Looking for cartridge recommendations

I have a Yamaha P450 turntable that I've had since I bought it new in the 80s. I'm running it through a Pioneer SX-850 and can't seem to find any information about the built-in phono stages.

The turntable currently has a Grado FC+ cartridge on it and I would like to upgrade, but have no idea what I should be looking for. For example should I be looking for a magnetic moving or coil cartridge?

I've been looking at the Ortofon Blue, and similar positioned cartridges in the Sumiko and Nagaoka lines.

I would really appreciate any help.



Ortofon 2m blue/red/silver are all elliptical stylus, the channel separation is not exceptional, decent channel balance.

I recommend you choose an advanced stylus shape (shibata, microline, SAS, ...)


IMO, this is an excellent choice when moving up, microline, channel sep 28db; channel balance 1.0 db.



Aside from imaging, it sounds great, everyone I recommended it to is glad they bought it.

Begin by checking the channel separation (higher is better), and center balance (lower is better). Those two relate to imaging.

Then check what other’s say about that cartridge’s musical performance.


Next, look to upgrade your Turntable, and move that cartridge to it.


Moving Coil

I chose AT33PTG/II (low output, needs a Step Up Transformer or MC phono stage)



Aside from the cartridge’s guts, it’s about stylus shape and the stiffness of the cantilever, stiffer better, but progressively costs more.

it’s mc technology, and boron shaft combine to provide channel sep 30db; channel balance 0.5db.

I love it’s imaging ability as well as it’s sound. I’ve got 3 tonearms, several cartridges, and friends bring their cartridges here.

Many great sounding cartridges, ........................ Closest to it so far is Jim’s ADCOM Crosscoil rebuilt by Steve at VAS with ? shaft/advanced stylus shape. (high output, can go into MM phono stage) ........................ This is tempting, buy it, have Steve juice it up https://reverb.com/item/44951529-adcom-crosscoil-xc-elliptical-cartridge-no-stylus-1552-good-used-condition

I guessed my AT33PTG/II was worn, sent it to AT, yep, they have a trade-in program, sold me a new one at half price.

. When you consider that, it lowers the cost over time. It’s hard not to keep exploring cartridges. I just bought a Sumiko Talisman with a sapphire shaft, gonna see if the stiffer cantilever can produce a better sound, especially bass. Best bass I ever had was from a Shure V15Vxmr with beryllium cantilever on my old Thorens TD 124. Look sideways at beryllium and it shatters! No longer made. OMG, it’s hard to stop exploring cartridges.

secretguy  that is part of my issue...I can't find any information to tell me that it can or can't handle MC.

Here are spec's for the 850's phono stage (it's for higher output cartridges)...

Input sensitivity: 6.5mV (mic), 2.5mV (MM)

The "mic" spec is for Phono 2 (2.5mV = Phono 1).



Thank you dekay. And thanks for explaining it. So short of getting an external phone preamp, it’s moving magnet cartridges??

I’m afraid I have no idea what those specs mean.

I shoved in a Garrott Bros p77i a year and a bit ago, and it was pretty good.
It is a high output cart. (~$500 USD and I find it seems good.)

Then I got a phono stage which can do moving coil.

You will other need a SUT or to go with something like a SoundSmith Zephyr mk III.
Or some other contact line or shibata stylus.
A SUT allows you to run a MC cartridge with a MM type of phono gain.

I would suggest for budget that you just get a high output cart.
Depending upon where you are there should be a shop that has the usual suspects that you can listen to.

I would go with a replacement stylus (approx. $60) for your FC+ or try the latest version (V3?) of the Grado Prestige Gold or Silver for well under $300.

I like the less expensive Grado cartridges in my system.

Yes, you need a higher output cartridge (greater than or equal to the 2.5mV spec I posted).

The new Grado will have more detail than your old model, but will still sound similar.



One thing that I forgot to add is that I also have a Pro-Ject Phono Box Preamp that allows me to switch between MC and MM. I had]ve that for a Cambridge Audio Azur AV receiver  that I'm currently not using.

OK, try that with what you have and if it sounds good pop $60 for a new stylus.

$60 well spent as you then have a viable backup for whatever cartridge you try experiment with in the future.

I'm not against trying new gear, but always suggest getting the "most" out of what's on hand prior to an upgrade attempt.



Look at the AT150SA from Audio Technica. Its a great MM cartridge.  2.5Mv output.