Technics SL 1200GR with What Cartridge???

I'm starting yet another thread on a similar topic, because I don't want to hi-jack someone else's thread, and I haven't found the answer to my question in other threads.

OK... I'm considering returning to vinyl for some of my listening and I need a Cliff's Notes version of what cartridges I might want to use.  

I've had a Linn Sondek LP12 for years, which I've barely used... but... it's been in storage.  As I recall it was pretty "finicky" and required a lot of attention to perform it's best (which was/is good).  I don't have enough patience anymore to deal with that, and am planning on moving to a Technics SL 1200GR, because it seems simple to operate, gets good reviews and doesn't seem to require a lot of attention. 

It appears that you can get great sound quality from the 1200GR with a good cartridge.  I'm just not sure what might be optimal / best for the money.

I also do not want to go crazy with esoteric cartridges that cost a mint.  My budget is probably in a range of... say... $300-400 to maybe $800-900 (if the cartridge is noticeably better than the more modestly priced cartridges).  

My Linn cartridge is a MM cartridge, I think (Basik or K9) in an Itok arm.  

That's about it.  

I'm not really interested in considering a lot of alternatives either in a turntable, or cartridges.  

Any guidance in this context would be appreciated.


I have a Technics 1200G.  If you are looking for an easy to set up and maintain table that will last forever, I think Technics 1200GR is a great choice.     

I have been using a Hana EL which is very nice.  Just replaced it today with a Grado Sonata 3 which sounds very nice as well but is a bit more expensive than the Hana.  ($450 vs $600)  Little too early to make any firm comparisons!

I used the Ortofon 2M Black on a 1200GR, later upgrading it to the 2M LVB 250 stylus, sounded very good on the GR and exploited the neutrality and dynamics of the deck. I use the 2M LVB on my 1200G now. FWIW Technics seem to have some relationship with Ortofon and often demo with their cartridges.

Under a grand is ( vintage / used carts aside ) pretty much dominated by Audio Technica. You did not mention what phono pre?

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RE:  Phono preamp - Haven't gotten that far yet.  I don't recall what I used with the Linn Sondek LP12. 

And... I don't know which pre's best synergize / mate with what cartridges.

So... open to suggestions there.


"I have a Technics 1200G. If you are looking for an easy to set up and maintain table that will last forever, I think Technics 1200GR is a great choice.

I have been using a Hana EL which is very nice. Just replaced it today with a Grado Sonata 3 which sounds very nice as well but is a bit more expensive than the Hana. ($450 vs $600) Little too early to make any firm comparisons!"


I’m a Grado fan... is the Sonata 3 difficult to set up (VTA, etc.)? That’s the only criticism I’ve seen. Other than that - everyone seems to love it.

Do you have the "high gain" or "low gain" version?  

What preamp are you using with it?

I’ve got the technics mk7, pretty similar to the GR, albeit less weight. Same tonearm, but platter is also less in weight compared to the GR. Otherwise, it is the same turntable at $699 less. The buttons feel a bit plastic, because they are plastic lol. If you can get over all the above, it is a nice turntable for the money. I have half a dozen headshells for it. One holds the hana el, another has the Shure mx97e. Additionally, I have installed a Grado 78c for playing 78’s, and a Grado MC+ for my mono recordings. It’s pretty nice to be able to change out a cartridge with ease, except having to readjust the VTF & VTA. otherwise, the platter is not warped, the tonearm bearings feel perfect, and the cueing lever drops the stylus very gently. I got it new for only $649 final cost, after bonus points and credit card cash back etc, so I cannot complain. I used the money I saved to invest in a KAB USA poly-glass platter mat in combination with a thin technics rubber mat. Also bought the isanoe feet and the little fwend end of record lifter (the 1200 DJ model). Using Atlas element phono cables and a Nordost blue heaven power cord. I would have opted for the GR, but I have 5 other turntables which include a Lenco, music hall, pro-jet, Avid ingenium, and a Thorens fully automatic. The technics was bought for the heck of it, as its my only direct drive, plus it’s fun to play records on it. Visually, it looks very cool with the stobe light etc. I prefer mine set to the red, but blue is selectable via dip switches under the platter. The dip switches also control the torque and start up speeds as well as selecting the 78 RPM feature, which is engaged by holding down the 33 & 45 rpm buttons simultaneously. Herb Reichert used a Hana el on the Technics GR with great results. I figured why not throw one on the MK7. I’m not bothered by the relatively cheaper build or the weight, as I’m not a DJ. It works and plays fine for my needs. The technics MK7 is being released in limited edition form with a choice of 7 colors. It will be available for purchase in July.

Not to say that the SL1200mk7 Anniversary Edition is not a worthy turntable, but I think it is meant to be viewed as a decided step down from the G series, not only in price and build quality but also in features. For example, I believe it  uses the older conventional iron core motor from the SL1200 series, whereas the G series uses a new coreless motor.  Not that there is anything wrong with that.  I do think it is a good bang for buck.

I would add the AudioTechnica AT33SA to the list for consideration.

I run one on my 1200MK2 - very musical, tracks great, matches with the arm.

@bassdude  Actually, I just used the Technics cartridge jig on the Grado.  Took about 5 minutes!  Eventually I will do a proper alignment with my Feickert . Looks like it will be a little tricky but not impossible.  It sounds fine right now but will probably sound marginally better with a little work.

Timely thread. I have a GR and I run a Nagaoka MP150 with the 200 (boron cantilever) stylus. I think it sounds really good. That said I don’t have much of a field of reference. 

I’d like to go Art9 or maybe the AT33 as previously mentioned. I would recommend the Nags though 👍🏼 (I’d really like to experience more high end carts)

I have a 1200GR. I have used it with the Hana SL Mono, Hana ML, Denon 103R, some Grados, Miyajima, and others. Honestly it responds well to anything you throw at it. I always run the calcs on compliance, and the Miyajimas don’t look like they should work, but I never had an issue. It does use a removable headshell - so it you plan to switch carts you may want to avoid exotic stylus profiles. The Denon would be best in that case. I think the phono stage question is going to be a harder one to answer in this case. I use Bobs Device SUT 1:40 with the Denon, Icon Audio 1:10 with the Hana’s, and run into a Decware Phono Stage. 

You guys that have been using a variety of cartridges - which one(s) do you prefer?

I’ve been focused on Hana and Grado. The Hana, because it gets so many great reviews (as competing with much more expensive cartridges), and the Grado, because I’m a Grado fan (Grado everything), as well as the great reviews.

I’m unlikely to switch between cartridges for different music, because I prefer "all things acoustic" (jazz, classical, country, blues, etc.), and all stereo albums. I focus on clarity, detail resolution, controlled bass...

And... I’m committed to being practical (budget-wise) - will not chase perfection - especially, at the ridiculous prices for some turntables and cartridges - which are very difficult to believe!

I'd consider just getting my Linn Sondek LP12 out and having it serviced and set up - but, it would prolly cost me too much to justify doing that, even though it's like new.  I'm amazed at what they sell for now!  

Just my thoughts / focus right now...

I went from the Hana SH to the AudioTechnica AT33SA - granted not much of a cost difference and granted it's comparing HOMC to LOMC, but imo the AT33SA is the better sounding cartridge.  Maybe the Hana ML would be better, but then it's another leap frog in price.


Honestly, if you have the Linn already, I would have it properly set up and just keep it. Once properly set up, Linn should go for many years without issues. I wouldn’t recommend this if you didn’t have one already. Anyone who says they require constant attention either never owned one or never had one correctly set up. But either way, good luck. BTW - new springs, grommets and a new belt are not expensive. That’s all you would really need unless there is bearing damage. 


"Honestly, if you have the Linn already, I would have it properly set up and just keep it. Once properly set up, Linn should go for many years without issues... new springs, grommets and a new belt are not expensive."


Yeah - that’s what I was thinking, but I assumed that Audio Concepts in Dallas (my Linn Dealer) would be too pricey even for just a new belt and set up. The platter has been off during storage, so and it’s not been moved a lot, so I don’t think it should need anything more, if even that. Maybe some lube for the platter spindle and bearing. It’s not been used much at all (very few hrs) and it’s been disassembled and in storage for years.

Of course, I’d prolly get a new / upgraded cartridge. And, that prolly would be something other than Linn, since they’re too pricey. Don’t know what that would be yet. And... would need a new phono stage. Have no idea what the best price / performance would be there.

But... If I can avoid being "ripped off" by the dealer, that might be the best option.

Which is the primary reason I was considering the SL 1200GR and Hanna cartridges. No chance for that by making the change.


"My friend uses the Grado Opus 3 with that Technics and it sounds damn nice. And the price is right!"

So... what phono stage is he using with it?  Hi or Low output cartridge?

+2 for Nagaoka (MP-150 or higher)

I currently have a Tech 12010GR (1200 in black) and run a Nagaoka MP-200 with GREAT results. I think anything in the Nagaoka line works well with past and present 1200 tables....which is why the 1210GAE comes stock with a new model of Nagaoka cartridge.

I’m using a Ortofon Quintet Black S and A-T VM760SLC, both work well with the SL-1210GR. 

You know I recently saw Frank Shroeder observe that the “two best cartridges in the World” were the Denon 103R and the Audiotechnica AT95 – both inexpensive, practical cartridges. I listened to both on YouTube and in A:B comparisons, they each sounded about the same as cartridges costing many, many times more.

I listened to the A:B comparison between the Denon 103R to the expensive Lyra Delos and could hardly tell a difference between them.  It's a bit surprising how subtle the differences are between many cartridges, including some of the most expensive ones.

So... I'm going to start out with the Denon 103R, and maybe the AT95. I may never need to go any further. They both sound superb.

And... as a few have suggested, I will likely begin with setting up my Linn Sondek again and trying the Denon 103R, before "I plunge into deeper waters."

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My 1200GR sees a Hana ML and a Denon 103R for stereo. For mono it’s Miyajima. For the price, the 103R is a great cartridge. I run it through a SUT - Bobs Devices 1:40. The math doesn’t work but the sound is incredible. I’ve done the 103R with a 1:10 SUT and it was OK but not as dynamic (after compensating for volume). All tube gear after that - Decware phono preamp and Tektron EVO w/ 45 mesh plates currently. 

I know your focus is stereo, but I find where the 1200 really shows it’s stuff is at 78rpm. It’s based on a transcription motor. IMO, if a table can do 78 well, everything else should be easy. 

My Grado Sonata HO is sounding very nice after about 10 hours now. IMO, this would be an excellent choice especially since you play mostly acoustic type stuff.

I have a Denon 103. It sounded just OK on my Technics until I installed it a KAB damper.That tightened up the bass and cleared up the highs on the 103 making it much more engaging. On the other hand, the damper did nothing one way or the other for my Hana EL. The damper is a good investment if you are  planning to use a lot of carts.

I have used Miyajima for mono. I have a Premium for mono vinyl but prefer using a Phasemation. I do use a Miyajima Spirit for 78s. I mostly use the phono on my Luxman 507UX which is quite good. For 78s, I use a mono pre with different EQ settings.

I have an SL1200 Mk5 and use an AT 540ML and could not be happier. Solid sound presentation and easy to set up. Stylus replacement is easy and no worries about loading etc. Phonostage is the one inbuilt into my Parasound Hint 6 and speakers are JBL 4309.

@jagjag how are you liking those jbl 4309's? Do you find them fatiguing in anyway? Also, how is the sibilance on vocals? I'd imagine that with the AT540 and the 4309's it would be quite bright....been reading about those 4309's...the price is reasonable. I don't need  them whatsoever, but I would not mind trying a horn speaker. Alternatively, I could cheap out and buy the klipsch 600m's, but I like the looks of those Jbl's....

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Good day @audioguy85,

I am very happy with the 4309's. My room is small (3m x4m) . Placement is easy. They were AB-ed with a pair of ATC SCM20's. The JBL' s were chosen in 6-0 score in my set up. I used Metallica -Black Album, ACDC -Razors Edge, Loreena McKennit -Visit and Kari Bremness - ?Name for reviewing.  My 4 daughters, wife and myself preferred the JBLs

The signal chain results in a sound I like. I have not detected sibilance, but, maybe its the music I listen to, lots of old school rock and metal. However, not detected on on Loreena McKennitt either. The Klipsch are good for the money but the price difference is reflected in the JBL. Also, in my small room, the back firing port of the Klipsch caused placement issues, even in my heavily treated room. Finally, tested the Klipsch against the JBL to see the benefit of the additional cost.

Speaker cables are a 4 wired Canare and split to biwire at the speaker end. It made a clear difference in sound. The AT 540 cart is very good in this set up. Phono stage is the built in MM stage in the Parasound Hint 6. TT is a KAB modified SL1200MK5 with Cardas tonearm wire, external PSU, strobe off function and and silicone damped trough.

As a second speaker, the Klipsch would do if a back firing port is not an issue. 

Personally I think you should just get your Linn serviced ( not upgraded ) - just cleaned, set up, new oil.

If you have the Linn K9 it is an upgraded Audiotechnica AT95.

You can buy a replacement stylus for the K9 from Expert Stylus that is outstanding and takes the cartridge up significantly in performance.

The Linn Basic cartridge is also an AT95 variant.

For a new cartridge at your price points I would go Grado moving iron - musical and very easy on the ear ( no grain ). MC's will be more demanding on the phono stage.

@ dover

Yes... that's prolly what I'll do initially, until I've decided on the cartridge and phono stage... and... whether 1200GR or 1200G.  

@bassdude 1200GR is all you need to enjoy many wonderful vintage and new carts. Amazing phono pre like JLTI will load both MC and MM for around $1750 from Australia.

Technics seen here in my system