VPI Classic Cartridge Help

Soon I will be purchasing a VPI Classic and an considering Cart choices. I would like to stick with a $5-700 price range initially. My current rig is a Rega Planar 2 with Ortofon Blue. I purchase a lot of used records at used record stores, thrift stores, etc and wondered about playing these records with a more expensive cartridge. I clean with a VPI RCM but am concerned about beating up a good cart. with "rough" records that have some scratches. Is there any particular cart or stylus type that I should consider? I wanted to order the VPI with the cart installed at the factory and have it checked by the dealer- I think that narrows the choice of cart. manufacturers.

The rest of my system: B&W 802D, Spectron amp, Cary SLP03 Preamp.
Forgot to mention: Phono preamp is a Whest TWO
I think that VPI offers the Dynavector DV-20 pre mounted as an option. I would suggest you upgrade to the Karate. It is a cartridge that far surpasses its modest price range.
VPI also offers Grado woodie carts specially constructed for them. Harry W. of VPI knows what works well on his tables. Also, I recently heard a Soundsmith Aida on a Classic, and it was quite beautiful.

Have you considered an Audio Technica? Maybe an OC9ML? Quite good for the money, IMO one of the best under $1000.

I have not heard any of the Soundsmith carts, but they have a very good reputation.
Benz Ebony LP or Dyna XVS.
shelter 7000 or 5000, dyna xv1s
The Clearaudio Virtuoso(and Maestro) Wood Cartridges work very nicely with the JMW arms.I know that Harry recommended the Dynavector 20x and the Sumiko Blackbird to me when I was using a Scoutmaster.
I think it's not so much a question of what Cartridge will work well with the JMW Arm, but what will ideally work with the WestTWO Phono Stage?

Keep in mind gents, the OP stated a Cartridge between $5-$700, not $5K-$7K. :-)

Only by reading the review on Whest's site, did I find enough info about gain, and loading, to see there are only a few options for each. And as it's been mentioned on the review, is a shortcoming of the WhestTwo, in that it appears to offer only 3 gain, and 3 loading settings.

So, with that said, it appears most MM's wouldn't be a problem, with gain at 40db, and a default loading of 47K. Provided there's no compliance issues, seems that many nice MM's could be a candidate. I know many might frown on an MM, thinking that the Classic does perhaps deserve, and can make use of more expensive MC's.

The other options, that could perhaps make use of the Whest's MM settings, would be a hi-output MC? (Say such like a Benz HO Ace, Glider, etc?) I am not sure?

Seems like there's a huge "hole" between 40db, and 65db-70db. Thus perhaps eliminating many med output MC's?

As for a fine low output MC, here's where there might be difficulty, finding optimum loading, rather than finding optimum gain per given cartridge.

>09-05-10: Sounds_real_audio
I would suggest you upgrade to the Karate. It is a cartridge that far surpasses its modest price range<<

Well first, soundsreally is a Dynavector retailer and needs to disclose a financial interest when recommending a product he sells.

And second, it's Karat not Karate.

You'd think a retailer would know his line well enough to identify the product correctly.

Or not.

Dealer disclaimer
Dynavector over Shelter unless you want a "tipped up" bottom and top end.The Sumiko is good at that price too.Benz I am not sure at the price point.One thing you might consider if your a heavy original jazz collector or buying the mono 45 rpm re-issues is getting a mono cart and having it do the duty for beaters.For me that works and Grado Sonata while not last word in resolution can be gotten in mono.Trying to think of others in that price range (if I could swing it I would have a mono Lyra Helikon myself but that's 4 times price).Get the Dyna.If you could swing it Karat 17D would be great but it is pretty delicate.Another shot would be cheap Denon DL103 a perennial budget champ and then save for a Cart in $750 to $1500 (or twice that) to match the rest of your system which would be my choice for clean LP's.It's the cart and good stage that will give you most sound quality.Depends on how much wax your gonna play clean but that a damn fine system and a fine deck your getting.Cheap for beaters and latter an extra 10.5 arm tube and cart.Gotta lay off the espresso on days off.
The AT 33 EV is even better than the OC 9 and is occasionally available at J&R for $400. I currently have a Denon 304 in my Classic.
The Classic will come with a Stylus Force Scale (Shure), and a VPI Cartridge Alignment Jig. If you can set up a Cartridge like the Ortofon Blue, you could set up a Koetsu Coralstone as well.

If you've liked the Ortofon Blue, found it's output adequate for the Whest, then perhaps swap it onto the VPI, or one could move up the Ortofon line with a similar output? (Black, or?)

Actually none of us savor the thought of Cartridge set up, it is time consuming, and very delicate work with a possibility of Fubar, especially with a Unipivot Arm, which balances on the head of a single Pin Pivot.

If you do feel safer though, letting a dealer set it up, I would at least ask them if you could perhaps be present to watch-witness installation/set up, so you have an understanding of what is being done, and why.

The more you know about your table-arm, the better. Mark
Could someone provide a link to J&R? This is not the first time I've seen them referenced. Looks like they have good prices.

I prefer a factory mount or a good local dealer to do the work and check the specs for me. That said, I did purchase the DVD from Michael Fremer on turntable setup so I can understand and potentially get involved in changing cart. I would feel the most comfortable starting with the Ortofon Blue for comparison and then moving forward from there once the difference can be heard. But I would lose the advantage/convenience of having a factory mount. Perhaps the dealer would mount the Ortofon for a small fee or free due to the table purchase. As I understand it the Whest can be configured for almost any load but a call to then is necessary for the settings. Generally how are the MM and MC different?
Dear Markd51, thanks for the link.
I have excellent results from a used Dynavector Karat D3 Mk II for $300-$400 on my VPI Classic. I love the sound and is a huge bang for the buck cartidge even for the new Mk III $900 if you must have a new one. That will be my next probably or another used one.
what's wrong with the rega?
Jaybo- Its funny you ask.......Nothing actually. Guess I viewed the Rega as the entry level start. I wanted to upgrade my vinyl rig and honestly felt that I would have to move much higher up the scale to hear a big improvemeent. Also the Classic would hold its value quite well and I could bail out later and not lose so much. Also was looking at the Scout. I considered upgrading the cart to a Orfofon Black and just enjoy that for a while. I seems auditioning turntables is not a popular idea so thats one thing that makes the decision a little shaky.
I had the Scout and sold for the Classic. Beleive me it's more than twice as good because now I know what they mean close to the master tape. it's rock solid sound and blacker background with low noise floor are quite astonishing and make it a great value if you get one used. I bought before the price hike and at $2750 it's still a good deal but a lot of cash. If you are talking $2K then it's a steal and it will be my final table. I owned an earlier TNT and the Scout but this is perfect for me in every way, and couldn't wish for anything more.
i have VPI classic/dyna17D3/Vpi Hr-x clamp/vpi outer ring and they sound great, i felt clamp and outer ring is a must, it put so much weight in the music.
about close to 100hrs playing, sounding better and better, i waiting for the VTF ring so i could move to 2 to 2.2g, now is max out at 1.95g
I am using what Csng1 is and couldn't agree more.
What does the outer ring do?
St11 14
the outer ring help to flatten the LP just like the clamp, it make the music sound more weight and don't really have words for it, i took the advise from someone that said even if you decide to sell in 2 to 3 year time, most likely your depreciation is about 25% as this is stainless steel, maybe price will continue to go up. i don't find it troublesome at all, it actually looks very nice.
i got good price from my deal VPI HRX-clamp and outer ring for C$660 plus taxes
I'll add Lyra Delos to this list.
Csng1 is correct and the ring is expensive due to the size and scrap to manufacture. It is comparable to the Sota vacuum platter without the complexity and reliability. It is truly awesome and after 2 other VPI tables the classic with accessories is truly my last analog table. I am a believer of closer to the master tape of retrieval and could not consider spending more or settling for less.
is there anymore upgrade to improve?

Why don't you ust use the Ortofon blue untill you can get a better cart. The VPI Classic deserves a better cart.