If ever there was a subject for the 'search' function....
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Ask Raul..... Kidding!!! I read a thread where Raul talked about the price to performance ratio regarding mm/mc. It was very interesting for me to read, as I think I just took for granted that MC is always 'better' based on reviews and opinions of others. Raul pointed out several MM designs , some of which are probably still available as NOS, if your'e willing to look for them. I know I have heard many a good thing about the shure V series, for example. I think it all comes down to personal preference in the end, like most if not all 'this vs. that' comparisons in audio. That said, I really haven't tried enough different cartridges to attempt to make a definitive statement on the subject.
My advice is regardless of what you hear or read from others, try both out for yourself, and when you find something you really, really like, call it a day and enjoy the music. Because as we all know, there's always something 'better' or a tweak, or an upgrade ad infinitum. If I could be happy with an ortofon om 10 on an old dual TT like I was when I was 16........ sigh.
Dear Kev: Here you can find some interesting information on the subject: http://forum.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/fr.pl?eanlg&1200430667
which is better?, this is a complex answer because is system/ears/know-how/music-sound priorities dependent.
You can read ( for example ) in that link a post of an owner of these cartridges ( MM/MC ): where the Nagaoka MP-50 ( 400.00 ) performs better that the Allaerts MC2 Finish ( 8,000.00 ).
This experience can tell me that the MM are better than the MC ones?, certainly not.
There are some MM cartridges that are really great and can/could put on shame top MC cartridges for a lot lot less money.
Both designs have its own advantages/disadvantages, between other things: the execution/build quality of the design, set-up, price, tonearm/cartridge matching, own music priorities and whole system quality performance have a definitive influential on every one choice.
Regards and enjoy the music.
It's probably worth distinguishing Moving Iron (MI) vs. Moving Magnet (MM) as well. MI usually has the same output and capacitive considerations as MM, but its design allows for less weight at the other end of the cantilever. Also, since there are some advantages (inductance?) to low output owing to fewer coil winds, Grado, that great purveyor of MI carts, makes some low output (0.5mV) versions of their premium wood-bodied cartridges.
Also, there are some other things that can be done to improve the responsiveness of MM. The use of neodymium magnets could dramatically reduce the moving mass. The Audio Technica AT150MLX uses two tiny magnets in a V configuration for improved stereo separation and 6-nines copper throughout. I'm not sure if it uses neodymium magnets, but it's very transparent, lively, and quick, especially for an MM, and especially for a cart that can be had for $250 shipped.
There are plenty of good cartridges from CartridgeMan and SoundSmith, and some respectable ones from ClearAudio, Rega, and others that keep MM designs competitive at least up to the $1.5K range. Their higher output can make for a lower overall S/N ratio when the entire signal chain is taken into account. There's less noise at the speaker end from a 5mV source than a 0.5mV source.