Phono cartridge for a Technics SL-1200 TT?

I recently unpacked my Technics SL-1200 turntable (the original mark 1 version), which I bought new back in 1974 and used carefully over the years -- but haven't used in more than 10 years. I purchased a Parasound phono amp and a Shure M97-xE cartridge to go along with it (and an Anthem pre-pro and Dali speakers) -- and it sounds pretty good. But, can I do better than the Shure cartridge with this setup? I'd love to listen to more vinyl. Thanks for any suggestions you can give me.
Definitely search the forums here to find a good deal of discussion about cartridges for this TT. If you haven't yet, visit the KAB USA website for additional ideas. If you are not aware, Kevin Barrett specializes in Technics tables.
PS - I am running one of his "nuded" Stantons on mine using a Lehman phono pre.
I own a Technics SL-1700 Mk2 turntable and have just replaced a Sumiko Blackbird cartridge (I thought I'd damaged it but subsequent microscopic inspection has found it was simply clogged with a strange wood-like fragment) with a ZYX Omega-X.

I have the turntable sitting on BDR No 4 cones on top of a 30mm (1.2 inch) thick acrylic slab. I can thump the plinth with my finger with no feedback through the system.

You won't be disappointed with either of these cartridges, however the ZYX Omega-X is simply in a class way above the Sumiko Blackbird but it depends on the budget.

I don't get any audible rumble, nor do I hear any of the motor noise associated with the tonearm's auto-return function as the sound is muted prior to the motor engaging.

I recommend these two high-end cartridges with the Technics DD TT's in my experience.
I've been using (and tweaking) an SL1210 M5G for 3-1/2 years now and am really happy with the music it makes.

A lot of improvement in the SL1200 comes from vibration and resonance control. Here are a series of low-cost vibration control tweaks that will bring out more frequency extension, clarity, and dynamics:

1) Get the correct oil (available from and lube up the spindle.
2) Since you have the original 1974, you may have the original nice big thick mat. Still, you'll get improvements with a Herbie's Way Excellent mat in 11.22" diameter and 6.35mm thickness.
3) Wrap your tonearm in PFTE pipe thread tape. It weighs almost nothing and does wonders for damping tonearm resonances.
4) Replace the Technics feet with Vibrapod Cones seated on Vibrapod #2 isolators. Sit the turntable's threaded sockets (for the original feet) on the steel balls of the Cones. Level the turntable by slipping 3x5 cards under the Vibrapod Isolators as needed. You can cut the cards into Isolator-sized circles for better cosmetics.
5) Make an isolation platform for the turntable. This can be pretty cheap and simple. I use an Ikea butcher block cutting board (about 12" x 18") seated on a pair of silicon gel keyboard wrist pads.

This may sound like a lot of tweaky trouble, but the total cost of everything I've mentioned is around $175 and does wonders for bringing out the Technics' strengths and damping its weaknesses.

If you want the tonearm to track even better, get the tonearm fluid damper. Don't overfill the trough; 1/3 full should be plenty.

For a cartridge I'm using the Audio Technica AT150MLX. There are several other good matches. Some people really like the Denon DL-160. I have one and used it nearly a year, but the AT150MLX operates at a whole different level. I have heard that for the money, the Ortofon 2M Blue is a livelier choice than the DL-160.

Some people also get good results with the Denon DL-103 or 103R, but the Zu version, the Zu-103, works even better. For one thing, the Zu aluminum housing bumps the effective mass weight up to make a better match with the Technics tonearm.

If you go with a medium-compliance cart like the Denon DL-160, Audio Technica AT150MLX, or any number of other Audio Technica moving coil cartridges, you'll get a much better match in effective tonearm mass with the ZuPreme headshell from It's not only heavier, it's much more rigid, less resonant, has built-in azimuth adjustment, and much better cartridge lead wires.
I have an SL1200 MK2 and am currently using an Audio-Technica
AT-OC9ML/mk2 and it sounds incredible. It is my first LOMC and I am quite impressed with it. I also have an Nagaoka MP-110 mm that sounds pretty decent and tracks well.

A no brainer would be to get a JICO/SAS stylus for your Shure
M97xe. A lot of people love the combination and you would not have to buy another cartridge. I have a V15 type V with a Jico/SAS stylus and it sounds incredible. It is mounted on my Ar ES1 turntable however.
... and now for something completely different!

KEEP the M97xE and replace the stylus with the Jico SAS stylus available from:

My analog setup is as follows:

KAB/Applied Fidelity/Technics SL-1200MK2SE
- Applied Fidelity Bearing Modification
- Applied Fidelity Cardas Tonearm Rewire
- Cardas HSL PCC-E Headshell Leads
- Vampire RCAs
- KAB TD-1200 Tonearm Fluid Damper
- KAB PS-1200 Outboard Power Supply
- KAB SX-1200 Strobe Disabler
- Gilabend Bren1 Lite Record Weight
- Isonoe Turntable Feet

- Shure M97xE + Jico SAS Stylus

- PS Audio GCPH Gain Cell Phono Stage

I have run many many cartridges on this setup including several Audio-Technica, Denon, Garrott Brothers, Nagaoka, and $1,000+ Dynavectors; the lowly $60 Shure M97xE with the $129 Jico is my cartridge of choice.

I'm not one to throw around hyperbole, but the difference between the SAS stylus and the stock stylus is "dramatic" in the truest sense of the word. I seriously doubt you'll want for more. For the first time in a very long time, I don't!
09-20-10: Vinyladdict
... and now for something completely different!

KEEP the M97xE and replace the stylus with the Jico SAS stylus available from:
Are you recommending this, or this?
Johnnyb53, it is the first one - the N97xE replacement stylus. The other one is for the Jico MM1 cartridge not the M97xE.
Vinyladdict -- I've never changed a stylus before, what's involved? Is it easy, hard? Are there understandable instructions with the Jici SAS?
nothing to it - you just have to careful.

On the M97xE, just lower the brush assembly on the stock stylus until it locks in place right below the stylus and cantilever. It will act as a sort of "stylus guard" at this point. Don't force it, you'll feel it stop in the right place.

Grasp the stylus assembly by gently "pinching" with your thumb and forefinger the small metal bolts holding the brush assembly on and gently pull forward. The whole stylus assembly will come out of the cartridge body.

Set the stock stylus aside and CAREFULLY remove the SAS stylus from the boneheaded packaging Jico uses. They ship the SAS stylus with the brush assembly / stylus guard in the "up" position - I guess they didn't want to have to make special packaging for just this stylus.)

Gently insert the male end of the stylus into the female socket of the cartridge body (yeah, baby, that's it...) Don't force it, it should slide right in and firmly hold in place once completely inserted. Do make sure it's fully seated.

Adjust your VTF to 1.25g (+/- .25g), I use 1.35g. It will require a bit of VTF tweaking due to the stock stylus being a tad heavier and I'd double check the alignment just to be safe.

That's it!
Thanks for your suggestions. I've gone with the Audio Technica AT150MLX cartridge and the ZuPreme headshell -- a fabulous combination. My vinyl collection has never sounded so good!