Is a low output MC superior in sound quality to a high output MC??

I have seen a few  short comments over the last year on Audiogon and in few audio magazines about the differences between a Low output MC versus a High output  MC. 

What might be the pros and cons of these two designs, and in general which offers the better sound quality even if  both are  the same brand??. 

Thank you, S.J.    

Generally low output. Less windings on the core make the assembly lighter and more responsive.
Low output serves you more details, more headroom and generally a better musical flow. But to get the best out of it you need a Phonostage with higher gain. High gain and natural sound is a real task. And expensive.
Less windings mean less mass so low output MC's can give you a faster transient response allowing for more detail to be extracted. 

I have had both HOMC's and now an LOMC.  I won't go back to a HOMC again.  But as others have pointed out, the phono stage is critical.  It must be extremely quiet (no audible hiss) at the higher gain levels needed or you can negate the additional musical detail an LOMC brings you.
This low output MC mantra works only in theory, practically High Output MC can be very good or even better. I have tried both and i do not miss my new ZYX PREMIUM 4D with dedicated pre-pre amp, when i use vintage High Output ARGENT MC500HS cartridge.

I’m pretty sure it depends on the cartridge, if you chose between LOMC or HOMC of the same brand then maybe LOMC is better if your phono stage is good for LOMC, but you can find another HOMC cartridge (from another manufacturer) superior to your LOMC for example. It is very personal and system dependant.

I wouldn’t ignore HOMC or even MM in the battbe with LOMC cartridges.
But trust your ears!

Just to add to the confusion take a look at the Soundsmith "Fixed Coil" cartridges.

(anyone know what Fixed Coil is?)

Knowing the lengths SS goes to i would have to believe there is not much downside, if any, to their high output carts

They start around $399

Has anyone tried one of the SS own brand carts? - Tell us what you think of them.

"Fixed coil" is a euphemism for what is more commonly known as "Moving Iron".  In MI cartridges a piece of iron is attached to the cantilever, and it is the only moving part. Both the coil and the magnet are stationary, and the iron causes changes in magnetic flux that induce signal voltage in the coil.  Like Peter Lederman says, MI cartridges have lowest moving mass among the three common types of cartridges.

I have not owned an HOMC cartridge in more than 10 years, so I am certainly not up to date on the latest, but before that I owned a Transfiguration Esprit, two Benz Gliders, and at least one Sumiko Blue Point.  None of these sounded as true to life in my system as have any number of LOMC and/or MM/MI type cartridges.  Thus I have come to believe that, as a class, LOMC cartridges are superior to HOMC.  This is not to say that ALL LOMC cartridges are superior to ALL HOMC types.  There may well be a great HOMC out there, somewhere.

syntax has it... however, you have to have enough gain and quality in your other gear to appreciate the difference.
LOMC is better than HOMC, IMHO. System quality and gain are key.

Matt M

Thank you to all members who responded so far. Each has re-educated me about these two types of MC's, and also the dark horse, moving iron design offered by the Sound-Smith company which I considered but only up to the" Otello" model which is listed at $479.

The issue of phono pre-amp gain and pre-amp and amp  gain seems crucial, but so does cartridge/tonearm interface  My current system is a Moon Audio LP -110 phono pre-amp  The MM gain is 40db, and MC gain is 60db. The Moon tech said that the MM gain is high enough for even the Denon DL110 HOMC with an published spec output of 1.6 mV. The DL-103 LOMC is .0.3 and the infamous DL 103R LOMC is  approximately the same. The LOMC DL-103 is actually less expensive than HOMC DL-110.

The rest of my rig is the Conrad Johnson PV14L SE and BAT VK-200 amp; the speakers are the Golden Ear Technology 7's . I am sure how the interface of the amp , pre-amp, LP-110 PP and any LOMC would play out so I need to do a little home work. 

BTW, the Denon DL-110 HOMC weights 4.8 grams. I don't recall the weight of the DL-103 LOMC.   I mentioned this because several of  you  probably saw my thread about TT at $1100 or under. . I am still mulling over keeping the U-Turn Orbit PlusTT with the Ortofon 2M RED cartridge which   has a output of 5.5 mV which sounds better after replacing original motor because of a hum problem. The new motor has reduced 90% of the hum. but there is a residual low-level hum still there, but is not distracting or annoying..

Lastly, with the above setup of electronics and Ortofon cartridge, at step 64 out 99 steps on volume control of the CJ line stage, the sound is very loud. but good.  I am hoping a  better cartridge whether MM or MC will improve the sound, but the tonearm on U-Turn table is not well suited for anything higher than the two Denon MC's  I have indicated.  Any further comments or advice is welcomed    Thanks, SJ            

Using 47kOhm or 100kOhm MM phono input for HOMC cartridge doesn’t work for me, my 1.9mV Argent MC lose the magic when connected like that. It works superior with classic 100ohm MC input on my JLTI phono stage or with MC input on my WLM phono stage with automatic load impedance and build-in lundahl step-up stansformers.

In my opition HOMC are better with MC preamps (instead of MM preamp) and this is all about correct loading.

P.S. Matt, why on earth do we need HOMC/MM/MI/MF if the answer is so simple as you said? LOMC is not better, at least not for everybody. Otherwise all we need is LOMC which is the current trend. I don’t agree. Some of the vintage MMs are superior to MCs 10 times in price. 
Sunnyjim - not sure if you are aware of the features of the 110 - it has three groups of jumpers - from the 110 manual...

There are three (3) types of input adjustments available on the MOON 110LP Phono Pre-amplifier allowing you to configure it for either a moving magnet or moving coil cartridge; Capacitance loading, Resistance loading and Gain level.

So you should be able to tailer it exactly (or close) to the cartridge you are using and get the volume to a perfect balance.

You do have to take the cover off - the one drawer back with Moon.


The Moon tech said that the MM gain is high enough for even the Denon DL110 HOMC with an published spec output of 1.6 mV. The DL-103 LOMC is .0.3 and the infamous DL 103R LOMC is  approximately the same
I am still mulling over keeping the U-Turn Orbit PlusTT with the Ortofon 2M RED cartridge
Besides output and weight, you should also take into account the cartridge compliance rating to see how well it will match with your tonearm.

Your Orbit tonearm has an effective mass of around 11 grams, making either the DL-103 or 103R, compliance rating of 5 cu, a very poor choice resulting in a resonant frequency of around 16 Hz!  It's this need for extremely low mass tonearms that give the 103's their infamous rep.

The DL-110 is a much better match for your tonearm with a rating of 14 and giving you a much lower resonant frequency of 11 Hz.

IMO the medium compliance Soundsmith Otello would be the best match for your tonearm resulting in very low 8 Hz.  It's also the highest output of the three you mention at 2.12 mV.

Let me work backward

To paraneer,  Thank you. That information is valuable. FYI, U- Turn's designer Ben Carter claims he has received several testimonials about the synergy between the Denon DL-110 HOMC and the Orbit Plus tonearm.

As far as the SS "Otello" I am not sure putting a $479 cartridge on a U-Turn table that cost me $409 including the their optional cork mat makes sense, but it is something to consider, if that is the best match up and will provide the best sound quality.

To willewonka,  Thanks for the heads up about the Moon LP110 adjustments; I have looked over the manual and understand the adjustment that are offered. Right now I am just using the "default" setting and did not have to open the chassis to make adjustments. 

To Chakster: Thanks for the additional info regarding the HOMC versus LOMC  issue.       SJ

Sunny, Many others put $5000 cartridges on $5000 turntables, so I don't know why you would hesitate to try the Otello on the UTurn.  It's a bit odd to me in fact that many people seem more willing to pay thousands for a cartridge than for a turntable.

To lewn,   That is a good point. My thinking on the issue of  the SS Otello cartridge with the U-Turn TT, is that platform and tonearm a worthy match up.  Consider the fact that a few audiophiles will invest in a "armless" table, and seek out the a seaprate tonearm compatible with the cartridge they want and have selected. This is understandable specialization like buying a separate phono pre-amp to insure the best performance from an analog set-up instead of using the phono stage in a integrated amp or pre-amp. 

My concern is getting the most out of a cartridge for the TT and  the arm I currently have. The only time I  purchased a separate arm for a table was in 1988 when I owned VPI HR19 Jr.and installed Audioquest PT-6 tonearm That was almost 30 years ago and audiophile market was  readily open to a separate arm and  an armless table. It was the mark of being a serious audiophile and/or vinyl lover. I don't think that is as  true today as it was 30 years ago. Many mid to high-end tables come with the brand's arm and many pre-packed  with a  decent cartridge. When you get above $3000, some brands come with their own designed arm, but generally NO pre-packed cartridge because they assume if you are paying for a $3000 plus table, you are probably going to install $1000-$2000  cartridge.

My other reason for me is I did not want to spend $479.00 for the SS Otello or possibly any cartridge. I can get any Denon HOMC or LOMC on e-bay for almost half their retail price which I know can be risky because it can be gray market junk or a worthless knock off.