Help choosing a new cartridge

Could someone with a little more knowledge than myself help me choose a new cartridge in the $500 range? I've got a VPI Scout and a EAR 834P phono pre. The 834P is low MC capable, but I don't know what the loading or any of that stuff is on it so I don't know what kind of low MC will work well with it. I've posted my system if you want to see what else I'm working with. I play mostly rock music, but more of the indie rock variety than the hard rock or classic rock variety. I'd like something musical with a full bottom end.

Hello Sinister,
You might consider something in the Dynavector line, a DV10X5, DV20XL, or used DV17D3. For an even bigger improvement, order a MintLP arc protractor, (now $110), and find out how your analog front end is supposed to really sound.
Check out the thread on MintLP, you might decide that should be your next purchase instead of a new cartridge.

Good luck, and enjoy,


Thanks Islandmandan, I've been reading through that thread on the MintLP and it does seem like a worthwhile purchase.

On the cartridge, I see a lot of people like the Dynavectors on VPI tables. I could probably swing a DV20XL, but I'm wondering if it will match well with my phono pre?
ditch the notion of mc, and get an AT 150...spend the balance on records.
I had a Shelter 501 mk2 on a MM7 running through an EAR834P and this was great sounding. Then I traded up to a Lyra Argo i and the sound improved considerably; the Lyra is a much better tracker. How about a Dorion? Also I used to enjoy a Benz Glider M2 on a VPI HW19 with good results. A little more than $500 perhaps but these will make your table and phono pre shine. The load on the 834P is fixed at 500 Ohms.
Do you have the JMW9 standard or signature model? The JMW9 standard has an effective mass of 7.7g and the signature model's effective mass is 9.5g. Makes a big difference in terms of cartridge compatibility.
I have the standard, not the signature, arm. What does that mean for what cartridges I can use?
Well, if you apply the following formula:

rf = 159 / sqrt((7.7+.5+cw)*cu))

where cw = cartridge weight and cu = compliance
you should ideally get an rf (resonant frequency) number between 9 and 11.

7.7 is the effective mass of the JMW9 standard arm. .5 is the approximate weight of the mounting screws (if you know the exact weight of the mounting screws, use it instead).

So, if you plug in the values of a couple of cartridges:

Dynavector DV20XH - 8.6g cw , 12 cu, rf = 11.19
Benz Ace - 8.8g cw, 15 cu, rf= 9.93
Shelter 501 - 8.1g cw, 9 cu, rf=13.14

So, for the JMW9 standard arm, the Benz Ace is the best match. The Dynavector would still work fine, but not as well (rf between 8 and 12 is considered ok. between 9 and 11 even better). The Shelter would not be a good match.

Hope this helps.


It's difficult to find a moving coil in that price range, you usually have to spend more on those. However, some of the finest MM cartridges can be had for that price, or near there. I would suggest you go that route.
08-25-08: Jaybo
ditch the notion of mc, and get an AT 150...spend the balance on records.
I'm glad somebody else said it first. I looooove my AT150MLX and have no intention/desire to upgrade it for a long time. It just gives me everything I want, nothing of what I don't want, and if I wear it out, stylus replacement is an affordable $179.

At $500, you could get the AT150MLX for $250, totally not worry about matching output strength to the phono stage, and have enough left over to get 25 sealed Original Jazz Classics re-issues from Acoustic Sounds.
Audio Technica indeed might be a good choice. I'm listening to my OC-9 right now and for the money - well within your price range - it sounds pretty darned good.
Interesting thing about my AT150MLX: The more I've improved the components downstream, the better it's revealed the AT150MLX's goodness, and hasn't introduced any of its limitations, whatever they might theoretically be.