educate me

Can someone help me or point me in the right direction about phono cartridges? Specifically...if I buy a table (project Expressions3) and it come with a MM cart. do I have to stick with MM or can I move to MC and would I want to? High outout vs Low output, Are there advantages to one over the other. I understand how they work, but sonically speaking what can I expect? Thanks
my dad just gave me his linn lp 12 so i am new to this stuff too i started out with the sumiko blue point special 3 and am very satisfied
If you go for an MC cart you want low output, unless your phono stage has only MM input. A good MC cart costs a lot, costs more than a good MM, but it will have much better response in the high frequencies. IMHO there's little point putting an MC cart on an entry-level tone arm, or in sending its signal to average electronics. The upgrade sequence usually recommended is 1. turntable 2. tone arm 3. cartridge 4. phono stage. There are exceptions and YMMV but that's as much of a nutshell as I can put an answer in.
If it were only that simple. There are plenty of MM carts that out perform MC at various price points and many overachieving MCs that perform closely to their more expensive counterparts. Dont get sucked in to the "you have to spend a lot of money " mentality. Do your research by reading as many reviews as you can find and visiting forums like this, Vinyl Asylum and Vinyl Engine are also good. You will need to learn to determine tone arm compatability with with various compliances among many other parameters to achieve the best performance for your money. Vinyl requires a lot of time and experimentation when your starting out but that is what makes it fun and you can reap great sonic rewards. Vinyl Engine is populated with a bunch of very knowlegable cheapskates and it (like this one ) is a treasure chest of good practical info.
good luck, Rick
Thanks for the help but if someone could tell me if a TT is dependent on one type of cartridge, or can I switch from MM to MC whenever I feel like it
In short no, the TT will be fine with any cartridge but the tonearm will only be optimum with a cartridge that has a compliance suited to its mass. There are charts for this calculation and some good info is available in the library at the engine. Also the dealer you buy your cart from should be able to advise.
do I have to stick with MM or can I move to MC...?
Technically, there's no reason you couldn't go to an MC.

... and would I want to?
Possibly, but as Tobias and others have tried to advise, it would be an error to move very far up the cartridge hierarchy for the TT and tonearm you're considering. Keep your cartridge budget under $500, maybe under $300 and you'll be fine.

High outout vs Low output, Are there advantages to one over the other. I understand how they work, but sonically speaking what can I expect?
As a rule, LO MC's have shorter/thinner coils on the cantilever vs. their HO cousins. Lower moving mass results in increased speed, responsiveness, HF extension and micro-dynamics. These are all good things and will let you hear more of the music in the grooves, PROVIDED the rest of the system is up to it.

The rig you're considering is not up to the performance levels of most LOMC's, certainly not the expensive ones costing $1K+. What you'd hear if you bought one of those would be the limitations of the table and arm, not more music.

LOMC's also require more amplification from the phono stage to boost the signal voltage up to levels your line stage can deal with. The more amplification you need the higher quality the amplification must be, otherwise you'll hear problems or limitations in the amplification chain instead of better music.

Finally, LOMC's require fairly careful impedance matching. All MM cartridges and most HOMC's are designed for playing into an MM's phono stages 47K ohm load. That is not true of LOMC's, and there is no standard from one to the next.

FWIW, my advice is to stick with MM for this rig. It won't pay you to move much higher. If you must try a LOMC I'd suggest one of the venerable Denon 103 series cartridges. They're about as non-fussy as a LOMC gets.
Another GREAT post from dougdeacon!
THANK YOU VERY MUCH!!!!! exactly what I needed to hear. How much farther up the TT food chain do you have to go before a LO MC is worth it?
I used my first LOMC in a Linn LP12 Lingo with a rewired Rega RB300 arm. If I had the same table today, without the Lingo or the LOMC, and I were hesitating before deciding on which of these to get, I would get the Lingo power supply before the cart. Hope this helps.
Far be it from me to rain on the LOMC parade but the assertion that LOMC gaurantees better response is simply wrong. I have have owned cartrdiges of all types and costs (up to over $10k) and there are many other factors contributing to the final sound. I respect that LOMC users are happy with the sound but crediting the output with having inherently better sound is missleading for someone who may just be exploring the landscape of cartridge performance. I agree that Texrons table may be more appropriate for a moderately priced MM but I would recomend you learn more and solicit a wider range of opinions and information about what is available before spending your money on a LOMC and the associated equipment neccessary to extract its full potential. You will be moving into the land of diminished returns.
I'm looking at a Clearaudio Emotion right now, twice the money, but possibly better?
Or maybe a Bluenote Piccolo?
I havent heard them side by side. I am a real fan of clearaudio equipment and in particular their cartridges. That said, due to the exchange rate they are not always a great buy and Im not sure you couldnt find a better table for that sum. Also there is the used market here on audiogon where some spectacular bargains can be found. Contact Johan at Highendbroker about the clearaudio he is a great guy with super pricing on CA equipment. Take your time and keep reading and asking questions and going to as many dealers as you can. My advise is to find a moderately priced table with a good arm (like rega 300 or equiv) a decent MM or MC (mabey an AT MC or clearaudio MM) and reasonable pre and live with it for awhile. Some TTs offer an upgrade path that will allow you to evaluate each performance "upgrade" or change so you can really hear what your investment is giving back. Linn, VPI and AR are a few that come to mind. Most of all take all advice (including mine) with a grain of salt and remember our impressions are biased by nature.
its tough parting with $1000+ when you're not sure :-(
Music Hall, Rega, Bluenote, Pro-ject, Clearaudio, vintage AR...jeesh, someone pick one for me :-) The vintage AR is "The Turntable" with a Rega arm, the Bluenote is a Piccolo, a couple Regas, Music Halls and Pro-Ject in my price range, and a Clearaudio Emotion. I'm sooo confused.
Just want to share my thoughts on the Clearaudio Emotion....Only buy this when you like fast, transparent, lean and mean sound. Overall, that's the sound you'll get with that table. If you're looking for more meat, look elsewhere.
I think I'm about to purchase a AR "The Turntable" with a Rega RB-250 and a OM-20 Super Cartridge. She's a beauty and has been gone over. Any last second thoughts before I take the plunge????
That's IMO a very nice sounding table. Try it out. Decide if you want to upgrade later rather than spend your $1000 and find out that it's not for you.
Its tough is all, I can get a NEW table for just a tad more, whew. wish I had a crystal ball :-) That Clearaudio that you like is only $200 more than the AR, as is the Music Hall 7.1
The better the cartridge, the better the overall sound. There is nothing in a stereo system that is an ultimate limiting factor. Every piece in the chain contributes. Even if you have Bose speakers, you will hear better sound from a better cartridge. The choice between a higher output over a lower output cartridge is determined by the ability of the phono stage to bring the level high enough for the system to perform to its abilities. There are some great high output cartridges that beat the pants over lower output cartridges, however, they cost more. Buy the best cartridge you can afford that works with your system. This advice is true for every component in your system. There are some components that perform better than others in their price range, and the fun is to select the best bang for the buck.
Even if you have Bose speakers, you will hear better sound from a better cartridge.

This is true, I think. One seriously interesting way to spend a budget is to put 80% of it into the source, then upgrade downstream as savings permit.

So I agree it might make some sense to listen to a great cartridge with Brand X speakers, if you hoped to upgrade eventually. The upgrade would only let you hear more of what the cartridge was already doing (but inaudibly) with those Brand X speakers. You have the highest-resolution component upstream. All systems should be balanced like this.

That's why it doesn't make sense to use a premium cartridge with an entry-level arm (and/or turntable). To put it one way, the cartridge's great resolution would let you hear the arm's limits much more clearly. Put another way, you would not be getting the best performance for the money you spent on the cartridge; whereas if you spent the money on upgrading the arm, you would then be getting more out of the cart.
went with a Rega P3 wasn't even thinking that way then bang, there she was, 5 yrs old from a fellow Agoner wih a 300 arm and a Ortofon X-3 cart.
Hope I did well, thanks for all the help.
okay, I lied, cancelled the P3 when I found out to adjust the VTA I had to use shims, should have done my homework better. Between a Music Hall MMF5.1 and a Pro-ject Xpression, think I like the arm on the pro-ject better and its $100 cheaper but the cartridge sucks, any ideas for a good (under $200) cartridge?