Review: Audio-Technica USA AT ESCMG29 Cartridge

Category: Analog

First of all...I am a poor man. I have very little money to spend on this wonderful hobby! I have a lovely wife and six beautiful children and simply cannot afford top dollar treasures from the high end. However...before I was married, I owned many pieces of equipment over the years as my love for the hobby began at an early age.

Still...I am not a rich man and absolutely need to make bargain purchases when selecting audio equipment. I do not particularly care for the massed produced home theater dark-aged modern equipment that has drowned the general public in not even second rate mediocrity and am not fooled by modern receivers boasting inflated ratings.

To me the Digital Age is a curse that in time will be proved incorrect by the wisdom of Analog enthusiasts such as myself and far more many others with far greater intellects than I although...truth be known...even I own a modestly priced entry level CD/DVD player. It's almost unavoidable...isn't it?

Explore the internet and you will find a handful of phono cartridge dealers selling new cartridges and styli at reasonable prices. I recently purchased a few cartridges that were selling at a ridiculously low price from a well established phono pickup vendor for under $15 w/s+h.

But this review isn't about the benevolent vendor {let's call him "Ed"} who seems to be highly dedicated to keeping your old record player and general interest in vinyl alive. No, indeed this review is about a dual moving magnet stereo phono cartridge manufactured by audio-technica as an o.e.m. model for many Sanyo/Fisher and other brands of turntable coming out of Japan. is not my purpose here to insult the intelligence of the high end community to say that a Sanyo/Fisher phono cartridge is gonna approach the performance level of...or blow away a $6000 Koetsu or even a $600 Benz-Micro! No....not at all...but I only make this presentation in the light of the fact that there are other audiophiles in my financial situation that must eek out every last performance per dollar possible.

To those of you who do have the great fortune of owning the best of the best , I feel that perhaps the item here for review will satisfy an interim where one must have one's great MC out for re-tipping. Even top MM owners of the various V-15's may wish to have a great low cost spare on hand...would they not? Sounds intriguing?...Then read on!

The fact that "Ed" and audio-technica have worked together side by side over the years presented a situation whereas these generic models were made available to him at extremely low cost. So he purchased many...but not an endless or lifetime supply as he so states on his website.

The burgundy coloured .7 mil. conical stylus assembly attaches to a silver and black cartridge body easily and securely. There is nothing fancy about this generic cartridge's makeup or packaging as it features no gold-plated color-coded terminals and arrives to one's doorstep in a clear plastic Phanstiehl case {not unlike the old Astatic and GE cases for ceramic cartridges of yesteryear} packed by the vendor with one styrofoam peanut for security during shipment.

Dear Lord...if this is not the most unpleasant moment for me in the presence of those who really care about hi-fi!!! However..."Ed" needs to secure the cartridge a bit better with perhaps another styrofoam peanut placed at the opposite end of the cartridge. This will prevent the unit from bouncing around inside the plastic case and keep the plastic stylus guard from popping off. I suspect this was or at least may have been the reason for the first cartridge I received being defective. his credit...the vendor replaced the unit quickly and I was allowed to keep the defective cart using the stylus as a spare.

This plastic case is well packed itself in yet another box used for shipment through the Post Office. The supplied hardware is located underneath a foam liner but without instructions or an owner's manual. However...all necessary information is supplied by "Ed" and A-T itself on their respective websites. I too here will give you all the important info you need to reference during cartridge installation. I realize that many of you are pros but in the interest of aiding a hi-fi newbie or entry-level goes!

I shall hereby lovingly refer to this wonderful little cartridge as the Audio-Technica "Red Ed". In is an ESCMG29. or Sanyo/Fisher MG29.

As stated earlier, the cartridge is a basic conical model which upon first examination by the buyer or audiophile might render a rather "ho-hum" reaction. Why should one expect anything more than what might be expected out of a cheapy Radio Shack-like unit of the mid 80's? But indeed there is a rather nice and pleasant surprise that accompanies ownership of this two-gram tracking unit that sells for only $9.95!

Cartridge Mounting:

Before hooking up any tonearm wires to the back of this fantastic low mass cartridge, simply mount the unit using the supplied extremely slim and lightweight screws and nuts to your tonearm's headshell. Then with the cartridge's rear right side up in full view please note the cartridge's four terminals. The two "Left" or "L" terminals to your left are the left side "hot" and "ground". The corresponding right hand or "R" terminals are used for the right "hot" and "ground".

I only state this here because one could conceivably be confused by the rather poor markings on the rear of the cartridge body itself which are quite faint at best. This unfortunately appears to be the norm for other basic A-T carts. The "L" and "R" markings may be spotted somewhat easily but the "+" and "-" ones might not! At any rate...just remember that the two "hot" terminals are the ones closest to the top of the cartridge and headshell itself. Obviously the two remaining bottom terminals are for "ground".

You can then attach the four color-coded wires carefully using a needle-nose pliers or tweezers using the following color-coding guide. "White" is the left hot wire that gets connected to the top left terminal. "Red" then connects to the right hot located to the right of the "left" terminal. "Blue" then in turn gets connected to the bottom "left" ground terminal while "Green" finally connects to the "right" remaining one.

Please remember that there is no substitution for good clean tight connections and that poor ones can render bad sound quality or no sound at all. At any rate...some pretty weird results can happen because of bad connections. If your turntable is old and this cartridge is replacing another may want to crimp the connectors a bit so they do not slip on too easily causing problems if not right way...possibly down the road.

At the same time, be careful not to crimp so tightly as to cause the fragile clips to break or snap when forcing them onto the cartridge's rear pins. I only state this because it has happened to me {with more than one instance!} over the course of owning more than 100 phono cartridges in my lifetime. Thank the Lord above this did not happen when I set up my original Rega Planar 2 {with glass platter!} while mounting a Pickering XSV-3000 and Ortofon OM40 Gold! At any rate...NEVER solder these terminals directly onto the pins as the extreme heat could cause breakage in the cart's tiny OFC internal wiring.

Once cartridge mounting has been accomplished {which is in itself quite easy}, the unit then needs to be aligned properly on the tonearm itself. Balance the tonearm first by setting the anti-skating device and as in some cases the tracking force dial on the base of the tonearm itself to "zero".

Then move the counterbalance weight rearward or forward to the point where the tonearm appears to be precisely level and parallel to the record playing most cases the needle tip will rest just above a record placed on the platter mat. Then adjust or set the tracking force dial to precisely two grams.

On some turntables this will be via a dial located near the base of the tonearm as with the Duals and PE's while on others it will be via a dial that rotates with the rear counterbalance weight such as the S-shaped arms from Pioneer and Technics. Set the anti-skating dial to two grams also. Since this cartridge features a conical stylus...there is no need to compensate past the two gram marking as might be necessary for an elliptical or microline type.

Regardless of the tracking force range supplied by audio-technica and Ed Saunders, I found that a two gram tracking force to be the optimum setting for both the PE 3048 and the Pioneer PL-518. Increasing the force beyond this point will only make the cartridge sound a bit sluggish while not really improving its tracking ability appreciably. Setting the force to the upper end of the range to three grams will only force the stylus assembly up into the body causing it to hit on slightly warped records.

Conversely...setting the force to below 1 1/2 grams will cause mistracking on highly modulated grooves and will keep the stylus from hugging the record groove properly. If you really feel the need to deviate from my two-gram recommendation...try not to go over 2.5 or under 1.75 grams. is where I agree with moving coil phono cartridge enthusiasts. I always felt that companies like Shure and ADC made too much of unusually low tracking forces below 1 1/2 grams. These highly compliant styli would pick up more debris and dust off of records that might interfere with play after midway of play during a single side of the given record. But enough, fellas!

Yes...I are supposed to keep your records clean and the turntable dust cover down during play but still...I have found that cartridges that track around 1 1/2 or 2 grams to be ideal. Isn't that right in the ballpark for most MC's?

Well...Shure and ADC had a war back in the day over lower record wear and whose cartridge performed better in this regard. The fact of the matter is that spherical, conical and Shibata type shapes pose less of a threat to the record surface anyway when compared to elliptical or similar types. Lower tracking forces are fine so long as mistracking doesn't occur.

Mistracking at 1 gram {regardless of stylus shape} will cause much more record damage than a proper two gram tracking stylus that does not mistrack! Warp tracking of the Red ED in both of my tonearms was very good but not outstanding like the Ortofons or the Shure models that feature the Dynamic Stabilizer.

Once the tracking and anti-skating forces are set...stylus overhang must absolutely be adjusted precisely via the turntable's supplied protractor or if this is not possible by downloading one to proper scale from I used two classic turntables for testing this cartridge...a Perpetuum Ebner 3048 {which is basically the same as the Dual 1200 Series turntables} and a Pioneer PL-518.

The PE 3048 features a straight low mass tonearm while the Pioneer PL-518 features a higher mass "S" type. Both are high quality low pivot bearing friction units rendering 1 gram or lower VTF capability! The PE uses the dial type tracking force adjustment at the base of the arm that I mentioned earlier while the Pioneer utilizes the more commonly found rear counterbalance type.

At first glance...I noticed the bottom of the cartridge to be not parallel to the record surface and noticeably tilted backward after mounting the unit on the Pio. Thanks to this situation plus the fact that recently when testing a P-Mount/Universal type, I noticed the adapter bottoming out...I then realized that the original PL-518 headshell supplied with the table had somehow been slightly bent or warped upward over the course of twenty five plus years! I am not the original owner.

In fact I purchased the unit over a year ago at an internet garage sale for the staggering sum of $4.25 plus s+h! This of course represented my life's savings at the time...don't laugh...ok go ahead. I have since restored the bad pitch control, scuffed dustcover and am still repairing the rotted feet. The unit weighs in at a hefty thirty plus pounds.

At any rate...I had a spare universal A-T type headshell which enabled easy sure-fire installation of the "Red Ed". Because of the cartridge/headshell's unusually low mass, I found it necessary to add a small weight in the guise of a shiny copper penny and super glue to the top of the headshell. Otherwise the combo would be out of the Pio tonearm's proper VTF range.

I found azimuth to be perfect by ultimately not adding any shims on either turntable and by setting the cartridge hardware roughly midway of the PE 3048's standard-mount headshell slots while keeping the cartridge body perfectly straight but on the PL-518...I had to lightly force the assemby to the left while tightening the collar to keep the cart/headshell from leaning to one side with the cartridge turned slightly inward just barely past the mid point of the headshell's slots. This is in opposition to the sometimes popular myth that proper stylus overhang adjustment is achieved by simply positioning the cartridge straight and all the way forward.

Hogwash! I hate it when iognorant sales people instruct buyers as such and believe me...plenty of them used to. Every phono cartridge is different. Each must be checked and aligned properly at its own "best" position rendering the least amount of coloration and inner groove distortion possible. No wonder so many listeners complain about the IGD blues...their cartridges are not aligned properly because of this misinformation! You might get away with it to some degree using a cartridge featuring a higher grade of stylus but with a conical stylus...proper alignment is simply a must.

Listening Tests:

Both turntables were hooked up and grounded to a standard Radio Shack stereo auxiliary selector switching box that in turn was hooked up to the single set of "phono inputs" on my Yamaha R-500 amp for quick A-B comparison between the same cartridge mounted in both turntables. This would give me a good idea of how the A-T Red Ed would perform in a wide variety of 1/2 inch standard mount tonearms. The PE 3048 is a rubber idler wheel drive unit while the Pioneer PL-518 is a direct drive type.

These two turntables represent the analog portion of my reference stereo system which includes two Polk Reference 30 cherry towers and a cherry Yamaha Reference 500 stereo receiver that sports the best magnetic phono preamp I've heard { least in an all-in-one unit}! In the final analysis, both turntables sounded equally outstanding with the A-T.

Yes, there were a few subtle differences that only I could recognize from extended ownership but yet the results were surprisingly close as each tonearm has its own sound and damping causing similar cartridges to perform differently. For example the high-tracking Shure M70B does a noticeably better job in the PE as compared to being mounted in the Pio. Yet the Pio's tonearm makes the Ortofon OM5E sound a tad better than the PE's. Go figure! But the A-T Red Ed sounded equally great in both tonearms. But what really surprised me was that the A-T outperformed the M70B in the PE tonearm! My copy of Duane Eddy's "20 Terrific Twangies" on RCA International confirmed this observation.

I tested hum rejection by turning the Yamaha amp's volume all the way up with no record in progress. On the PE 3048 the cartridge's hum was very good as only a slight trace could be heard while on the Pioneeer PL-518 the cart's hum rejection reached outstanding proportions as only the faintest trace of hum was detected if at all! This no doubt was also in part due to the Yamaha R-500's outstanding phono input stage and circuitry.

Speaking of low frequency stuff...sometimes my beloved entry-level Ortofon OM5E is criticized for being bass shy by more than a few critics. I heartily disagree with this assessment as I found the OM5E to be very detailed on bass...just not phonied up as some others would prefer. It is what I consider to be quite discrete.

However...having stated this...I will tell those of you who agree with these critics that you will no doubt find the audio-technica Red Ed to be the cure for these so-called bass-shy blues. Now don't get me wrong...this warmth does not indeed overshadow the cartridge's ability to keep things balanced and detailed...but to's just not as perfect as the higher priced Ortofons.

I have several recordings in my vast repertoire I use for testing phono cartridges but the bulk of my initial testing is via the "Professor Johnson's Astounding Sound Show" record printed in 1979 on Reference Recordings number "RR-7"at 45 rpm. The three tracks on Side A of the record represent just under fifteen minutes of splendid musical entertainment with enough bursts and dynamic range to give any cartridge a hard time if not up to snuff! The recording is very useful in determining timbre accuracy, channel and frequency balance, soundstaging, subtlety and tracking ability without suffering through long and tedious technical stuff in abundance on other more commonly found test records like the Shures and audio-technicas.

Right away...the A-T Red Ed breezed through the entire side of the LP with nary a trace of harshness or mistracking. The opening number features "The Battle Hymn Of The Republic" {Fanfare} with climatic finish. This phono cartridge displayed solid bass and dynamic range on both turntables. Track Two displayed superior transient response for which audio-technicas have been particularly famous!

Accuracy of musical timbre was surprisingly first rate while channel balance and high frequency tracing were very good but not equal to the best. Detail amidst complex musical passages was excellent to outstanding especially toward the inner grooves where lesser conical and spherical styli cartridges fall flat on their shells!

After a cantilever/stylus break-in period of about forty hours I decided to break out two old recordings that I had not listened to in years...the original 1967 Andrew Lloyd Weber/Tim Rice "Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat-A Rock Cantata" on Scepter records #SPS-598 and a great Russian Folk LP that my dearly beloved late Aunt May had given me as A christmas gift back in 1978 entitled "Ivan Rebroff-At Carnegie Hall" on Columbia Masterworks #M33364.

The ESCMG29 Picked up some surface noise but behaved famously on the Pioneer Pl-518! Ivan's voice has quite a range and the cartridge gave it such an effortless clarity without any stringent harshness. Track 4 on Side 1..."Traditional-Woina" features Ivan's mandolin with a lightening fast attack that the A-T reproduced with the utmost "in your face" precision! It made the hairs on my back stand on end and my spine tingle like no tomorrow! This is an emotional involving cartridge for sure.

The former was also a pleasant surprise with the widest most in-depth soundstage I have ever heard while listening to this recording...and clean clean clean with magnificent stereo separation to boot! I thought to myself this "Joseph" never sounded better. This is not what a conical stylus is supposed to do but where the stylus gives itself away a bit is on the innermost of grooves where the soundstage just barely commences to break down...still...not to the degree as other low cost elliptical types and is quite tolerable and yet sweet sounding indeed.

In many cases where some of the inner groove area of my vinyl had been damaged by mistracking from marginal cartridges of both the past and present...these tracks seemed to come to life verifying the fact that some owners of the Red Ed have observed the stylus tracing or contacting undamaged parts of old worn groove walls! This was particularly evident on my two old Capitol recordings of Beach Boys greatest featuring four discs. "When I Grow Up" which was placed toward the end of one side suddenly had some simulated stereo effect that I had not noticed with other cartridges.

Stereo separation is much better than anticipated but not quite equaling Ortofon's OM5E or Super OM10 which I recently reviewed on another site. While the Ortofons reach a mark of 20/25 db at 10 KHz and 1 KHz respectably...the A-T Red Ed falls just short of their mark probably coming in at about 17/23 db. Keep in mind that this is just my impression and am not capable of making these technical measurements. But then again...the Ortofons are five to six times the price! Certainly this cartridge outperforms its published spec of 15/20 db.

Soundstaging was very three-dimensional but admittedly not the equal of the better Ortofons or more expensive units by Shure and others. It does break down ever so slightly on the inner grooves which I would expect of a conical stylus anyway. is still quite impressive! Cymbals and brushes sound clean clean clean...without smearing...quite a remarkable feat for such an inexpensive transducer!

The third and final track on the Professor Johnson recording features an African ensemble with some pretty mean bells and percussion A bad or even fair cartridge will show signs of buzzing, crackling or even abnormal ringing in the form of clanging but not this little audio-technica!

However...I have a couple of recordings in my collection that present a real obstacle to phono cartridge tracking of know...those harsh sss-sss-ssounds that seem to splatter all over the artist's microphone and the listening room itself when they occur? "Danny's Song" from Loggins And Messina's "Best Of"is one while Smokey Robinson And The Miracles "Save Me" from their "Away We A-Go Go" album is the other. These highly modulated ssss-ssounds can be downright annoying and reveal just how good a cartridge's ability to reproduce high frequencies is or how well placed the cartridge's high frequency resonance is.

Although many more expensive cartridges exist, only a handful of top moving magnet cartridges can handle such sibilants effortlessly. The Shure V-15 V, ML-140He, Ortofon OM Super 40, Stanton L847S, 881S, Pickering XSV-3000, 4000 and 5000 are certainly at the head of this elite group. The little Red Ed hung in there but did indeed mistrack slightly. This showed the cartridge's frequency limitation above the audible range as its resonance frequency is placed just above 20 KHz while other more expensive models like the ones mentioned have their peak well above 20 KHz. But wow am I being picky here!

I mean this little $10 cartridge sounds great and certainly does a considerably better job in this respect than anything even remotely close to its ridiculously low price tag! does not outperform the better Ortofon OM's but does beat out Ortofon's $40 OM3E. Even the popular low priced Empires, Stantons and Pickerings of both today and yesteryear that are notorious for sandpapery quality in this respect and some lower cost Shure Hi-Tracks of yesteryear to a notably lesser degree. These cartridges along with the modern "Prestige" Grados cannot hold a candle to the Red Ed. However... I believe the Hi-Track Shure M75ED T2 and M95ED of yesteryear to be better focused on voices and "in your face" when placed in a clasic Dual 1200 Series or Rega RB-250 arm.

I guess you now know that Shure "was" my favorite cartridge manufacturer back in the day! The bottom line on this matter is that the little audio-technica while not perfect is certainly an improvement over former lower cost models when it comes to handling sibilants with much less sandpapery-like quality and with emphasis placed more on sheer musicality than ever thought possible at this price level!

For those of you who have found endearment with the co.'s former AT 10, 11E and 12E excellent models need not long for their return as this Red Ed is everything and better than they ever were! And that famous transient attack and A-T sound is all there. The ESCMG29's output voltage is similar to these models at around 4 to 5 millivolts and drives the Yamaha R-500 quite nicely without overloading it.

Yes folks...even though each component in a well designed sound system is not supposed to introduce coloration...they all have their own sound.

While this is less apparent when comparing top-of-the-line models...they each maintain a certain sound characteristic which gives various manufacturers an identity making audio loads of fun! The Red Ed is no different in this respect. However...its stereo separation is noticeably better than its published spec would suggest while its frequency response has to be considered quite exemplary for a cartridge in this price range...20 to 20KHz plus or minus 1db {non-published real-world spec} least to my ears.

I only state this because many audiophiles well know how modern-day magnetic phono cartridge manufacturers are now making models with basic low performing conical/spherical styli in abundance while paying less attention to their more expensive elliptical models. Apparently with the need for these lower priced spherical and our friend..."Ed" have developed enough technology to take this basic stylus shape to the max. So much so that this low cost well designed generic cartridge will eat up a much more expensive Grado Reference "Sonata" that features a so-called advanced elliptical shaped stylus!!! So please do not be put off by the stylus shape of this "Red Ed".

Dee Jays will no doubt find its precise surefire backcuing to be a huge plus while leaving little or no backburn on the vinyl's surface. As a matter of fact, I was just thinking how perfect this cartridge would be for "On Air" use at FM radio stations although I don't know of any that still have analog equipment in use. I was thinking of ways to improve this already low cost impressive performer and thought that perhaps adding a white or florescent line to the middle of the red plastic stylus assembly would aid its visibility while backcuing. Then I realized that this was unnecessary as the stylus cantilever and tip is highly telescoped and quite visible as is!

Even so...the cartridge is not appropriate for scratching purposes. Others are. Audio newbies that are getting their turntable feet wet for the first time may very well be shocked by its performance level and windup questioning why they ever put up with the digital compact disc and its shortcomings along with their cd players just folding after only a few years for no apparent reason.

In Conclusion:

Seasoned audiophiles will be pleasantly surprised if not indeed shocked at just how musical this cartridge is for the money and realize the virtue of having this little guy as a spare while their top-level moving coil model is out for re-tipping. Even owners of top-rated Shure V-15's and Pickering XSV's could certainly keep this model as a spare as we audiophiles like to tinker just a wee we not? Transcription is certainly not out of the question either.

The cartridge will perform well in most turntables of classic well-made design...the original AR Xa come to mind as they had no anti-skating device and cuing lever. So...this cartridge with its conical stylus and two-gram TTF would render a rather good feel here. the same is not ideal for older cheapy Garrards and BSRs that require 3 gram or upward tracking forces. There is where a more h.d. but sluggish ADC QLM, Pickering PAT. XV-15 AC or Shure M3D or Stanton 505SK come in.

Although no fancy packaging accompanies this unit, I really believe that at $9.95 plus a small shipping charge...the audio-technica "Red Ed" has no peer! As for do-it-yourselfers who have indefinitely procrastinated and postponed the project of turntable restoration because of expense and availability...well "Ed" just snuffed out your last excuse for not restoring your classic table indeed.

Mounted properly and securely, the cartridge should give an indefinite number of years of pleasurable service to its owner. This cartridge would be a great buy if it were selling at the more commonly found price tag of $30 or $40. A best buy at under fifteen bucks?. Now tell me!...Peter

Associated gear
Yamaha R-500 Stereo Receiver {45 watts rms p/ch}
Polk R-30 Cherry Red Loudspeakers

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Ortofon OM5E
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Empire 909E
Empire 2000E
Empire 2000E/III
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All of these and more are or were owned by me.

I have also heard various Benz-Micro, Koetsu, Dynavector and Denon Moving Coil models from my friends at Audio Connection Of Verona and the former CSA Audio of Montclair.
Petsound, this is an awesome review. We need more thoroughly considered reviews of inexpensive gear to enlist new converts into the hobby. Clearly, this review has been a labor of love and serves as a model of its kind. The most enjoyable read of the year!
Fun stuff! A great post and wonderful to read. There's no better feeling than happening on a great-sounding bargain, whether it's a garage sale receiver or a NOS cartridge for $10!

Someday, I'll tell you the story of the Linn Axis I found at a yard sale...I paid less than $100...I was high for weeks.
...and just wanted to say hello and thank you for your encouraging words as I am most humbled by them indeed. I know for a fact that you are very knowledgeable and a lover of phono cartridges yourself. Incidentally...somehow some of the technical specs didn't make the transfer when submitting this review. In an attempt to add to the info I already gave here goes as this is the latest updated info on the cart from

A-T ESCMG29 Technical Data:
Frequency Response (Hz) Output
4.2 (mV at 1 kHz, 5 cm/sec)

Channel Separation Channel Balance (dB)
20/15 (dB at 1 kHz/10 kHz)

Vertical Tracking Force (grams) Stylus Shape
0.7 mil conical

Stylus Construction Cantilever
Bonded round shank
Alloy tube

Recommended Load Impedance (ohms) Mount

Please note that Mr. Saunders increased the VTF spec to 5 grams and I must absolutely must take issue with the 5 gram extreme. I am not exactly Shure why he did this unless he feels this cart to be suitable for older cheapy changers. I believe his original published VTF range of 1.0 to 3.0 grams to be more accurate. At any rate...thanks again for the welcome mat. Kindest regards...Peter
Thanks, "Ekobesky" for your wonderful remark and I absolutely am dying to hear your story about the $100 "Garage Sale" Linn Axis. In my upcoming review of the Pioneer PL-518...I will tell the complete story of how I purchased this excellent unit for $4.25.

Just another footnote about the "Red Ed"...I have never experienced a break-in period the likes of what this cartridge is going through. It just keeps sounding better and better as each day goes by! Bass is definitely even more detailed than I gave it credit for and the detail and subtlety of the cart in general is unexplainable at this price level. ...Am listening to Joan Baez's two record set of "Any Day Now" and this 38 year old album is sounding awesome! I may back off the VTF to 1.9 grams just to tinker a bit though. Listened to an old Columbia Masterworks recording of Mussorgsky/Ravel's "Pictures At An Exhibition"...Leonard Bernstein conducting the New York Philharmonic. On "The Great Gate Of Kiev" which closes the work...the tremendous clanging of the bells, crescendo and bass literally could be felt throughout our house! I was brought to tears by the emotion of the music.

Speaking of "bass"...I can very plainly hear tonal changes in instruments like tom-toms and string basses now. It's cool! Redbone's 2-record set of "Come And Get Your Redbone" sounds great with better stereo separation than I ever experienced with any other cartridge. This little A-T just keeps opening up so nicely that it is now at the point where it clearly outperforms my better Ortofons. When I purchased three of the A-T's...had no idea what a keeper this cart would be. This is definitely the best under $100 cartridge currently available and hopefully A-T will keep it in their line. This now beats my Ortofon OM5E and that is not easy for me to admit as I have raved about the Ortofon for the past two years...Peter
Am listening to Chuck Mangione's "Journey To A Rainbow" Columbia album and can't help but marvel at how quiet and yet transparent the ESCMG29 is in the Pioneer PL-518. Was listening to Tin Tin's "Astral Taxi" a little while ago and never enjoyed this wonderful record more! This was an Atco album I promoted on the air as a DJ for AFRN Radio Alaska back in 1971 and '72. I still have the Atco SD 33-370 original...not the later reprinted version on Polydor. This little cart really knows how to etch and is so very reminiscent of the powerful but transparent mid-priced Signets of the early 90's. No wonder Sanyo/Fisher contracted out to audio-technica to supply their top-of-the-line direct drive turntables with it! I just wish I had been better aware of this situation back in the early 80's. I would have just loved to checkout one of those JC Penny turntables with this baby installed! I also notice that "Ed" has readjusted his TTF spec back to "1 to 3 grams" for the cartridge on his auction page. Thank God that sanity has prevailed...Peter
Just an update: The "Red Ed" is still available exclusively from for $13.95 w/free s+h. Just mounted one in a most basic Pioneer PL-600 belt drive turntable that I saved from my neighbor's trash can and what a matchup! I set tracking and anti-skating to two grams and the sound is most three-dimensional with wonderful warmth and detail. This little cartridge remains an outstanding buy and a downright steal!
Truth is stranger than fiction!!! ... The "RED ED" is nothing more than a Goldring Electra in its truest generic form. How 'bout them apples, baby!

For a great review from this site...follow this link...