Get a Hana mc cartridge. Either a LE or LS, depending upon budget ($500 & $700). Add a Bellari SUT if the MF phono stage lacks a mc gain option.
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@uncrocco - here’s a list of all my uprgades to a Rega Planar 2 (30+ years old)
Best bang for the buck...
- Acrylic Platter + Damping ring
- ISOsub GT 2 S UPGRADE SUB PLATTER
These tweaks will allow you to hear the current performance level of your existing cartridge/phono stage. Without them you will not hear the best from yout cartridge.
There are many different brands out there - so shop around
If you really want to start with a phono stage upgrade - take a look at the Simaudio Moon lineup...
The offer exceptional resolution from most cartridges
The Audiomods arm is a superb addition to any Rega, but a more expensive option.
Another tweak is a plinth upgrade like this one
Again - there are many, so shop around
It’s taken a long time to discover the various tweaks + a lot of cash - it was a fun journey, but if I had my time over - I would opt for a VPI turntable over all of the various tweaks.
But the one nice thing about Rega - I think they probably have the most third party upgrades of any turntable out there - s the selection is huge
Hope that wets your appetite :-)
Regards - Steve
All you need is a decent MM or MI with nice stylus profile and stylus replacement. This is the best choice for your turntable, your tonearm and your phono stage.
Do you know that any MC cartridge must be re-tipped every 600 hrs (average) and it’s quite expensive, time consuming.
Most of the MC require expensive phono stage with different loading options or even an external SUT to work well. High Output MC are inferior compared to low output MC and must be avoided. Moving Coil cartridges are very sensitive to the cables (shield). You can cause only more problems by using MC cartridges if you’re not an experienced audiophile. Also with your entry level turntable it does not make sense at all (in my opinion) to spend more that $400 on a cartridge, but with this budget you can buy a stellar MM or some inferior MC (not counting an MC phono stage on top of it).
The MM or MI/IM is the best choice for you, really. But chosing an MM and MI is also very important if you want the best one. Read this article firsrt.
Just stay away from the MC cartridges (my best advice).
Most of the MM are neutral compoared to colored MC, the MM/MI are better trackers (higher compliance), easy to use, and stylus can be replaced by a user in 10 seconds. I'm a big fan of the vintage MM/MI from the 80's.
And from the MC side of the fence- I opted to go the Moving coil route after several MM carts failed to impress.
I could not believe the improvements my $229 Denon DL103, with a sherical stlus, using a Cambridge Audio phono stage achieved over the Rega MI carts and Goldring MM carts - even my Nagoka paled in comparison to the Denon - all using the same phono stage
I now use the Soundsmith modified Denon DL103, with an Optimized Contour Contact Line stylus. I have a Simaudio Moon LP5.3RS phono stage and the sound is extremely detailed and well balanced
The amount of playing time before replacing the stylus varies so much, depending on lots of criteria specific to every turntable/arm/cartridge combo, but 1000 hours is probably closer to the mark on a well setup turntable - some poeple have gone as long as 1500 hours. On a poorly setup turntable, any stylus regardless of cartridge type can wear out after 600 hours.
Regardless of whether you go the MM/MI or MC route - I would highly recommend getting a good (i.e. configurable) phono stage - it will last you the rest of your days, provide much better performance and will be a better match to a wide variety of cartridges, should you want to try them. Something like the Simaudio Moon 110 LP is a great buy. The 310Lp is even better
Just another opinion :-)
Regards - Steve
1000 hours is probably closer to the mark on a well setup turntable
This is true if the stylus is very expensive MicroRidge or LineContact or related, for average Elliptical stylus the lifespan is short (for conical is even shorter). But for a nice reproduction of music Elliptical is good and easily can be replaced by user himself in 10 seconds. Some great MM like Stanton 881s or Pickering XSV-300 have Stereohedron stylus (one of the best profile ever) and the price for the whole new cartridge with this LineContact type profile is cheaper than SoundSmith charge for re-tip.
Sending a cartridge to re-tipper for a begginer is a PITA