Roksan Radius 5 turntable and Nima unipivot arm.
I don't know if it is a match for your arm but, if it is, a modified Denon dl 103 is inexpensive and can compete with much more expensive cartridges.
I've done them with ebony bodies and naked with a 3mm carbon fiber top plate. Potting them with epoxy is also a nice next level mod, too. My favorite was a naked, carbon fiber top plate and potted.
I sold it because a fellow audio nut wanted it. I'll make another one for myself but he is one lucky dog.
If you are crafty, have a good eye and a steady hand you can get yourself a screaming deal.
if going a little bit north of your budget is doable, consider the Audio Technica ART 9. You have all the gear for superb sound.
There just doesn’t seem to be ANY users of this cart with a negative review, including those who have carts twice the price.
Yours ears will thank you for going over budget by $100.
the Shelter 501 would be my choice and the cheapest moving coil cartridge I could live with in my system, mine sounded fantastic with the Chinook which a friend of mine owns and allowed me to borrow while I was trying as many phono stages I could before replacing my Audible Illusions 3B with the John Curl phono boards. I just bought a new 501 to rat hole, from 2 Juki on ebay and his price was $800.00 for a series 1. have also bought a Shelter 901 series 1 new and a ZYX Universe new from him in the last 3 years. The Denon 103 series are very good also but not of the level of the Shelter it is really special.
Late addition to my original post-
My ART 9 is going on 1 1/2 years and I STILL have WOW moments listening.
The ONLY cart that may better the ART 9 is the ART 7, which can only be purchased from an overseas vendor(Ebay) Its also a couple bucks less.
Lower output, so you need minimum around 65-70db gain.
I should qualify that by stating it's a couple hundred dollars LESS, otherwise similar construction except the ART 7 has a non permeable core vs the traditional magnetic of the ART 9. The difference DOES result in a subjectively more delicate, airy presentation which some may find nicer.
So YES, it may possibly be a better value.
take a look at this one...
I believe it retails somewhere between 5-8K. Now that's ludicrous! Especially since the magnitude of improvement doesn't justify 5X cost of the ART 9!!!
Likely it does sound heavenly though.
Sure wish I had the means for a system to handle such extravagance.
AT's upper lines were always among the best MMs IMO. Incredible stylus profiles and ultra-light cantilevers made of beryllium before the EPA helped us out.
Enjoy your fine cartridge and don't worry about "what's better". You are already at the sweet spot of price/performance.
Best to you tablejockey,
Chinook has nowhere near enough gain for Art7! Art9 much better match, plus listener doesn't mention classical music and AT recommends the 9 over the 7 for music that OP likes.
Dynavectors need to be on the short list.
Hana is the new flavor-of-the-month. I still haven't heard one, but just saw a used one listed for first time here. That didn't last long! Cheers,
First off, my reason for trying out a MC is just that--to try one. I thought that a MC might give better detail than a moving coil. And, I thought that it would be interesting given my phono pre has dip switches and can match with some MCs.
The AT Art9 seems hard to get unless you go eBay. I'm not opposed to that though.
Dynavector would certainly make my list. I would like to try a Denon MC, but I think it's too heavy for my unipivot arm, or maybe not?
The Nima arm manual states an acceptable cartridge weight of 5 to 12 grams, so you have quite a wide range to work with. I'm a huge Dynavector fan, and would strongly suggest the DV Karat 17 as a possible contender at the top of your price range. However, the 17 has a mass of 5.3 grams and just because the manual says it's compatible that doesn't make it so. Tried one with my Graham and couldn't get it to balance even though the Graham manual clearly stated 5 grams was OK. Maybe look for something in the 8 gram range to be safe? Your call either way.
Good luck & happy listening!
The Dynavector 20X2 L .3mv or H 2.8mv (9g) with the Manley Chinook and your Table/Tonearm would work very well indeed, if your looking to add some edge and attack along with great detail and effortless highs, striking liveliness with great tone and solid low end. Any of these would be a great choice that have been mentioned. If you look at the answers one thing sticks out, Dynavector has been mentioned most.
Stringreen, Interesting to read your post about the Windfield. I own a rather more rare now vintage Ortofon, the MC7500, which I think pre-dates the Windfield, may be the "father" of the Windfield. It hadn't been in use much for the last few years, but I am listening to it regularly these days, and I think it is very fine.
JB. What are you going to do about phono gain? And if you must scratch this itch, I would say get an ART9, especially if the gain of your Chinook is marginal for a really LOMC. (The ART9 puts out more signal voltage than most MCs not in the "High Output" category.)
Good luck in your quest
My transition from the Ortofon 2M Black MM to MC......
- Sumiko Blue Point Special EVO III - 2.5 mV High Output - solid performer, a little bit on the bright side but very detailed throughout the audio spectrum. Mine anyway. A bargain at +/- $430 on Ebay
- On to a Audio Technica AT33PTG/II 0.3mV Low Output - again another solid performer that seemed (to my ears) very similar to the 2M Black.
- Current - Audio Technica AT ART9 0.5mV High Output - For the time being, and I think it'll be for a long time to come! Rock solid with all types of music. I purchased the ART9 primarily because of all the hype here on Audiogon and have no regrets. Unfortunately I am not capable of accurately or thoroughly describing the nuances of each individual cartridge above. I do however know what I'm hearing with the ART9. It's pretty awesome and getting more so each day.
I bought a used Dynavector 20xh Soundsmith retip here on Audiogon for $360. But, I haven't been able to use it as my Roksan Radius mk1 table is out of commission.
I bought a used Origin Live Aurora mk1 for $750, yet it's not here yet. I'll follow-up shortly.
I do have to say the Ortofon 2M Black has a big, almost bombastic sound. It could be a touch more graceful, delicate and articulate, but it's a fantastic cart.
If it’s a Level 2 SS retip in great shape that’s a really nice price. If it mates well with your setup, you are in for a treat!
I use the re-tipped 20XH on my Townshend Rock 3 / Ittok setup (into a Juicy Music phono stage) and it is spectacular -- detailed, layered, smooth, dynamic, nuanced, and very well balanced. There is an organic wholeness to the presentation that immerses and involves the listener, and invites listening sessions deep into the night.
This has been my "goto" cart for years, so I’d say if you don’t get this then arm synergy is amiss, or your setup is not precise. I use 2.0g VTF, VTA has arm tube exactly parallel, 1.0g for bias, and Baerwald nulls set up very carefully with bright light / magnifying lens. Enjoy!