Entry Level MC Recommendations?

The househeeper's duster snagged the stylus of my SoundSmith rebuilt Clearaudio Virtuoso cartridge and yanked it clean out! Now that I'm done crying, I'm looking at it as an opportunity to try a MC cartridge. My budget is $200-300. I have a Clearaudio Emotion turntable with Satisfy tonearm. I like what I read about the Benz-Micro MC20E2-L. The Denon DL-103 has been recommended. Ortophon Blue? Sumiko Pearl? I'm open to anything that will give me an even balance between detail and musicality/tonal accuracy. I listen to folk, jazz and classical, as well as the occasional rock record. Thanks!
Denon DL103R - it has a stylus guard put it on when not playing vinyl :-)

Good listening

I would choose the Benz.
Love the Denon 103 series, well-regarded by many...

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It appears that the LOMC phono stage of your Luxman L-505u integrated amplifier presents a non-adjustable load impedance of 100 ohms. The Benz cartridge is specified with a recommended load impedance of 400 ohms to 47K, and therefore appears to not be a good match. Not sure about the other LOMC's that have been mentioned, but compatibility with 100 ohm loading is a factor that should be considered for any LOMC candidates.

-- Al
Almarg. Thank you for your insight. Excuse my ignorance, but what does LOMC stand for? What will be the negative result of using a cartridge with a higher load impedance? Thanks to you all for your recommendations. I will continue to research MC carts and will report back when I make a decision. I will certainly educate myself on load inpedances and refine my search to MCs that match the load impedance of my Luxman L-505u MC stage.

None of the above.
Send your Virtuoso back to Soundsmith and get the alum cantilever/elliptical stylus for $150. With your arm it will outperform anything you're contemplating. I don't think the Denon 103 series is a good match. I tried an MC-20 - it's not bad although a little zippy up top and not a great tracker. If you want another cart while yours is getting fixed, consider the DL-110 or an AT-F3/III. They are $139 and $175 respectively.

Save yourself some grief. You don't know what you have till it's gone.
Danny, "LOMC" = "Low Output Moving Coil." In your case that would refer to a moving coil cartridge whose rated output under standard test conditions is low enough to require you to engage the "Phono MC" switch on the amp.

The Benz MC20E2-L, rated at 0.5 mv (millivolts) and the Denon DL-103, rated at 0.3 mv would certainly fall into that category. The DL-103 has a specified minimum load impedance of only 100 ohms, though. However, I would be concerned that its sonics might not be as good at that value as at higher values.

The Dynavector DV-10x5, rated at 2.5 mv, would almost certainly not fall into that category, and you would use it with the "Phono MC" switch disengaged, as if it were a moving magnet cartridge. I suspect that the same goes for the Denon DL-110, at 1.6 mv.

The Audio Technica AT-F3III is also a LOMC, with a rated output of 0.35 mv, and like the DL-103 is specified for a minimum load impedance of 100 ohms. Again, whether or not it would do as well at that value as at higher values would be a concern.

In general, excessively heavy loading (i.e., too low a load impedance value) will result in adverse sonic effects such as reductions in dynamics, transient impact, and resolution.

The Soundsmith option suggested by Fleib is well worth considering, as the cartridge repairs and stylus upgrades performed by Mr. Ledermann of Soundsmith are nothing short of magical in my experience and that of many others. The downside may be a significant wait time, though, so Fleib's suggestion of a low priced cartridge to be used temporarily is also a good one.

-- Al
At the entry level for moving carts, you could end up with either a thin aggressive sound, or a large and possibly unpleasant departure from what you're used to. Given your budget, it might make more sense to send the cart back to Soundsmith and let them repair it.
There is another option, assuming the body/generator isn't damaged. IMO it's not as good as sending it to Soundsmith, but you could restore it to orig performance, yourself.

Go to LpGear and look for replacement stylus under LpGear brand. There you will find replacement styli for the AT-95. The ATN95SE (.3 x .7 elliptical) is $45. They also have ones w/vivid line - $89, and shibata - $129. These are all bonded diamonds on a straight alum cantilever. Soundsmith offers a nude .3 x .7 on a tapered cantilever.

If the plastic piece is still on the bottom of your cart, pry it out. This is the "plug", which is the plastic that holds the cantilever and magnets. If you want it to look like the orig, cut away the excess plastic wings on the replacement. A wire cutter works good for this. Just insert it in the receptacle. You just have to be careful trimming the wings.

I've tried the shibata and I'm not sure if it's worth the difference compared to a Soundsmith re-tip, but the 3 x 7 replacement option is a way for you to repair it inexpensively if you want to try something else. IMO you're not going to find anything for $300 that competes. BTW, the AT-95 is a different motor in the same body style and is great for the money, but not a Virtuoso. For the ultimate, send it to Axel in Germany, for a boron/Gyger replacement, but that is prob outside your budget.
I have an Ortofon MC 25 FL for sale - email me if you are interested. Only 5 hours of eval use.
Another vote for Dynavector.
OK, so here's what I'm going to do . . .

First of all, thank you so much for your replies to my questions! You all helped me to see that MC at the price point I was considering would have been a step down from the Clearaudio/Soundsmith. And I learned that when I do decide to test the MC waters, I will have to pay special attention to impedance/load matching with my amp. Thanks!

So . . . I'm going to suffer the wait and send the cart to Mr. Lederman for a second rebuild with the ruby cantelever. I'm not even going to get a cart to use in the meantime; I have a very satisfying music server (Squeezebox Touch/W4S DAC1) with nearly 2 TB of lossless/Hi Res music, so I'm not exactly suffering! And just imagine the joy my vinyl will bring when the rebuilt cartridge finally comes!

Last question: Does anyone know of a stylus guard that could be snapped on when I'm not playing records so this doesn't happen again?
Any clever ideas for stylus guards? I'm on the lookout for small plastic boxes and cylinders I might be able to fashion into a stylus guard.