As for cartridge, advanced stylus shape is a primary consideration, combined with tools and skills to align it. Personally I stick with MM, higher output a consideration. Stylus I can replace.
I agree, wait, research, hold off till you can go to one or two analog dealers. Think long, meaning time, let future considerations influence current choice.
I just upgraded my entire Phono setup, beyond where I started, couldn’t be happier, essentially set for ever now (hah). It never occurred to me to do this, it came together bit by bit, with help from members here. I am so happy I didn’t just upgrade 1 part out of context of the whole.
Large Plinth; Two Arms; 9" arm with Mono Cartridge; 12" arm with Stereo Cartridge; Both arms with VTA adjustment while playing; method of selecting which arm.
High Output MM Mono Cartridge with Elliptical Stylus for mono arm; High Output MM Stereo Cartridge with Advanced Stylus shape for long stereo arm: Micro Ridge, Micro Line, Shibata, I went with SAS, (any advanced shape giving improved contact surface with the groove). Stereo tip cantilever material? I went with Boron, more advanced materials are too brittle for my liking.
I asked about 12" arms here, (no idea where it would lead me). I read a thread here about the benefit of playing mono records with a true mono cartridge (definitely true). Two arms means no changing headshell/cartridge/re-calibration during a listening session, a wonderful thing. Thus the project became a dual arm deck.
I mixed vintage and new, kept the cost down fairly well I think, entire project including new alignment tools, manual lp cleaning unit, end of play safety lifter, quality phono cable, minor accessories: $4,270. Much more than my original thought, did all at once: but I could have had the whole project in mind, and proceeded piece by piece knowing the end goal. The key is to think long now which is why I am telling you (and members here who helped) all this.
Vintage JVC Dual Arm Large Plinth with two removable arm boards and it’s 7 layer plinth construction; a vintage JVC spinner TT81, a vintage 9" arm; new mono MM cartridge with elliptical stylus; new 12.5" arm; stylus SAS tip, boron shaft for existing Shure MM cartridge.
Oh yeah, Analog for Analog. I sold my Solid State preamp and amp and switched back to Tubes. Happily the vintage McIntosh tube tuner/preamp has 2 MM phono inputs, just turn the selector for mono or stereo arm. McIntosh also has separate trim controls for those inputs, so you can equalize the signal strength of the two phono outputs (I don’t bother, but a nice option some like).
Which cartridge, such a simple question.