Need New MM Cartridge Recommendation


Hello All!

I need a recommendation on a new moving magnet phono cartridge. 

Here's my system:

Roksan Radius 5 (I think MK1 or 2) turntable 
Creek Evolution 100A integrated amplifier with Creek Sequel MM board
PSB Imagine T2 loudspeakers 

The Roksan came with a Roksan Corus Black MM cartridge, which was likely a Goldring manufactured cart.  It was great!  The stylus broke off after about 8 years use. 

I was wondering about the following but am open to all recommendations: 

Clearaudio Maestro (yikes! It's $1200)
Ortofon 2m Black
Goldring carts similar to Corus
Audio Technica AT150MLX

Any insight and recommendations will be super appreciated!

PS:   Sequel 40 mk2 MM Phono pre-amp is the device specifically suited for most types of Moving Magnet cartridges, with an output between 3.5 to 5mV and a matching impedance of 47k Ohms.
jbhiller
Ortofon 2M Black and AT150MLX seem to be much admired, if they fall within financial constraints in terms of cost.
Ortofon 2M Black and AT150MLX seem to be much admired, if they fall within financial constraints in terms of cost.
+1  I own both and they indeed excellent.  Since the Corus Black doesn't have a replaceable stylus you could have SoundSmith retip it.

You could always buy a new Corus Black since they are still available.
Thanks folks!

I may want to try something new, so I may avoid the Corus Black--even though it has been soooo great. 

I'd by the Ortofon 2M black in a heartbeat based on reviews if I hadn't spent so much money recently.  Now, I wonder if the AT150MLX will be up to the bill on the Roksan.  
The 2M Black is $755 at authorized US dealers and $513.06 from Germany-based Thakker on eBay. The replacement stylus is $576 domestically and $439 from Thakker on eBay.

You can get the AT150MLX from LpGear and other Atelier outlets for $325. Replacement stylus is $180 from Atelier affiliate LpTunes. It has a MicroLine stylus that lasts much longer than other profiles. So the AT150MLX is both cheaper to acquire and much cheaper to own.

I've been happy with my AT150MLX for eight years now. Every downstream improvement I've made in that time (and there have been many) has resulted in showing even more of what the AT150MLX can do, rather than revealing any shortcomings.

There was a recent thread on a similar topic where one A-goner posted that he had owned both cartridges and preferred the AT.

@jbhiller long time favorite ortofon in MM thread is vintage ORTOFON M20-FL.You will be surprised how good it is. Best buy for the money (if you can find nos). I've bough one and it's a keeper. Outperformed Glanz 31L and many others.  
MM cartridges for box speakers, 

MC for panels.
Thanks all! I'm knee deep in research thanks to everyone. 
I use Goldring 1042 with Nottingham Spacedeck/Spacearm and Acoustech phono. When choosing I didn't want to go with any MC under $1k, nor did I want Ortofon or Audiotechnica for sounding thin and bright in some set-ups, or mid-range Grado that could be veiled and unbalanced.
I also considered two more expensive alternatives - Soundsmith Carmen and Audio Note IQ, the latter being upscale Goldring, I think.
I might upgrade to either of them later or to higher level Soundsmith or even Lyra Delos. US prices are often higher or much higher. I got the Goldring from the UK for $375 including shipping.
It sounds excellent with Nottingham, great for the money, I would say.
Definitely the 2M Black; I have one and it is one of the best sounding MM cartridges around).  Also, the AT 440 mla, now the AT 440 mlb is another wonderful cartridge I enjoy that is worthy of serious consideration.
If you want a MC sound with MM sensitivity parameters in your  cartridge get  a high output moving coil like the Dynevector 20x .  It will work with your MM phono stage. I came on my Scout (VPI).  I also own a Music Hall MMF-5 table and an MM Goldring Cart. I forget the signal strength it generates, but is very very different .  The SQ of the MM is rounded and retty, with no emphasis on detail. The MC is very detailed and has a precise . Some might use the classic Detail vs Musicality description. I like the analytic beter myself but the DV 20)X  Dynevector.  They are expensive but less thn your $1200 example.
Just because some choices are more popular doesn't mean that they are better. There are herd instinct issues, prestige considerations and other kinds of bullshit. There are also people whose hearing is not so good.
Trust the British tables fan - forget those Dynas, Ortos and ATs, that's money waist. Goldring 1042 or Soundsmith Carmen or higher. Or even better choice - have your cartridge fixed by Soundsmith and upgrade only when you are ready to upgrade your phono stage as well. Cartridge should be good enough. but it is the least significant element in analog set-up.

The compliance rating of the cartridge and its compatibility with your tone arm to avoid unwanted resonant frequencies must be taken into account too.

I assume your Radius has the Roksan Nima tonearm. If so, its effective mass is 10 grams making it a good match with any of the three MM cartridges you mentioned in your original post. If you have another tonearm, then this could be a different story and resonant frequency of the cartridge/tonearm should be re-evaluated to insure a proper match.

Of course just because the compliance match is right, they will still sound different and I would encourage an audition of each if possible. Cartridges, like speakers, are transducers and each brand will sound quite different from one another.

I will throw another in the mix for your to consider also - the Nagaoka MP-500. Sorry to further complicate matters but this cartridge is another world class MM cartridge and deserves to be in your group. Good luck!

Yes, I have the Nina tonearm.  Thank you for checking the stats and making a recommendation. Also, I'm off to check out your cartridge recommendation. 
Think about the clear audio virtuoso.  It's a few bucks cheaper than the maestro.   It has a good mix of warmth and dynamics. 

Buying carts is very tough-good luck. 
You can still get a Roksan Corus replacement stylus



Why not look for top quality vintage MM cartridges like Victor X1 or X1II or X1IIE ? It's hard to believe it can be beaten by some morern mm design at any price. 
Nagaoka 500 is a $1000 cartridge, should also be a very good even if expensive choice.

The Nagaoka MP-500 could be found for $699 new.  About the same as the OP's other choices.

http://www.lpgear.com/product/NAGAOKAMP500.html

Much better. Well, it might be more refined than Goldring 1042. Still almost double the price without being sure. Choosing cartridge is not easy.
Dear jbhiller: I don't know why you want a " new " kind nof sound diferent from the Roksan you own.

Roksan cartridges are manufacturer by Goldring but are not similar to Goldring. Roksan cartridge are at higher quality level.
I own Roksan and are really good, maybe the advise from other gentlemans are because they unknow the Roksan quality levels. If I was you I just follow with Roksan through that link that  johnnyb53 posted here.

Regards and enjoy the music,
R.
Dear friends: A gentleman here posted two statements that with all respect to him makes no sense to me and if he posted it maybe is because has very good reasons about, I hope he can chime on it. 
Here are those statements:


"""  forget those Dynas, Ortos and ATs, that's money waist.  """

money waist to whom and why?


"""  Cartridge should be good enough. but it is the least significant element in analog set-up. """"


well, other than the LP the cartridge is " the source " and the music information recorded in the LP grooves depends mainly in two cartridges characteristics: cartridge self tracking habilities ( to pick-up with precision the grooves LP modulations. ) and the cartridge quality design and execute of that design for the manufacturer.
That's why we have so many cartridge choices even that's the " least " significant link in the analog rig. Maybe the cartridge designers and audiophiles are " stupid/ignorants " and do not understand that gentleman's statement.

Regards and enjoy the music,
R.
MM cartridges for box speakers,

MC for panels.

Interesting thought, don_c55. I've been using an AT150MLX since 2008, but switched from curvilinear "box" speakers to panels (Maggie 1.7) in 2013. It still seemed like a good fit but I'm open to other options. I recently bent the cantilever on my AT150MLX and am using my backup, a now-discontinued Denon DL-160 HOMC. It's a pretty nice fit. It doesn't quite mine the detail of the AT, but it has a musically involving, full and rich presentation of its own that I kind of like. 

My current phono stage is a pretty nice (for me) PTP hand-wired all-tube unit with adjustable gain, but not enough for LOMCs. It does HOMCs very well, though. I was sort of thinking of an LpGear BIN 323 HOMC with nude line contact stylus.

Comments? Observations? Experiences you'd like to share?

Thanks in advance.
I went with the Ortofon 2m Black.  

I really wanted to try something different than the venerable Roksan Corus Black.  The cart was, as the Brits say, a "cracker." Sometimes I would just grin and laugh at how great it sounded.  

I really wanted to avoid going in to the moving coil world, just yet.  

I will post a follow-up when I receive it and get it set up properly.

Thanks all!  I'll be back by the weekend with a review.  
JB, Wait a week and play a lot of music before you post a review. Else you are likely to be taken by the different-ness of a new cartridge as much as by its intrinsic good or bad qualities. I also tend to trust Raul. If he says your Roksan is a "keeper", keep it, and maybe some day have it re-tipped. Everyone needs at least two cartridges. (I personally have never owned or heard a Roksan cartridge.)

FWIW, I strongly disagree with a few of the generalizations made here.  IMO, a good MM cartridge is good on any type of speaker, not just a "box" speaker.  Likewise for a good MC type.  Also, this is a weaker conviction, in my experience high output MC cartridges are as a rule not as good sounding as either the best MMs or the best LOMCs. I have heard a lot of well rated HOMCs in my system (Benz Glider, Transfiguration Esprit), but obviously not all.
"IMO, a good MM cartridge is good on any type of speaker, not just a "box" speaker. Likewise for a good MC type."
I thought that poster was just trying to be being funny.  If he was serious, that's just stupid.
MM cartridges for box speakers, 
MC for panels.

This post must have been aimed at humor rather than fact.  Make an emphatic statement but provide no explanation as to why it is so.  Posts like these are usually jokes or classic cases of hit and run.  In this case, I thought it was a joke.

Dear paraneer: With out a deep explanation could be a joke or just ignorance.

regards and enjoy the music,
R.
Thanks Rauliruegas.  I am pleased that you agree with my post.  

I still vote joke.  I like to give the benefit of doubt.  Besides, ignorance is too harsh a word.

Dear P.: Unfortunatelly all of us have an ignorance level, diferent on each one of us. Ignorance is something that we unknow for sure something that we have no experiences about. Ignorance is the non existence of any king of knowledge in an audio subject or that our knowledge about is just wrong or because we have a misunderstood on the subject. Ignorance is not an insult per se but a fact for any one of us.
No one has the right answers for everything in audio.

I really hope that Don can return here and chime on its post maybe we are ignorant of something, who knows?.

I'm willing to learn every single day of my life and better if I'm wrong in some audio subject.

Regards and enjoy the music,
R.
The "short list" in your post included the Clearaudio Maestro v2 Ebony, which is a stellar choice. I owned one for nearly a year and passed it along to my son when I upgraded to another cart that sells for about 3X the price. Interestingly, there was no dramatic improvement, which led me to conclude that the CA Maestro is a bargain that offers a very high price-to-performance ratio. A number of audio mags have given high marks to the Maestro, so if you can get a loaner to audition in your system, I think you'll like it very much.

For comparison purposes, you might look at my virtual system for details about my analog front end. The name of my virtual system is "Scott's penultimate system".
There are a lot of vintage options out there for you, for which very high quality new stylii are available. There have been a lot of positive reviews written over the years about Shure MM cartridges and JICO stylii, for good reason. It took a $1000 MC cartridge to trump my V15/JICO combination. By the way, I found the Shure M97xe/JICO to be as good as the V15.

@ anna,

You shouldn’t tell people that cartridges are too expensive for he OP, The Op has decided what He/She is willing to spend. I find the cartridge plays a critical in the sound quality . There is nothing wrong with a lower priced cart. in your response.

I find the VPI high output 20X that allows the use of MM carts. I own one of those as well, a GoldRing 1042 (ithink) could be the 1022 or 1201 provided with my other table a Music Hall MMF-25. The SQs from each is very distinct..

It depends on the OPs choice in SQ.

The OP will have to make the choice.

Again the Dynector 20X high output that still retains the precision and detail retrieving fabulous and wonderful to my ears. I also prefer detail, and own Focal Electras   Sound is scary good, clean as possible holographic imagining  in  and sensitive 

The Goldring MM with warmth and beautiful tone.with  excellent PRAT.

After reading this thread I have a question. Paraneer, you mentioned the Nagaoka MP 500, which has interested me for a while. I run a BAT VK P10 Se phono stage which is capable for up to 80 DB gain, making it suitable for LOMC carts. My Fidelity Research MC 202 is really low output but sounds very musical.
Is the Nagaoka musical in the sense that it has the sweetness, or at least some smoothness found in my rather vintage sounding cart? Or would you consider it more dry and punchy.
Having heard a Clearaudio Maestro was not impressed with the musicality. Don't want that sound but would like to try another MM. Always chasing that improvement.
If you like Fidelity Research MC you should try FR-5E MM design from the master Ikeda San. This model also recommended by Jonathan Carr (designer of Lyra cartridges) in MM THREAD (i know it’s hard to read all 241 pages full of information about the world best MM cartridges). Worth to try.

I wonder why no one mentioned Australian Garrott Brothers MM cartridges - they are amazing. Not only legendary classic p-77 with Micro Tracer Diamond  (which i like a lot) and new p-77i with MicroScanner II stylus profile, but also their latest Optim and Optim Ruby with the most advanced Fritz Gyger stylus profile.

Find a series 1 ebony Virtuoso with a busted cantilever. Send it to Soundsmith .  I heard he now has boron/micro. 

I like the Victor Z1/SAS

Try a Shure DJ cart for kick ass dynamics. Some models put out 9mV. For rock, you have it turned up to 11 right at the input.

Electrostats need faster transient response. Box speakers need a sound which unboxes. 

Dear dentdog: The quality performance levels on any cartridge has to be judged along the tonearm used with. This couple is that a couple and not all cartridges performs at its best in a tonearm, maybe the Maestro was not to happy with yours.

In the other side you posted and I respect what you said:

"""  Is the Nagaoka musical in the sense that it has the sweetness, or at least some smoothness """#

I don't know where you attend to listen live music and listened that " sweetness and smootness " you are talking about. Live music has a natural agresiveness that is far away from what you like. MUSIC is not that.

Forgeret about that kind of FR recomendation on vintage cartridges. If you want a vintage MM experience try to find at least an Acutex 320. The other recomendation on Victor is a waist of time because SAS stylus replacement are no longer in production from 3 months now.

Btw, the OP of this thread already bought Ortofon many posts ago and maybe some of you did not read it because follow making recomendations.

Regards and enjoy the music,
R. 
After 72 hours with the Ortofon 2m Black, here are my initial thoughts.

This is a great cartridge.  It's got power and dynamics galore.  There is, however, a noticeable increase in surface noise, as compared to my Roksan Corus Black (previous cart it replaced).  The Roksan (made by Goldring to Roksan's specs) was quite a cart and so is this one.  The Roksan may have had a bit more finesse with detail and making certain jazz records sound holographic.  

That said, the Ortofon is terrific.  There is great tight bass with slam.  The cartridge feels like it wants me to have a party.  Very fun listen, not fatiguing or overly bright.  It has also been forgiving on records that the Roksan cast to the side as thin or not well produced.  

I guess you could say that it could have more detail, yet it makes up for that in terms of putting forth one cohesive presentation of sound throughout the spectrum.  Nothing is missing.  

I haven't had a chance to play more than 10-12 albums on it.  And I haven't pulled my speakers out into the room for true critical listening position.  I'm going to run her in a bit and post a formal review.  

Make no mistake though--this is a fantastic cartridge.  I'd be curious to see if the $350-$400 Audio Technica could compete.  $750 is rich for a moving magnet.  I'm enjoying it so I won't over think it. 



There is no single cartridge which is best.  It doesn't matter which sounds like live music on someone else's system, it's going on your system and you have to live with it. 

I think it would be more helpful to describe impressions - the sound of a cart.

@rauliruegas

The other recomendation on Victor is a waist of time because SAS stylus replacement are no longer in production from 3 month

Do you like SAS or prefer the original stylus of Victor X1II or XIIE ? I think the best is to find NOS Victor. It was you who said earlier that SAS made with specific price tag in mind when Victor is more complicated design made to be the best in competition between companies in the golden age of analog and MM design. It was not a big problem for me to find NOS original Victor X1II (with original stylus) and later another lightly used X1IIE.

I don’t care about SAS since it was on my Technics 205c mk4. The original technics mk4 stylus was much better.

There are plenty of new design with similar Micro Ridge stylus profile available today but who cares? Pretty much detailed sound but somehow boring compared to some vintage eliptical, shibata or line contact models.

In most cases SAS replacement looks ugly on nice vintage cartridges that never been designed to wear sas on them.

p.s. Now i remember your post about Ortofom M20FL when you clearly explained that M20E (eliptical) is your choice over M20FL (fine line). So why the most advanced profile is not always mean the best? So why bother with SAS aka Micro Ridge? 

How can someone evaluate a MM phono cartridge when they're stuck at 100Kohm load, then add capacitance to roll off the extreme high end?

Some 4-ch carts were designed for 100K, but the ignorance level is great regarding specific loading recommendations. The M20FLSuper happens to be a cart with nice potential and with a sweet, natural high end.  It must have high inductance (I forget exactly) because the original came with 200pF caps attached to the rear of the cart. This was used to fill in a severe treble dip, which made it sound like it was playing next door.

Rather than run it at 100K and add capacitance, wouldn't a better strategy might be to add as little capacitance as possible and find the ideal resistance?  For me,  53K and around 150pF total was great. The cart has a natural and seductive high end and is slightly distant with big bass. Listenability is high with lots of records.  I wouldn't trade one for the E stylus. 

The SAS was a great replacement for many carts. Where else can you get a boron/MR for peanuts?  It's the cantilever, not the tip which excites the generator. What kind of cantilever does the Technics have?  Good luck finding original Technics stylus. Perhaps you should contact Namiki and see what's available, minimum order etc.  I sent my Genesis 1000 to Soundsmith and he insisted on using the original boron tube cantilever with a micro type tip. Any extra glue wears off and it looks and sounds like the original.  Still my favorite cart. I'll have to put it up against an ART7 or 9.

Dear chakster: I will answer you in the MM thread. IMHO the subject belongs there and not here. 

Regards and enjoy the music,
R.
@fleib

The SAS was a great replacement for many carts. Where else can you get a boron/MR for peanuts? It’s the cantilever, not the tip which excites the generator. What kind of cantilever does the Technics have? Good luck finding original Technics stylus.

Technics EPC-205CMk4 comes with super light weight tapered Boron pipe. The metal has been crystallized and then processed into a cantilever with a laser beam. This design results in a dramatic reduction in effective tip mass which is 0,109 mg. Stylus is 0,2 x 0,7 elliptical (0,07-mm square-block diamond tip). Neodymium magnet. Frequency response: 5 Hz to 100 khz

For some reason the original technics stylus was much better to my ears than new jico sas.

Another technics epc-100c mk3 was retipped and recantilevered by Axel (with magaoka boron cantilever and elliptical diamond). Also great cartridge. 

Chakster,

**For some reason the original technics stylus was much better to my ears than new jico sas.**

You're comparing a pipe (tube) cantilever to a solid rod - no comparison.  My Genesis 1000 has a boron tube and the cart was retipped by Soundsmith with original cantilever. Replace it with a rod and the magic goes away.
These cantilever/stylus assemblies were undoubtedly sourced from Namiki who held the patent on the microridge.  This tip looks identical to the AT ML and SAS.  All carts are designed/voiced differently, but to say the SAS is inferior is ill informed.  It's no coincidence that Griffithds, Halcro, Nandric and myself, to name some, all think the Victor Z1/SAS is an excellent cart. It has a short cantilever so HF resonance is suitably high and transient response is excellent. It may not be your favorite, but I'm glad I bought one.

BTW, a retipper usually has complete stylus/cantilever assemblies sourced from Ogura or Namiki. I doubt if they sell factory 2nds. 

Raul, Do you realize there are human beings on the other end of your rationalizations?  I have a Russian Blue cat named Comrade BC I'd like you to meet.

Regards, and enjoy your 32 bits. 

Jbhiller,

Wondering what you think of the 2M Black now that you've had some time with it.  Still feel there is increased surface noise?

If you're still looking for an AT comparison we can discuss it.  You said the Roksan cart seemed more holographic and something about finesse?

Regards,

Fleib,

Yes, I have now had the Ortofon 2M Black running as much as possible.  
Surface noise is way lower than when I first installed it several weeks ago.  I don't think it's me getting used to it either.  I can remember there being more hiss coming off records.  It seems to be better behaved.  

Also, I really dialed in vertical tracking angle, tracking force, and azimuth (side to side leveling ?) on the Roksan Nima tonearm.  Imaging is way better and there's better balance between the low, mid and high end. 

What's more, I've been adding in bung port plugs on my PSB Imagine T2 loudspeakers.  Wow!  I'm getting imaging galore and sparkle on the top end, which I was longing for (not the fault of the Roksan Corus Black or the Ortofon--just tuning my speakers). 

I'm very, very happy.  I'm just super curious to see what a <$400 Audio Technica MM cart could do in competition.  At $750, the Ortofon 2M Black was getting pricy to the point of knocking on the door of going moving coil and buying a new phono board for the Creek Evolution 100A integrated to amplify the moving coil.  

I just finished listening to Getz/Gilberto and I have Sufjan Stevens, Illinoise, on right now (I'm just getting to know this album--it won awards 10 years ago and I never heard it).  Both records sound beautiful and real.  Great holography.  I had Eric Clapton's Unplugged album on this weekend too.  So lifelike.  I'm really enjoying this thing.  

I'd say price is the only drawback.  I just don't know where the surface noise went!  I know it was there during 1-20 hours or so.  I suppose cartridges do break in?  I've owned:  garbage cartridges as a kid in the 70s/80s, a Rega Elicit (I think in 1996), a Grado Prestige something (around $125), a Roksan Corus (a great cartridge made by Goldring) and now the Ortofon 2M Black.  

I'm loving vinyl again and listening to more music than ever. 

Let me know if I can be of help or answer any questions.  
Raul, with all due respect I don't need you to tell me what music sounds like at a live performance. Sweetness is, for me, found in the nuances and undertones. I have had a few MMs that miss a good part of this. Just curious, and directed my post at a person who had some experience with the Nagaoka 500. If you can't help with a little info, butt out.

@fleib

It’s no coincidence that Griffithds, Halcro, Nandric and myself, to name some, all think the Victor Z1/SAS is an excellent cart. It has a short cantilever so HF resonance is suitably high and transient response is excellent. It may not be your favorite, but I’m glad I bought one.

I have NOS Victor X1-II in the line waiting for my audition, really looking forward to check it out 

Jbhiller,

Nice to hear you're enjoying the 2M Black.  I suspected,  surface noise would diminish while the cart settled in.  There is a break in period with carts and it seems that the electrical aspect might take longer than the mechanical. I also think the Ortofon is well suited for your Creek phono board. Your input impedance is set at 47K ?  Do you know the capacitance of the input?

Audio Technica carts are generally less expensive than Ortofon.  Look up the price of your replacement stylus if there's any doubt, but AT carts require a bit more user knowledge to find the right fit.

We differentiate AT bodies (generators) by their inductance. Generally speaking, the higher inductance models tend to be more "musical" while the lower inductance models tend to be more detailed and "transparent", but loading requirements also become more critical.

I'm quite sure I could recommend an AT combo for < $400 that would give your 2M a run, but first it would be nice to know the details of your Creek.  BTW an AT MM requires at least 30 hrs. break in. My AT440ML OCC took > 75 hrs. to fully break in.  That's a long time and to endure I had it loaded at 22K and it was still hard to take. Having an old auto-changer running silently during this period might be a good idea. Just check on it once in awhile to clean the tip and make sure all is well.

Regards,

Fleib

Here are the stats on the Creek Sequel: 
  • Gain x100 (40 dB)
  • Frequency Response
    10 Hz to 20 kHz +/- 0.5 dB
  • Signal to Noise Ratio – 80 dB
  • Total Harmonic Distortion < 0.03%
  • R1AA deviation +/- 0.5%
  • Output 400 mV from 4mV input
  • Input Sensitivity / Impedance/ Capacitance – 4mV / 47K Ohm / 220pF
  • Overload Margin 22 dB
  • Suitable for medium to high output MM cartridges in the range of 3.5mV – 5mV output
Creek offers 3 models for MM, High Output MC, and MC. 

I've spent a good bit of dough recently so I'm going to hold off on buying stuff for a bit. I would, however, like to try other cartridges as I'm getting back into vinyl and my system in a big way. 

Chakster,

It will be interesting to see what you come up with regarding the X1-II.

Griffithds loaned me a MK I, but the stylus was loose and I'm not sure if I secured it enough.  I had better results with the Z1/SAS.

Regards,