd the low and high output versions of several ZYX models. In my system the low output version was invariably superior, so much so that I advised the US importer not to bother stocking the HO output versions of any of the expensive models.

However, the qualification "in my system" was critical. I'm fortunate enough to own a very fine phono stage, capable of amplifying even very low level signals with minimal noise or distortion and with exceptional transparency. As Stanwal and Viridian noted, the challenge of cleanly amplifying very low voltage signals is not easily (or cheaply) met. Many phono stages that have sufficient gain for a LOMC lack the transparency, speed, clarity or other capabilities necessary to fully reproduce everything the cartridge is capable of. In such a case, one's monies might be better spent upgrading the phono stage before investing in a LOMC.

The EF1 is a reasonable phono stage. It has enough gain for low (but not very low) output MCs, down to around 1.0mv or so but not .25mv and possibly not .5mv. The specs don't indicate whether the EF1 has adjustable input impedance. This is vital for optimizing any LOMC. Ask c-j about this before investing in an expensive LO cartridge. (If they tell you it's unnecessary run, don't walk...)