Yes I have used ZYX cartridges (R50 BLOOM) for example which do a nice job for the money, talk to Mehran from Sorasound.
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In my second system I have used the OM-10, and now have the 440mla, which is not quite broken in yet. The 440 is really much, much better, But only when VTA is just right, probably due to the MicroRidge stylus. It is a no brainer at $89.00. You may find the Shure M97He to be a good choice if you want a warmer sound, though it is not as clear and detailed as the AT. It is less expensive at around $65.00 and, like the AT, is a champ tracker. Don't discount the AT95E either, for around $50.00 this is a very good cartridge that is not particularly VTA sensitive and tends to work without a lot of fuss. It has less detail than the current 440, but is a bit warmer and fuller. If you can spring for a bit more dosh, the Denon high output moving coils are truly excellent as well and have beautifully polished stylii. The DL110 is only around $110.00 and the DL160 around $160.00. Their output is a little lower than the MMs so seek guidance when using them with the Bellari. But they have a much smoother, more liquid sound and are definite contenders for their meager prices.
I am really leaning toward the AT 440mla. One last question if you can answer this. Since my new amp does not have a balance control and the new AT cartridge has twin magnets (I think?)- did anybody notice uneven volume with this cartridge? I might of read somewhere that the gold had this sort of problem.
Thanks for you help!
I think I am going to go with the AT 440 MLa. One last thing I would like to say. With my above mentioned setup(The MMF5 with the Ortofon Super OM-10)CDs in my opinion seem to sound more detailed. Keep in mind that I am using a sony cd player that is nothing special - Best Buy deal. Needless to say, most of my vinyl is in excellent condition. After doing some research, I couldn't find any reviews that raved about the OM20 stylus being much better.
So, this is why I have been kicking around changing my cartridge. I like the way the Ortofon tracked though and was easy to place on a particular track of the record. One thing that I did notice after reading the review that the cartridge is not "very forgiving" either, and my experience seems to confirm this.
How do you have your MMF sited? What kind of rack, platforming, and mat are you using? A turntable is far more vulnerable to internal component noise, feedback, and room resonances than other electronic components because the cartridge is far more microphonic. Until I sorted out the platforming and turntable mat on my current rig (Technics SL 1210 M5G and either Ortofon OM 10 or Shure M97xE), I blamed a lack of inner detail on the cartridge. Isolating the turntable better and using a better mat revealed that either cartridge was plenty detailed for my taste. My CD player in the same rig is a Sony ES series CD/SACD player which was a big leap in detail over the CEC I had before. Yet, compared to the turntable, it's not so much the detail that I find so winning in the LP playback (though I don't find it lacking, either), it's the body of the sound and how it somehow communicates the emotion of the music better. Everything improved mightily when I put the turntable on a butcher block cutting board and put the cutting board on a set of Vibrapods. YMMV of course.
After doing some research, I couldn't find any reviews that raved about the OM20 stylus being much better.There's a bit of buzz over the OM 20 and it's definitely perceived as an overachiever. See http://www.furious.com/Perfect/vinyl48.html. Absolute Sound named the OM 20 and 30 (Super) both as Editor's Choice budget components, giving a slight subjective edge to the 20. See http://www.lpgear.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=LG&Product_Code=OROM20S. For a link to download the full TAS review, go to http://www.avguide.com/products/product-2771/.
Here are a couple of reviews at www.audioreview.com: http://www.audioreview.com/cat/analog-sources/Cartridges/ortofon/PRD_337138_5823crx.aspx
Note that the first review is written by someone who had the OM 10 for some years but decided to upgrade to the OM 20 replacement stylus.
Have to agree about Denon DL series being great.Sure was always standard bearer with V15 and now that it's been out of production it got re-reviewed somewhere and they said still a great cart that can be found new for it's $300 list.Folks have to define "Low Cost".But for me $200 is what I'd pay UP to for second deck for scratched LP's.Wish someone mentioned cost of Audio Technica.BTW where are the rave reviews about it?Here on 'Gon or other sources?
Etbaby, it helps to spell my user name correctly when asking a question. Here it is $65.00 including shipping. These are good folks, I have dealt with Jack for many years. No affiliation, your mileage may vary, blah, blah, blah:
Here's a link to the Shure M97xE for $60.93 where they aren't out of stock at the time of this posting:
Thanks again for your input, and I would like to add that I have seen some of the reviews mentioned. As for my cartridge setup, I followed the directions that were given to me with the MMF-5 and set the tracking force at about 1.5 grams, and then later to 1.25 grams as i had read on the net. When my new amp arrives (I am anxiously awaiting it after having auditioned a demo Cayin 50 T) I will check out the cartridge setup thoroughly. I demoed the amp with my turntable using the OM10 stylus.
BTW...I really loved the Cayin 50T it runs about 16 watts in Triode and 35 in ultralinear. The only disappointment I have is that it is not made in the USA. The build quality appeared spectacular for a starter amp.