Upgrading cartridge used or new?

I am in process to upgrade my analog setup starting from replacing my DV 10x5 with an step up one from DV or other make.
My TT rega P5.

On my journey I had hear mixed things about buying used, a much better cartridge or just pay same amount for a brand new lower end one.

Some dealers said you never know the history of a used cartridge, so you must believe the always magic # from the seller of 100 hours on it, plus vinyls condition that was expose to, etc.

While the new even if lower end is a solid secure step.

I would like to hear your exp about buying cartridges on used market.

As always must appreciate all your time to share your comments.

You will get responces from both sides, those that have had bad luck buying used, and those that have had the opposite experience.

My only purchase of a used cartridge was of a Dynavector XX2MKII. The ad specified the cartridge as having only 10 hours on it. I bought it, and 7 years later, I am still using it. The seller's claim of 10 hours was true, as the cartridge still hadn't broken in yet. It's poerformance improved after break-in, as it should have.

So, my experience was a positve one. I saved $850 over the price of new. If you decide to buy used, make sure to check the member's feedback first (obvious). YMMV

Good luck,
Unless you can confirm the history of the cart., I would buy new. Their too easy to damage. At one point I had the 10x5 and upgraded to the low output version of the 20 and found it was a big improvement. Just make sure that your phono pre can handle a low output cart.
I bought a used Dynavector 20 cartridge a few years ago off the Gon. The seller claimed it had very low use. When I installed the cartridge, I found that the suspension was completely collapsed and as a result, the bottom of the cartridge would scrape on the record. I sold it as a damaged cartridge needing a suspension for a song and really lost my shirt on that one. Now, I only buy brand new cartridges.
I've purchased many cartridges over the years, some new, some used. I've never had a bad experience when buying new. I have had good and bad experiences when buying used. Buying used is always a gamble, but even more so with cartridges than typical gear. It's a risk, whether it is worth it or not, only you can answer. Are you feeling lucky??? ;)
Well, I've bought three used cartridges, and I've had nothing but good luck.
All three were in great shape. (Admittedly one was from a friend, so that one might not count.)

My recommendation is to research who you're buying from, (check their feedback and if the post regularly), and speak to them on the phone.

Good luck!
I have had no problem buying used. My best experience, a low hours Koetsu Roseawwod Signature for $950, on the gon. I used it for 3 trouble free years and sold it as used, for only a little less than I paid for it. Clearly there are risks, but that is reflected in the low price for second hand cartridges.
No way! Would you buy used tires for your car? Why take a chance and ruin your vinyl with someones old clunker?
So far the mixed opinions continue along the discussion, I am thankful that all of you are taking your precious time to write about your experience shopping for cartridges, such a delicate important part in our hobby.
Hi, Mountainsong; the replies you get aren't necessarily going to reflect the overall opinions on buying new or used. It's a limited sample of people that are willing to take the time to reply. But you probably already knew that.

The question you should ask yourself is: Am I willing to take a chance on buying used in order to get a cartridge that I couldn't afford otherwise? And, if the used cartridge shows up damaged, am I willing to then have to spend even more money to either repair it or buy another cartridge? (Some sellers will allow you to return the cartridge, but then they’re at risk because you might have damaged the cartridge.)

It’s a gamble, and you have to be willing to accept the outcome if you lose. I tried buying used cartridges twice and both times they were damaged. I was able to return one and got stuck with the other. So I didn’t save any money and actually spent more money than if I’d just purchased a new cartridge in the first place. I won’t ever buy a used cartridge again unless I know and trust the seller. And I want a money-back guarantee that the cartridge is in the stated condition.

Good luck if you buy used. :-)

Buying a used cartridge is a lot like buying a used toothbrush! I have purchased two used cartridges in the past. Each was re-tipped quickly.
An honest seller, would reimburse you, if not satisfied.
I have purchased a couple of dozen used cartridges over the years. I have never had one arrive DOA or sound anything but how it should. I have also purchased hi end cartridges with broken cantilevers and had them repaired by soundsmith. Each works extremely well.

Recommendations to only buy new from people who only buy new are useless. Listen to those with experience in the area you are asking about and then decide. I could never afford the cartridges I use if I had bought new.
"01-13-13: Yogiboy
No way! Would you buy used tires for your car? Why take a chance and ruin your vinyl with someones old clunker?"

Some audiophile. I would absolutely buy used tires. You can take the money you save and buy a better cartridge. Better yet, when the tires blow out, you get new shoes. Allows for an even better cartridge.

Some people just talk crazy.
That is the only item a dealer does not take on a trade. I wonder why?
Zd542,forget new shoes,just go barefoot and get even better than better.

Do I have to explain everything to you? You don't buy new shoes, you make them with the blown out tires. Just make sure that the exposed steel belts are facing down and not up so you don't cut your feet.
Middle ground- buy used cart from dealer who has excellent feedback.
Like Manitunc, I have purchased many, more than 50, used cartridges over the past few years and only one was defective. My vinyl sounds as good today as then. My experience is positive.

It really depends on YOUR personal risk tolerance. Some can't imagine using a used cartridge and others like myself are OK. Some only buy from large established companies and others are fine with small boutique companies who may go out of business next week.

Which one are you?
I forgot to mention most of my purchases were 20 to 30 year old MM/MI cartridges, which most safe people will say not to purchase due to age of the suspension.

BTW, the Technics 205 did have a bad suspension upon arrival and an Azden 50pl suspension failed after a couple of months, so they are not completely wrong. 2 out of 50+.

I would not buy any cartridge, new or used, without being able to return it if defective.

Good Luck!
Like Acman......I too have bought over 30 styli and cartridges during the last 2 years and had only two of those arrive defective.
Most were also 30 year old MM vintage cartridges with the average price around $250..... although one was a $900 vintage MM and one was a $1200 much prized vintage LOMC with known defective stylus which I subsequently had replaced.
Many of these cartridges equal the performances of my favourite brand new LOMCs like the ZYX UNIverse and Dynavector XV-1s.
There are many contributors to the MM Thread here on A'Gon with similar positive experiences.
A large number of the cartridges I have bought are NOS and have 'visually' been confirmed as having no (or little) use.
I have no qualms about continuing this method of cartridge acquisition.....and can recommend it.....if you know what you are doing?
With my addiction out for all to see, I only can find 43, but I refuse to look in any more drawers.;)
because most dealers have no idea about vinyl or anything to do with it, and are afraid of cartridges because of the same biases we see here. So, good for me. I will continue to buy and listen to great used cartridges cheap.

By the way, most of my purchases are also 20 to 30 year old LOMC.
01-14-13: Manitunc
By the way, most of my purchases are also 20 to 30 year old LOMC.

Do you have them re-built when you buy them Manitunc? I would think that most cartridges suspension would be shot after 20 or 30 years, even if the needle itself is in good condition.
I think Swampwalder's advice is spot on. That is what I did and have been very happy with this decision. Eventually, due to my own carelessness, I had the cartridge sent to soundsmith for a new cantlever/tip (bent it) and that was also an excellent decision.
No, I don't have to get them rebuilt. They work great as is. This idea of suspensions failing is non existent in my experience and fostered by those who do not know better, or have some agenda.

But, hey, buy new, and sell to me in a couple of years.
NEW! A cartridge is way too dlicate to get used
It is a gamble and would be a hit or miss.
I've bought 5 or so used cartridges/stylus in the past 10 years, and 4 were pretty good and 1 was defective. Still, I paid for less than a third of the new price for each, so it worked for me.
The most important thing is to buying one from an honest and reputable seller.
Those of us who buy second hand know, or should know, what we are doing, risking. As Ilcho says, the rewards can be very great indeed, 33% or less, of the retail price, for a cartridge not even run in yet. That's worth a bit of a gamble, for me anyway. If it's not worth the risk to you, that's fine too. More chance for me to snap up a bargain
How many of the members who avoid used cartridges have actually worn out a MC cartridge, or had the suspension fail and of those, how many hours did they get out of their stylus.
I'm not interested in what you have heard, or recommendations, but actual failures due to wear, not breakage.
I have never had a suspension failure. I used a Koetsu Rosewood almost daily for 3 years and absolutely wore out the stylus, about 3000+hours. After a $250 retip, it sounded as good as new
I had one that I bought new that wore out in about 5 years. It happened so gradually that I didn't really notice it until I changed to another less expensive model cartridge in the same line. Then I tried to re-mount the old cartridge again and it just didn't sound good at all. I don't have a microscope, so I can't say if it was the stylus of the suspension that was the problem, it just sounded lifeless and sluggish compared to the new one.

I also remember buying a used cartridge that I thought just didn't sound good to me, so I turned around and re-sold it, like I do with other gear that I don't care for the sound of. The person I sold it to told me that it was shot, that he could see under a microscope how worn the stylus was.
You buy used cartridge in two cases:

1. You like a particular cartridge a lot but can't afford it new. Instead of waiting for years to save and buy a new one, I would say just buy a used one from a well rated seller.

2. You are in that evaluation mode where you buy and sell cartridge in quick succession. No point buying a new cart, breaking it in to evaluate and then sell it for 40% loss.

Otherwise there is a certain peace of mind one gets when you buy a brand new cartridge from a authorized dealer and enjoy the complete process of setup, burn in and there on.
Perfect timing ! I`m going through this right now. Bought used..not working out so well :( I posted a thread complete with pictures over on AA in the VINYL section if interested.
Forgot to mention the Thread`s Title over on AA.."Should I be Concerned About This Cartidge???"
Might help someone contemplating a used purchase.
I've bought many used carties from A'gon members who had solid member feedback. Never had a problem. My favorite is the Sound Smith VPI Zephyr which I bought used from a member. Ran it out twice and Peter Ledermann re-tipped it -- twice. Each time it came back good as new.

Because I'm bored, I'll probably be looking for a new carty in the next couple of months. I have no intention of paying a full retail small fortune on a new carty for all the reasons expressed above by my fellow adventure takers.

Also, I have two other reasons for not paying a lot for a carty. One - carties wear out. Period! One member said he ran his carty out for 3000+ hours. The neighborhood dogs must have been howling.

Peter Ledermann told me that a carty should be checked on a periodic basis. I forget how frequently. IMO and E, not much longer than 1500 hours. Peter told me the last time he re-tipped my Zephyr that I had an AS problem because the stylus was excessively worn on one side.

But the real issue with this point is that if you divide the cost of a carty by the number of hours you can reasonably expect to use it, you'll see how much your vinyl habit costs on an hourly basis. It adds up.

Two -- carties break. A couple of years ago I bought a used Clearaudio Maestro for about $500, which was 50% of the then retail price. The carty was fine. One day I came down to play some vinyl and the carty slid across the record. The whole cantilever went AWOL. Never found it. The Maestro now retails for $1200. I almost passed out when I lost $500. If my loss was $1200, I'd have a conniption. Fortunately, I sold it AS IS to a member on spec. He paid me what he thought it was worth.

BTW, one member who I respect a lot owns a Benz LPS. That sucka costs $5000!! Take that number and divide it by 2000 hours. And what if one day, his Benz LPS cantilever elopes with my Maestro cantilever. Uuuhhmm.

So I vote, buy used to tap down the cost of the carty. And buy used only from members with excellant feedback. And just be prepared for the possibility that your cantilever may go AWOL and then have a chuckle that at least you didn't pay retail.
01-13-13: Swampwalker
'Middle ground- buy used cart from dealer who has excellent feedback.'
That was one criteria I had when I bought a Dyna 17D3 recently..It`s not panning out well at all.

01-13-13: Acman3
'....I would not buy any cartridge, new or used, without being able to return it if defective.'
In my case the seller (DEALER) claims that the cartridge was PERFECT when it was sent out so therefore I must have damaged it and he considers the sale FINAL.

01-13-13: Thommas
An honest seller, would reimburse you, if not satisfied.
Hmmm define HONEST ! I`ve sent an email out to him to see if he`ll work with me on making it right, even offering to apply the purchase toward another used cartridge...No response as of yet.

I have bought used cartridges in the past too as have others here and up until this deal have been very satisfied.
This purchase btw was from a respected high profile member/DEALER of this site and others like it.
Never ever expected this..caught me by surprise I`ll say that much.
This is my contribution to a thread that like I said couldn`t have come at a better time.

And...I wish Audiogon would allow pics..unless I`m overlooking something here.
But if interested, have a peek at the pics over on AA..might just save you some grief in the future !

Steve- Bummer. Have you thought about posting a dispute, which would reveal the name of the other party to the public?
Steve I started this thread with no idea it will turn in such debate about cartridge purchasing strategies and experiences.
You have made lots of contribution,
01-22-13: Swampwalker
Steve- Bummer. Have you thought about posting a dispute, which would reveal the name of the other party to the public?

I really don`t know if that would be appropriate. I became aware of the cartridge here in the Analog Forum of Audiogon due to another members mention of it being listed for sale over on the AA site. Even though, as I mentioned, he does market his wares here routinely I`m not sure that would be the right move.
That`s got me wondering now, Why he didn`t post it up for sale here ?? Could it be that Audiogon members are too discerning to pull off a stunt like that !? and risk damaging his FEED BACK RATING ??

His name and business may come to light in some fashion or another,,but I`m giving him ample time to get back to me as I`m sure he`s watching how this plays out.
Who knows.


01-22-13: Mountainsong
Steve I started this thread with no idea it will turn in such debate about cartridge purchasing strategies and experiences.
You have made lots of contribution,

Thank you for a timely platform to voice an opinion on the matter !
This forum is my 'go to' for anything AUDIO I`m generally a passive observer content to sit on the sidelines reading and learning..but this is one of those rare times that I`ve said anything.

The thread on AA has slowly drifted off the main page but for anyone here want`s to see what a mess I was sold, just scan along in the VINYL section and look for ..."Should I Be Concerned About This Cartridge ???"
Mountainsong, just like every other question in this hobby, or even in life, you will never get a clear cut consensus answer. Too many varied experiences. It's a gamble, like with most things in life, the question is, is it worth the risk to you? Others can say whether or not the risk is worthwhile to them, but only you can determine if the risk is worthwhile to you.

Buying used is a higher risk, higher reward alternative to buying new. As with any investment, some will love the high risk, high reward option, while others will not. It all comes down to one question: Do you feel lucky? Well do ya punk?

LOL! Sorry for channeling my inner Clint Eastwood.

Hey, buying is a risk. I just bought some used speaker cables that arrived DOA. I've also had new gear have problems too, though usually there is a warranty with new. That's life in the big city.
I've taken the risk 5 times now on used cartridges here on Audiogon, over the past 3 years -- Benz's and Koetsus; not cheap endeavors. Also bought a few used from local friends. And bought a couple new from an authorized dealer. All turned out to be extremely nice cartridges! And of course I've sold some of my used cartridges, that I know for a fact were very very nice. I love trying cartridges! They have more impact on system sound than any other component besides speakers, and they're a hell of a lot easier to ship & install (I'm not into small speakers). I wouldn't have done this experimentation if my only option were to pay a dealer the new-cartridge prices.

Most audigon sellers/buyers are honest, and I've been banking on that. You do have to mentally run though the scenario of: "what if I get nothing in return for this purchase". If you're not able to deal with that possibility, then don't buy used. If you want to try a number of cartridges in your system over time, then clearly the used route should work out heavily to your favor.
Used cartridge good luck Dude!!
When I started this audio hobby years ago, I tried many low end cartridges just to get different flavors. Then the cartridge trade-in programs offered by many brands really helped me.

I would trade in my old one for the new one that I want to try. Once I find the brand that I like, I stick with that brand. When higher end models come out from that brand, I would trade up again. That way you save some money along the way and you get brand new cartridges. Additionally, your system has been tuned to the house sound of that brand. You are then assured that the new cartridge will fit your system sonically.

Of course, buying used is cheaper, but I don't like to take the risk. That said, I did sell used cartridges in the past and I have been honest to the buyers.

Buying used from a friend will be a good option as it is less risky. I agree that most Audiogon members are honest. I would also say that owners of very high end cartridges are very careful because who would want to ruin their $10k cartridges and end up with lower resale value. So buying used high end cartridges might not be as risky as you think.

I don't buy used cartridge especially if I want to keep the cartridge for quite some time. You really don't know the remaining life of a used cartridge, let alone a broken one.
I have bought many cartridge used over the years (mainly fitted to Rega decks that I have purchased), and on only a couple of occasions can I say that I had a worn out cartridge. People change cartridge frequently looking for a better sound, so often the cartridge has not had enough use to wear it out, though I would never spend a lot of money on one, and when you get it, only try it out on non-precious vinyl first before committing it to your collection. You will soon know if the stylus is worn, it is unlikely to track very well, can sound very rough (though this can be like this if the cartridge if a low cost one anyway), and lack detail in the high frequencies because the stylus cannot track into those undulations any more.
Some sellers show magnified images of the stylus showing how unworn the stylus is; If the image is genuine then this would be a good way of knowing, but you cannot trust this, and must go on the reputation of the seller more than what is shown or written in a listing. If the seller sells hi-fi, look on their feedback to see if they have sold many cartridges and had good feedback for them, indicating that they have morals and won't sell worn ones.
You can get a really good cartridge for much less than a new one of you are careful.

I hope this helps you.

Rge Spares by SoundsSupreme