help with phono pre amp questions/stylus

are the moving coils that much better than the moving magnets (vpihwIII & fr64fx). also i want to use a tube phono but the mc versions are out of site on price (i am being cheap). there are many more reasonalbly priced mm tube phono pre's. can i use a ss head amp into the tube pre and still maintain the quality of the tube unit? any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Most phono sections will handle a medium to high output MC catridges in addition to MM. A 2-2.5 mv MC should work fine, at least it does on my Mod3 and other tube pre's that I'm familiar with. Check with manufacturers if you're not sure about this.
Jvr, You have a nice front end. It is especially suited for handling a proper (low output) moving coil of low compliance. I believe that a good tranformer into a tube phono section or a good SS phono preamp into a tube line stage (my personal choice) would be ideal. I like the Linto and the Pass phono stages. What other components, music tastes, and room are you working with?
Jvr, it would not be correct for anyone to make an across-the-board statement that MC cartridges are better sounding than non-MC cartridges. There are many MC cartridges that are wonderful in the $2000 and over price range. There also are many MC cartridges that I personally could not tolerate living with regardless of price.

In my case, I've always used Grado cartridges (non-MC) and I'm very particular about vinyl playback - vinyl is my primary source. There are certainly other good choices, but for me the Grados just do exceedingly well many of those things that I value in sound reproduction. For example, all of the Grado cartridges get the mid-range tonality right. As one moves up the Grado line in price, there is a general pattern of obtaining greater neutrality, quickness, resolution and high frequency delicacy and extension. In the current Grado line-up, I like and use the Reference "Reference". Would I chose a MC cartridge over a Grado? If I were willing to spend twice as much or more, yes. A Helicon MC is a better cartridge.

With respect to amplification for the cartridge, the key factor is the cartridge output - not whether it is MC or non-MC. There are both low-output and high-output MC cartridges. There are also a few very low output non-MC cartridges.

Simplistically stated, the reason for making cartridges with lower output is that the the current generating components can be smaller and lighter (there can be fewer coils of wire in the "moving coil"), and with smaller and ligher components a designer can often create a cartridge that is more refined in tonal definition, quickness, and delicacy. This is not universally accomplished, of course.

Historically, most of the better MC cartridges have less than 0.8mv output. (Some are low as .2mv which becomes exceedingly challenging.) Most non-MC phono stages can handle cartridges of 1.0mv or greater. Some can handle a few tenths of a mv lower. But a good rule of thumb is to expect good results at 1.25mv or greater. All will depend on the characteristics of the particular preamp.

I'm sure there are some Audiogon readers who can share with us which are some of the better higher output MC cartridges.

Just to keep the record straight: the Grado Reference line is currently offered at 1.5mv. This is going to change. The new line will operate at 0.5mv moving clearly into the low output camp that has long been the sole domain of MC cartridges.

Very nice work Rushton. I am a moving coil user (Cello Chorale at 13 grams and .19mv output--try that for a challenge). I can tell you that this now long out of production model gave me all of the MC virtues while retaining a tonal balance similar to Magnetics. I would be willing to bet that Mag carts like Goldring, Grado and Shure, come closer to the sound of the Master tape than do some of the priciest MCs. Ask Robert Ludwig who uses a Grado at his mastering house. The main problem with MCs has been thier tendency to sound emphasized and thin in the upper octaves. The main problem with Magnetics was thier lack of speed and inability to give holographic 3D images. Weather this 3D ability is exagerrated in MC carts in relation to the Master Tape, I guess Robert Ludwig could answer that question. A good thread might be " What comes closer to the Master Tape, MM or MC?"..........Frank