MC versus MM. Which to choose.

I am pretty much a vinyl newbie so bear with me. What are the benefits and drawbacks of both of these types of cartridges. Is there a clear better choice for someone just getting into vinyl? The MM seem to be less costly but how does it compare sonically? Take for instance the Clearaudio Concept cartridge. The MM retails for $200 while the MC retails for $800. Is the MC version a better sounding cartridge?
Dear nandric: Yes, " contender " was my word mistake.

regards and enjoy the music,
Dear Lostbears, To save you from the 'digital alternative'
as well to save you some money I need to add that there
are more 'alternatives' by Clearaudio MM carts. According

to Fleib all Clearaudio MM carts use the same 'generator'.
The difference in models and prices is because of different
styli and cantilevers. So no need to focus on the Virtuoso.
Under proviso that you will post the cart to Axel for the
upgrad you can buy the cheapest model and still get an very
good MM cart. I have just seen one on for cheap.

Hi Jonathan,
Happy Holidays, and now あけましておめでとうございました!
Thanks, as always, for chiming in.

I have to agree with several of your points. Regarding tracking, I definitely agree. I also think that personal preferences on arm and arm-type make drawing conclusions "too easy". I would expect that certain people who like certain kinds of arms would find that MMs track a LOT better than MCs, but I find for a great deal of music that the ability of a cart/arm combo to track the cannonball shot of the 1812 Overture is not a relevant determinant of how well the cart does with other music). However, I think your point about the phono stage is most important - both in terms of absolute quality of gain stage and how well the phono stage deals with the nasties that come from downstream. While I liked great MCs better than many of the great MMs with previous phono amplification, it took a great headamp for me to learn how sublime a great MC could be.

As you know, I am a big fan of the JVC L1000 MC (and I even referred to it obliquely here on Agon a day or two ago). I have not found an MM (and I must admit to more limited experience with great MIs) which can beat the JVC when the JVC is matched with a great headamp.

That said, for many people out there, buying a Connoisseur, an Essential (Raul's phono stage), or something similarly spendy is out of reach. I don't have either but adding a JVC L1000 plus an HZ-1 and a phono stage to do both of them justice, while relatively speaking, a bargain in my eyes, is also beyond what many people want to deal with (in terms of hunting them down, and mentally dealing with the fact that they are 30 years old).
Dear T_bone: +++++ " a cart/arm combo to track the cannonball shot of the 1812 Overture is not a relevant determinant of how well the cart does with other music). " +++++

yes, I agree. That and other cartridge tracking tests only tell us that cartridge abilities, how good the stylus tip is " always " or not in touch with the grooves.
Cartridge quality level performance depends on several additional factors that as a whole makes the difference- Cartridge tracking abilities is one of those factors.

Yes, too: Phono Stage is almost as important as the cartridge/source. Its role IMHO is that trough it preserve the cartridge signal integrity loosing and adding the less. This is more easy to say it than to achieve it, the PS overall role is " complex " because at the same time that amplify the delicate cartridge signal ( some times 10K times with very low MCs.. ) must do it with no noise added or distortions added in a signal that's extremely sensitive to contaminate by trash pollulation.
It has to do it following an inverse RIAA eq. with no frequency response deviation.
All these factors are a challenge to any PS and these factors are not independent but are interrelated and in some ways ( inside some limits. ) one of those factors can be against others, example: active high gain vs noise, the equilibrum in this relationship has a tiny tiny line.

Btw, I assume that headamp is the Pionner one. I never owned but heard it but even that my memory has almost nothing to remember because in those all times my ignorance level was to high. One headamp that I owned was the Classé NIL-2/3 and was a good one.

Regards and enjoy the music,
Dear T_bone, There are many (LO)MC carts with low compliance. To assume that tracking capability is important is the same as to assume that those producers have no idea what they their job is about. I know since 80s that 50 micron on the test Records is agequate for the ''normal LP's'' but never 'got' the reason why they are produced except reg. the 'effective mass' of the tonearms.

Your statement ' L1000 plus HZ-1 and a phono stage' is not
clear to me. It is difficult to 'hunt' if one has no idea
about the 'animal in casu'. BTW how are we supposed to hunt in Japan?