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Thread: Need new turntable cartridge: Opinions?

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    Need new turntable cartridge: Opinions?

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    Hey friends,

    I need a new cartridge and my budget is $125 max. Anyone have any suggestions?

    I'm not going to do any wicked scratching or weird turntable feats, just listening
    Don't let schooling interfere with your education - Mark Twain

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    What kind of turntable is it?
    Quote Originally Posted by Steenamaroo View Post
    One day I'll make it into somebody's signature line.

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    It's a Audio Technica AT-PL120. It's basically a knockoff of the Technics SL1200.
    Don't let schooling interfere with your education - Mark Twain

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    The AT-3600 was OEM cartridge on a lot of Japanese turntables in the 80s. Sounds great on mine.
    Quote Originally Posted by Steenamaroo View Post
    One day I'll make it into somebody's signature line.

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    I really like the Shure M97xE. As a bonus, you can probably find replacement styluses fairly easily in a local shop.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ethyrvalve View Post
    I really like the Shure M97xE. As a bonus, you can probably find replacement styluses fairly easily in a local shop.
    M97xE would be a decent choice and they don't cost too much. Grado is a great sounding Cart and they make one around that price range but they're unshielded and can sometimes pick up a little hum from that direct drive motor as they get close to the spindle.

    Here's a good source:
    http://www.needledoctor.com/Online-S...ECUSTOMERPRICE
    If you know the secret codes you can get by the mastering boss on level 8.

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    I'm reasonably experienced with playback carts at various price points, and I think the Shure M97xE is probably the best currently available all-around cart under a few hundred bucks. They have decent styli which track well, and they sound pretty clean, pretty vanilla, which is where I'd aim at your budget. I bought my first one for $110 and thought it was very good at that price, bought my second one for 70 which was a total bargain, and now the things are down to $52 on Amazon...it's a no-brainer, hell, get two lol.

    Be advised that their optimal tracking force is pretty light, and will depend on whether you have the dynamic stabilizer brush down (personally I suggest using it, and you'll want VTF somewhere between 1.25g-1.5g in that case). The Shure is a pretty light, lower compliance cart; AT doesn't offer your tonearm mass in the specs but it's probably not very low-mass so they should get along ok.

    Other options, I dunno, I've never heard an AT cart that I didn't find kind of hard and strident in the highs/upper mids but YMMV; Grados don't play nice with turntables that use AC motors; Sumiko Pearls are decent but they cost more than an M97xE does and don't exceed their performance, so we're right back at "get the Shure" far as I'm concerned.
    Last edited by briank; 09-07-2011 at 19:40. Reason: schpellin' an' grammerz

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    Quote Originally Posted by briank View Post
    ; Grados don't play nice with turntables that use AC motors; .
    well ...... really mainly direct drive 'tables because the cart gets right up on that motor. And that's what he has which is why I mentioned it.
    But if it's a belt drive then the motor would be off where it wouldn't be a problem. I had a Grado for a little while on my Denon 'living room' 'table which is direct drive and it would hum but ONLY when it got close to the center where the motor is.
    So I think they'd be fine on a belt drive with the motor off in the far corner.
    If you know the secret codes you can get by the mastering boss on level 8.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lt. Bob View Post
    well ...... really mainly direct drive 'tables because the cart gets right up on that motor. And that's what he has which is why I mentioned it.
    But if it's a belt drive then the motor would be off where it wouldn't be a problem. I had a Grado for a little while on my Denon 'living room' 'table which is direct drive and it would hum but ONLY when it got close to the center where the motor is.
    So I think they'd be fine on a belt drive with the motor off in the far corner.
    I have observed the hum issue still presenting itself on belt driven AC motor 'tables whose motors are mounted either under or aft of the platter. They're musical sounding carts, but really best saved for DC motor 'tables; I've heard 'em be varying degrees hum city on Linns, AR, VPI HW, Rega, Tech 1200. Your mileage may vary!

    I agree that the position of an AC motor on a DD 'table makes it the least desirable of the lot, and have also observed the hum becoming worse as the mags get closer to the motor, that's gonna happen.


    BTW lo.fi, was there something you didn't like about your old cart, or was it just broken/worn out (or both lol)?
    Last edited by briank; 09-07-2011 at 22:20.

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    Quote Originally Posted by briank View Post
    BTW lo.fi, was there something you didn't like about your old cart, or was it just broken/worn out (or both lol)?
    It just sounded really crummy. It lacked a lot of definition on records which I knew sounded great on other turntables.

    The performance of the needle + cartridge (on the stock cartridge that came with the turntable) degraded over time until it was just unusable. It's broken now, mechanically, and I need a new one, and I want to step up to a DECENT combo
    Don't let schooling interfere with your education - Mark Twain

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