I enthusiastically recommend the Denon DL 103D, a classic of yesterday that they're still making or making again. I'm grateful to someone on this Forum who put me onto it, as I had one decades ago and just got a new one and am delighted with it. One delightful aspect is that it costs only $229 plus $5 shipping. In its time, it was on a level with the Koetsu Black. I'm told it was once mandatory for Japanese FM stations. Only way I know to contact Denon is by telephone: 310-974-1010.
So since SET amps are designed for cozy and sentimental music, you can get a realy soft and musical Benz Micro Glider high output version(2V) and use the volume control of your preamp a-little higher than you use for the rest of components.
check out the dynavector 17D2 MK2, rather interesting and new it it's approach, with great reviews.
Having just made the jump from a Beta S myself, I spent a good bit of time researching MC's and decided on a Shelter 901($1,300). The 901 sounds too expensive for you and therefore the Shelter 501 at $800 may be worth a wallet stretch. I auditioned both and went with the 901 because it seemed to pull 100% of the music out of the groove vs. 85 to 90% with the 501. Both have detailed bass and excellent highs without a sense of briteness and best of all a warm, open soundstage. Thanks to a local friend, I also tried a Benz LO4, and a VDH Frog and both of the Shelters beat the other choices (the VDH seemed too analytical and the Benz was too similar to the Beta S to warrent a change) . I am no expert on gain and the shelter output is.4mV so if that is sufficient, it's worth considering.
whatever you chose in the MC dept. you'll probably need a step up transformer, high output cartridge, or both. 40dB isn't a whole lot of gain.
G_m_c's recommendation of the Dynavector is an excellant one, it's a terrific cartridge, but it outputs .22mv, if memory serves. So Bob_bundus's point is very valid. Unfortunately a good step up tranny will take too large of a hunk out of you budget to make a low output MC, really any quality MC, a realistic choice.
While low outputs are better at the top end,IMHO, you don't have a choice but to go for a high output.
I agree with the above...40dB isn't much gain. Go with a high output like the Benz Glider (HO version) or something similar.
I second the vote for the Denon DL-103D, a classic
MC cartridge. I owned one twenty years ago, sold it,
and regretted that. I picked up a new one last year
from Denon USA. It is an outstanding value. You'd need
to spend >$1000 to substantially better its performance.
Comparable to LO, are there HO MCs worth owning in the $750 range? Would a potentially better option be to spend less on a HO and pocket the difference? The only HO cart in the range, that i can think of, is the Glider. I do not know, i am really asking.
following up on Ohlala's comment, look at the Dynavector DV-20XH, <$500 range.
40 db just isn't quite enough. its borderline for a mc cartridge. you will need one at 2.0 or higher. best to spend a few more dollars and upgrade phono stage.you could get a step up transformer as well.
It is unbelievable that no mention is made by the asker or any of the posters as to what type of turntable and tonearm he has. How can anyone ask for a cartridge recommendation or make a recommendation without knowing this information? Or does everyone know this guy and what his rig is?
Are you really believe there is a big difference between two tonarm (e. g.: audioquest PT5.0 vs VPI's JMW) or
two turnable ( e.g. VPI MK3 vs TNT)? I know they have a big difference on price but not able to distinguish sound after playing a few same LP with same MC. Is there anyway that people like me will able to identify these music difference on tonearm or turnable?
I thought if you get a very good MC then you will get great sound. That is my personal opinion. Am I wrong? Please let me know.
Jeff, some people can hear the differences and some can't. If you are comparing two very high quality items, there are probably minor differences between them. Virtually every piece of a system has its own sonic signature. But, there are some things that are fundamental. A tonearm must be rigidly fixed to the (sub)chassis of the turntable and have excellent rigidity and close tolerance bearings if it is going to allow the cartridge to retrieve the information properly from the record. If not, when the stylus traces the groove, some of the vibrations that were intended to move the stylus will be lost in the play of the bearings in the tonearm. Also, any play in the bearing of the spindle/platter assy. will have the same result. The order of importance in a record playback system is: Drive sytem, then tonearm, then cartridge. This is particularly critical when choosing a low compliance MC cartridge. Since the suspension of the cartridge is stiff, more energy is transferred to the tonearm and bearings. If the arm is not up to this task, it will lose some of the music. The cartridge cannot make up for this deficiency in the arm, no matter how good the cartridge is. So, applying a high priced cartridge to an inferior tonearm will not yield the performance improvement that you paid for. This is one reason why the tonearm/cartridge matchup is so important. Another is mass/resonance characteristics. But, again, if you put the best arm/cartridge combination in the world on a Rega 2, it will not sound as good as a Linn LP12 with medium priced tonearm/cartridge. This is because the turntable drive system is more important than the arm/cartridge, and the LP12 has a better bearing and suspension than a Rega 2. What is lost in the inferior bearing of the turntable can never be recovered by the arm/cartridge. This is why they make high end turntables. But if you can't hear the difference between two good tables then I wouldn't recommend spending any additional money on the more expensive one. There are some times when a more expensive item does not perform as well as one that costs a little less. You should trust your ears. But, your ears will develop a more sensitive capability when you are exposed regularly to very good gear. Then you may hear more differences than you did before.
Jeff Wu- Yes, with two tone arms of different designs, compliance can be a concern. Different combinations can resonate and cause trackability problems. A high compliance cartridge on a low mass arm is essentially the "tail wagging the dog", or, in other words, the cartridge will control the movement of the arm rather than the arm controlling the cartridge to stay stationary (laterally) and tracking the groove. (This is overly simplistic and I hope the high/low compliance terms are correct- I keep forgetting which is which.)
Generally speaking, most arms are medium mass and most cartridges are medium compliance, but you'll want to check before spending alot of dough only to find that you have compliance issues.
Jim and Twl
Thanks for your comments. I have VPI MK3 turntable with audioquest PT5.0 tonearm and Monster Alpha II HO cartridge with nomial output 1.5mV(high output of Moving Coil). My audio env. :preamp - SYRAH, Amp- ARC VT100 and Speaker- Aerial 10T. How can I improve the quality of sound "significantly" by upgrading the combination of tonearm and cartridge under $1200.00? Any suggestions?
Jeff, my recommendation would be to upgrade the VPI-MKIII to the MKIV package. For $800 you get the platter, bearing, and suspension of the TNT, according to the VPI web page. This would be the best improvement in your price range. The next step would be to sell your AQ arm and get a Rega RB-300. Then move up to a high end MC cartridge. For the $1200 you can spend, you could do the table upgrade and the tonearm, and still have a little left from the sale of your AQ arm to save toward the cartridge. That route would get you the best sound for your money. The other thing you may consider is to sell the whole rig and buy a nice used high end table here on the Agon that is already set up with the arm and cartridge you want.