MM Cartridge or MC Cartridge

I'm embarrassed to say that after owning a ClearAudio Maestro cart for only a month, I had a mishap and damaged the stylus. It's gonna cost $600 to get it replaced. Does anyone have any better suggestions as far as a better cart for the $$, or is this the best for this price range? Also, what are the advantages to a MC cart? I'm just getting back into LP's and have not done the research. Besides, I trust your opinions more than reviews. I will have the opportunity to buy up, so now would be the time to go to a MC cart. Will I have to have a step-up transformer? My phono stage is an Audio Research PH-3 SE.
Since your PH3 is suitable for phono cartridges having .25 mV output or higher, I would recommend a MC cart in the .25 to .50 mv range. Don't know your tonearm so I withhold recommending a specific cart. Search the archives if you're interested in veiwing opinions regarding the merits of low output MC carts.
To a large extent it depends on the tonearm.

MC vs MM has been debated here in a number of threads.

IMO, at your price range, the quality and performance of MM cartridges are clearly superior to their MC counterparts.
Check with Soundsmith about repairing your cartridge. The MM/MC debate is endless; the last time I looked a current thread on it was past 3500 posts. I like MC but MM is also good. I have an insane amount of money in audio equipment but have never paid more than $400 for a MC cartridge and yes, I have heard $6000 ones. A favorite of mine is the AT 33 EV at $399.99 from J&R. An internet reviewer also uses it along with a $5000 cartridge and hasn't found much difference between them. You have already found out the best reason for not putting large amounts of money in cartridges ; another is there is a very steep curve in price/performance ratio above a few hundred dollars. I have no doubt that the ultra expensive cartridge sound better but HOW MUCH BETTER? The current Ortofon MMs are also good as are the classic ones sometimes offered; the choice is so wide that being specific is impossible without knowing your taste and system. MC or MM , the choice as pointed out by Bsme85 depends largely on your tone arm as well as the rest of your system.
Agree with Audiofeil.

In my system, which is optimized for LOMC's, I've yet to hear one which costs less than ~$2K significantly outplay several sub-$200 MMs. An LOMC that costs ~$600 would be a waste of money IME. For the same money I could buy 3 superior MM's or one MM and $400 worth of other goodness.

Not saying LOMCs aren't worth having. I listen to one every day. But it costs a fair bit of money and effort to get the performance they're capable of. In addition to $2K+ for a worthy cartridge, you need a more capable tonearm, phono stage and in fact everything.

What really good LOMC's provide that MM's and lesser MC's cannot is very low level detail. That kind of information is easily blocked or distorted by even one problematic link in the chain. There's little point feeding more information into a system that can't reproduce it accurately and it can easily make things worse, as the many threads complaining of "sibilance with my new LOMC" demonstrate. The problem is almost never with the cartridge, it's with some other component that can't handle what the cartridge produces. Tonearms and phono stages are the usual culprits, but the problem can be anywhere.

A high end cartridge should be your last upgrade, not your first. Dealers (unlike Audiofeil) who push these high margin products without regard for customer results don't want to admit this, but it's true.
Find a good used Shure V15 and throw A Jico SAS replacement cartridge on it and forget about it........or Pickup a new Shure 97XE and and put on a Jico SAS Stylus ( around $200 total investment ) ...
02-18-11: Thorman
Find a good used Shure V15 and throw A Jico SAS replacement cartridge on it and forget about it........or Pickup a new Shure 97XE and and put on a Jico SAS Stylus ( around $200 total investment ) ...
+1! Other contenders:

- Audio Technica AT150MLX
- Ortofon 2M Bronze or Black
- Wood-bodied Grado
- Goldring 10x2 or G 2x00 series
- Nagaoka MP-300 or MP-500
- Clearaudio Maestro/Virtuoso/Aurum MM carts

With the proliferation of all things vinyl these days, there is a great selection of very high quality MM cartridges in the $300-600 range. And some of them (Audio Technica, Ortofon, Goldring) have user-replaceable stylii. Pay attention to your arm's effective mass vs. the weight and compliance of each cartridge to come up with the best combination for your tonearm.

My #1 is an AT150MLX, but I'm thinking about getting a Jico stylus for my M97xE as a backup.
I agree with a number of Johnnyb53's suggestions. You can figure out the tone arm effective mass and cartridge mass and complaince questions by referring to Vinyl Engine.

Also, I own both the Grado Sonata ($500) and the Clear Audio Virtuoso Wood ($550-$600). IMHO, the V Wood sounds better than the Grado Sonata, but both are very good. If you're "spoiled" by the CA Maestro, you might consider the V Wood.

I also heard and read great things about the Ortofon 2M Black ($559). It's supposed to be a super cartridge.

I'll leave the MC/MM debate to others.

Good luck.
"02-18-11: Dougdeacon
Agree with Audiofeil.

In my system, which is optimized for LOMC's, I've yet to hear one which costs less than ~$2K significantly outplay several sub-$200 MMs. An LOMC that costs ~$600 would be a waste of money IME. For the same money I could buy 3 superior MM's or one MM and $400 worth of other goodness."

I'd like to hear a few of those MM you are referring to ?


Audiofeil, are Audio Note MMs significantly better than Goldrings?
Agree with Audiofeil, Doug and Waynefi. My agreement with
Waynefi imply that the story of Stanwal belongs to the
so called 'propositional attitudes': wishing, dreaming, hope for, etc.

What I wanted to hear from DougDeacon was the model MM cartridges he is referring to in his comment, it would be nice to see if there are a few more alternatives.

Nandric, your future is as a stand up comic, not in audio. Well, at least you make me laugh.
I've been doing this for 52+ years and actually remember piezo-electric (ceramic/crystal) phono cartridges.

Additionally, I've owned more phono cartridges than most readers have heard. Not bragging, just the way it is. No apologies offered.

Anyway, paired wisely with an appropriate tonearm, a moving magnet/iron cartridge (new or vintage) between $200-$600 will easily outperform virtually every high output moving coil under $1200 or so.

I have strong collection of the moving magnet/iron, sell some of the aformentioned moving coils, and there's no doubt in my ears. Been there, done that.

I can prove this to any visitor. Bring your moving coil.

Crow is served both hot and cold.
Audiofeil, sounds like your mad at somebody. How about mentioning some of your current MM favorites, by current I mean I can still buy new now, not used. We have 4,000 posts on old MM/MI elsewhere. In my case preferably something you may think would work with a heavier mass arm. I have this Jelco 750 sitting around that I would like to try a MM/MI on. I have a few lighter headshells to bring the mass down a bit.
Not mad.

Dogs get mad, people get angry.

Not angry either, just emphatic regarding the old wives' tale that moving coils are superior to moving magnet/iron cartridges.

You can private email me to discuss specifics.

IMO, you're making a mistake by not considering used cartridges. Simply look for a member with a good track record and feedback.
I am about the same age as Bill and started around the same time and have been a dealer on and off for about 40 years. The big difference between us is that I know what I like and he knows what EVERYONE ELSE SHOULD LIKE. Some like MMs and some MCs; listen for yourself and make up your own mind. Statements like "all moving coils under $1200 are bad compared to MMs" are worth just exactly what you would expect them to be worth.
From what I can get it appears that in many cases it makes no sense to choose any high output moving coil over MM. and better low output moving coils are another story. But at what price? I am not going to put a cartridge that costs more than turntable itself or even more than tonearm.
But let's also factor in that many cartridges seem to be overpriced and some underpriced. And also, some of the best MMs are quite expensive too.
Here is a wild assumption. MMs will sound their best on unsuspended tables, they like a rough ride.
Stan, our ages are the only similarity we share.

I know the subject matter.

There are people who've been driving for 50 years and don't know anything about automobiles.

So it is with you and audio.

Bring you moving coils here.

The crow is hot and steamy.

I'll even serve you a second helping.
For the record I never said:

"all moving coils under $1200 are bad compared to MMs"

Stan is apparently dyslexic as well.

Thank you.
Bill, what you are screams so loudly that it requires no more comment from me. Our mutual friend insists that you are really a nice guy and only play the part of a jerk on the forum. If that is so I commend the accuracy of your portrayal. I actually am dyslexic to a slight degree, which made my academic life Hell at times while getting my 4 degrees. Dr. Stanley Wallen
A persistent character type I have encountered in Audio over the years is the "Guru" who belittled EVERYTHING he was not associated with or anyone who dared disagree with him. This arises not from knowledge but fear; he [always he in my experience] is so ego involved with his own opinions that he can't stand to hear others expressed and so unleashes a torrent of abuse on others who do so. This narcissistic desire to dominate reveals a basic insecurity on the part of the "Guru". Those of us who are on here to actually try to help others find what they are looking for and not preen in their unique insights find such antics somewhat amusing but ultimately reprehensible. How fortunate there are none of that type on this thread.
Calm down Stan.

If I'm your subject, please do a review of my posting history. You'll find many examples of my praising and/or recommending components in which there is no financial interest.

Also, I don't claim to be a know it all. That would be quite naive right? There are a handful of members posting with more experience and knowledge of this hobby.

You are not one of them.
Dear Stanwal, There is no way to invent or tell a joke
without some exaggeration. But even plain prose can't do
without it. So when I discovered , thanks to you, that one
should not spend more then,say,$ 600 for a cart I realize
that we have then the possibility to spend more for our
TT& tonearm combo. Even Fremer stated that he regards his
100 K TT& tonearm combo as a good investment. I omit his
contributions since probable because of my envious character.

If the shoe fits wear it. A review of your posting history will reveal a farrago of insults directed at anyone who has disagreed with you, You would be funny if you were not so pathetic.
I have just received an email from you know who accusing me of personal cowardice. How interesting! Is this intended to make me jump on a plane and travel to the rock under which he resides? I had thought physical confrontation had gone out of style; especially for those of us of advancing years. Perhaps not, AUDIO CAGE DEATH MATCH! We can sell it to ESPN 112. I am on if he is. One thing I will not do is to offer to knock the **** out of him, I don't have that long to live.
Nandric, I took your meaning to be that my conviction that cheaper MCs work well as arising from sour grapes that I could't afford expensive ones. The joke part arises from a glance at the absolutely indefensible amount of money I do have in equipment, even buying used and as a dealer. IF I really thought that ,say, $3000 would buy a SIGNIFICANTLY better cartridge I would probably spend it; $100K? No way but I am glad they are out there so we have something to aim at.
Basically, everyone is insecure, so please stop that, both of you. Let us enjoy a civilized discussion.
Hey Stanwal and Audiofeil.....In the interest of world peace and creating a better planet, can you guys please kiss and make up ? Let's all learn to play nicely together in the same sandbox.
I doubt it; I just got the following message:

No you won't Stan.

You want no part of a physical confrontation. I'm in far better shape than you. You have no idea what you'd be getting into.

Be that as it may, if you really want a shot at the title my address is

9405 Meriul Lane
Clarence Center, New York

I'll get an open room at my gym or I can reserve some time at my judo studio.

That's it. No more talk, yapping, or insults.

He doubtless is in much better shape, I have an irregular heart beat which limits my own exercise; nevertheless, I still do not respond kindly to physical threats or the mentality which offers them. I also spent 3 years in NYC and learned that residents there are quite different from us Midwesterners in trumpeting their abilities. I'll tell you what Bill, why don't you work your way west punching out all the other guys you don't like; by the time you get here I will probably have passed on anyway.
Dear Handymann: I don't know if you still use that PL-71 but if you still did then maybe it is not the best time to LOMC cartridges.

In the other side if you fulfill the specific MM/MI cartridge needs then IMHO maybe you don't need to go with LOMC cartridges .

Anyway, for less than those 600.00 you can buy two very good MM/MI quality performers here on Agon ads, these cartridges are the Azden one and the Ortofon M20FL Super, both IMHO compete easily with cartridges in the 3K price range..

Regards and enjoy the music,
I don't know if I'm being ignorant. I can start a new thread or I could be stopping a fight from starting. I just wanna know what would be a good cartridge for my Denon 60L. I have a straight arm and a OM Super 30 cartridge

To get back to serious business; there are conflicting notions about what is "RIGHT" in audio. Some, including my esteemed sparing partner, think that all that is necessary to lift the scales from the eyes of the erring is for them to hear THEIR system. If I ever thought this it has been so long age that I cannot recall it. My firm conviction is that if you have a panel of competent listeners [anyone who reads this is qualified] listen to MC vs MM, Tube VS SS , Godzilla vs Mothra, whatever; that there will be a range of opinions, none of which will be "wrong". I do not mean that there is no difference between good and bad gear; I am talking about preferences among good gear. Far too many engage in a protracted search for the "best" instead of looking for what THEY like. In my more active dealer days the first thing I would do was attempt to discover what the person was looking for, not what I wanted to sell him. I was not a terribly successful dealer as most people want to be told what is good; I knew many that excelled at this. All ears differ, all tastes differ, all equipment is flawed to some degree. When my friends, all of whom are longtime audiophiles,and I listen we usually agree on the character of the equipment we listen to but often differ as to which is better. Of course this extends to the music we listen to as well; they may listen to my choices with toleration and I do the same with theirs. I have my personal preferences but I don't expect them to be shared universally. I am not ego involved with my choices to the degree that I become violently upset when these are not shared. I profoundly wish this was the norm.
Readers should know that Stan forgot to include the email in which he threatened to "kick my a**" to which I responded as he indicated.

Then he wrote an email asking me to visit him and bring the "weapon of my choice". He'd probably pi** his pants and then go into cardiac arrest.

He conveniently omitted his parts in this passion play.

I saved all the emails if anybody's interested.
Yoo-hoo Handyman. You still here? Decided on what you're going to do yet?
I would send it to a cartridge retipper and IF the compliance match to your arm was appropriate (and it probably shouldn't be too far off if the Maestro was suggested to you), I would buy a used MM cartridge (like the ones Raul mentioned) here on Audiogon to tide you over until it gets back. You could sell either one on when it gets back, and you would have good music until then.
Feil and Stan - You guys crack me up! I've got this image in my head of audiophiles with nunchucks. LOL!!
Cryogenically treated, 99.9999 OFC nunchucks; of course. Silver, if the user is overweight.
I guess I will get the Maestro re-tipped and use my old Shure V15 III until I get it back. I recently bought a Clearaudio Emotion TT and switch back and forth between the old PL-71 and the Emotion. The Maestro cart sounds much better than my old Shure. Unfortunately, even in Nashville, there are not many places to audition analog equipment, so I have to buy it to see if I like it. Need to drive to Atlanta maybe, but ignorance can be bliss...