MM to MC back to MM


Has anyone gone back to MM after trying MC cartridges? Why did you go back? What MC cartridges did you try?
jsman
Even though many MM cartridges do not exhibit the typical rising high-frequency curve of many MC cartridges (and so sound [generally] more naturally balanced), I can't go back to MM, because I find that good MC cartridges seem to offer greater speed and dynamics, which I favor.
Once upon a time I had an Ortofon MC, and then I had several Signet cartridges. Every time I needed a stylus replacement I found out that my model was no longer supported, but they would make me this real good deal on a new one that only cost, (before discount) 50 percent more than my cartridge. It took three times, but I finally realized the game they were playing. So I bought a Shure V15mr, and lived happily ever after.
I have gone back to MM because I have decided that not only MM's are better for now,but(wait for it) so are conical styli.Firstly as part of an exchange with the ex-reviewer Martin Colloms he mentioned the fact that MC's pass a lot of high frequency artefacts that MM's filter out naturally. I noticed that with the Ortofon VMS 20 a spherical tip replacement stylus sounded better than the original elliptical.Then at VA I found this relating to an old Fulton Musical Industries cartridge.
"Fulton elected to use a spherical tip because they believe that both elliptical and Shibata shape styli are subject to forces that twist them as they pass over modulated groove walls. Further, this twisting motion of the stylus is transmitted down the cantilever and is reproduced as distortion by the phono cartridge. There is much less extraneous torquing of the cantilever by its stylus with a conical tip. At 5kHz Fulton engineers have measured three times the distortion with elliptical and Shibata styli than with a conical. Accordingly, the tendency of an elliptical or Shibata stylus to twist or torque indicates that the nuances of music are lost and, at the same time, distortion in the critical 2 to 9 kHz frequency range is added. A conical tip apparently sidesteps this problem." I also think Moving-Iron can be superior to both MM and MC.The Ortofon is a MI.
i've been there and back many times, but there are some incredible mm's that have kept me there for a few years now.
Most MCs are so bad at tracking it's not funny. There was one MC I really wanted to hear before eventually deciding whether my Ortofon X-5 high output MC should be retipped. That was the Dynavector 20. After reading the TNT review, however, it was obvious it's not a good cartridge:

Tracking ability did show some cause for concern though. Playing Marleys 'Exodus' album the heavy dubbed bass transients caught the stylus out occasionally, as did Bruce Springstein's 'Dancing in the Dark', producing a crack! as mistracking set in. Using the HFN+RR test record the Dynavector struggled to track the 16 dbl 300hz test and showed hints of mistracking at 14 dbl, something the V15 sailed through. That said the problem only raised it's head on a few very tricky records though perhaps Reggae fans might find the V15 a better bet.

Come on, before that tip encounters grooves where it will jump a much larger quantity will show mistracking!

I'll stick mainly to MM/MI units. Moving irons, though, have a midrange bloom that's highly appealing. Them Grado and Stanton cartridges are real smooth sounding.

***
As for as the MM's go, give me a few names in the $700 range also MI.
Surely this discussion has been posted before. Sorry for not searching the archives first.

As obvious as it may seem, few discussions address the inherent dilemma one faces when comparing a MM to a MC cartridge. Regardless of any design and/or spec advantages one has over the other, evaluations of different types of cartridges (MM vs. MC) yield results that are difficult to call absolute or definitive. The need to switch to a different phonostage is the culprit. Consequently, you are unable to conclude that what you are hearing is due only to the differences between the cartridges.

Certainly a single phonostage can be used. However, most (if not all) conventional methods of overcoming this dilemma introduce additional variables. For MM phonostages, one can use a step up transformer or a prepreamp after the MC cartridge. On the other hand one can use a passive "attenuator" device after MM cartridges to reduce the output before feeding the signal to a MC phonostage.

It may still be possible to compare a MM and a MC cartridge, but only if one has a phonostage with identical mm and mc performance at any fixed overall [system] listening level. I am not an engineer, so those who have more technical know-how please chime in. Does such a phonostage exist? If so what tests does one perform to determine how similar or different a MM phonostage is from one designed for a MC without using a cartridge?

If this dilemma cannot be addressed, we have no choice but to treat MM and MC cartridges separate/independent from one another. I have my handful of MM cartridges that I cannot do without and for any given sonic parameter/criteria I can rank them. I can do the same for the superb MC transducers that I own. However, I cannot say if my favorite MM is better or not quite as good as my favorite MC, because the introduction of other components means that such an evaluation is not an apples-for-apples comparison.
Jsman - Do a search in this forum and you will find you do not have to spend $700 to experience terrific LP playback from some of the very best MM cartridges.

Happy listening!
Well I can.I posted a while back in the Lenco thread,about how I replaced a Denon 103 MC with an Ortofon VMS 20 Mk11 E MI and how I thought the Ortofon was better. Because when I dialled in the anti-skate it actually made the music right unlike the Denon where I was always looking for compromises or using no anti-skate at all.I found using a conical tip improved things still further.A guy on VA called Jeff Medwin says he won't let an art-stylus in his house.Why? there is 3 times the distortion from elliticals or shibata types.We have got lost!
Stefanl - I found the thread you referred to:

http://forum.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/fr.pl?eanlg&1157059532&openusid&Stefanl&4&5&st350

However, you did not detail your complete analog setup when you were listening to the Denon MC and any changes you made when you went to the Ortofon MM.

You did indicate that you used a silver cable for the Denon and a VDH IC for the Ortofon, suggesting that at least three new variables were changed (transducer, phonostage or transformer, and IC) when you went from the MM to the MC cartridge. How can you possibly conclude that what you heard is due primarily to the differences in the performances of the cartridges alone?

04-30-07: Stefanl
I posted a while back ... how I replaced a Denon 103 MC with an Ortofon VMS 20 Mk11 E MI and how I thought the Ortofon was better. Because when I dialed in the anti-skate it actually made the music right unlike the Denon where I was always looking for compromises or using no anti-skate at all.I found using a conical tip improved things still further.....
Yeah, but the Denon 103 MC also has a conical tip.
Ctm_cra...Regarding the use of different phono preamps...I have a Tandberg preamp that has two completely separate phono stages in it which you choose using the input selector switch. The two phono stages are, except for a few resistors that set gain, identical circuits. Even the transistors are the same. I don't know if other phono preamps are designed this way, but it would answer your concern when doing a MC/MM comparison.

When I first installed the Ortifon I liked what I heard. Looking for something beyond a subjective opinion, I noted that the words of certain vocal recordings, which I had never been able to make out, became clear.

With the option of CDs phono performance became less important to me, and besides, I made other more effective upgrades to the overall system, including, by the way, a better MM cartridge.
Ok guys here is the situation. I am about to buy a scoutmaster and want to order it with a cartridge. I have never heard a MC cartridge before, so I thought here is my chance. Now with that said I was looking at the Dyna 20X-H 1.0mv it is suppose to be a very good match for this arm and table. Right now I have a mid-fi Luxman TT with a AT 440MLa MM cartridge, What I am realy trying to find out is am I going to loose any bass with the MC. Or should I get the scoutmaster with a MM, if so which one?
Ok guys here is the situation. I am about to buy a scoutmaster and want to order it with a cartridge. I have never heard a MC cartridge before, so I thought here is my chance. Now with that said I was looking at the Dyna 20X-H 1.0mv it is suppose to be a very good match for this arm and table. Right now I have a mid-fi Luxman TT with a AT 440MLa MM cartridge, What I am realy trying to find out is am I going to loose any bass with the MC. Or should I get the scoutmaster with a MM, if so which one? I listen to mostly classic rock and jazz.
Scoutmaster (with unipivot) + poor tracker MC = disaster.
Surely this discussion has been posted before. Sorry for not searching the archives first.

Sure it's been discussed before. A couple years or so back, those of us that dared speak the virtues of some MM carts were derided as flaky lunatics without ears who were simply nostalgia buffs but hardly "audiophiles"
Jsman,
What is your phono stage? Unless you've got a phono stage that can bring out the best in a low-ish output cart like the Dynavector VPI model, I'd recommend staying with an MM (for now). The AT440ML is a pretty darn good cart. Why not just stick with that one? If you want the cart mounted by VPI, the Grado Sonata is an excellent choice.
Dear Ctm: +++++ " It may still be possible to compare a MM and a MC cartridge, but only if one has a phonostage with identical mm and mc performance at any fixed overall [system] listening level. I am not an engineer, so those who have more technical know-how please chime in. Does such a phonostage exist? If so what tests does one perform to determine how similar or different a MM phonostage is from one designed for a MC without using a cartridge? " +++++

This subject is of paramount importance to really know exactly the quality performance of any MM/MC cartridge comparison.

The first " method " is to compare both phono stage specifications: RIAA accuracy, frequency range, signal to noise ratio, distortion level, crosstalk, slew rate, etc, etc.

Second to know the designer skillfull/know-how and targets on his design.

Third, when you hearing through both MM and MC stages.

+++++ " Does such a phonostage exist? " +++++

Absolutely, the Essential 3150 where both totally independent phono stages were designed to each one ( MM or MC ) phono stage needs, this means that both stages are not identical in its design and parts but have identical quality performance.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Raul.
Dear Jsman: I already try several MM/MC cartridges and for the moment I stay with both. Both cartridge type has its own advantages we can't have a perfect cartridge design like all in the life we must to make the best trade-offs for our own music sound reproduction priorities.

My advise to you is to go for either ( or both, they are too inexpensive. ) MM Empire cartridges: EDR.9 and 750 LTD, you can find it here:

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/VINTAGE-EMPIRE-HIGH-END-PHONO-CARTRIDGE-EDR9-NOS_W0QQitemZ200103799557QQihZ010QQcategoryZ3283QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/VINTAGE-EMPIRE-HIGH-END-PHONO-CARTRIDGE-750-LTD-NOS_W0QQitemZ200105207796QQihZ010QQcategoryZ64620QQtcZphotoQQcmdZViewItem

Here it is what an Agon guy posted about ( he owned the same AT cartridge that you own ):
http://forum.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/fr.pl?eanlg&1173550723&openflup&28&4#28

Regards and enjoy the music.
Raul.
In reply to Ctm I was running a Denon 103 on a Lenco idler and changed directly over to the Ortofon VMS 20 without any other system changes.My initial comparison and impressions were as close and consistent as you may be for now.I believe the Ortofon to be a more controlled cartridge than the Denon.The Denon's conical tip could not disguise the lack of definition in the lower frequencies due I think to the fuzziness inherent in MC's.I was also running a Linn Asak(Vital stylus) on another table at this time.This is the Supex SDX 1000 in Linn clothing a pretty good MC and worth over $2000 today if I had it retipped.Anyway as you can see I got my fill of the MC sound.In both cartridges I found there to be a lower-end fuzziness which would not resolve properly(not for want of trying,TWL mod etc.)and really the higher-end seemed tizzy in both MC's.What I have done now is to take a Linn K18 Mk11 MM cartridge and remove the little allan-key frontspiece.This enables it to become once again the souped-up AT-95 it is.I have found an Audio-Technica conical stylus that fits and added a blob of Blu-Tac. This cartridge also really reproduces the info on the record accurately to my ears.Rory Gallagher sounding like he really did live! That's amazing!
great mm's...garrott bros k1 k2 k3...audio technica 150
Would somebody please chime in? Would you agree, in general, that a high quality phono stage is required to bring out the best in a low-output MC cartridge? I would hate to see Jcman feel disappointed in his VPI Scoutmaster because his associated equipment didn't do justice to his Dynavector DV-20XH VPI cartridge. That's why I recommend staying with an MM (for now). I've done both, and I have strong opinions on the matter. But that's all I have to say, for now.

Cheers.
I would hate to see Jcman feel disappointed in his VPI Scoutmaster because his associated equipment didn't do justice to his Dynavector DV-20XH VPI cartridge.

What's disappointing is the Dynavector's lack of adequate trackability. Imagine the wear and tear (literally) on a valuable record collection! No thanks.

***
"What's disappointing is the Dynavector's lack of adequate trackability. Imagine the wear and tear (literally) on a valuable record collection! No thanks.
"

Haha. Wow! Couldn't be more wrong!
Dear Tfkaudio: IMHO, you need a high quality phonolinepreamp to obtain the real quality performance of any cartridge: either MC and MM, why do you think that you don't need it in a MM cartridge?, you need it too.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Raul.
I switched from a Benz Micro Ace lo to an Ortofon 540 MkII. I made the switch because I couldn't turn the volume down enough on my preamp without loosing the left channel. My volume pot is a little worn out down near the bottom of it's range. My mc section has a lot of gain so I got the 540 to use my mm section. I expected to not like the Ortofon as much as the Ace but I actually like it just a little more. It looses a little of the top end sparkle that the Ace had but it is just as good in the mids and the bass is fuller. It rocks more than the Ace does and it seems to have less surface noise but that could be the difference in gain between my mc and mm sections.

I have a VTL TL5.5 with built in phono and use Mullard 12at7 and RCA 12ax7 tubes in the phono section and a SOTA Sapphire with Graham Robin.

Cheers,

Jim
A good phono stage is a great recommendation. Look for companies that are well established with strong customer service and tech support.

Avoid the home brew stuff that is strongly marketed and pervasive in these threads. Amateur manufacturers are a dime a dozen. Most of their published specs are highly fictitious and unsupportable.

Ole'
Hi Raul,
I agree with what you said 100%. Maybe I should have said it like this - the job of amplifying a .4mv signal (MC) well is much harder than amplifying a 4.0mv signal (MM) well. The phono stages that can really do a great job with the low voltage MC signal are usually much more expensive than a phono stage that has great MM capability only.
That being said, unless the person has told us what phono stage is being used, I tend to assume that a person just getting into serious analog doesn't have a Manley Steelhead laying around, but rather is likely using the phono inputs of a stereo receiver or maybe a modest phono amp. In that environment, I think a good MM cart can deliver much better results.
Or to say it another way, IMHO it is better to have a great phono amp and a good cart than to have a great cart and a good phono amp.
Cheers.
Jsman,
As to your quest, it is hard to go wrong with some of the MM cartridges already suggested and there are many more to try. The great part is that all of them are reasonably priced. So go for it and enjoy! This is not easily done with MC cartridges. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy having both types. However, unlike MMs, trying some of the best MCs can get very expensive. So let us know… it would be interesting to hear your evaluations of the MMs that impress you most.

I also agree with the suggestions to also look into a high quality phonostage. However, the sonic performance of such units within your system should be the among the major reasons for your purchase. Three of the top five phonostages I have used are one-off, prototype or beta units from highly regarded and talented enthusiasts. In fact I still own two of these quality units and use them regularly. None of these designers have ads in major print or online publications and none have a network of dealers. All of them were OK to have me try their units on a trial basis. If specs are a huge concern, then you can always have the units tested to verify the claims. They all provide excellent and timely, customer service and tech support. They have to. They much more to lose than a sale if they did otherwise. Sure they make products that are hand made, but they also happen to be often-consulted experts by the more highly visible companies. So do not overlook highly regarded products from such manufacturers. Forums such as these are a great place to learn about them. It is possible that persons suggesting otherwise have a vested interest (or at least I question their motive(s)) for doing so.
Ctm_cra
If you are referring to my post, perhaps you should think with a tad more foresight.

First, motives.

Motives?

I don’t think so. Any responsible retailer would recommend his customer deal with a well established manufacturer that will be around next month, next year, and next decade. I mentioned none specifically nor would I do so here.

Second, the audio world is replete with failed audio businesses. See:

California Audio Labs
Zoethecus
BMI
Meadowlark
Melos
Apogee
ADS
Counterpoint
Luxman
Platnium Audio
Essence
Great American Sound
Golden Tube
Dunlavy
American Acoustics
SAE
Soundwave
Condor
Normal
Yamaha (high end audio products only)
Celestion
Spica
Lineaum
Ohm (the real Walsh driver company)
Tandberg
Beveridge
Altec Lansing
Arcurus
Aragon
Mondial
Dahlquist
HH Scott
Fisher
Dynaco
KLH
Sonic Frontiers
Nirvan
Timbre

And you suggest that a smart buyer trust a couple amateurs working out of their garage with a product that can’t/doesn't meet unreal specifications and need to promote same in these threads?

Perhaps I should ask, what’s your motive?
Eldartford,
Is the better MM cartridge you upgraded to the Shure V15MR or another unit? When you compared MM and MC cartridges through your Tandberg how did you equalize the listening levels?

CD playback is great and has come long way since it was first introduced. However, no CD player to date has outperformed my analog playback. This includes some highly regarded and top-of-the-line CD players (modded or otherwise) that I was lucky to hear in my system recently and within the last two years.

As to MM/MC comparisons… In a resolving and musical system (using well recorded, uncompressed acoustic media) one should expect to hear the difference from one IC to another, especially if you often attend live acoustic performances. One should also expect that this is the case when you introduce new speaker cables, PCs, line conditioners, vibration control platforms, and tweaks like footers/couplers, etc. The introduction of different capacitors or attenuators within a preamp, for example, can noticeably affect the overall sonic presentation. Resistors are no exception.

The Tandberg sounds like a well designed preamp. However, despite the nearly identical MM and MC circuits (and despite the use of the same transistors), the small differences including the presence of the resistors in one phono section to address the outputs of MM vs. MC cartridges add variables that confounds the results of a comparison between these different types of transducers.

Consequently, one cannot conclude that the differences you hear is due only to the two types of cartridges. Moreover, it is not an easy task to verify or isolate the sonic effects introduced by the differences between the MM and the MC phonostages within the same unit. So even with the use of the Tandberg, an evaluation of a MM vs. a MC cartridge is not an apples-to-apples comparison.
Audiofeil - What amateurs and what unreal specifications are you referring to? The author of this thread and perhaps a few members may want to know.

The "amateurs" that I have dealt with ARE responsible retailers and they aim to be well established. And if their products are given the same playing field perhaps they have a chance of being around next month, next year, and next decade.

The list you provide of companies that are no longer in business is comprehensive. I am no historian and have no inside scoop, but just as much as these "amateurs" can drop the ball on customer service, product support and make false specification claims, so can established manufacturers.

To keep referring to them globally as "amateurs" is also puzzling. Email me privately and I'd be glad to reveal the names of those with whom I have dealt. They are an impressive list of respected engineers and designers. You would be proud to represent their products. I refrain from identifying them here seeing how people are sensitive toward anything that can be misinterpreted as advertising. Additionally, if I were them I would not want my name associated within the context of this discussion.
Dear Tfkaudio: +++++ " Or to say it another way, IMHO it is better to have a great phono amp and a good cart than to have a great cart and a good phono amp. " +++++

I totally agree about.

Regards and enjoy the msuic.
Raul.
Stefanl - Thanks for your clarification. Sounds like you have tried a number of MM and MC cartridges. I used MCs exclusively, until I tried my first MM in late 2006. Since then I have identified at least a handful of MMs that I cannot do without!

I have a couple of follow-up questions for you:

1) What are the relative outputs of the Denon 103 MC and the Ortofon VMS 20 Mk11? Sorry I could look these up, but I a few errands to complete before the day ends.

2) When you switched from the Denon to the Ortofon please explain how you equalized the volume levels?

3) What impedance load was used with the Denon and what capacitance did you use for the Ortofon?

4) Among the Ortofon, Linns, AT and other cartridges you've used, what are your absolute favorites?

Regards!
I grow weary of those who add nothing to a good thread. But sometimes, every once in a while, I come across something so astonishing, that I have to barf, clean off my keyboard, and post a reply.

In Mr. Audiofeil's list of failed audio businesses, I noted one in particular:

Fisher.

Dude, you need a vacation! I'd recommend New York City. Take in a concert by the New York Philharmonic. The building in which they perform is named after that failed business man.

Cheers.
In reply to Ctm the output impedance for the Denon is 40 ohms and for the Ortofon 800 ohms according to the cartridge database.I had the Denon loaded at 100 ohms.I tried other loadings with it 47 ohms,220,1Kohm that had been suggested but the 100 ohms manufacturer's suggested was obviously more correct.The Ortofon went through the same stage's MM side with 100pf.The stage I'm using now has a 45Kohm with 300pf setting.This is just about what the VMS 20 prefers as most MM stages are 47Kohm.The Ortofon used to have a little clip-on device to vary the capacitance if you so desired but I have never seen one.So what I can say is that I heard the Denon in a lot of guises and got to know it quite well.I stand by the Ortofon as a "poor man's Koetsu".I think that the Linn K 18 Mk 11 MM must rank as one of my favourite cartridges. It was the one that initially woke me up to the fact that MM's can go stride for stride with MC's.That was only with an elliptical stylus too.I hear it doing even more now with a conical stylus.The level that is way past the "silky" epiphets.It plays the record.The other night I played some English Beatles pressings through the right channel to listen to the stereo mix.It was perfect for every nuance.I don't want to tell you how long I have not heard these records.
Jsman - Thanks for posting your questions. It highlighted this very important discission of determining if one can objectively evaluate a MM vs. a MC cartridge.

Congratulations on your new TT purchase. I am glad you started a new thread to obtain more MM and MC cartridge suggestions. The cartridges already mentioned in this thread are great starting points. Let us know your findings.
Stefanl - I was referring to the voltage outputs of each cartridge @ 1Khz, 50 mm/sec. From the informative database, the Denon DL103 is a MC unit whose output ranges from 0.12 - 0.3 mV vs. 5.0 mV for the moving iron Ortofon VMS-20 E Mk II.

I originally thought your phonostage is one that is either a MM or a MC. I see now that the phonostage you are using has a MM and a MC section. Thanks for clarifying. So essentially the capabilities of your phonostage is the same as that for Eldartford and others whose phonostages have a MM and MC settings. One of my phonostages also has this capability.

What is your phonostage? It would be interesting to know the design of its MM and the MC sections. I also want to know to what extent you have investigated that the performance of both sections is identical so that neither the MM nor the MC stages introduce an effect that confounds the MM vs. MC comparison. In other words, how do you know that the differences you hear when comparing MM and MC cartridges are only due to the distinct sonic signature of each cartridge? In my original post and in my responses to Eldartford I listed some of the difficulties one runs into when trying to objectively interpret the results of a MM vs. a MC cartridge comparison.

I would jump at the chance to AB MM/MC cartridges the way we can with cables and PCs, for example, with all other components being equal. In such evaluations only one variable changes -- the unit being investigated -- for a true apples-to-apples comparison. For other components like CD players, for example, it can also be done. However, it is not as simple because of the need to be sure that the volume levels are the same for each unit.

It would be great to hear from the designers.

Respectfully,
Ctm_cra...For clarification...the Tandberg preamp has two complete phono preamps built in. I don't think this is common, although there may be others. One approach is the have an additional booster stage that the MC goes through before the MM circuit, or the gain of the phono circuit can be changed by switch setting.
Eldartford - I know of several phonostages that have a MM stage that is completely separate from the MC stage in a single chassis.

As to the other approaches you suggest, the additional booster stage or the manner in which the gain is changed concerns me.

Regardless of the approach, the inherent sonic differences between a MM or MC phonostage (even if these are independent from one another within the same unit) are not easily determined.

Here is a long shot: Just thinking out loud here so pardon the lack of clarity... I suppose two sets of a few musical passages and test tones can be recorded on (heaven forbid) a CD. The volume differences from one set to another must be set appropriately to avoid overloading the respective stage for which they are meant to be used. This can then serve as the input to a phonostage. I know of burn-in CD that have appropriate output levels that allow you to feed line level output directly to the phonostage.

I realize that one can argue that this may also not be a one-to-one comparison. This may be the case, but if the volume differences are well executed on such a CD to achieve identical musical passages when played back though the system, this may be an acceptable (but definitely unconventional) way to determine the sonic differences of a MM vs. MC stage without using a cartridge. This could be as close as we can get to determining the sonic differences between the two stages (so long as the overall volume levels are the equalized when switching from one stage to another).

If after such an exercise you determine that your MM and MC stage have similar performance, then you can confidently interpret the results of a MM vs. MC comparison. So does such a test CD exist?

Regards,
Rauliruegas - I saw your last post before it was deleted. Let’s try and discuss this topic without presenting something that can be interpreted as crossing over the controversial "advertisement" line. I think we can do it, yes?

I admire all attempts a manufacturer takes in making sure the component is made with the very best parts with much attention toward quality construction and design. Your focus on important specifications like RIAA accuracy, frequency range, signal to noise ratio, distortion level, crosstalk, slew rate, etc., along with well defined goals for sound reproduction are great.

However, even within this context, completely separate MM and MC stages within a single chassis with identical specs do not necessarily yield the same performance. This is the case for nearly identical circuits with only slight differences by way of additional booster stage or via a gain control. It is even more of a challenge for a preamp like yours when completely different parts are used. Specs alone (identical or not) do not predict the sonic signature of a component.

It would be interesting to know how you determined the sonic characteristics of the MM stage is identical to the MC stage without using different cartridges or, more generally, without adding a new variable.

Respectfully,
I have been interested in doing this kind of MM/MC comparison myself.There is one point I'd like to make in that using different loadings especially with MC's it is easy to alter the sound of the performance on a record.I also found that in using the Denon at 100 ohms for example, it was more true to the actual sound in the real world,and that is probably why this was the manufacturer's recommended setting.I take this approach and look for the real world sound rather than a "sweetened" one.The Denon at 220 ohms for example is quite nice sounding but I moved back to 100 ohms.I used the Denon in several stages at 100 ohms.The stage I am using now is not the same as before as I have now made a system change.I found that,as I said in the earlier post,that Ortofon sold a little capacitor clip-on for the VMS 20.You can use it with or without depending.I am using an English Moth stage made by Stan Curtis with 45 Kohm and 300pf for the MM section.So here is the Ortofon running in a most suitable environment.I heard the Denon through maybe 8 different stages at 100 ohms,the Ortofon and Denon in the same stage.I know I was able to get a grasp of the nature of both cartridges.I think the Ortofon succeeded where at the last hurdle the Denon faltered.The Ortofon can play a record.
and back to MC! My saga began with(foolishly) "upgrading" from an A&R Cambridge P78(although I think it was the destruction of a 2nd Beryllium cantilever that...) to a Linn ASAK So I'd have THE then RIG:LP12/ITTOK/ASAK the rags were raving about back then. As soon as I switched to a moving coil I stopped enjoying music and my audiophilia began...I kept feeling something was wrong without being able to articulate precisely what. I changed preamps, power amps, speakers...ICGO&O...switch to the States
and reduced circumstances; LP12 gone and cheapo NAD deck with HO Sumiko MC. Same thing! Stylus gave out, short of funds, substitute the SRC cheapo Grado, reduced expectations...SWIZZ! Just enjoying music once more and audiophilia outbreak contained! got a Systemdek IIX and have upgraded steadily since to where the hankering for my old RIG is assuaged. But in buying a LVX arm I came by a REGA Elys; swapped to an RB300 and put in the Elys with the 3rd Screw...BINGO! Superb, glorious music, better than before. Circumstances improved and further outbreak of audiophilia!
After a year performance fell off and I lashed out on a 10x5. Whilst there was superiority of Stereo imaging and Bass output, the treble sweetness of the Elys was gone...found an almost brand new Elys2 in UK for $120. DIFFERENT! Where is everything...50-60 hours later...ah, now I see. Then got a chance for a DL-160 at a killer price and lashed out again.
The same strengths as both the Elys & 10x5 plus a captivatingly forward presentation and spectacular stereo imaging that puts the others to shame. A better match than either, with the RB300(Stock) to my ears. Knowing that a retip amounts to to a mere $90 is another bonus. so for the nonce at least...it's MC!
I’m currently using a low output (.4mv) MC – Shelter 501, through a Black Cube into a line input on my preamp (Mac C2200). The preamp has a phono section, but it is designed for MM. I’ve been hoping to try a direct connection to the preamp, but I understand I need a higher output MM or MI to do it.

I’ve read the above about strict comparisons between MC and MM. In that vein, keeping components, cables, etc the same shouldn’t be too difficult. Matching phono preamp sections – this seems to be where the difficulty arises, due to the differing nature of MC and MM cartridges. My question is – at the risk of becoming a human dartboard – ultimately, does it really matter? OK, from an academic point of view it would be nice to be able to pinpoint the plus and minus aspects of MC vs MM, but many/most of us don’t have the resources to set up a system to precisely determine the relative sonic differences of MC cart A vs MM cart B. But within the context of our own systems, which is what we live with every day, isn’t the bottom line - what sounds good? If, for example, in my case, I buy an MM cart, I understand that any differences I hear will be partially attributable to the cart and partially to the phono section of the preamp.

With that said, I still think makes sense to consider an MM or MI that others have found to be effective in their systems. Several have been mentioned above, including the Shure V15 mr, Ortofon VMS-20 E Mk II, AT 440 ML and Linn K 18 Mk II MM.

Ctm_cra, you mentioned a handful of MM’s that have worked for you. Would you be willing to share that list?
By all means! Agree with your comments. Mind you, now I'm stuck with outboard phono stages MM & HO MC are my limit; price-wise also!
From the Beginning:
Shure M75ED
M95ED
V15-III
Ortofon FF15
VMS20
Goldring 800/900/920
A&R Cambridge P78
Grado FTE+, FTE3(?), Green & Gold
Rega Elys 1 & 2.
The A&R was my all time favourite: it LOVED the ITTOK!
Here's a list:

http://forum.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/fr.pl?eanlg&1173550723&read&3&4&
Dear Ctm: I wonder why do you want to be so " strict " on the subject, well not so strict because you know want to use a limited digital technology with a signal that comes with no RIAA eq.

+++++ " to achieve identical musical passages when played back though the system " +++++

You can have it directly running both cartridges the same LP track in real time.

There is other subject that we have to take in count: that many preamps change its characteristics ( frequency response/distortion/noise/etc ) at different listening levels and that ( too ) if the Phonolinepreamp does not comes in one chasis there will be another variables: connectors and interconnect cable.

Regards and enjoy the music.

Raul.
Frankm1 - Psychicanimal's response beat me to it. Some of my recommendations would have included a few of the MM cartridges Rauliruegas mentions in his thread. The Grace F9E is superb and the EDR.9 is very good. This list is a moving target for me currently since I am relatively new to MM cartridges. I used MCs exclusive until nearly two years ago when I first heard a MM.

I have not yet tried the top shelf Stantons or Linns. The Ortofon MI are also intruiguing.

"A couple amateurs working out of their garage"
A lot of the Great American Enterprises have started in a garage; Hewlet Packard, KFC, Pizza Hut, Barbie..GE..should I go on?
The thing about internet and buying directly from the designer is that Retailers are no longer needed, at 40%-50% discount the retailer is making more money than the manufacturer!
Selling direct, leaves the manufacturer with the possibility of adding more quality components and still have a product in a logical price range.
This great Internet era we are living in allows us to buy and sell gear in places like Audiogon and gives us the chance to try a lot of toys, 10 years ago having this much gear would be unthinkable!!
Buying without a retailer also puts more value into reviewers, audio magazines, Audio Shows and Forums like this one where one can get an idea of the sound and good opinions before buying.

As a customer I had good and bad experiences dealing with both, from the designer who guides you and listens to you and almost changes his product to fit your system, to the modder who takes a year to deliver, to the dealer that lets you take the gear to your house for a couple of weeks to the horrible retailer who tries to sell you his unsellable residual pieces at incredible prices and treats you like dirt in the process.
I always had good experiences selling and buying stuff from Audiogon and made some friends in the process!

I have to admit buying on the internet from a dealer gives me some piece of mind, but "the times they are a Changin"!

What would be of the audio world if Altec Lansing would have never come and gone...
I would like to add to my previous post that a retailer does a great job for the community with the knowledge of listening to a lot of gear through the years in their own listening rooms and guiding the customer...we are lucky to have serious input from experienced retailers.
I feel much more comfortable giving my credit card number to a known retailer or a manufacturer than to an unknown no-feedback seller.

All the Best