Yes, but you will need to amplify the signal. Low output moving coils have 1/10 or less the output of typical MM ones. High output MCs are often usable directly into MM inputs. The Denon 110 is a good example available at a good price/performance ratio. But even the High output ones have lower output then MMs. Why does anyone bother with MCs then? The majority of audiophiles think they sound better, not everyone agrees but most top end audio systems use MCs, check members systems for confirmation. There is no answer to your question, it is solely a matter of taste. If you want to go with MC get something like the Bob's Devices step up transformer I use, it is about $395 and will enable you to use your present MM stage with MCs. Or get a top current MM like an Ortofon or Audio Technica 150 ML? I forget exact designation but it available from one web seller for $299. Or Raul and others will tell you to get a leftover MM from bygone days like one of the NOS Ortofons available on Ebay. All of these are reasonable approaches and any, executed with care, will give you good sound. Go to Vinyl Engine and Audio Asylum and do some reading before deciding.
You can build the " $395" transformers for about a lot less than half of its asking price yourself. The transformers only cost about $100-110 a pair including shipping. If you are in Southern California, you can pick them up at the factory too.
Go to Audio Asylum and type "Cinemag" and you will find wealth of info about them. You want the "Ground Lift" switch that is the same of that employed on the trasnformers being sold for $395? No problem. Just post the question at AA and you will get the answer.
Before you do any of the above, find out how much gain is available from your MM phono stage + linestage. Those data combined with the known output voltage of your chosen MC cartridge, usually stated in terms of millivolts (mV) measured at a frequency of 1kHz and a velocity of 3.54 or 5 cm/sec, will help you decide about a Step-Up Transformer (SUT). I agree with Amandarae, if you feel competent to solder, a SUT set-up is easy to build yourself, and you will end up with better transformers for less money. Jensen, located in SoCal, is a great company that makes excellent SUTs, and their website will tell you how to implement them to get the gain you need.
Just to quickly throw it out there... but CA640p gets very rave reviews from both MM and MC camps... maybe I should just give little box a try? But does it make sense to have a ~$200 phono preamp on a ~$1000 cart???
No. I have a $2200 phono stage and have just bought one the cost $3500 in 2005 and none of my cartridges cost over $400. You can't hear a $1000 cartridge to advantage through a cheap phono stage. Try a Pro Ject Tube Box SE 11 or a Blue Circle basic phono, I am a dealer and I can't remember how to spell them , or something on that level. The table comes first, then the arm, then the phono stage, then the cartridge. Get the first three lined up before buying an expensive cartridge. If you start at the other end your expensive cartridge may be worn out before the rest of your system is at a level to really hear it.
very good answer from Stanwal, and if you want to stay with the Shelter and your MM phono is good, get the Shelter 411...
So I have decided to add a SUT to my MM phono stage and see what happens. Will report back once all is up and running.
Crazy-before you buy either an LOMC or an SUT, do some (I mean a LOT) reading on cart/sut matching. Its more than just the getting the right gain ratio. The loading has to be dead on and it matters whether you are loading teh primary side or the secondary side. Due to the step-up ratio, small changes in loading can make a big difference in sound and also "magnify" the effect of the cabling.
Wise advice from Swampwalker. Using an LOMC+SUT well is not simple, using them badly is.
Also agree with Stanwal's advice to upgrade your cartridge last. Table, arm and phono stage must be good or you just won't hear what a costly LOMC can offer. As he also noted, a cartridge has a limited life span. It isn't prudent to upgrade if the rest of your front end won't reach an appropriate level before it wears out. Tables, arms and phono stages are forever, so they're a sounder investment.
Further, an entry level cartridge can sound amazing with a good table, arm and phono stage.
Extreme example: I'm currently demoing a $125 MM, temporarily setting aside my $8K (retail) LOMC. My table, arm and phono stage retail for ~$19,000, a rather silly 152 times more than this MM cartridge.
How does it sound? Damned impressive, quite the equal of any $1,500 LOMC that I've heard.
OTOH, when I play my fancy LOMC with lesser TT's, tonearms or phono stages the best I can hope for is that it'll sound pretty good, which isn't much for the price. Sometimes it sounds boring. Most often it reveals the weaker component's flaws and the net result is unsatisfactory. Now when everything's right the LOMC is utterly glorious, light years beyond the $125 MM. But everything else must be right - first.
Doug, I'm curious what that $125MM cart is.
Just curious, anyone know if frequency response is affected when mismatching a MC cart to a MM pre stage? Can help think the impedance of a coil used in an MC cart is going to be inherently different from one used in an MM. Or is a coil is a coil is a coil?
Your supposition is correct. If you compare several manufacturers' recommended phono input impedance settings for their LOMC's, you'll notice two things:
- recommended values are all over the map (ranging from 10 ohms up to 47k)
- recommended values are often a range, not a single number
All MM's and most HOMC's are optimized for 47k ohms. LOMC's are all over the place. Each manufacturer uses what they believe is best for a particular price point, desired output, desired frequency response, etc.
Frequency response is one characteristic that changes, particularly at the top end. Further, the optimal impedance may vary from one system to another, which is why many LOMC manufacturers recommend a range (ie, experimentation) rather than a specific value.
To address this, many MC phono stages include adjustable input impedance, which allows user optimization with different cartridges. An MC stage that doesn't somehow allow for this is inherently limited, in that it won't necessarily optimize with all LOMCs.
Impedance matching for an LOMC is even more critical and complex when using step up transformers, as suggested by some of the posts above.
Not to take issue with the fundamental sense of Doug's post, it is in fact also true that MM cartridges are affected by loading perhaps even more so than MC types. Most importantly, because of their much higher inductance compared to an MC, MM cartridges are sensitive to capacitance. Also, I and many others have found that for really getting the most out of a top of the line MM, increasing the load R to 100K or some value in between, along with varying C, is worth the effort. If you take a look at vintage MM-only phono stages from the era prior to the obsession with MC cartridges uber alles (late 1970s to early 1980s), you will find that the best of them had adjustable loading for both R and C. It's just that the loading issues are electrically different for the two types of cartridge.