Best $500 or less cartridge for an AR-XB Turntable?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by ego1jr, May 17, 2017.

  1. ego1jr

    ego1jr Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I've been using an Audio Technica AT440MLa cartridge for several years and it's about time to either replace or upgrade. I'd prefer the upgrade route. I would really appreciate hearing from other forum members with suggested cartridge upgrades I can look at. I'd like to stay in the < $500 price range. I've enjoyed the AT440 however it tended to be a bit bright for my tastes.

    Thanks in advance for all suggestions!
     
  2. 6l6klipsch

    6l6klipsch Well-Known Member

    Location:
    WI
    MC or MM? I used a Denon DL-110 on my XA for a long time and really loved that cart. I've now moved to a 301MKII, and it is better in regards to detail, but in terms of value the DL-110 is hard to beat.
     
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  3. cat9

    cat9 Forum Resident

    Have as main table an AR XB also and like D P above I use a Denon 301MKII

    ......love the cart!!

    Not sure the match for your arm....I had the arm on my XB custom detailed for my 301.
    Also use a Benz Micro Gold......maybe a sale somewhere to get it in your budget.

    Good luck!!
     
  4. KT88

    KT88 Forum Resident

    The AT is a good choice on that deck. If you want warm, the Shure 97 is excellent as well. Better you than me mounting and aligning on that thing! ;)
    -Bill
     
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  5. sfrost

    sfrost Forum Resident

    Location:
    NJ
    If you haven't had the arm upgraded I would be hesitant on using upper-tear cartridges. The DL110 is very good and would be an improvement over the AT 440.
    New Jewel bearings and dampening would help make the arm sound and track better.
     
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  6. PhxJohn

    PhxJohn Forum Resident

    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ
    Where are new jewel bearings available ?
     
  7. Jelloalien

    Jelloalien Stylus Genie

    Location:
    Toronto, Ontario
  8. PhxJohn

    PhxJohn Forum Resident

    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ
    I don't want to start a new thread...but...on every AR XA, XB, and 77-XB that I have owned, the spindle is too fat for many records. Even Stereophile pointed this out. So, I can't play some of my favorite records on the 77-XB with the VR 1000 cartridge. I have to play those records on the Lab 80 with a VR 1000. Did later AR's such as the ES-1 have a thinner spindle ? I am going to guess 'yes' as the AR ES-1 was a Stereophile recommended component.
     
  9. sfrost

    sfrost Forum Resident

    Location:
    NJ
    Pretty sure the later AR's had the same size spindles other than the ETL-1 table. It's not really the spindle being too fat, some records have a slightly smaller hole so working a pencil into the hole will enlarge it enough to let them fit on the spindle.
     
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  10. action pact

    action pact ^^ Sandy Warner, "The Exotica Girl"

    Marc Morin installs them, along with a bunch of other affordable and effective AR upgrade mods. Shoot me a PM for contact info and more details.
     
  11. McLover

    McLover Forum Resident

    Location:
    East TN
    The spindle meets the accepted standard set by the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) and the NAB (National Association of Broadcasters). Your records spindle hole is the issue, not the spindle. The records don't meet specification in this case. The TA, TT, XA, and XB before your model of AR and all of the AR models after are the same. So also is Thorens. Also, while you're at it, I'd get a cartridge which is much better suited for the AR arm (that GE is a 1961 antique, and not up to the AR's performance). It likes fairly high compliance cartridges and tracks best with them. A la Grado, Shure classics, Audio-Technica higher end models, and their contemporaries. This is a compliance mismatch waiting to happen. Test records do not lie, the CBS Laboratories STR 100 tells the truth. And plays no favorites. A tip, get a reamer, and work on the spindle hole gently as necessary to alleviate this problem. Record pressings are far from perfect (and that was just as much a problem 50 years ago as it is today).

    Also, I highly recommend searching for Steve's thread here about cartridge mistracking. This is critical if you want your records to last many years without damage. With very few exceptions, I do not use Generic or aftermarket styli on my cartridges. They are wildly inconsistent from sample to sample save for very few. I demand consistent and repeatable performance from stylus to stylus. My records like many people here, cost very good money, weren't easy to replace often even when new. And hand selected and had to meet stringent standards for quality. And my record library is worth far more money than the equipment which plays it. Your AR turntable is superb, and still among the better ever built in good order.
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2018
    sfrost and Bill Why Man like this.
  12. Here’s another vote for the Denon DL-110. It’s a great HOMC cart for the money.

    I have it on an old suspension table (Thorens TD-160), as well, and it sounds stellar.

    Good luck in your search!

    Bill
     
  13. Benzion

    Benzion "Cogito, ergo sum" Forum Resident

    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    The tonearm question was a valid one, recommendations for a cartridge are better suited for the tonearm, than the turntable.
     
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  14. Benzion

    Benzion "Cogito, ergo sum" Forum Resident

    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    This fixes it (I use one).

    https://www.amazon.com/Clearaudio-LP-Records-corrects-undersized/dp/B00NY869I2
     
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  15. sfrost

    sfrost Forum Resident

    Location:
    NJ
    That's an expensive drill bit, make your own for a buck, or us a pencil and rotate a few times.
     
  16. ls35a

    ls35a Forum Resident

    Location:
    Eagle, Idaho
    I'm using the $499 MoFi Mastertracker cartridge and it is stunning. Unless I'm mistaken it's an AT OEM.
     
  17. Benzion

    Benzion "Cogito, ergo sum" Forum Resident

    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    I used to use a pencil, instinctively, but the minute wood debris would inescapably settle onto the vinyl surface. This way the vinyl shreds stay on the drill, or are heavy enough to just fall to the floor.
     
  18. PhxJohn

    PhxJohn Forum Resident

    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ
    The styli that I use with the VR 1000 are compliant enough to track at 2 grams. It works fine. I also have a VR 1000 in a Garrard Lab 80. I have an Ortofon Quintet Blue on my Rega RB 202. I'm not deaf, if there is a problem, I will hear it. You make some valid points. But, I don't care if my records last forever. I am 63. I would rather just have some fun with the hobby without being obsessive about it. And how can I not use an aftermarket styli with the VR 1000 or the majority of Pickerings, Stantons, and Shures out there ?
     
  19. McLover

    McLover Forum Resident

    Location:
    East TN
    Y0u're not deaf. But the records you play at 2 grams. I can play at 3/4 gram right now. They're easy records to play. Can you play any Sheffield Lab Direct to Disc LP at any force? I can play them at 1.5 grams on my Shure M 44-G. With 28 db channel separation. No drama. Cleanly without mistracking. On any tonearm out of 5 in daily use I own. Rock and Pop LP discs with few exceptions are hardly challenging. This is not 1961 we live in. And the GE VR 1000 in any stylus was not the best in 1961, not good, not bad. In the middle. The Shure M7/M21D was the best available then. And Mercury Living Presence, RCA Living Stereo Classical, Everest Classical were the tough torture tests. GE was OK, Shure outtracked GE ANYTHING in 1961, on the best manual tonearms available. So did ADC, so did Empire, so did Grado. No less than High Fidelity magazine, Stereo Review, Audio Magazine, and Consumer Reports. All of the above recommended that Shure. In 1961, when the GE was brand new. They were honest to a higher degree then. Your GE VR 1000 was a good cartridge, until say, 1964. Then it got embarrassed easily by cheaper and better. If GE had stuck to making cartridges a few more years, and let Peter Pritchard do his thing without interference, and giving the resources needed to succeed. GE would have met or beat anything extant then.. I back up what I say with over 44 years of professional expertise. In audio and broadcast engineering expertise. I wish GE had stuck to their field, and improved their products. The VR II in the days of mono was excellent and it was high energy, hot cut rock and roll, pop, and R&B 1964 and later offerings which was why they lost the top USA broadcast market, and the thing called Stereo.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2018
  20. PhxJohn

    PhxJohn Forum Resident

    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ
    You have your opinion. I have mine. We will never agree so let's let it go.
     
  21. McLover

    McLover Forum Resident

    Location:
    East TN
    Is yours backed up with professional experience? Mine is. Is yours backed up with demanding to track records? Mine is. Your cartridge is fine, within it's limitations. Why did I have to upgrade turntables, tonearms, cartridges in 1973 as a young broadcast engineer at an AM station? Because it was not 1961. And the GE VR II (nor any GE) could not track modern Top 40 45 RPM singles in 1973, on Gray 108 Viscous Damped tonearms, at 4 grams tracking force. Those with new styli wore records in very rapid order (under 100 plays at best, many in 10 or less, and hand inspected by microscope genuine GE supplied styli). Mistracked modern 45 RPM Pop, R&B, and Rock records every day.. As the assistant engineer, and the studio head engineer. I had to fix that. I had the responsibility. The Stanton 500A, tracked at 2 grams, on Micro-Trak 303 tonearms, on then new with it, Gates CB 1201 turntables performed to standard. They didn't mistrack, out of 30 styli (we might get one not up to standard). With GE styli (1 out of every 20 was correct) I microscope inspected every stylus before it got used on air or in production, or program and music director's office. My job depended on results, if issues happened, I was the person who had to repair it and real fast. Records I dealt with got cut louder, at higher levels, had higher frequencies to track, and we had to live with 2 or 3 copies of a record, and from then often had to buy new out of the station' s budget. Those records had to last as long as possible. Thousands of playings. GE used to do this great. When records were mono, and cut at lower levels and didn't push the envelope. Back in the pre 1963 real world on the air. GE was OK then, the records and the music changed. GE didn't change fast enough, they got left behind. Shure and Stanton ate GE's lunch in the world of broadcasting and HiFi. after 1964. I still use and love a GE VR II, for pre 1955 mono LP, 45, and for 78 RPM use. They are great for that. I love them for that.

    The GE you love was designed by Peter Pritchard, and he left GE and founded Audio Dynamics Corporation and Sonic Research. And he stuck to Moving Iron aka Induced Magnet as a principle. Why not try some of the designs he succeeded at? Which amaze even today on their tracking ability, and sonics. The ADC XLM and QLM, the Sonus Blue and Black are some of my favorites ever, and superb even now. Peter was a great engineer and designer. And I love his best work. His designs were very ahead of their time, as much as 15 years ahead then. I respect his work highly. He designed some of the best MI cartridges ever. And they still meet or beat any new designs now.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2018
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  22. PhxJohn

    PhxJohn Forum Resident

    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ
    I will agree that the styli for the VR 1000 are a problem. Add decades of hardening of the rubber parts and it adds up to most being useless. I had to test 34 styli to find 10 good ones for a user/customer of the VR 1000. Fortunately, I can return the bad ones to the distributor. GE outsourced their styli from the beginning, I believe. I have seen many examples where the construction is incorrect and the materials used are incorrect. The good styli that do not mistrack on the records that I play, including stacks of 7" 45's, are quite compliant. But they are hand picked and tested by me before I use them.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2018
  23. PhxJohn

    PhxJohn Forum Resident

    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ
    Here are some ADC's from the 1967 Allied Catalog. Lower on the page shows the GE VR 1000-7 at $10.50.

    By any chance are you Kent T. on another forum ? Do you have a VR 1000 ? I would be happy to send you a decent stylus or two if you have a VR 1000 and would like.
     
  24. McLover

    McLover Forum Resident

    Location:
    East TN
    I will hunt down my VR 1000 in the near future. I have one on an old arm at work.
     
  25. PhxJohn

    PhxJohn Forum Resident

    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ
    Cool. Let me know and we can arrange for me to send you a couple of styli that I have tested and approved.
     

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