low tracking force cartridge recommendations?

hey, i'm new here (and also relatively new to the audiophile analog world), so i could really use some advice on my "new" turntable, which will very likely end up being a Dual 1019. from all of my research and speaking with people, it would seem to me that Dual recommended using cartridges that have a low tracking force. my understanding of that is limited, but i do have some idea of what that means.

being my first turntable in many many years, i am not looking to spend a fortune on cartridges - i figured i could spend $100 to $200 at most, and have found many that fall into that price range. some have recommended an Ortofon Super OM 30 to me, others pointing towards a Shure M97 XE. the repair shop that is looking over the turntable was saying a decent Audio-Technica might just be the best route... there are so many choices that my head is spinning.

one thing i did learn is that i apparently should be using a Moving Magnet cartridge since I will be using this table through a Bellari VP129 pre-amp, which I also just purchased.

i will primarily be listening to jazz and old rock records on this unit on a not-particularly hi-fi setup, though having the tube preamp was important to me since i'd love to hear stuff through my Grado SR 125's.

so, knowing all of that, what sort of cartridges would you recommend? i'd be thrilled to find something for $50 that sounds good and won't harm my records, but as i said, would be willing to spend a bit more if that will get me something significantly better.

thank you!
My best advice, is find yourself a good working older Shure V-15 Type III Body, and for another $100 buy a Jico Shure SAS Stylus from LP Gear, and be merrily on your way to sonic nirvana.

I'd buy the Stylus first, and perhaps "luck into" a Body cheaply from ebay, with the assurance from seller, that if he/she sells you a DOA Cartridge, they'll refund your money in full in a worst case scenario.
Check out this thread for some thoughtful MM cartridge recommendations by one of Audiogon's most experienced members.
Hello Doug, I presume you posted a link to Raul's posts, correct?

Well, I do very much like what Raul says, and I personally find that virtually all of what Raul has ever contributed to this forum is highly valuable, and helpful. My hat's off to you Raul!

But why Raul fails to mention, like, or suggest in any of his posts, any of the Shure V-15 Cartridges is beyond me?

While I can probably not ever claim to be in a class of you Doug, or Raul in experience with so many different, very costly Catrridges, or ever give precise accurate information about the many things "analog, I do have a considerable amount of experience with Shure MM Cartridges, mainly the V-15 Series, I've owned a number of Type III, and in fact still own my 35 year old original, bought new, and now sports a Jico SAS Stylus.

This is used on a spare mint Denon DP-2550/Grace DA-307 Table of mine. I've had literal 1000's of hours placed on this very Cartridge, as well as other V-15's I've owned, and this particular Cartridge is now on its fourth Stylus! Therefore, I'd like to say, my claims are not from hearsay, other's advice, or claims, but my own personal experiences over the many years I've been into analog. I first started this quest in 1972. As Doug Knows, I now sport a ZYX Airy 3X on a VPI Table. A great Cartridge that gets beter every time I play it.

I've heard numerous V-15's in other's systems, find many of my friends still use this Cartridge happily, and swear by it's sound.

By no means trying to barge my way into this discussion claiming I'm some authority, but this is one way to get excellent sound, superb tracking, and value, at a very meager price. Mark
@ Markd51: thanks for the suggestions. why do you recommend buying the body and stylus separately? as I am quite a novice in this field, installing a stylus onto a body is not the first thing I want to be doing to set up my new system. I have read that the Jico Shure SAS is a very good aftermarket stylus replacement for the Shure V15, but I'm not sure I'd want to start out with something quite that expensive (i'm pricing out that combo at well over $200). my hopes were to find something a bit more reasonably priced to get me going in this whole adventure.

@ Dougdeacon: thanks a lot for that link, i've read through that thread and appreciate his insights on MM cartridges. some of it is a bit over my head, but i think i got the general idea.

i guess what i'm still looking for are recommendations from people who own (or have owned) turntables with relatively low tracking force, and which MM cartridges they have tried and liked on them.

Hello Tethead, My reasoning for buying a new Stylus for a older Shure, is that most likely, a used Shure V-15 Type II, III, or IV you find used will most likely have either/or a worn out Stylus, or shot Cantilever Suspension Components.

I have no idea what current prices people are getting for used Shure Type III on that famous auction site, and it wouldn;t surprise me if people are yanking in $100 for a Cartridge body minus Stylus.

On the other hand, my friend has lucked into many Shure Type III's, and IV's on mint Garage-Yard Sale Tables like Technics, Kenwoods, Pioneers for $15, and that's with the Shure Cartridge included.

I personally seen my one buddy once walk into a Thrift Shop, buy a shot turntable for $10, yank the Shure V-15 Type III off of it, and give them back the Table right then, and there.

There are good deals to be found if you're patient.
By replacing Stylus, and the Body is sound, you'll be up and running for many years to come at a relatively low cost for a fine Cartridge. My honest opinion about the V-15 Type III? If they made it today brand new, Shure would be charging $600 for it. And people would be buying it as well. Mark
@Markd51: thanks for clarifying. yeah, on that famous auction web doohickey, i'm finding no empty or worn cartridges - only ones that have already had a new stylus put in, a VN35? so i'd be paying close to $240 for something that is NOT a Jico SAS Stylus... any idea about the VN35? there seem to be standard ones and those with hyper-elliptical needles. are there advantages or disadvantages to HE vs non-HE? i was reading about the anti-skating settings on my unit and it seems that i have to take that sort of thing into account when calibrating everything.

would I be much worse off with, say, a Shure M97 XE? People do seem to like those, and they are at least newer and significantly less expensive. Just wondering if you've ever tried that model, and how it might compare to the older cartridges.

I appreciate your suggestions!
Hi,put a new denon in it.Or a $150-200 audio technia you should be all set.They is nothing wrong with these brands in the 150-200 range.Just don't buy the denon 103 you will need a step up transformer.GREAT cartridge though!!KP
@ Beragamo: thanks for the advice. which specific models would you recommend? i suppose i am looking for something with a recommended tracking force of 0.5-1.5g, 2g max.
I wouldn't waste time searching out discontinued Shure cartridges and aftermarket parts. For less money and a ready, supported, current supply, I'd go for the Audio Technica AT150MLX, which has a near-identical stylus as the last Shure VM series, and can be had new w/warranty from LP Gear for about $260. From everything I've read, the AT150MLx beats the Shure for dynamics, speed, tracking, linearity, and overall sound quality.
since i had a Shure M95ED cartridge that was in good shape other than the needle, i decided to (re-)start my analog life with an original Shure NE95ED stylus replacement (the elliptical version). it was a pretty inexpensive solution at $50, and one that i think will be a good basis to really get the feel for the sound of this Dual.

thanks everyone for your suggestions and expertise!!
I had a Shure M95ED back in the '70s. You know what beat it all to hell? A Grado Z1+. I don't mean it edged it out; I mean it was Ghengis Khan overruning a tiny village. For a functional equivalent today, try something from the Grado Prestige series--a Red, Blue, Silver, or Gold.

I've had 4 Shure cartridges from a 1972 M93ED to a 2007 M97xE and they're all "safe," but dull as dishwater. If you want some pizzazz in your musical life in the $100-200 range, try the Grado or a Denon DL-110 or 160, an Audio Technica AT95 or AT440MLa, a Goldring Electra, Sumiko Pearl, Ortofon OM10/20/30, or Ortofon 2M Red or Blue.

Shure cartridges were so ubiquitous in the '70s and '80s, I can't help thinking that they contributed to the demise of the LP in favor of the CD. Their dull presentation no doubt propagated the myth that LPs were noisy and lacked dynamic range.
thanks, i guess i just wanted "safe" because of the age of my turntable. with so many things that can go wrong with a 40 year old unit, i'd like to keep things as simple (and original) as possible really... introducing a Grado, with the possibility of that infamous "Grado hum", would likely frustrate me greatly. i did seriously consider an Ortofon, but the Super OM 30 i was looking at was a bit more than i wanted to spend as well. apparently Ortofon also discontinued that line and replaced it, anybody know anything about those?
Hi, I'm by no means a vinyl expert here but... I mentioned to my local high-end shop a few years ago that I have an old '80s-era turntable and he recommended the inexpensive MM Grado. I bought the Grado prestige "black" P-mount cartridge for less than $50 and am very happy with it. I have it set at 1.5 grams tracking on my Technics SL-5 direct-drive linear-tracking table from 1982 and it sounds great. The sound is very smooth from top to bottom although a little darker sounding than my digital source (Arcam CD23), hardly a fair comparison, though. The Prestige series is also available in standard mount if your table requires it.

More refined sounding and smoother than the Audio Technica EP series cartridge it replaces. Very nice midrange and vocals. The "hum" problem apparently has been corrected with the newer (late '90's and newer) Prestige series according to one professional review I read online. I have experienced no hum in my system. A great-sounding cartridge and good value for money IMHO. -jz
Dear tethead: According with your Dual operation manual the Dual people " say " that you can use any cartridge you want ( regarding VTF ) down to 0.5 VTF and they continue ( more or less ) that high compliance cartridges ( that normally work with low VTF ) are not the best with an automatic TT design like yours.

Now, reading that manual it seems to me that this TT was a very good on its time, it was a surprise to me finding that its tonearm is a dinamicaly balance one with a very low bearing friction!!!

I don't want to add anything because for what you ask you almost have the right answers about and you already take a choice.

Regards and enjoy the music.
05-02-08: Tethead
thanks, i guess i just wanted "safe" because of the age of my turntable. with so many things that can go wrong with a 40 year old unit, i'd like to keep things as simple (and original) as possible really...
That's also a reason I recommended the Grado. The replacement stylii for the current Prestige series are also Grado's factory-recommended replacement stylii for some of the Grado cartridges from the '70s, so I figured it'd also be a period-correct solution. I doubt that the "Grado hum" was a problem back then, because by far most mid-fi turntables (BSR, Grado, Dual) were idler drive powering a machined aluminum platter. Grado was the ubiquitous giveaway cartridge back then, so if there had been a hum problem Grado would have never gotten the huge market share they had back then.

Also, since the Grado Prestige line traces its heritage back to about the same time as the Dual 1019, I figured it would be a good match in compliance and output. Rated output is 5mV, which should fit perfectly with your Bellari.

I hadn't heard that the Ortofon OM series is discontinued, but I was wondering if they would. With the new 2M series they now have 2 or 3 MM lines covering the same price and performance range. The reviews of the new 2M line are overwhelmingly positive, from the $99 Red all the way to the $599 Black. If you go that direction, there's probably not much reason to go beyond the entry-level Red or at most the nude-stylus Blue. This new series has a really high output, like 5.5 to 6.5 mV, which should make even the Bellari relax.

The Denon DL-110 and 160 I mentioned are a little too low in output for the Bellari.
While I agree with Mark on the Shure, a Shure M91 or M95
will sound similar to the V15 III (though without the III
suspension) and can be had for $25 or so on ebay. The
Dual 1000 series is pretty long in the tooth and very hard
to get parts for. Move up to the 1200 series whenever you
i actually have a 1209 that came with the 1019. currently non-functional, but i'm going to get it evaluated soon. the 1019 i'm actually picking up from the repair shop for the first time today, so i'll be spending the rest of my day enjoying some quality vinyl (i hope!).

transporting about 60 blocks in my car in Manhattan, do you think i should leave the old stylus on the mounted cartridge for the ride, and putting on the new stylus at home (which i've never done, but can assume it's pretty straight-forward), or have the shop put it on for me? i think i'm best driving with a dull needle!!
Stay as far away from a shure v 15 as you can.
A m 91 or m 95 sound better.
A cheap grado will sound better.
Id get a at 440mla.Especialy if i had dull sounding tweeters.
Redtop, would you care to ponder a guess, as to how many V-15's were sold by Shure?

There was good reason as to why they were so popular, they were back then a very tough Cartridge to beat, and a good example can still hold it's own today.

Problem is, with any Cartridge, there's too many variables, and of course too many mixed experiences with any one piece of gear.

For any Cartridge made, there will be proponents, and of course detractors. I've seen it here even with top of the line ZYX, Dynas, Koetsu's, you name it.

The Shure V-15 was not junk as you make it out to be, particularly the V-15 Type III. Thousands of happy owners prooved that, and this Cartridge is still sought after 30 years later. Just look to that famous auction site. One day you might happen to watch, as a NOS V-15 goes into bidding wars to acquire.

Besides having a good Cartridge, with good Stylus, everything else down the line can make, or break a Cartridge's sound.

No, I'm not going to try BS'ing anybody that the V-15 is some magical end all, and will compare to a $7400 ZYX UNIverse, that would be ludicrous. Mark
Markd51...Spending $74000 for ANY phono cartridge...now that's ludicrous!! I went back to a Shure V15 after a spell with various MC cartridges. The MCs were nice, but not enough better than the Shure to justify all the hassles, for example stylus replacement. And I never have to worry about mistracking.
LOL! the v 15 is about as good as a 75 buck cart.
Let me tell you a little story about my v 15 experence.
I bought one on the recomendations of many i saw on the internet.
What a bouch of bsers!Or maybe just exagerators.I put it in my first system bought a arm to match it perfectly and what did i get?
I got a system that sounded flat with a cd quality.I matched my cables to the 500 pf that shure calls for.I got to 450 pf i did.No help whatsoever.
I have a tube amp system and a ss system.My tube amp system was beating my vinyl system easily.Guess how much i paid for my digital front end?50 bucks at best buy!A 50 buck dvd player was blowing off a well set up record player.Not by a little but alot!Ive spent more than a few bucks on a table too.Ive got a sota cosmos.
I pulled my hair out trying to make this v 15 clunker sing.
So i ditched it and got a new cart.Guess what the shure clunker was the whole problem.
Ive never seen a better discription of a shure v 15 than the reason cd started to beat it out.It truely is a dull sounding pos.
I find it interesting you wasted so much time listening to it.Id bet you have alot of good times wraped up in it.Haveing spent so many thousands of hours with it?
Haveing a sentamental attachment to a cart does not mean its good just that your used to a certain sound.
You use a zxy why not try a test? swap them out?I dare you!Lets see if its truely the table then the arm then the cart.
Id bet that clunker will give you a real wake up call if you take my challenge?
The v 15 had its time its been bettered by every cart i used in my first post.
You cheerleading for the v 15 won't change that.
Lastly why did you single me out other's said the v 15 sucked too?
Redtop, Not singling you out, nor do I disbelieve your personal findings, but was just bringing across some points, about variables. Those same "variables" could just as easily take place, with me buying a used ZYX UNIverse Cartridge from a over-optimistic seller, who "claimed" it had very low hours, when in truth the Cartridge hypothetically had 2000+ hours.

After finding that this beat to hell ZYX Cartridge is sounding funny, and not performing anywhere near what it is claimed to do, I then turn around, and claim to the world that the UNiverse is a POS Cartridge, that people are looney to waste thier hard earned money on such a Cartridge, and a new Benz Ace I then bought easily bested the UNIverse.

I don't disagree with what you, or Johhnyb53 could possibly say that yes, buying a 30-35 year old Shure "could" be a crap shoot, and one could buy a pig in a poke, or get themselves a wonderful Cartrdge. Too many people today will fit these Shures with really junk aftermarket Stylus', then wonder why the sound lacks.

My Shure was never dull as you've found, I always used genuine Shure VN-35E, or VN-35HE Stylus, and today use it with the JICO SAS Stylus. I don't have to do a comparo, I already have, with the Shure mounted on a Vintage Denon Table with Grace DA-307 Arm.

Again, another blanket statement that Shure was the main reason CD came along, and everybody left Vinyl. I never did, even though I did also buy digital way back then. My Shure V-15 sonically bested any digital back then, and today still sounds fantastic.

And yes, I do now use a new ZYX Airy 3X. Mark
Wow so my cart was bad i think not?Its playing on a relatives deck right now.It on a pioneer dd table right where it belongs with equipment thats about as good as the shure v 15.
You cant make a silk purse out of a sows ear mark.
Im wondering after spending twice as much on your zxy as it goes for in its home country do you really think is so good?
Or did you just over spend? With the dollar tanking i bet you would get more for your money with a domestic cart.You know buy american?We are at war.