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I would discourage you from shopping for a used cartridge. Unlike most components, they do wear out. I have used several of the Benz cartridges, first a silver and now a L.O. .4 and like them very much. They have them at all price ranges. You might try the Record Doctor. I have purchased both turntables and cartridges from them and have been pleased with the price and service.
Well, let's talk TT choices first. I own the VPI HW-19 Mark 4, and can recommend it without hesitation. The Mark 4 has the same platter and bearing as the TNT version. If I were in the market today, however, I'd probably get the VPI Aries instead -- marginally better performance than the HW-19 Mk 4, but MUCH better looking, and probably a better match with the JMW10 arm. Since you already own the JMW10 arm, I think you are best advised to stick with a VPI turntable rather than another brand. Harry Weisfeld's system is synergistic. As for cartridges, you've got several options. If you want to get maximum VALUE (high performance at reasonable cost), try the Shure V15VxMR, the best moving magnet on the market, which can be purchased from Garage-a-Records for about $230. Your next step up is to one of the Grado cartridges in the $500 range. The third choice is a moving coil, and the Benz Micro Glider (about $750) has been very well reviewed and seems to mate well with the JMW10 arm (which is a fairly high-mass arm, so a lower compliance moving coil could be a felicitous combo). Whichever cartridge you decide to try, however, be sure to buy it NEW, not used. And, expect to replace the stylus every 1000 hours or so of use. (One advantage of the Shure and Grado cartridges is the ease of replacing the stylus.) Last, spend a few bucks extra and get yourself a good cartridge alignment device and a stylus force gauge (Shure makes one of classic gauges).
I would second the recommendation of the VPI Aries to complement the JMW-10 arm. As to cartridges, low-output coils are the way to go. As stated above, used cartridges can be tricky business - buy new! Choices are myriad (hey, you have to be optomistic with analog) - Benz, Ortofon, Sumiko, Clearaudio, Koetsu, Lyra, and Allaerts to name a few. If you decide on the Aries, perhaps some of our members with that combo (or whichever you decide on) will voice their recommendations. Good Luck!
i agree with the advice on new vs. used cartridges but disagree on the tt choice. i've had several vpi 'tables, including the hw-19 ( model II, as i recollect) and the tnt III. IMHO, the comparably-priced basis 'tables are sonically superior to the vpi's. they have better bearings and are machined to much tighter tolerances. most importantly, the basis' are quieter, in my experience, than like-priced vpi's. like bruce, i recommend benz cartridges or, even moreso, koetsu, depending on what portion of your budget you plan to put toward the smallest component. BTW, i think that harry weisfeld is one of the true gentlemen in the audio industry. i hope that someday soon he and his wife will grace the halls of ces once again.
Considering how much you put into the phono stage, my guess is that one of the more expensive cartridge would be in order. You should try to demo as many as possible, since they all sound great, but they also all sound different!
As far as 'tables are concerned, I really feel that you can do much better than the HW-19s. In general, the fit and finish of VPI products leaves something to be desired. I recently replaced a JMW10 and an HW-19 with a Kuzma 'table. The difference in quality is evident both in the finish and in the sound. The Kuzma is so much quieter, and SO much better looking! The VPIs, to me, look like something a non-engineering type person would come up with. The Basis 'tables are so obviously better in the same ways as the Kuzmas.
Good luck, and keep it fun!
i like all the 'tables mentioned above, but for the money, i tink the oracle is the best deal going - fantastic performance, fantastic appearance. perhaps i mite trade mine on a jc verdier - if i win the lottery, or something! :>) meantime, my turntable-shopping days are over.
there was a mk-ll version f/s cheap on audioreview recently; update it to mkv, along w/an ol motor/power-supply, & use the money saved for a spendy cartridge...
also, nuttin' wrong w/buyin' a used cartridge, if ewe can trust the seller, imho - perhaps best to stick w/a dealer?
good luck, doug
Thanks for all the recommendations. OK, so I'll stay away from used cartridges and I'll expand my budget to $4500. Rather than the VPI TNT, I'm going to keep an eye out for used Basis and Oracle V tables. Does anyone know whether the JMW 10 will fit on either of these tables or should I sell it now?
metaphysics, it mite be hard to find a used oracle mk-v, cuz they're relatively recent, but all the earlier wersions are fully updateable.
re: tonearms, that jmw is supposed to be an excellent arm - i'd keep it. can't imagine why it wouldn't fit on either of these 'tables ewe mention. i know i've heard of *both* 'tables, w/a myriad of arm combo's.
again, re: cartridges - here's a lone woice in the wilderness recommending a used/demo cartridge, especially from a dealer.
good luck, doug