Recommendations for an MC cart on Audiogon

I’d appreciate any input on MC carts here for sale at $850 (MAX) or below. Reading the info put out here, it’s seems only CONUS purchases can really be safe. So, I’m sticking with that. I received a George Warren tt (never letting go of) with a Moth Rega 250 (upgrading in ~6 mos) & Denon AVR 4806 (upgrading in 12-18 mos). I got suggestions recently but, the cart purchase fell thru & now the choices are different. I like things just a little tad bright.  Read a lot of carts are “mellow”, “smooth” & “silky deep” so, really looking for that.  Used is great bang for my buck & this is a safe site. People seem universally leary of eBay. No... do this instead of cart feedback plz.

thanks as always for your knowledge.
Sorry can you clarify - you DO want a cartridge with a little bit of bright/zing up top, i.e. one that's not too mellow?

The AG offerings today look pretty sparse, honestly. Used to be a lot more selection; at least that's how I remembered it. Somebody seems to be dumping stock of Benz, and I've had Benzes I liked (Glider and Wood series), but the company's had issues with supply for years and seems to be finally closing up shop (maybe?) - so I'm not sure it's a smart buy anymore (production issues tend to go hand-in-hand with quality control). Benzes have a reputation for warmth, but I did find them to have a little bit of nice zip on top.

I'm shocked there's currently no Ortofon MC's listed in your range. Those (older Kontrapunkt series, current Cadenza range) can be a great option for folks who aren't afraid of a good dose of MC treble energy, without going overboard on it. 

Look at Dynavectors - though I haven't owned one they have a stellar reputation over the years, and there are lots out there. I love my Shelters but haven't tried their lower/middle lines, and they don't seem to common on Audiogon anymore. And I'm sure somebody will pitch in for the Audio Technica MC's in that price range.

Does your Denon supply your phono stage? Especially with lower-output MC cartridges, phono stage quality will likely be a significant bottleneck until you get a solid outboard unit. Phono stage quality is absolutely a key component to your enjoyment; don't underestimate it! 
I wasn’t clear.  As you guessed, yes I meant I do like it just a tad bit bright. I have a new Jolida JD9 I’m getting to unwrap for Christmas. I’m thinking of the 2 DV’s on this site.  There are a lot of threads with bad experiences on the Benzes from China... they’re marked new but aren’t, say they’re authorized dealer & isn’t & a few other comments. There were a number of Ortofon & AT’s ~4 wks ago & all gone now.

Thank you very much.  You’ve given me great info.  I really do appreciate it.
Why an MC? Do you already have a decent MM or MI?  
If compatible with your preamp I would get the Dynavector Karat 17D3 from Aris Audio. I bought a demo from Scott at Aris before and it was perfect. The 17d3 is a great cartridge and a great value as well especially at that price. 
Easy to get beat here on Audiogon as everyone has only 250 hours (big lie) would NEVER buy a used cartridge.Good luck though!!
Chakster, I don’t but from what I’ve read & understood here I thought MC was the better way to step into audiophiledom once I’m in this price range. It also seemed what I was reading was that most MM at this level have more of a warm feel & I prefer just a tad bit bright. But, I always welcome learning new info.

jperry, thanks for that tip. I’ll check them out tomorrow.
The Dynavector 20X2 cartridges are excellent and I believe there is one or two for sale here.
Hana LE for $500 is an easy recommendation! Buy it new from a dealer!
Chakster, I don’t but from what I’ve read & understood here I thought MC was the better way to step into audiophiledom once I’m in this price range. It also seemed what I was reading was that most MM at this level have more of a warm feel & I prefer just a tad bit bright. But, I always welcome learning new info.

Well, this is not true. Actually is the other way around. If you budget is that low then MI or MM is a much better route for you. When you load some of the MM cartridge at 100k Ohm (instead of 47k Ohm) you will get what you like. The best MM or IM/MI cartridges we're talking about here comes with the best cantilever/stylus combinations to extract what's on the record. Each time you can simply change the stylus in 5 seconds my yourself, you don't need a vendor and extra expenses to do it like in case with the MC.  

- If you would like to learn more as you said then here is a links for you, very interesting read!  

- You can also watch SoundSmith lecture, just find a part when he's talking about MI versus MC. Peter repair thousands of cartridges, i think we can trust his opinion.  

- And finnally this audiogon thread. 

I am not advocate of all MM or MI cartridges, but we already discovered some amazing examples which is a better choice with your budged than any modern MC at this price. Maybe you don't know what you're missing. Taking in count how critical is phono stage and cables when it comes to MC at the end you may not have an appropriate gear even to hande MC. Also an awful re-tipping process each time the cartridge is worn (or damaged like the one you already bought). 


tochsii, After what you've just been through with a defective cartridge, it is hard to believe you would even remotely consider buying a "Benz from China".  Or any cartridge of any kind ever, from China.  Unless you live there.

Benz is also the last brand I would name in response to someone who is looking for a lively sound or treble energy.
Lewm, I must have been unclear. I absolutely won’t buy from China or a Benz. I won’t buy outside of North America. Thanks

chakster thanks for the links
You can´t have a decent "silky smooth" MC for that price. Why dontcha try to get used MM, MI or MF instead ? On eBay there´s one vintage GLANZ MFG-51L w/ Micro Line stylus on aluminum cantilever and it´s one of the finest from Glanz really (I have one). I´ve bought several vintage carts even an MC from eBay and A´gon and all are OK. Just look at the seller´s feedback before buying if in doubt, most sellers are honest ordinary guys and music lovers.
tochsii, the first cart I picked up was a Sumiko BB with 300hrs from a seller on Audiogon.  The actual price was pretty good, below the sellers asking price.  I liked that BB so much I ordered a brand new BB from a ebay seller located in Hong Kong ($888).  The sale was smooth and the cart was perfect.  Unfortunately the cantilever got damaged during my relocation.

I sent it off to have it repair but it didn't workout.  However the craftsman compted me with a new cart from his personal collection, which I paired with my Pro-Ject TT, awesome cart by the way.  Needles to say I sought another BB.  Now this cart had 10hrs when I got it from a seller on Audiogon for $500 (Perfect!!).   

From eBay I won a Benz Wood H ($350) and a Grado Reference Platinum ($75) both are in excellent condition.  I have also picked up items from US Audio Mart.  

My recommendation to you is too do your research on the seller (that includes ratings and communication) and to have a little faith.      
I have owned only one MC cart but it is superb and I can't recommend it highly enough in your price point.  The Dynevector 20X mine is a HO but I would get the more recent/current offerings.
@mechans How do you know "it's superb" if you only have had one MC cartridge and this particular MC is not even a low output ?  

We do believe that everything we're buying is superb until this opinion is crashed by something much much better, so comparison of the different cartridges is very important for analog lovers. Experience is the key. 

So the same reason i can blame professional reviewers, because they never even tried some rare vintage MM cartridges and always raving about inferior modern MC cartridges for some reason. But used market is an amazing option for us (buyers) to try whatever we want to try, sometimes it's time machine in action. I have no reason to stick to the modern production only, why should we ?   
Very well, if you really must have an MC, for that price range it´s possible to get one superb vintage MC but these are getting very rare. I once got Shinon Red LOMC w/ Micro Ridge stylus and boron cantilever for $600.
The Shinon that won one cartridge test and was raved by no other than 
Harry Pearson, The Absolute Sound: "Without having listened this (Red) one cannot say knowing the full glory of analog replay", on an advertisement in early 1990´s.
It really is that good.
Now is a great time to try MI as Soundsmith is having a great sale on cartridges to make room for it’s new line.
Yes it´s time indeed, what would you recommend and maybe using some already ?  Thanks for info : )
Man, I hate to violate two of my own soft rules on posting but here goes. 

1. (Being a Fanboy Rule):  Look at the AudioTechnica ART9. It's a superb moving coil cartridge.  I cannot recommend it highly enough.  Do some research and see what is said about it. 

2. (Recommending Something Above the OP's Price Rule).  You say your limit is $850. I think the ART9 runs about $900, give or take, NEW.  
Post removed 

^ +1 Ah, now I see, the AT-ART9 is much cheaper in the USA than elsewhere ? The cheapest on eBay:

Yes go for the ART9, it truly is a superlative (MC) cartridge in everything !
But it takes 200 hours to get the best out of it IME. Has become my MC reference so far.

Another option:
The AT-ART7 is also a superbly performing MC, it´s basically the same as ART9 but has a very low output voltage 0.12 mV:

You can´t wrong with these new ART cartridges ; )
I'm using a Carmen 2 I picked up here about 7 months ago sounds great in all respects top to bottom. I think with the sale you can go higher up the SS line. The good thing with SS is that retipping is reasonable when the time comes.
One of my friends has the ART 9 that is also outstanding.
I should add I’ve purchased 4 cartridges between this site and Audiomart and never had any problems, 3 U.S. and 1 from Thailand.
This thread ran its course but, if anyone’s still out there... Scott from Aris Audio (rec’d on several threads). He has aDV 20x2 for sale here-there’s also a 17D3 Karat here too. But, he has a new Ortofon Quintet Black S for $855 that he thinks is a better choice. I like just a tad bit bright. Any thoughts?
Both Ortofon and Dynavector make a great cartridge. I have not heard the Quintet Black so can’t really comment. If you had a discussion and are sure Scott understands what you want, he will make a good recommendation.

I have heard the Dynavector 17d3. It is a great sounding cartridge, but the output is low, and it is more difficult to setup because the cantilever is so short.

Ultimately you will likely be happy with either one. I liked the Karat better than 20x2 FWIW regarding the Dynavector cartridges.
Of course the dealers will recommend you an MC cartridges, because they know nothing about rare MM cartridges and what they do is just sell what is available for the dealers from the manufacturers today. What's the point to ask a dealer ??? You're missing a world of amazing cartridges if you stick to the dealer of the modern high-end. 

If you would like to choose between an Ortofon and Dynavector go for the Dynavector, but read this thread about some special models from the past (they are often available NOS for decent price under $500)    
20x2 and that Orto are inferior to both ART9/ART7 and 17DX/17D3. Period.

17DX costs app. 1200 GBP, ART9 much less and is truly a superb modern technology MC in all aspects, not to mention in sound quality. In addition, the 17Ds are NOT EASY to setup and thus get the best out of them !!

Why believe in an unknown dealer, why not trust an audiophile with decades of knowledge and experience ??
FWIW, I have been using the Ortophone M2 Black for the past 9 months and find it quite pleasing. A fine cartridge that can and does compete with many more costly Mc's. 
Let's have a reset on this:

From the OP: input on MC carts here for sale at $850 (MAX) or below.

Suggestion:  Dynavector Karat 17D3 on Audiogon listed by Aris Audio 
Thanks everyone. From a comment here, Aris & a pm it’s seems the 17D3 can be very a finicky install because of the short Cantilever. The pm said even though the next upgrade is my ta (6-10 mos) my Rega RB 250 may not work well (bc short cantilever) & I may have it in the box till I upgrade my ta.
Thoughts on that?

Thoughts on US Audio Mart? Obviously, I’m reading feedback.  Seems like a lot of people have 2 or 3 sales or somehow use their eBay rating.

Ok, would I be making a more solid long term investment in my system if I could swing ~$1200? What would I look at?

Finally, I never would have thought it but, I’ve seen a lot of comments on different threads really endorsing eBay purchases.  Thoughts?

You’re all very kind to share your knowledge & help in my education.
When you bought the Sumiko cartridge seller’s feedback does not help much, you have received defective cartridge and not even get a quick refund?

When you see many feedbacks you’re dealing with professional sellers. Even those cheaters who sells grey market product with fake serial numbers have all positive feedbacks.

The low feedback score does not mean something bad, it means that the seller is not a professional seller/dealer, but most likely an audiophile like all of us.

Only Negative feedback is the alert, but some buyers are dishonest too, especially on ebay. It’s better to check why negative feedback left.

US Audio Mart and UK Audio Mart are great sources! They do not charge for listing or even for sales. It’s free. I'm happy to list my spare cartridges on Normally the best prices are there! Ebay charge sales fee, audiogon charge listing fee (which is crazy) even if the item is unsold they do charge listing fee.

If you have a bigger budget and you like things a little bright, this is a good deal. Not my listing and no affiliation.
^^ +1. Audio Marts are free for all and this makes them the best markets. A´gon´s and eBay´s fees are ridiculous, not to mentions PainPal´s. I never use it ´cos it´s just a greedy monster that nothing can control. They will and do whatever they desire without any notion, they give a damn to their customers. All they care is money.

And due to marriage of eBay and PainPal, eBay has become a very secure market for dishonest buyers because eBay in near all disputes sides the buyer.
Nowadays eBay´s biggest problem is dishonesty due to PainPal´s "protection" policy. Sad but true.

Btw, here´s ASTATIC´s 2nd best cart (after the MF 2500) for a ridiculous price on US Audio Mart.

It´s absolutely a killer MF cart because I own another sample : )
Highly recommended !
If you want to hear what your Blackbird really sounds like instead of spending $1,000 on another cartridge, get a high quality tonearm. That will make a world of difference with every cartridge.

Dear @harold-not-the-barrel : That MF-100 you mentioned is everything you want but little brigth as the OP is asking for.

Bis a bis MC is way better than MM/MI good alternative. MM/MI is an alternative as is MC cartridges and overall MC is a superior " technology ".

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,
Thanks everyone. I a deal on the Lyra Delos here. I’m ecstatic with it & because I was starting to to into “Analyis Paralysis”.

youve all been very generous with you knowledge.  I post my experience once the cartridge has settled in.
Dear Raul, One cannot argue with your newly re-acquired preference for MC cartridges, but can you explain why you think MC is a superior technology?  Superior to what? Superior to all other types of cartridges?  You could make an argument for superiority of MC to MM, perhaps, but there actually is a good argument to be made in favor of MI, IM, and some other exotic technologies, over MC.  It is common to lump MM types with MI types, probably because both are high in signal voltage output compared to MC.  But after that, they are as different from one another as MM is from MC.
Why would anyone be interested in MC, when even a cheap simple MM blows away the top MC? Raul has lost his mind.
MC vs MM war is an old hat : ^) _ ... like most of us writing here, right ?
Anyway, the MF-100 ain´t too bright in my system. A note: looking more closely that MF-100 on US Mart seems to be a new generation ASTATIC (due to yellowish body, and hence the low price), not a vintage in fact but it´s good nevertheless.
Btw, I also have an MF 2500 ; ) Thanks Raul for your guidance.

OP, good luck with your choice
If you go MC, MAKE SURE the loading options in your phono-pre will accomodate those required by the cartridge. Even better to have a range of loading to experiment with to dial in the sound you want. MC have more considerations as those mentioned above in this thread.
Invictus,  Your and Chakster’s zeal for MM cartridges over all else is in my opinion just as misplaced as is Raul’s recent conversion to the religion of the moving coil cartridge. Your blanket statement that any cheap MM can outperform any high-end moving coil cartridge is at least a little exaggerated, don’t you think? In this hobby, it’s always a good idea to keep an open mind. Anyway that’s my own opinion.
Before this becomes a fist fight... I made my decision & bought the Lyra Delos that was listed on Audiogon.  

I checked that my RB250 would be workable.  He said it’s a great starter-ish arm & would work great.  I have Rega spacers.

i also checked & my Jolida JD9 ii will definitely cover the needs of the cart & I’ll be able to experiment a little.

As far a the MC vs MM/MI fight... what you happen to like is the one/class that sounds the best.  We’ll always be amazed that all our reading & talking to people brought us to the point to make this enlightened, inspired descion. When we get it on the tt our decision is confirmed... you bought the absolute best cart ever made.

if you can’t play nice, take you toys & go play in your own sandbox. 
Nice move on the Lyra Delos. Very good cartridge at a great price.

When you upgrade your tonearm in the future You will get even more out of it.

Best Regards,

Jim Perry

Invictus, Your and Chakster’s zeal for MM cartridges over all else is in my opinion just as misplaced as is Raul’s recent conversion to the religion of the moving coil cartridge. Your blanket statement that any cheap MM can outperform any high-end moving coil cartridge is at least a little exaggerated, don’t you think? In this hobby, it’s always a good idea to keep an open mind. Anyway that’s my own opinion.

I’m trying to be specific with a choice of MM for a person who is a begginer as we can see by threads started by him. I really think that the advantages of the MM is obvious, not only speclacular sound quality (when it comes to Stanton/Pickering, Grace, Victor, Audio-Technica...), but more user friendly (stylus replacement for example) with a choice of the phono stage.

My favorite LOMC is currently Fidelity-Research FR-7fz which is very limited in choice of tonearm, and Ortofon MC2000 which is too complicated in choice of preamp. Both are extremely rare cartridges. I have some more LOMC which i like (so i think i’m open minded enough), one of them is Fidelity-Research PMC-3, Argent low outoput and even some high output Argent MC cartridges made in the 80’s by Excel Sound much better than Excel Sound’s current Hanna for example. Got the mega rare Miyabi waiting my audition here. I enjoyed my old AT ART-2000 and i’m sure the ART-9 must be great too.

But once a begginer will damage them the repair is almost impossible or too expensive. The best MC for a begginer is the one which can be factory repaired and retipped for reasonable price (not as high as the new cartridge). Most of the cartridge can be damaged during mounting process if a person is a begginer. Lyra cartridges like some VdH and Dynavectors has unprotected cantilever in front of it, which is very easy to damage (i would never buy such cartridge)!

Practically the MC cartridges are very very bad (imo) to start with. Miyajima was one of the manufacturer who offered reasonably priced re-tipping service and some of their models are not expensive (especially used). I’ve managed to damage one very very expensive MC and it was the worst experience in my "audio life" and a very big loss (financially). Also i think people brainwashed by reviewers that MC are better, some of them are really good, but we must be very specific in choice of MC and an appropriate phono stage or sut for them. At the OPs price range i would look for vintage MC or (much better) vintage MM or MI. Anyway i’m sure he will realize it later on.

Stylus replacement even for vintage MM or MI is amazing opportunity to use the cartridge forever.

I am not trying to blame the OP or Lyra. Anyway, some people ignoring my advices and buyin some cr*p because more people will tell them this cr*p is really good. Some people just want to justify their purchase and all they need is 10 more people to say: "yeah this is really good choice". I don’t understand this logic, because the most popular cartridges are not good, one example is Denon DL-103, when the begginer search for MC he will find millions of comment how good and musical this cartridge, but in reality there are many more truly amazing cartridges for the same price, most of them are vintage MM.

@lewm It doesn’t matter that some MC cartridges can be incredibly detailed, refined, and fast. They offend me on a fundamental level. They just sound wrong. The tonal character and frequency curve of MC is not what real music sounds like. And therefore, nothing else matters.

I listen to a lot of live music every year. Even something like the cheap 2M Red, it just sounds right. It has the drive and aliveness of real music and gets the presence region right. It’s not as detailed and the bass is a bit sluggish, but it simply doesn’t matter. I would pick it over any MC cartridge at any price.