Dear Rotarius: I assume that you own or heard " face to face " the 95SA against that 120/140LC. This one combination in new condition set you back only 200.00.
Do you think that its quality level could justify its price against the 95SA quality level?. Thank you in advance.
Regards and enjoy the music,
Hi Raul, not direct A/B comparison since I did not own them at the same time. I would say the detail retrieval of 120/140LC is superior. A bit brighter & clearer presentation than AT95SA. As for price, turntableneedles offers the option of upgrading the 120e cart with the 140LC stylus minus the 120e needle for around $150 or one can get an earlier gen 120e on ebay like me for 20 bucks and get the stylus. Heck, I won a new 140lc stylus on ebay for 50 bucks but it got lost in shipping!!
Sumiko Pearl and Technicraft TC2000 are the two best cartridges I have used on my TD145 with TP16 arm (same as TD160). The cartridges sound similar to one another (TC2000 is not bright like other AT cartridges). Both are dynamic and robust and add to the strength of the turntable. Both cartridges have compliance around 15 and so compatible with mass of arm and also unconventional mounting scheme of TP16 headshell. I've tried Shure M97 and Grado 8MZ and they are not as good a match. Shure is too compliant and doesn't sound as dynamic. Grado has hum and too soft sounding for this turntable.
The Audio Technica At95E Is a great budget cartridge, with even tonal balance (though a slight lack of "colour") and smooth treble for it's price range.
The AT120 is also a great contender with great detail and stereo separation, but sound too bright to me.
My choice, though a bit more expensive, would be the AT440mla. Excellent in every way (tracking, smoothness, tonal balance, reduced surface noise). You cannot go wrong with this cartridge, and might stop you craving along the upgrade path, and save you money in the long run.
Rge Spares by SoundsSupreme
Agree with the AT solution, but not the 440. Even loaded properly with < 200pF, it has a tendency for brightness. The 95 is more neutral and available with different tips, but they are all bonded diamonds and further upgrade is impossible. There is a new budget AT that has the same generator as the 150MLX, even the PCOCC wire. It's the 100E, available at LpGear for $90. It comes with a bonded elliptical, but will take any 120/440 type replacement stylus, including the 150MLX. With that stylus it would be exactly the same as a 150, but with a light weight body.
Some people find the 150 a little too agressive for their taste/system. It's hard to go wrong with the 95SE, VL, or SA alternative. It has a balanced sound, good musicality and compliance is 15cu @ 10Hz, so it's good with med/heavy arms. The 95 is similar to the Clearaudio MM, but with slightly less resolution. It sounds good and is easy to take.
I just so happened tested a friend's TD 160 and tried a few of my older cartridges with it. As was mentioned the SHure 97XE was a pretty good fit and to a lesser degree an Audio Technica ATX50E. Both for less than a $100. To be honest though, I would really try to stretch that budget if at all possible. I got amazing reults using my Ortofon 2M black on the TD160. Really like night and day. MInd you you are now talking about spending more than $500. From what I hear the 2 lower Ortofon in the 2m series being the red and the blue are very good. I believe they run between 100 to 200.