i posed pretty much exactly the same question on 7/16. check out that thread...you'll find all u need to know and probably more
13 responses Add your response
To make aN mc cart higher output, you must have more windings on the coils, thus making it heavier. This supposedly makes it less responsive, but produces a higher electrical output.
It's a trade off, because you need higher gain on your preamp to make up for a very low output cart...
Do you want noise, or detail? Can you hear the difference?
Yes. I've owned high output and low output benz ruby's, and the lower output version definitely sounded better.
Of course you can use a step-up transformer for no noise increase into a standard 40db phonostage, however very good ones are very expensive. I've used cheap lundahl trannies, and while quiet, they were not very transparent. (ducking)
So, you need to weigh the advantages against the disadvantages.
The real question, will it be an upgrade? Depends how you do it. I'm however going to say NO.
There recently was a thread on the same subject. Everything else being the same, a low output MC cartridge will resolve more detail because the lower-mass coil is mounted to the cantilever rather than the higher mass magnet. Since there is less mass, the cantilever, and therefore the stylus, will be able to respond more quickly, giving enhanced resolution that will translate into better detail, bass, dynamic range, etc. The downside is that a phono stage of higher voltage gain is required to give the same volume output. Recently with higher flux density magnets such as samarium cobalt and neodynium, higher outputs can be achieved with the same coil structure.
Less inertia to overcome in the lower mass motor assembly, which yields generally faster transient response and perhaps greater detail. This is also dependent on other limiting factors in your component chain...
But the best thing to do is just try it for yourself and see what differences you notice. No amount of words or theory, or other folks' opinions can take the place of an aural evaluation.
Why more people are not using high output MM carts is still a mystery to me. Currently TRL is developing a battery phono stage that needs a high output cart and it will run with anything on the market today, regardless of price. Probably available to consumers by the fall. You can bet that people will be taking a new perspective on very expensive carts and phono stages after this one hits the circuit.
I personally don't know of many MM designs that have sound comparable to, or better than, good MC cartridges. Most MM cartridges sound muddy, opaque and lacking in microdynamics. The one notable exception is the Decca London Reference, and it has its own set of problems (not a great tracker, high tracking force required, etc.).
As to a new phono stage, I don't see how a phono stage can compensate for what is lost from MM cartridges.
Tink below $2K it's what sounds better and above $2K you don't have that many MM's.There may be many fine inexpensive MC carts (the Denon DL1003 comes to mind) but folks are under impression that MC must sound better than MM.For some folks it is way to go based on particular cart and if they have proper phono gain but not all folks have latter and again the former is best evaluated with your ears,system in mind and tastes.Was pleasantly surprised though when a few years ago John Grado sold me low output MM (his uncle Joe having invented the MC never made them himself and just collected royalties from everyone that did which has to make you think) but John explained to me that LO versions of his carts have less windings providing better sound.Since my stage had gain I went with it and was very pleased.Your cart should match your needs.My friend called a buddy who sells everything and was going to get a Shelter.But he was advised that since he had Cary tubes and B&W's last thing he needed was tilted forward midrange.It was suggested he go with Dynvector at same price because it was more even though the frequency spectrum.Some folks need certain attributes or have certain tastes meaning a one size fits all does not work as well even though cart may have excellent results in somebody else's system.Demo's in ones own room and system can be hard so mention what you like and don't like and what it's going with.listen where you can,and collect opinions as guideposts on your trip.But your millage may vary whether it's a MM or MC low or high.
Chazz's 2 cents
As mentioned above, despite the apparent advantage of lower output MC much will depend on you phonostage gain and noise and where is runs optimally. By the way, what phono amp are you considering?
As far as high end MM cartridges go: I don't see how a phonostage by TRL could impact the decision MM vs. MC. There are many excellent phonostages for MC out there and together with added advantage of MC, the choice for high end would seem always an MC cartridge. Aside from the Decca and some high output MC, I can only name the Music Man MM cartridges that are supposed to be playing in the higher leagues.
I agree with you that, to some extent, the which-is-better issue has to do with price range. There are not too many above $2,000 MM cartridges, and a lot of lower-priced MCs can sound a bit rough and strident. I can see why someone would opt for the smoother sound of a good MM over a more nimble, but strident, MC. I would personally still pick a budget MC, but, the choice is a LOT closer in the under $1,000 range.
Another factor to consider is that it is much harder to get a compatible match between a MC cartridge and a phono stage. Some cartridges, like the top-of-the-line Allaerte are extremely demanding (needs a very precise match of impedance and gobs of gain). I would wager that a lot of unhappy experiences with MC cartridges have to do with incompatibility.
In general, low output MC's sound better than those with higher output (but not always). It depends on the quality of the Phono Stage and the Gain of the System in general.
I think, MC's with higher output make for most listeners the life a bit easier, it is not so frustrating when you find out, that your dynamics is too slow and soft and you can only change it with a change of components.