What is the best MM or Hi Output MC cart for $250?


I have an older Rega Planar 3 TT with an Accutex MM cartridge and a Bellari VP129 MM phono stage and think I may be overdue for a new cartridge. It still sounds very good, but how do you know when its time for a new cartridge and what is the best one that would work with the Bellari MM phono stage for $250 or less?
Thanks for your replies.
Louis
lou_setriodes
Audio-Technica Cartridge: 150 MLX seems to be a popular choice for a lot of members.

While this place has them http://www.needledoctor.com/Audio-Technica-Cartridge-150-MLX?sc=2&category=363 I am sure members might be able to tell you where to get one cheaper.
Goldring 1012 GX
I second the AT150
JR.com has the AT150 for $250.

You should also check out the Denon DL-160 HOMC. Outstanding performance for the price, usually $150 to $175.
I see you have a Rega Table. I am listening to a Denon DL 160 on a Rega P9 with RB1000 arm right now. It sounds great. The cart comes with an auxilary weight to add weight to the head of the arm. You need to use it with the Rega arm.

Do some research on this cart, it is very hard to beat for the price.


12-18-08: Tigerwoodkhorns
JR.com has the AT150 for $250.

You should also check out the Denon DL-160 HOMC. Outstanding performance for the price, usually $150 to $175.
Tigerwoodkhorns (Threads | Answers)
I used and enjoyed the DL-160 for the better part of a year. When I upgraded, I got an AT150MLX. It's true that the DL-160 is a great cartridge for the asking price of $180. It's smooth, detailed for the price, brings out significant frequency extension over any $100 cartridges. Tracks well, tracks reasonably light.

But the AT150MLX is so much better, it makes the $70 difference seem totally insignificant. Add to that that whereas the DL-160 is an MC and therefore has to be replaced when the stylus goes, the AT150MLX has a replaceable stylus for $179.95 (lpgear.com), so once you pay the initial extra $70, the cost of ownership is the same as for a DL-160.

The AT150MLX can elevate your system from advanced entry level to a sense of really digging into what the high end is all about. This cartridge is much faster, more subtle, very neutral, very extended, and transparent over anything you're likely to hear at $200 or below. For all its speed, clarity and accuracy, it is also capable of sounding lush, especially with its way of bringing out the low subtle details such as the way sounds are made by the voice or any instrument, combined with a greater sense of the ambience of the recording venue. It does these things equally well on any kind of music.

My AT150MLX handles chamber music, voice, baroque, bombastic orchestral, rock, jazz, big band, folk, and country equally well. I can't say enough about it, and as much as I liked the DL-160, save yourself the intermediate step, pay the extra $70, and just move into the high end.

Not only is the cart only $250 at J&R, the shipping is free.
Don't overlook the Benz Micro MC20E2. Stellar performer for new at $250.00
I'm glad someone suggested the Benz MC20E2. Since I have less experience than most, I didn't want to be the first to recommend it, but I'm using the MC20E2-L (low output) in my Linn/Fidelity Research setup, and have been extremely happy with it. Besides my own (admittedly probably not "golden") ears, every review I've seen described it as an "over achiever" in its price range. If the regular output MC20E2 is similar to the L version (I have a step-up transformer in my chain) it is definitely worth considering.
The best will be to buy AT120-130-150-160 used body and new NOS 155LC stylus for it. Or, even better, AT20SS (SLa, Sa) used body and new original AT20SS stylus for $110 from lpgear.
JonnyB,

"I used and enjoyed the DL-160 for the better part of a year. When I upgraded, I got an AT150MLX. It's true that the DL-160 is a great cartridge for the asking price of $180. It's smooth, detailed for the price, brings out significant frequency extension over any $100 cartridges. Tracks well, tracks reasonably light.

But the AT150MLX is so much better, it makes the $70 difference seem totally insignificant. Add to that that whereas the DL-160 is an MC and therefore has to be replaced when the stylus goes, the AT150MLX has a replaceable stylus for $179.95 (lpgear.com), so once you pay the initial extra $70, the cost of ownership is the same as for a DL-160."

Did you use the accessory weight with the Denon DL160? I only ask because I mounted it without the weight and it was kind of dull. Then I added the weight and it started to shine. The Shelter 901 is much better, but I am using the Denon 160 until I complete my step up transformer for my new phono preamp.

I have now listened ot the Denon for a while with the new table and phono stage and it is a really good cart, especially for the money. This table really lets it shine and pull information out. I also noticed that the Denon does a great job of making a noisey record quiet. I may keep it on a secodn table for poorer records.

That said, I do not doubt that the AT150 is as good as you say. I hear it is a good replacement for the high end Shure which was a classic that I lusted after in the 1980's. $250 for a $500 list cart delivered is hard to beat. I have just never heard one.