used Dynavector P75 at $350 with dings:
hmmmmm replace cartridge or phono stage.
On one hand, upgrading a cartridge can lead to better parts: cantilever, coils, shell, diamond/stylus profile. Just updating from the Blu Point#2's elliptical should offer significant improvements say in getting more information, better transients, fuller vocals, etc.
On the other hand, when amplifying the minute cartridge generated voltage multiple times over to get to line level, quality of parts as well as execution is also important. One may expect better clarity, quieter background noise which leads to hearing more minute details.
Both offer sonic upgrades, but which one is best for you?
In high-end audio, many believe in the importance of the entire audio chain. Also, many believe it's always best to address the weak link. I too believe that your best bang for buck is to upgrade your phono stage rather than the cartridge. That way you reduce being hampered by any future cartridge upgrades, especially if you run into a great offers like a half retail price new cartridge.
How about an Ortofon 2M Bronze.
5.5mv output. Your Sumiko is 2.5mv.
The 2M Bronze is around $440.
You said budget around $500.
If you can stretch to $750 I would recommend the 2M Black. I found it has more detail than the 2M Bronze and smoother highs. Most likely due to its shibata stylus. The stylus on either one is user replaceable.
That might be something you find important.
I've used the Blue Point #2 for years and never have to turn the volume knob on my Nakamichi 410 pre-amp past around 9 o'clock - and that's pushing it. Of course, that could be because my speakers are the ADS 1230s, with a db rating of 94. Like you, I wanted to try something new and considered the Ortophon bronze MM but it can't be mounted on the tone arm of my Thorens TD166 mk 2. The head shell of that tome arm is limited to only a few of today's cartridges. Thus I've reconciled to sticking with the Sumiko, which seems to provide all the detail and resolution I need. I had considered the Ortophon only because I got the hankering for something different, not necessarily better.
I not think that is true. The MM market will generally not support those prices. Actually I should say the high output market will not tolerate those prices. The most expensive High output cartridge I know of is The Voice by Soundsmith for $3000. Next would be the Charisma by Clearaudio for $2000. The AT VM740ML is an excellent cartridge for $330. The Goldring 1042 is another excellent cartridge well worth $600.
You don’t know, but I know and reviewers till tell you more about it:
It’s $12500 retail price and you might heard of people associated with that new brand:
Mr. Hideaki Nishikawa is inseparably associated with both TechDAS and the brand he previously led, i.e. Micro-Seiki. The same applies to Top Wing cartridges - their creator is another legend of the audio world, Mr. Hiromu Megura. His résumé is extremely interesting, as he was the assistant of the main designer of the F-8 cartridge for Grace brand (Shinagawa Musen Co.) and the main designer of the F-9. Maybe another name will tell you more: Nakamichi Corp. Meguro-san developed the Center-Tech system of the Nakamichi Dragon CT turntable, he was also one of the designers of the Nakamichi TX-1000 cassette recorder. For the record, let’s say that the Dragon CT turntable featured a movable platter and its movements compensated the eccentricity of the record.
One problem here, if the basic Grace F9 cost $300-500 amd some of the rarest and best Grace carts like Level II and F14 cost within $1200 - $2500 range NOS (with advanced profiles, exotic cantilevers etc) the brand new TopWing cartridge cost $12500, there is more expensive model for $16500.
The central cartridge technology employed by Meguro is his Coreless Straight Flux system, which adapts some of the elements of moving-magnet design, most notably a removable stylus assembly that permits replacement and refurbishing of the stylus for a fraction of the cost of a new cartridge. Top Wing charges $2375, or 19% of the full retail price, for a new stylus, though it’s not replaceable in the field -- you have to send the Blue Dragon back to the factory.
Welcome to modern high-end world!