Suggestions on cartridge upgrade

Hi, I'm in the process of doing a few upgrades. I have an music hall MMF-7 table with the orignal goldring eroica cartridge. I also use a musical fidelity x-LPS phono stage.

I have mostly jazz, soft rock and some classical albums. I'm really enjoying my vinyl after a small hiatus.

So I've got a bit of upgrade-itis.

Any suggestions on a cartridge upgrade (say sub 1000) that would increase my enjoyment for the kinds of music i listen to.

Terri; assuming that your phono preamp has sufficient gain for a low output moving coil cartridge (0.3mV), I would suggest either an Audio-Technica AT33PTG II from Audio Cubes II or a Dynavector DV-20XL sold by several online retailers. The AT33PTG II is selling for $630 USD and the DV-20XL for $850 USD.

I'm currently using the earlier version of the 33PTG and ran a 20XL for a few years and both cartridges are a very good match with the mmf-7 turntable. I had to purchase a heavier tonearm counterweight to accomodate the added weight of the 33PTG (6.9g) and 20XL (9.1g) vs the Eroica (5.5g) but the Music Hall 120g heavyweight counterweight is available from MusicDirect for $30; product no. AMHHEAVYWEIGHT.

Both the 33PTG and 20XL have a more refined sound than the Eroica, with better articulation of notes and more natural sounding vocals and stringed instruments for example. The Eroica, on the other hand, has a somewhat more robust and lively presentation, especially in the mid-range; great with rock and blues music. But the Eroica doesn't have quite the composure in conveying the shimmer of cymbals or the high sibilance of female vocalists as well as the 33PTG and 20XL. The 33PTG isn't quite as dynamic as the 20XL and is a bit more forward sounding, although the 20XL is probably on the dark side of neutral. Both are very quiet in the groove and great at minimizing surface noise.

The 33PTG is the better tracking cartridge and less sensitive to azimuth and tracking distortions than the 20XL on the Pro-Ject 9 aluminum arm, but once the 20XL is dialed in it does it's job well.

Keep in mind that the differences are more subtle than obvious, especially between the 33PTG and the 20XL. Also consider that the 33PTG and 20XL have recently been revised and may have slightly different characteristics than the (previous) versions I'm describing. But I wouldn't expect that the cartridges were changed significantly since both are highly regarded in their respective price classes and Audio-Technica and Dynavector probably don't want to mess up a good thing.

The Eroica H is a good HOMC cartridge in it's own right so don't expect that you'll hear a dramatic difference by switching to a LOMC cartridge in the same price range. Nonetheless, when I made the switch I did find that I preferred the refinement and articulation that these low output moving coil cartridges provided.


PS: Even though I recommend the AT33PTG II, keep in mind that it is NOT distributed by Audio-Technica in the USA and so does not come with a USA warranty. If you have problems with the cartridge you're subject to the customer service provided by Audio Cubes II and not Audio-Technica USA. I received a defective 33PTG and had to send it back to Audio Cubes II in Japan for replacement. It took some time and many email correspondences, but the replacement service was provided in the end.
I'll add that the AT33PTG is very quiet in the groove. The 20xl is not bad in this regard, but not as forgiving of less than pristine surfaces as the AT.
Thanks Guys, I previously owned a dnyavector 10x4 and didn't care for it as much as the Eroica. How does it stack up with the 20XL and AT?

Ok. You don't like the Dynavector sound, but you do like the Goldring. I get the feeling you may be better off with an MM/MI cartridge. Can you tell us what it is you would like to improve? What is it about the sound you get now that you would like to improve on.
I tend to agree with the previous poster and also think that in fact you might want to upgrade your phono stage first and perhaps your turntable later. In any case, there may be no MC cartridge for you under $1k new worth upgrading to. AT and Dynavector have many followers, on the other hand many don't care much. I too don't care much about 10x5 on my Spacedeck/Spacearm but can't figure out yet what to get instead. Was thinking about Shelter 301 or 501, but it appears that they don't do bass well. I may actually try Goldring 1042 MM and see how I like it. It's about $300 from UK dealers. Generally, I have the impression that one has to spend a lot on MC to get it right, much more than $1k for a new one. And some people just don't like MCs feeling that they don't really have enough substance, weight and coherence. I could be one of them, so could you.
Ortofon 2M Black.
That's a tough question to answer. I do love the sound of vinyl, and i guess i'd like to keep that very sweet sound while getting better articulation/separation and placement of instruments, especially in classical music.
My current cartridge is moving coil, and I do like it's sound, will MM give me better articulation and separation of instruments? I guess I thought the moving coils were mostly farther down on the quality curve...
Terri; the high output moving coil cartridge you are currently using has a sound that is perhaps more like a moving magnet cartridge than a typical low output moving coil cartridge. That's a broad generalization, I know, but the Eroica H is more like Goldring's 1012GX (and other MM cartridges I've used) than either the AT33PTG or the DV-20XL or a Karat 17D3. That's with my setup anyway.

Moving coil cartridges occupy a very wide spectrum of price, quality, and sound characteristics. Generally, the more you spend, the better the cartridge. But there are certainly exceptions and broad benches on the way to the top.

It's easy to suggest a particular cartridge to someone but difficult to know if the recommendation is really what they are looking for. My advice is to do some homework and learn more about the cartridges being offered in the price range you're considering. Read reviews, read forum comments, and read manufacturer's descriptions to get a sense of what's out there and if they might have the characteristics you're after. Then you can ask for specific advice about how your choices might sound with your setup.

i second the ortofon 2m black
I wouldn't put too much money into an MMF-7.