It wasn't that long ago that the AT150MLX was considered a bargain at $499. Then they dropped to $350-399, and sometimes when the dollar-to-yen rate was particularly good, they were going for $250-259 (in 2008).
Well, now they've come out with a new VM series of MM carts
, and the high performance ones in the 150 housings range from $399 to $649.
AFAIK, most online vendors don't have the 150 series anymore, but lpgear and lptunes still does, and they've dropped their prices significantly. Now they offer the AT150MLX
(MicroLine stylus with gold-plated boron cantilever) for $324.99, and the AT150Sa
(Shibata stylus with tapered aluminum pipe cantilever) for $271.98.
I've had my AT150MLX since 2008. It needed a new stylus last year and it was hard to find the MicroLine/boron stylus assembly, so I went for the Shibata/aluminum one, and I like it better. It's every bit as dynamic, but the treble has a lot of finesse and extracts the detail and air, but smoothly. At $271.98 it's crazy good, and the replacement stylus is only $168.88, but I don't know for how long.
For those looking to move up from a 2M Red or Blue or any number of typical $150-300 cartridges, these AT150s will do the trick. Between the two, I favor the Sa (Shibata), and it's less money to boot.