In over my head


I went all in on a couple pieces, and am now realizing I'm in over my head. I don't know (yet) the technicalities of matching cartridge to tonearm. Much less proper setup. Reading a few ads, reviews, some work better together than others.

I've got 2 turntable setups slowly coming together. No cartridges at the moment. Amps and speakers are future works.

47 Labs Shikagura phono stage
Denon AVR 3000 and/or
Onkyo A 9555
80's era Advent 2 ways, Infinity oversized bookshelf speakers.

The turntable setups:
Michell Gyro with SME 309 tonearm.
AR XA in walnut plinth. Heavily modded Rega 250 tonearm.
The AR will probably go in my office, The Michell Gyro at home.

Here's the deal: I need to move in the "Econophile" realm.
I've got a couple grand to finish with at the moment. More in the future, but the budget is tight at the moment.
I know new amps, speakers are requiered to touch the hem of great sound, but this is what I've got to work with at the moment.

I need some cartridge recommendations for the above. Figure less than 500.00 for the AR/XA Rega 250 set up, and 1500.00 for the Gyro/SME setup. The money may seem a bit silly given the supporting components. Feel free to offer Econophile solutions where needed.

In Music, I'm a rock head that easily goes to accoustic. I love the timbre, resonance of guitar, piano. I love vocals, but tend to pay more attention to instrumental passages. Figure Enya to Black Flag. Pre Rollins.

Ancilories are Nakamichi cassete, Phillips DCC. Wish that would have panned out.

Any cartridge reccomendations for the above systems?

Even Grado's least expensive cartridge sounds good. Ditto for the Denon 103. See Zu Audio's tweak of the 103 while you're at it.
Check out the current issue of The Absolute Sound. There's an excellent excerpt from Robert Harley's book on just this subject.
I highly recommend a Dynavector 10X5 for the AR setup. This is a great budget cart. for <$500. Take note that its a high-output MC so try and get a phono stage with a decent amount of gain.
Denon 103. Affordable (103 at $200, 103R $300, maybe less). They sound great for the $ and you can upgrade later if you think another $1k is necessary.
Check eBay and buy new at that price.
Agree with a couple of the posters here

Since you like rock - the denon 103 or 103r should go well with the Gyro/SME combo.
I am not a vinyl person but please accept a suggestion anyway. There is no need to throw bux at two turntables if you are in econoline mode - pick one (surely one is better then the other LOL) and focus all of your resources there. Store or sell the other...

You need too much other stuff to try and support two TTs right now - the hidden cost of this stuff - tweaks, plinths, carts, power cables, preamps, interconnects and on and on will kill you...
I agree with Ckorody, but I have a different reason (despite the fact that I am becoming more of a vinyl person all of the time): if you are using a TT in your "office system", you are not really doing enough work and the extra time you have to set up, adjust, clean, turn over, etc records is better spent doing something else - if not, you either are not really in need of econophile advice, or you seriously need to drum up more business...

My advice: for an office system, if you are truly in 'econophile mode', you need a music server (spare PC, or one bought used for little money, and a <$300 USB DAC. If you have an iPod, buy a Wadia dock and plug in your iPod to a nice amp with small "warmish" sounding speakers. If you don't have an iPod, the older ones with the Wolfson DACs can be found used for not a lot. If you are concentrating on your work at all, that will be fine. If your office reels in enough cash to burn a hole in your pocket, use the office budget to pay for a wonderful system later (or send the extra cash to me).

As for the suggestions on carts, I have not problems with my Denon 103R, and I enjoy it quite a lot (I have not used a standard 103 enough recently to remember clearly the differences though).
I've got an Ipod. Tivoli system in bedroom, stereo with sub. Use the Ipod as source some evenings. Have a cheap Chinese copy of Tivoli in office at the moment. Hook the Ipod to it occaisionally. I honestly don't know squat about decent computer hookups. Kind of sad, as I have some M-Audio near feild monitors (BX 5A) sitting on a shelf somewhere, as I was getting too much noise through the wire, hooked up to Ipod direct, or computer.

I'll admit, a Turntable at work is an affection unbased in anything other than I've got one to put there, and probably some ancillary gear to support it. And the unique factor. I work In Human Services. It could be a source of connection with a few folks. It could keep me sane with a few other folks. Totally worth it there.

You do remind me of the BX5a's. I should look into getting them running, regardless. Had planned to use them with computer. The BX 5A's are self powered, bi-amped near field monitors. So far sound like crap hooked to computer, or using Ipod as direct source. Cheap wires could be the culprit. Who Knows? I've put off investigating the problem for a while. Got frustrated, put them away.

On the anolog front, I think I'm doing OK.
I got smoking deals on all the stuff listed. I don't know how to use any of it properly, but I'll learn

Also, I'm "The boss" at work, so fostering an eccentricity or 2 is acceptable. Maybe mandatory,