What defines a high compliance cartridge vs low

This question has two parts and derives from the recent tone arm thread.
What do you think is a highly complant cartridge specification? What would be a low or resistant compliance figure? Where does one draw the line in terms of the specs provided?
Knowing that tone arm mass and compliance are important considerations for optimal performance, then what formula, or ratio do you use for optimal tone arm mass for a given compliance? Or Vice Versa?
High compliance in the old days was 50 or better. These days I would say anything over 25 would be high. Under ten would be low. There is no absolute standard and as you see it changes with time. The relationship between arm mass and cartridge compliance will determine the resonance of the combination. I have usually seen figures between 10 and 20 Hz given as desirable. Too low to interfere with musical signal and too high to cause low frequency problems. The formula for determining resonance frequency is on Vinyl Engine in a far more complete form than I could attempt here. I have noticed that many on here pay little attention to it, using fairly high compliance MM cartridges in quite heavy arm or low compliance MCs in lower mass arms so they should be taken as guidelines rather than commandments.
There are very few high compliance cartridges left. Designers of moderately priced cartridges are using the Rega and VPI arms as design centers and at approximately 9 and 8 grams of effective mass these are medium mass arms.

I think that there is a focus on primary resonance simply because it is fairly easy to calculate, but the final sound is affected much more by arm/cartridge resonances that are higher in frequency than the primary resonance of the moving system. It's one more case of the wrong thing being easy to measure and the right thing being very hard to quantify.
Stanwal, Viridian,
Thank you both. this is a long reply It boils down to this.
Is the Music Hall MMF-5 packaged arm/cartride poorly thought out or just poor stuff?
I hope and think that the cartridges that came with my tables both on the low end of "high end". Were both matched well with it's tone arm. But there is a problem.
One is a Music Hall MMF-5 with the Goldring MM cartridge 1042 . It doesn't sound even remotely as fantastic as as my other table. The phono for the MMF-5 is a lttle known but reportedly very good Australian RedGum am SS with dips which I set by sound not by impedance load issue. it should be the best sounding correct?? Then onto a Jadis DA-60 with rolled rubes. It drives VS VR2s. The room is well damped and sounds good with othert sources digital linear 120 CD player and an analog Sansui TU 717 tuner or a refurbed Sherwood all tube S-3000. There appears to be little flexibility except changing carts i.e. It has no arm board.
The second is a standard VPI package. It is a Scout That was set up in the factory and slightly adjusted by the dealer . It has JMW 9 arm with Dynevector 20X HO into Graham Slee Graham Amp 2SE into a upgraded AE-3 by AES then into a pair of Opera Consonance Cyber 800 monoblocks driving JM Focal Electra 936s. Tweaked with excellent tubes etc. I left out cabling intentionally.
The sound is absolutley stupendous to me utterly fabulous, without using audio descriptors it is Nirvana and see no real need to upgrade this system except for minor tweaks.
The room is big and less well damped.
So what can I do about Music Halls selection of arm and cartridge. It is quote a musical sound which is pleasant but I will confess my sins I like the the "wow" or damn that sounds good factor. Is that cart a POS? I know it costs about a quarter of the VPI. What compliance for the replacement would give me detail clarity and wow. The rest of the gear as you see is fairly good stuff.
The tubes alone are very special and an investment, an Octet or GL reissue kt-88s 3 12au7s which are 7316s 1960,
and a pair of 12ax 7 rolled to triple mica blackplate Sylvania 5751s. All tested by me and are good except the Octect whic came from Jim McShane.
I don't see putting a new cartridge on the Music Hall. It's like putting new tires on a car that you don't like. The 1042 is well regarded, so I don't think that is the issue. You may need to spend a bit more money to get there though. I would sell the Music Hall. You should be able to get a fair amount for it as they are popular. Again, just my opinion, but I would replace it with a Rega P3. It is a classic, and it has that wow factor.

As an aside, I am looking for a AE-3 to purchase. Would you be so kind as to share what mods you have done to it? Or is it the factory upgrades? Feel free to contact me directly if that is more convenient.
The mods were done for me by my friend Vytas Viesulas. He is the engineer behind. The $15,000 Veloce Battery power preamp and he is now working with an actual employee.
You can try to reach him through their website. He patterned the mod to make it a " DJH Signature" except with SS rectification I think.
The mods were mainly expensive Blackgates and Mundorf caps, and better fast acting slow recovery Hexfreds.
He romved an extra unused circuit (wire that accomplished nothing) and used audiophile wire through out.
The strangest thing was that we were both afraid it would change the great sound. When he came to deliver it. The outcome was that it's remarkable sonics were just as good even without breakin. I can't say it was better than the great preamp before mods. How do make a great thing better.
I am truly surprised that they stopped making them. They get bought in one day. If you pony up $1200 Upscale Audio has some souped up brand new ones.
The critical point with this pre is that it needs good 6SN7s which is actually why I bought it. I wanted a pre that used 6SN7s because I had a large collection. It is in the gain stage, sp I can hear the drifferences in their sound. Even though I had tubes that tested NOS or ANOS, I found that many were quite microphonic or noisy.
If you buy yours from Kevin Deal at Upscale, he also has quite a large collection of tested tubes for importantly microphonics.
I own many 6SN7s and the winner is.... the Brimar 6SN7GTY CV1988. The sad new is I couldn't make up . So I chose some Metal based Sylvania 6SN7Ws. Kevin may have the commercial version of it which I also have and is as good or better but they are NIB and really NOS.
I don't want to use them up until I can get another pair. They have the Chrome about 1/2 to 2/3 down "the Chrome Dome." It is a very early version marked as a 6SN7 not even GT ans Sylvania on the black base.
I bought my AE-3 used for $350, the tubes are valued for more. I think original was $500 or so. It was 4-5 years old and I paid 70% and was happy to get it.
Good luck
Disclamer As always I get nothing from any merchant I mention No other conflict of interest
Looking at the specs for the Redgum phono stage,I personally think that the R.I.A.A curve is not really flat(+/- 0.5) and going down to 10Hz might be too sensitive at the lower end of the scale for M.M.Do they the roll-off at 35Khz? The competing Project S.E Phono looks better on paper,much flatter R.I.A.A( no more than 0.3dB fluctuation all up across 20Hz to 20Khz))with impedance adjustment as well.I think the phono stage is the issue given they sell the table with the Goldring M.M.
Interesting figures above. FWIW; Anything under 10g is considered LOW MASS, and if a cartridge had a compliance of 50; it would be considered Stratospheric(high compliance STARTS at 20, and the charts only go to 50). I don't know about, "the Old Days", but none of the figures have changed since 1980. Here's a site that gives the formulas you need, and some pertinent info: ( http://www.gcaudio.com/resources/howtos/tonearmcartridge.html ) and another, that you may find useful: ( http://www.vinylengine.com/cartridge_database.php?m=Denon&t=mc&mod=103d&sort=1&Search=Search&sty=&ovlo=&ovhi=&can=&dclo=&dchi=&stid=&masslo=&masshi=¬es=&prlo=&prhi= ) Another point that many miss: Compliance varies with frequency. Another helpful site: ( http://www.resfreq.com/resonancecalculator.html )
Mechans, thanks so much for the detail; it is greatly appreciated.
Thanks to all,
Rodman thanks for the links, but essentially I can't do much to change the arm on the MMF-5 so I will sell it some day when and if I can afford a second MC system.
Stefani thanks for the details on the RedGum. I don't hear any roll off with these speakers. VR2s don't produce the lowest bass.
They are very good speakers but were the smallest floor standers in the VS VR line at the time. They were bought for WAF and the fit and finish . The lightly patterned maple veneer is still mint despite kids and about 10 years of use.
However they are probably not the best match for the superb DA-60. I still recommend them because they are an incredible bargain. I heard that some were manufactured in China some time after I bought mine which are USA made in San Diego.
In fact there HAS been a considerable reduction in compliance since 1980; you can see this by looking at Shure cartridges using the old HiFi Choice tests, the most exhaustive ones ever done. The Shure V-15 3 was measured in 1977 as having a compliance of 40; by 1980 the V-15 3 HE had risen to 53. But in the same issue the Type 4 was only 32. And in 1982 the type V was measured at 25, half that of the 3 HE. In the late 70s the compliance race that had been going on for years reached its climax and retreated to the more sensible levels we see now. In earlier days even many MCs like the Dynavector had compliance's above 25.
Dear Mechants: I don't have nothing to add on what other people posted other that could be nice and a " surprise " to you if you try/test that Goldring 1042 cartridge in the VPI set up.
That cartridge has a lot better quality performance that you think and that the today set up preclude to shows you.

Regards and enjoy the music,
Stanwal- At what frequencies were those compliance readings taken? Everything changes DRAMATICALLY, when read at say, 100Hz as compared to 1k or 10kHz. Read the info available at the last site I recommended, as to compliance ratings. The REALLY important compliance reading, re: tonearm/cartridge resonance, should start at 10Hz.