Moving Iron Carts or stick with LOMC

I've been thinking off adding as second arm to my table ( Garrard 301 as seen in my system pictures) the second arm will be for my High compliance VDH Cart so I'll have an open spot on my Jelco 750L 12" tone arm. SO I'm thinking of trying out a moving iron (MI) cart. 

Phono stage is Gold Note PH 10 so all the settings I will ever need for just about any cart. 

 I'm looking for recommendations for carts in the $500-$2000 range as I know little about MI carts as far as owning one or hearing one. I suppose the big question is, is it worth trying, i'm sure there will be people on both sides, but what got me interested was a write up about the Grado reference v2 MI cart and I like how they described the sound as midrange centric, I have all the detail I need on my VDH I'm looking for a little more romance so to speak with my second cart. 

What stylus types work best on MI carts? I've always like a VDH stylus and found the conical a little dead sounding (Denon 103 for example). 

As for Vintage I have no issues with going older lets keep this in the easily obtainable realm though. 

Grado reference v2 at $1500 and the Soundsmith Carmen Mk2 $1000 ( on sale right now for $700) are two that caught my eye so far both have interesting price and reviews. 

Well of course I could be going totally down the wrong path so feel free to knock me back on track if that's what I need. 

Glen (one N) 

I have gone from using MC  for 40 years to a Soundsmith.  I am a convert for life. especially with the rebuild prices Peter Ledermann is offering
Last week i have finally mounted my (MI) Joe Grado Signature XTZ again after a long break. Maybe it's because of the room treatment i've done this year, but i love the Grado as never before against the best LOMC. The combination is actually Grado XTZ + Denon DA-401 tonearm on Luxman PD-444 turntable. The phono stage is modified WLM Phonata with 100k Ohm vishay naked foil resistors on MM input. Absolutely stunning combination. I know it's always important to try both types of cartridges, but no doubt than an MI can be a mind blowing in the right system. 

Regarding your question about the styli:
just try to avoid an oldschool profiles like conical/spherical (they are the worst on the planet), get yourself a decent profile like Line Contact type and related, there are so many, they are better for the records and for the sound for sure (some of them can be used for up to 2000 hrs).  
Glen, I mentioned this to you before. 
Replace your 750L with the 850L. Way better. Can you move the 750 to position 2 or do you have to use a 9"?
You are missing an opportunity to make a large improvement to your table by not replacing the idler with the $110 Audiosilente wheel.

Hi Glenn, you can't go wrong with either cartridge. I am more familiar with the Grado. To call it midrange centric is a mistake. It is one of the best balanced cartridges on the market and tracks like a bandit. In being so balanced nothing hangs out. It is neither bass heavy or bright which some people use to some MC cartridges may be expecting. 
A lot of people here like the Soundsmith cartridges. Unfortunately I can not speak with experience about them. I love the cactus spine gig though and I'm sure I will try one eventually. 

If you’re going to own more than one or two cartridges, you really ought to sample an MI type. All the foregoing suggestions are good ones. If you’re going vintage also  think about Acutex, Astatic, Glanz, and B&O. Most of these are high in  compliance. I’d suggest a brand new Soundsmith.

I cannot move it the other position, that position will only accept up to a 10" arm (actually 11" close but no cigar unfortunately) . I cannot do an out board arm mount either I don’t have the room and I don’t want to butcher my plinth if I can help it. I’d have to remove quite a bit of the plinth to make that work so a major rebuild-refit if you would.

I also just cannot afford right now a 850L or 950L as much as I would like to its $2k-$3k New here in Canada. I’d rather spend that money on a Cart to be honest. Even if I got the 850L I’d still need a cart for it as my VDH is high compliance. maybe a used 950L in the future.

I have a line (audio friend) on a SME 3009 series 3 that has updated with new knife edge bearings, new Cardas thru wiring and new viscous damping trough. all for $700 Canadian so about $500usd (unused since updating). So I may pick it up, drop that in the rear and stick my VDH cart on it and use the Jelco in the normal position. with the thru wiring kit from Cardas I wont need to bore a hole completely through the plinth only cut out the required depth for the arm base as the wire goes out through the top now. That would save me a ton of work on machining. Bamboo Ply is not fun to work with.

My Cart I have now is VDH MC 10 silver bodied: ($1500 years ago like 20 years but has been retiped-rebuilt by VDH).

Mass. 7.3 g
output, 0.3mv
TF, 1.5g
compliance Vert, 20cu
compliance lat, 35cu
recommended arm mass 6-12g

so its just not a candidate for the Jeloc arms, I tried it for about 5 mins and nope. Not even with a light weight head shell sadly.

So my plan is to leave the Jelco where it is, now that I’ve finally got the arm board manufactured and installed, put a new Cart on it MI i’m thinking. Install the SME on the back with the VDH. total cost under the new 850L price.

sure down the road a better arm and who know what but right now I want the detail and musicality of that little VDH cart and I want something more romantic for easier listening when I just want to relax.

oh I have a very good Garrard 301 grease bearing, white. I’m the second owner I’ve had it 2 years first owner was a local gentleman who bought it new and used it only in his home. its like new and has been serviced religiously. It was a lucky find, but that said I have ordered a new thrust pad, spark arrestor, break pads, and motor springs etc from the UK.

I’ll look into the idler though thanks for the tip. one day I’ll get the full bearing upgrade and power supply but yet again money.

Oh if money fell from the sky. or at least into my account.

your humble career military man, not rich investment banker.


Glen, fair enough. Apologies for reiterating this upgrade advice. The 850 is transformative when you've used 750s and CA$1500 not $2-3k.  

Add PH Sien's bearing at $230 inc s/h to your wish list!

You might look at a Decca/London Gold with a Decapod. I have 3 Deccas and love 'em.
I am waiting to try out an Astatic MF100 on my 401.
Brand new NOS cart.

Should be interesting.
The question seems to be reduced to one quality or property
of carts: moving mass. I own ADC 26 with , I assume , the
lowest moving mass of all carts which I know. There must be
some more ''arguments'' reg. carts quality. I prefer my Allearts
MC2, FR-7fz, Ikeda's Rex (cantileverless kind) , Miyabi Standard,
Benz LP s (16 g kind) and some other MC kinds to ADC 26.
My preference is , of course, not an ''hard argument'' but it
may induce more thinking about the questions we ask. There are
no right answers to wrong questions I think.

I like book replies. I should since I issue them all the time. Some of us prefer to read, it’s helps flesh out the discussion. The idea of communication in the written form implies writing (and lots of it), does it not?

IMO, MI carts are very slightly in the direction of granular, buzzy, metallic. It’s the iron. The hysteresis under ac loading makes it so. It’s why we don’t have iron wire for interconnects. They head in the opposite direction of why you went to LOMC.
There are some very interesting low impedance low output MM cartridges made by Pickering, those cartridges must be used with headamp or MC phono stage. I've managed to buy very rare luxury Pickering XLZ-4500s and XLZ-7500s, both with Stereohedron styli.  Both are MM with extremely low output!   
Interesting read so far my friends thanks for the recommendations and insight into MM-MI carts, been many years since I've even heard a MM cart let alone a MI.  

Really gives me thought as to if I'm going the right path maybe its time to let the old VDH cart go and focus on the Jelco and medium - low compliance carts, as in modern.  Honestly I'm not a huge fan of the SME 3009 series 3, quite finicky if I do say.
 I agree with Nandric’s inference that one cannot ascribe  the good or bad sound quality of a particular cartridge to its moving mass. If that were so, it would be very easy to pick out the very best sounding cartridges, by just looking at the spec sheet. For example, many moving magnet cartridges sound superior to my ears when compared to Many but not all moving coil types or moving iron types. This hobby does not lend itself to gross generalizations.
I own both the Pickering XLZ-7500s and the XSV-5000s 
an interesting note is after looking into things it was 
confirmed they use the same stylus although OEM provides 2 different replacement stylus numbers, another oddity 
of Pickering.

I have interchanged the two and found no difference I
can detect. 
@totem395 Fake styli must be avoided as none of them have Stereohedron Nude Diamond. Hope yours are originals. If you’re using a stylus from XSV series on XLZ series then i don’t think it’s a good idea. But i don’t have XSV-5000 anyway, i have XLZ-4500s and original stylus is black/gold D4500s. On my XLZ-7500s the stylus is D7500s.

Here is Stanton / Pickering Cartridge-Stylus Compatibility chart, but it's not complete. 

The XLZ-7500s has an original stylus, as to the interchangeability
between the XSV-5000's nude steriohedron it was never stated
in the OEM data sheets but at the time of production near the end
of Pickering anything went.
@totem395 when i swapped the original styli between low impedance (low output) Stanton 980-LZS and normal output Stanton SC-100 WOS i realized they are not interchangeable in terms of sound, it was a total miss match, but physically it was no problem to insert one to another.  This is the reason why i think the styli from low impedance Stanton/Pickering series and regular MM are not interchangeable.