I need a headshell recommendation for Technics 1200 GAE

What do folks like?  I like to keep it "reasonable".  Note how I don't define reasonable.  :)
Audio Technica, Jelco, Ortofon... All are great. But so is the stock Technics headshell. If you want something light, get magnesium. 
Audio Craft, Orsonic, Stax, Grace SH-6 , Technics Boron Headshell 

Yamamoto HS-4 if the weight (about 11 grams) is ok for you. 

A very substantial upgrade over the stock Jelco headshell for me at a reasonable price; typically available on Ebay around $100 U.S. 
Something to keep in mind... The original SL-1200GAE headshell including wire leads is approximately 7.6 grams.

Most of the headshells being recommended here are 12-16 grams without wire leads and without mounting screws. Which can add an additional 3-4 grams. S shaped tonearms without headshells have an average effective mass of 4-5 grams, this includes the SL-1200GAE.

Since most of this mass happens to be at the end, effective mass of the tonearm can increase to 19-25 grams, or so.

If we take a modern MM, such as the 2M Black, which has a little above average compliance of 22 and mass of 7.2 grams, this will put the cartridge resonance at 6Hz. A horrible result, which will drastically and negatively impact performance, sound, trackability, etc.

These modern headshells and a lot of other turntable related components, are geared towards modern low compliance MC cartridges. It’s unfortunate.

One MC exception is the Audio Technica ART9. It is a very high compliance cartridge, unlike any other MC on the market. Compliance is rated at 18 (Japanese 100Hz), or 27-32 (European 10Hz)! It needs the lowest mass headshell, or lowest effective mass tonearm, such as SME 309 or vintage SME III.


Since most of this mass happens to be at the end, effective mass of the tonearm can increase to 19-25 grams, or so.
You can not change effective mass by adding heavier headshell, the effective mass in not just a mass, it is not that simple to change effective mass and it was explained here by experienced users.


I will add a few pictures, i use all those shells, i have EPA-100 mkII tonearm.

Most of the shells i have listed are lightweight, especially the Orsonic (light version, not the heavy one), Stax (with azymuth/overhang adjustment), Grace HS-6 (carbon), and Technics own vintage Headshells. This Kenwood headshell is great to match in color to the new Technics arm (LOL). Victor headshells are also nice. They are all about 10-12g max. No problem to use them with Technics tonearm. You don’t have to stick to 8g headshell, just because Technics shell is about 8g! 10-13g is an average mass of the shell in the modern world.

ZYX LIVE-18 is great high-end headshell, but very expensive.  

@chakster Yes absolutely you can change effective mass by adding mass to the tonearm, especially at the headshell. It's just very difficult to calculate exactly what the new effective mass will be.

But the exact number really doesn't matter. Example, extra 10 grams at the headshell may calculate in the end to increase the overall effective mass by 8 grams. It may not be the entire 10 grams, but it's still a lot.


Here is detailed explanation of what is Effective Mass, someone posted all that before, i will just quote again: 

"So effective mass in not mass - it's inertia! In fact, even the common measurement (in metric grams) is a misconception. This is brought to you here, by the tonearm manufacturers, as a curtsy to the layman. Effective mass, like any inertia, is measured in Kg/m/s2 (that is kilograms per meter per second squared). Since we're talking very small mass here - everything is divided by 1000 and so we're actually dealing with grams per millimeters per second squared. The general em formula relationships are manipulated such that we're left with grams only - but nevertheless it's Inertia!!!. Keeping that in mind it's easier to regard effective mass for what it is.

Another misconception is the relationship between 'effective mass' and mass. If you add 1 gram to the tip of the tonearm you do not add 1 gram of effective mass to the tonearm No way Jose!. You do not add a 1/3 or a half - none of it catches here. So, how much do you add? Well, that cannot be described in English, it can only be described in a math equation. This is what it looks like:

M(kg) = m(r²/L²) + (Z/3)

m is the counter weight mass
r is the counter weight distance from the pivot
L is the effective length (pivot to stylus tip)
Z is equal to twice the mass of the front end of the tonearm at the effective length. Your headshell mass is part of 'Z'.

M is the effective mass and the whole thing is in kilograms but it doesn't matter. This is just to demonstrate why the relationship between mass and effective mass is not as straight forward as one might think.

L (the leverage or effective length) will affect the importance of the real estate the most. In other words - the tip of the tonearm is the most strategic location where masscan affect inertia. Adding just a tiny amount of mass to that specific location might, just as well, be equivalent to the total effect the counterweight has on the effectivemass of the tonearm. It's that important! This is where 'r' vs 'm' in the formula kicks in.

Having said that... movements of the counter weight back and forth across the back of the tonearm seldom changes effective mass by any significant amount. It's typically punched in and pre-calculated into the specs of the tonearm and it's a generic part of the given effective mass."

Dear @chakster : Of course is part of inertia ( inertia's moment. ) and that's why where we can have the higher changes on that total effective mass/inertia is precisely at the headshell position.

You have to understand that the deep/whole inertia concept/matghematics could be complex to for we " mere mortals " calculate it through tghose mathematics because you have to think that the mass of the  headshell and cartridge is not " seated "/concentrated at only one point but the cartridge and headshell overall body, along that body shape, each mm. is at different distance from the center of the tonearm pivot ! !

That's why things, even that are not absolutely correct, were made more simple for audiophiles and it's what @invictus and every one takes as " true ".

Yes our calculations on that cartridge/tonearm frequency resonance range is out of absolute reality but never mind and follow what we have on hand and be happy with.

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,
@chakster I understand what effective mass is and the required calculations. What I wrote earlier is correct. 
I have the Audio-Technica ART 9 so finding a low mass headshell may be a priority.  I'm following what invicuts005 is saying and I don't see how he/she is wrong--but maybe I'm missing something.  

If I’m reading the equation correctly, Z is an independent term that is simply added to the calculation after being divided by three. Since you’re only concerned with the delta here, calculating the change in effective mass is (I think) pretty straightforward. Whatever total Z is, the only part of it that changes with the headshell swap is the difference in mass of the shell plus screws, wires, etc (call it the shell package).

If the original headshell was (let’s say) 7.5 grams and the replacement package is 16.5 grams, you’ve increased effective mass by 3 (16.5 - 7.5 =9 and 9/3 = 3 grams) since that’s the unit of measure here.

The change in counterweight position and effective length should be very close to zero.  If you sub in a heavier counterweight and don't move the cartridge, it will be zero.

@martykl Incorrect. Adding mass at the headshell will also increase the center of counter weight to pivot distance. In addition, you’re also using the equation wrong for the calculation you’ve made.

I honestly don’t understand what the confusion is. Adding mass directly over the stylus, will increase the effective mass of the system proportionately by the same amount. The equation proves that.

Now the heavier headshell does not concentrate all of the extra mass over the stylus, but for all intents and purposes it’s close enough.

Micro Seiki had a tonearm with a sliding weight on the wand, the closer the weight was positioned to the headshell, the higher the effective mass became.

Technics had a small weight that attached directly over the cartridge.

SME Series III tonearm had lead weights that attached under the headshell to increase effective mass.

This is really a very tired discussion and has been beaten to death.

OP, since you have the ART9, I recommend keeping the effective mass as low as you can. The Technics headshell is a great aluminum made in Japan part. And it’s relatively light. You just got your turntable, play it several hundred hours to break it in and get used to the sound, before making any tweaks.

One recommendation that I can make is to replace the headshell leads to either Ortofon silver leads (they sound great, I use them) or silver van den Hul leads. SME also makes silver leads using van den Hul MCS150 wire. Great stuff. You can get any of those leads from www.analogueseduction.net they usually have the best prices and ship worldwide.
@chakster @martykl : This link can help about that tonearm effective mass subject:


Invictus - right you are, I missed the small m in the first term.  Since you can hold the distance of counterweight to pivot constant by increasing the mass of the counterweight (and nothing else changes), you would need to add the required incremental mass there to the sum I calculated.
@martykl and Z is equal to twice the mass... According to chakster's posted equation anyway.  

@rauliruegas That link is spot on. Easy to follow calculations. Any mass added over the stylus increases the effective mass by the same amount. 

Detachable headshells are a great way to fine tune the effective mass of the tonearm and cartridge resonance. 
Yamamoto HS4 Carbon Fiber
@rauliruegas or anyone else, at the risk of beating a dead horse, I want to make sure I understand this.
My SL1200-G has a tonearm with an effective mass of 12 gr. The headshell is 7.6 gr. If I remove the stock headshell and replace it with one that weighs 12 gr. is the effective mass of my tonearm now 16.4 gr.?
@ericsch It will be close enough to 16.4g.
Another option which I used with an ART-9 is the Nasotec Swing headshell. It may appear quirky but it works very very well.. I sold my 2 SAEC ULS3x shells for 2 of these, and compared it to a Shun Mook recently, and much preferred the Nasotec. Not cheap, but you didnt mention budget..
I also have an ART9 and getting ready to order the Nasotec if anyone is interested I may be able to help with the cost pm me
This is my ZYX LIVE-18 headshell on EPA-100 tonearm, highly recommended. 

The old shells i like a lot: Grace HS-6 Carbon and the lightweight Orsonic which you can find here in the gallery