Good cartridge for Audioquest PT6 arm ???

Hello, I am going to be setting up a Audioquest PT6 arm, and wondered what would be a good cartridge match for this arm. Mostly rock, jazz. I would be using the MM phono section of my Mac C712 preamp. Would like to keep it $300.00 and under for now. So far I have come up with the Denon 160 and 110, and the Sumiko Blue Point no 2. I have also seen some Benz MM cartidges with rebates they are giving. I'm still under the impression I want a H.O. MC cartridge, but wondered about, the Moving magnets in this range also. Any guidnace here appreciated with matching that arm.


Wayne, Since you wish to preferably stay with MM, one good recommendation would be to find an NOS Shure V-15 Type III off Ebay. These, in NOS unused condition will go for $300-$350.

While I'm sure there are many other good recommendations, as there's tons of people here more knowledgeable than I, the Shure is still one of the all time greats, incomparable tracking ability, very good sonics. I've seen a few of these pop up lately on ebay, and they seem to be a sort of common item lately.

Downsides are: Getting a replacement stylus for these has become very tough, and they also go for big bucks.

Of course, the latest Shure (was it the VxMr?) might be easier to get as new, and to also get a replacement Stylus when needed.

With your Mac equipment with MM Stage, you'll need a Cartridge that will typically have an output of 4.5Mv to 5Mv. Cartridges like the Hi-Output Glider, will not have enough output to work well with typical MM Phono Stages in the Mac Gear.

Of course, other, less costly options would be a Grado, and another nice cartridge I was always partial to, and that was Audio Technica. I always dug the older Shibata Stylus units such as the AT-14S, AT-15S, and the rare AT-20SLa. Audio Technica I believe also has compatible current offerings that are good. Mark
Mark, are you saying that the Mac MM phono stage will not handle a H.O. moving coil like others might ? I was under the impression that I could use a HO moving coil.
Wayne, If you have your McIntosh Manual, check it out, and see what it says. I've never known any Mac gear that had an internal Phono Stage suitable for MC cartridges. Even at 2.5Mv output (like the new Gliders are), a Moving Coil just isn't going to have enough output. You would most likely be cranking the volume control to 75% to get "maybe" medium volume.

With this kind of arrangement, just one mistake switching inputs on the pre over to CD, FM, or Tape, and you'd likely damage something like a speaker due to excessive volume difference.

I'm not personally familiar with your particular unit, but many Mac Pre-Amps have provision for Aux (or a Phono/Aux), and this is where you'll need to insert a Phono Pre-Amp if you desire to use an MC with your set-up.

That is why I say, your options for low cost good performance will be with a high quality MM Cartridge, versus running the gamut with a outboard Phono Stage, and two additional reasonably high quality interconnects.

For years I used a Shure V-15 type III myself, with a Pioneer Pl-51 manual Turntable, running through my Mac gear. Always had a very good detailed sound. I'm sure with the AQ Arm, and VPI Turntable, much more can be extracted from this particular Shure cartridge, and should sound much better than one did on my Pioneer table.

Your options are numerous, and I reckon a decision you'll need to sleep on a bit. Bottom line is, how much can you invest into your analog set-up?

There are other options as a step up device, as I can remember my buddy using one some years back to boost the output of an old Ortofon OM-10 going into a vintage Sansui Seven Reciever. Mark
At the $300 point there's always the Grado Platinum (woody). However there's ths issue of hum with some turntables. What TT are you using the arm on?

It is a VPI HW-19.
I had a Benz Micro Glider (1.25mv original) mounted on PT-6 arm on a vpi hw-19jr. This combo was wonderful for jazz and rock, not as wonderful for classical although it was still good, especially with smaller ensembles. Percussion from this cartridge blew my mind.

Phono preamps used were a Lehmann Black Cube and a Jolida JD-9 (both cost around $499 new, but I only borrowed the latter tubed preamp).

Strengths of this cartridge were a slight warmth, excellent imaging, excellent tracking - even of worn records, good bass, and good top end.

Weaknesses were a small mid-bass hump which most jazz and rock lovers wouldn't notice or mind much at all, and not the most accurate timbres of classical instruments such as violins, but again this wasn't even to a moderate degree.

I've since sold my vpi/pt-6, having just purchased a scoutmaster which will be set up today with a Lyra Helikon, but I did get a chance to mount the Glider from the old TT on the scoutmaster and listen to it for a few days while awaiting the used Helikon.

Glider sounded great on the Scoutmaster/JMW-9 (arm) as well, so even if you upgrade your TT in the future, you can expect the Glider to keep pace with the higher end stuff for a while.
Hope this helps (btw- I just sold my Glider yesterday on Audiogon)

I just got the Denon 103r and would like to set it up on my PT6 arm. I am not familiar with this arm's setup and can use some help in this area. Arm height adjustment, counter weight etc. Sort of a how to if you will. The lit that came with the Denon is in Japanese and the manual that came with the arm is of know help what so ever. Thanks.
Generally Dreadhead, having the Cantilever Tube of the Tonearm level to the LP's Surface when the Cartridge is in the playing position is a good place to start with the PT-6, and generally any Tonearm.

To set overhand which is essential, You'll need some form of Cartridge Protractor, there are many from a cheap piece of paper, then up up to the Mobile Fidelity GeoDisc, (which is what), and then of course, one can go beyond, and things like the WallyTractor, are probably the best, But I think it's unnecesary to go to this extent with what you have.

Since there's no azimuth adjustment on the PT-6 Arm, (Tilt of the Headshell itself) this is one area you shouldn't have to concern yourself about.

Now onto Vertical Tracking Force, and Anti-Skating.

I've found that the provided Toneram adjustments on my own AQ Arm's Counterweightm and AntiSkate Control are pretty close, so first balance the Tonearm so that it's neutral (Balanced) in a level position hovering over the LP (Be careful here), Make careful adjustments clockwise/counter-clockwise on the Tonearm's Counterweight until this is achieved, then I return the Arm to its rest. Now carefully, without letting the counterweight turn on its shaft, set the circular slip dial at the front of the Tonearm to Zero. After this is done, then grab the rear of the Counterweight, and screw it in on its shaft to the desired Tracking Force Weight (ie: 1-1/2gms-2gms-etc)

It will be close, but I recommend at least getting an inexpensive Shure VTF Gauge.

Now to set the AntiSkate. Whatever your VTF force is, let's say 2 grams. set the little round Antiskate Knob to this same value. Provided nothing is broken on the arm, you'll be kind of close. If your vertical tracking Force is 1-1/2 grams, set the little Dial between 1, and 2. make sense?

A better method to achieve very close Antiskate Adjustment, will be with a Test Record which has an area with no grooves. The Hi-Fi News LP, or the Cardas Test/Demag LP is good for this. The final process is to test by ear, and a test LP can help in this regard also.

These adjustments should get you into some form of close Ballpark, and make the Arm usable without incurring damage to either Stylus, or LP.

As far as VTA, there's almost really no book you can look to for precise adjustment with any given Cartridge. This ultimately has to be done by ear.
Hope this helps, and if I missed spmething, please folks feel free to chime in. Mark
Mark, you are the best. Upon following your advice I believe my deck and cartridge are performing as they should. Your response should be archived for all the novice audiophiles like myself. What is the break-in period for a new cartridge such as this? I also noticed a slight speed variation at start up, is this normal for this deck? Dread
I recommend just paying someone to come over and do it! I paid one of the 'senior techs' at a local high-end shop, who specializes in phono stuff, about a hundred and ten bucks to drive to my place and install the new cartridge. For my money, I not only got the guy's expertise and time (took about 30-40 minutes plus his driving time) but the use of his expensive:
1) VTF gauge (he used a high-end one to precisely set this)
2) Protractor (believe it was wallytools)
3) Speed strobe disc

The above tools alone would have cost me hundreds of dollars more than I paid. While it's true that buying and learning to use the tools may have some long-term benefits, having TT set up on-location (after moving the rack to the best place in the room - something he also helped me to determine) brings both peace of mind and great sound from the get-go. Now my new TT is a vpi scoutmaster, but I believe that having bought the hw-19jr/pt-6/glider from the same dealer some 8 years ago and having it set up by the same people for free (as part of the package deal) is part of the reason I enjoyed the hw-19jr for so long. Even during transport, the VTF and cartridge alignment never went out of whack (verified this the night before selling the jr.).

Of course some will say that fiddling with the tt and learning to set it up is half the fun, but not for me. I managed to set up the scoutmaster on my own using the Glider from the jr. ( just to see how the glider sounded on this TT, while awaiting a new cartridge), but I don't fool myself into thinking that I did as good a job as someone more experienced who owns the best TT tools boot). I'd rather know I'm getting close to (or actually) the best sound possible from the hardware I already own - not to mention having my LPs treated more gently by a stylus pointing the right direction - and just enjoy it.
Sorry if this comes across as contrary to the spirit of do-it-yourself fun, but just thought I'd share my opinion on something that is certainly fun to mess around with a bit, but is often ( though certainly not always) best left to professionals.
Ted,I couldn't agree more. Every point you made is easily understood. I see you own a Scoutmaster, my HW-jr plus the new 103r cartridge cost me $675.00 total. I still use my old Tandberg separates, the pre-amp has a great MC, MM phono pre/amp built right in and with a 150 watts per channel the amp has more then enough punch to give me what I need. $600.00 with the rosewood side panels on eBay years ago. Combined together, the price of probably your cartridge alone. Point being, if I had the half the cash invested in my system that you do I wouldn't settle for less then what you suggest either. For now it's a modest system but all the fun is in the upgrades anyway. Dread
Granted. However, it's often said that a well set-up tt based system can often sound as good or better than one costing several times as much, so even at the total investment level you mentioned, ultra tweaking is not to be dismissed (not to say you were dismissing it). My first TT was a Rotel that cost only around $300 used with Signet cartridge, and my amp which included the phono stage was a modest $150 Onkyo 45 watt receiver. Speakers were $100 JBL's. Even at that level, I'm glad I had it professionally set up (wasn't very expensive, since I carried the TT in to the dealer myself). That was about 12 years ago. Think of this (you probably already have): any minimization of damage done to the LPs you currently own will appreciated down the road when the bug bites and you take the plunge on a used higher end cartridge and/or table (incl. heavier platters, etc). The grooves will have a less plowed-through sound. Now that I think of it, probably the single biggest upgrade you could make to your analog front end would be some kind of used LP cleaning machine. Comparing my scoutmaster to the hw-19jr I just had, and comparing that in turn to the old Rotel, I think the biggest differences in sound between them were noticeable when playing non-audiophile records that were less than clean. For example, the Police album 'Regatta de Blanc' (bought used in exc. condition for about 3 bucks) sounded really great on the Rotel! Even the subtle bubbling sound heard in the background in the track 'Walking on the Moon' lent the track the type of organic sound (euphonic or not) that is evident even on the lowliest turntables. Now I dig that same flimsy album out and play it on the scoutmaster, sinking the expensive Lyra into grooves that must be throughly plowed by now, and - possibly owing to optimal TT setup way back when - that disc still sounds better in many ways than the corresponding SACD.

Again, didn't want to come across as preachy. Indeed I'm really still not nearly as experienced with the tech aspects of analog as I should be, and my most recent upgrades have come, perhaps foolishly, at the expense of not being able to afford any speakers (!). Yet I still believe that a system's source (and helper components such as phono preamp) is much more important than any pair of speakers or any amp, since a great source (especially in the analog domain) playing a great recording will still have a seemless musicality that in many ways sounds better through $20 earbuds than a poorer source heard through $500 speakers or headphones.

Hey Dreadhead, thank you for the kind compliments, and you've made my day knowing that I've helped someone here.

Actually, I consider myself a "Dummy" in this forum. There's people in here, who's system costs more than the house I live in!

None the less, I've been on this earth 51 years, started learning Drums at Frank's Drum Shop in Chicago in Dec 1965 from a Master, Phil Stanger. (Jazz)His teacher taught him, Gene Krups, Louis Bellson, Ed Shaugnessy, William Ludwig II, and countless others.

My mother nurtured my love for music. From the '60s and spinning 45's, and playing in bands, onto the '70's, learning to play Bass Guitar (Fender P-Bass) and the 8-track, my uncle's Barbara Striesand's albums, Sgt Peppers, Santana, Steve Miller Sailor,l the oldies like the Temptations, Little Anthony, Miracles, Stones, and all that wild music of that time.

Then came the mid-late '70's, and Musicraft on Chicago's north side Oak St. They used to roll out the Red Carpet when I walked in that store!

All the great gear back then I listened to, and owned! Sansui, Marantz, Tandberg, Revox, Pioneer, Unique Speakers that stick out in my mind till this day, like AMT-1's with their ESS Heil Drivers, and the Bose 901's that they always pushed on you, but I never personally liked. Eventually, I settled down with McIntosh Gear, and never looked back.

Me, the JBL West Coast Sound always stood out. The quality of the Drivers, the beautiful veneers, the expensive, and almost untouchable price tags.

Fast forward to the 80's, and 90's with MO-FI LP's, Mark Levinson Model 33 300wpc Monoblocks, which you could literally cook your breakfast on, Apogee Ribbons, MBL Spaceship speakers with stratosheric price tage, Martin Logan, and Maggie Electrostatics with their crystal clear mids, and highs, B+W 801's with their appearingly "bulletproof" Kevlar Cones, VPI Aries, and TNT Tables, Krell top of the line CD playback. Ahhh what nirvana!!!!

Now, if only somebody would hire me as their hit man so I could really afford today's real hi end! lol

None the less, I can remember my first good analog enjoyment, listening to a freind's meager Garrard Plastic Turntable with Shure Cartridge playing some Elton John.

I've been to some of the best concerts ever known to man, such as Led Zepplin, when they came out with Houses of the Holy ('74), and they were throwing M-80's and LP's into the crowd at that concert (Bonham was alive then) ELP when they came out with Brain Salad Surgery, Elton John, Chicago (They actually stunk), Yes with Rick Wakeman, Paul McCartney, and Wings over America (I got in free to that concert!), Jethro Tull when they came out with Thick as a Brick, Neil Young, Stanley Clarke, Ted Nugent, and the Amboy Dukes at the Aragon Ballroom, Santana at the Aragon (With people OD'ing all over the place) and standing right in front of him watching him play that Gibson with his eyes closed for 1/2 the concert, Rush, Foghat, seeing the original Dave brubeck Quartet at the Civic Opera House 6 months before Paul Desmond died, seeing Buddy Rich in Concert 4 times, the first in 1967 at a Franks Drum Shop Clinic, where I sat right next to him on the stage.

The bottom line is, to hopefully appreciate what you have, and to sit back, and truly appreciate what these artists, musicians, composers have given us, and to enjoy, and totally immerse ourselves in it. Tough to do sometimes in this day, and age, but we all should take the time when we can to isolate ourself from the outside worls, and enter our own little world of Sonic enjoyment.

Unfortunately, sometimes, the equipment can get in the way, but I think we all are striving to approach the same degree of enjoyment, no matter how deep (or shallow) our pocketbooks are. Mark

Dang, reading back on a few of my posts, I noticed many typos, and I'm sorry to all for this.

One error I see I clearly made in the earlier post, was referring to the Tonearm-Arm Wand as a Cantilever Arm....Ooops!

Dreadhead, Yes, I'm sure your Cartridge will require some time to settle down, and play it's best. No doubt 40-75 hours of playing time. That doesn't necessarily mean the Cartridge won't sound good from the get go.

Best way to break it in, is to lay back my freind with some good LP's, and enjoy! Ya just gotta remember when that Stylus had gotten to the end of the LP, to come out of your happy euphoric dreams, quickly get up, and grab that cueing lever! lol

Once in a while, I forget this myself sitting in a dreamy stupor at the end of an LP.

Try to get in the habit of labratory cleansliness with your LP's, and Stylus, and your collection will literlly last decades with like new sound, just as many of my own LPs have. Mark