MM vs. MC

If I was looking at a Grado Reference Platinum cartridge, to be played on a VPI Scout & JMW9 tonearm with a Musical fidelity phono stage, How high a quality MC cart and phono stage would I need to better the sound? I have ordered the Scout but am strugling on the cartridge, is MC better?, and if so is the high output MC better than the Grado Platinum, or the Grado Sonata. I only have so much cash, the VPI was $1500.00 the Qunex 3 cable was $150.00 so I have $800.00 left this go around. Any suggestions on the cart, would be great, I have an internal phono stage in my X-150 but it's an MM with 2.5 mv so a lower output MC would require an external phono stage, if this is the way to go, any suggestions on a low output MC and external Phono stage for $800.00 that will be better than the Sonata through the X-150....Help!
Assume you have good table and arm combo, shopping cartridge and phono stage can be tricky.
It's that a matter of price rather it is a matter of taste.
Matching is quite important
The dynavector DV20X HO at 2.5mv is a very nice match for the JMW 9 arm, and a very good bargain at the 550.00 new price range.

If you have 800.00 left to spend on a low output MC AND phono stage, you will be forced to make too many dollar concessions that will, in the long run, prevent you from truely enjoying the magic the Scout is capable of.

If I am not mistaken, the Sumiko Blackbird is also available in an HO version. That would eat up your entire 800.00 but many folks have reported success with that cart and the JMW arm.

I personally, shy away from the Grados due to the infamous "Grado hum" some folks are plagued by. If you get it, it can be tough to cure.
You can pick up a Music Hall MMF phono Pac (Pre-Amp) for
about $100 which is very well rated and will handle a MC
or MM. The MMF works very well on a .4 output (Not high output) as it has a .45 rating. For $225, you can trade in
any old cartridge for a Benz Gold at Needle Doctor which has
a .4 output. This combination sounds very good. I think
lower output MC will ultimately give you better sound than
a high output. Higher in the Benz line will get you more so
you have plenty to play with for the the price of the phono
pac. Sumiko makes a twin but the reviews favor MMF. Read the reviews before you laugh!Just hide the MMF so no one sees the little black box!
Agree with Slipknot on the DV20X HO, This works very well
with the JMW9 and a decent MM stage will take kindly to it. I feed it into a AES PH-1 Phonostage(MM) with very good results.
I would recommend the Audio-Technica AT-OC9 mk2, under $300.00. That leaves $500.00 for a phono stage, and here we will stretch your wallet and go for the Phenomena at $600.00, or the Dino for $650.00. I have never heard the phono stage in your amp, but I have heard the one in the MF 1000A, as well as the XLP, and my guess is that the stages that I am recommending should exceed the built in phono stage in your amp and by a very wide margin. We got close to the budget and the sound should exceed the Grado.
Thanks to everyone, Have any of you heard anything about the Clearaudio Aurum Beta Mark II?

In response to your last question, yes I have owned the Clearaudio Aurum Beta, and it is still the best cartridge that I have had in my system.

I recently purchased a new VPI Scout w/JMW9 tonearm and had the Grado 'Sonata' installed. While I do like the Grado, I did and do, still prefer the ClearAudio Beta. I loved its clarity and it just seemed to have more hummph, behind the complex passages on large orchestral and choral passages.

I have also heard good things about the DynaVector DV20X, but I can't speak with the same certainty, as I can with the Grado or the ClearAudio.

Whatever your choice, your turntable purchase was a solid step, in the right direction.

Good luck to you, which ever way you go.


Thanks A_e_watkins, so which one has a blacker background? and which one is a better fit for a basic integreated phono stage. Long range I want the Graham Slee Mark V but the budget for it is two years down the road.
Thanks to everyone, Have any of you heard anything about the Clearaudio Aurum Beta Mark II?

I have owned an Aurum Beta and, until I accidentally killed it last week, an Aurum Beta S (you are all encouraged to post on my thread asking about replacements, BTW ;) )

The Betas are very good MM carts IMHO. They do not have the effortless finess of some megabuck carts, of course, but are very sound and well rounded. Properly set up with good gear they can sound open, dynamic, and reasonably neutral. In terms of tracking, they weren't as sturdy as some but certainly held their own. Read my note about arm matching below, though.

I am not very familiar with your arm so do check and make sure that it would be a proper match. My Betas were honestly a bit too heavy and high cu for my particular arm; not sure about yours.

If it will play nice with your arm, I would say the Aurum Betas are worth considering. I can vouch for their distributor, Musical Surroundings--I've gotten great service from them, as well as my dealer, Gene Rubin.
In your budget I would stay away from low output MCs.

These two questions are very hard to give you an honest answer to as the cartridges were used on completely different turntables with completely different arms. As stated previously, the Grado 'Sonata' is being used on the VPI Scout w/JMW 9 tonearm, while the ClearAudio Beta S was used on a Thorens TD-125 turntable and arm.

My feelings towards the two is that the ClearAudio gives more freely of itself, with less constraints than the Grado. To me it seems to be more effortless in its output.

Background of both was very good (quiet) and I have had no 'hum' problems what-so-ever with the Grado. (I have heard some do).

Good luck in your decision.