Dynavector Karat 17D3: retip for $500 or get something new?

I have a Dynavector Karat 17D3 cartridge which I liked soundwise until it began to mistrack severely. Had it examined and it turned out the diamond is almost completely worn out.

I can get it retipped with the new Micro Ridge Stylus for $500. Alternatively, I can attempt to sell it, add $500-$600 and get another cartridge. The question is: can anything it the range of $700-800  sound better than a retipped "old" Karat? 

My system consists of Mitsubishi LT-30 turntable, Nakamichi CA-7A preamp, SONY TA-N330 ES power amp and Solstice MLTL speakers. Speakers are not very bass-efficient so the new cartridge shouldn't be bright.   


Why would someone with obviously that kind of disposable income retip a cartridge when they can just buy a new one and anything they would want under the sun? Because some people really like what they have and they want to stick with it. I can’t imagine a scarier client, really. This isn’t someone who hasn’t heard a certain cartridge before on a so so system. This is someone whose ear is tuned to s certain cartridge they know intimately in an extremely revealing system in an intimate familiar space and they don’t want what they’ve got disturbed. And yet they come to me and they come back with repeat business.

It’s good for advertising, but in reality once their cartridge retipped or refurbished they can’t send it back to the manufacturer for exchange for a new one (if they really like the original sound), so they can only continue with their favorite retipper, if it’s just a new tip then it’s ok, but if it’s different cantilever then who knows. Some specific models are way different and many retippers refuse to work with them (because they know it won’t be as good as the original). So everything depends on a cartridge and its design/materials/parts.

I wonder why people have not discovered MM or MI yet ? Genuine user replaceable stylus is the answer to all the problems.

On the other hand I have a question for manufacturers of MC cartridges, seems like they are losing their customers after first sale. 


There are people who prefer moving coil cartridges right along with their inconveniences because they prefer the sound to MM and MI.  There are also MM and MI cartridges that don’t utilize a replaceable  stylus system like Grado woodies. B&O MMC, and Clearaudio (although Clearaudio really is user replaceable, just go to YouTube and plenty of people will show you how).

There are also people who use MM and MI cartridges that at one time had a user replaceable option, but now they don’t.  Stanton, Pickering, old Grado, Shure.  For many people, the aftermarket replacements just aren’t good enough for some reason.  If you want to keep your extremely rare and irreplaceable beryllium foil cantilever on you Shure V15 various models and you’ve worn out your Micro Ridge, what do you do?  Many people try the Jico SAS and they just don’t think it sounds the same and so the Type IV, Type V and Type Vx stylus will come to me for a fresh Micro Ridge.

I upgrade diamonds and cantilevers on original Shure M97xE styli regularly because now that Shure is out of manufacturing cartridges, people want to keep their original stylus and have it retipped and upgraded to a nude diamond.  They don’t want the aftermarket stylus.

On the other end of the spectrum, people have very expensive cartridges and they just want a new diamond.  I replace the Gyger S on a LOT of Benz Micro cartridges because I’m faster, less expensive, and trusted.  I don’t replace the whole cantilever.  I replace just the diamond.  Benz charges thousands to do this depending on the model.  It’s not that they owner can’t go to the manufacturer.  They don’t want to.

I replace EMT, Jan Allaerts, Brinkmann, Koetsu, Kiseki, Air Tight, Dynavector, Benz Micro—anything.  I’m just as happy replacing the bonded conical on a Shure Whitelabel and, not surprisingly, I have plenty of business doing those because Whitelabel fans don’t seem to like the Jico replacement stylus.

I enjoy doing them all and I think each job is fun.  Getting paid for it is truly a bonus and also necessary so I can keep buying supplies.  I listen to awesome stereo, my favorite LPs all night in my headphones while listening to cartridges I just repaired and I have a blast doing it.  It’s my favorite thing in the world and I hope I can do it for a very long time into the future.

If you really think MM and MI solve all the problems, then why do MC cartridges even exist?  


Needlestein, It's good for us vinylistas to know you are out there.  Thank you for posting.  Some MI cartridges do not have user replaceable "styli", but they do have user replaceable modules that may include all or part of the transducing mechanism, like B&O MMC types or Acutex 300 series cartridges.  (I don't know about Grado.)  If I am not correct on that, please do let me know.  I don't know of any Stanton or Pickering models that do not have user replaceable styli.  The problem is that OEM replacements are very scarce, for the really good vintage models.

B&O are sealed MI.  There is no reusesble module unless you’re using “module” to mean cartridge.  They can be retipped, but the suspensions must be evaluated as they often fail.  When the suspension fails, it can be expensive to repair.  At that point I usually just advise clients to purchase a Sound Smith SMMC of their choice. Acutex 300 series is a standard type replaceable stylus and about once a year a good stash seems to show up on the auction site.  Better and best Stanton and Pickering model original styli are very hard to find, but I retip them pretty often.  There were some excellent replacement styli for those made decades ago.  The more recent ones, even the expensive ones, are just okay compared to originals.  But if someone’s never heard what an original can do, I can see them being delighted because they still sound a lot better than a lot of what’s out there new now, so long as sibilance is not a problem.  Sibilance has always been an issue with the better and best Stanton and Pickering aftermarket styli.

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