Cartridge recommendation for the working class?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by EmmEff, Dec 29, 2016.

  1. EmmEff

    EmmEff Member Thread Starter

    Ontario, Canada
    (thread title created firmly with tongue-in-cheek...)

    I have a Pro-Ject RPM 1.3 turntable with Pro-Ject Tube Box S phono stage. I am currently using an Ortofon 2M Blue cartridge (started life as a 2M Red; I upgraded the stylus). I like this cartridge, but with plenty of discussion Audio Technica, Nagoaka, Grado, and Sumiko cartridges in the same/similar price range, I am thinking I want to try something else.

    Most of my listening is 70s/80s rock, 80s new wave/post-punk, and new alternative.

    It's not that I'm unhappy with the 2M Blue, it's that I am thinking I may be able to do better for not much money. I prefer warm/laid back sound more than bright.

    What cartridge should I start 2017 with in the <$300 price range?
  2. A great all purpose cartridge, and well within your budget, is the Shure M97xe. With many different quality turntables, they have removable universal headshells, so it's a snap to compare different cartridges pre-mounted in interchangeable headshells.
  3. stefanb

    stefanb Well-Known Member

    This is an audiophile folly - "try something different for the sake of trying something different" - The grass is always greener, and in that beautiful and lush pasture you will find the Nagaoka MP-150
  4. George Blair

    George Blair Forum Resident

    Portland, OR
    Stick with the Ortofon Blue, it works.
  5. Sid Hartha

    Sid Hartha Well-Known Member

    The Midwest
    Then you're all set.

    Donate that >$300 to a worthy charity.
  6. Catcher10

    Catcher10 I like records, and Prog...duh

    Agree....but wow, I was gonna suggest pushing to the MP-200 and just checked the price at LPGear, $400 now!!!! I paid $270 few yrs ago......the audio bubble is growing.
  7. Bob_in_OKC

    Bob_in_OKC Forum Resident

    Dallas, Texas
    Shure M91ED off of eBay and a new stylus. $250 under budget. :)
  8. smctigue

    smctigue Forum Resident

    EmmEff likes this.
  9. rich100

    rich100 Forum Resident

    Middle of England
    I've just replaced my 2m Blue with a Denon DL-110 (on a Rega Planar 3), around the same price as the Blue. I'm still putting it through its paces but it's not as harsh sounding as the Blue can sometimes be - I'm really enjoying it so far. One thing I did find though is that it's quite sensitive to anti-skate settings, if not adjusted right the stylus cantilever sticks off to one side.
    nitsuj, pathguy, FJosh and 1 other person like this.
  10. TEKWRX

    TEKWRX Am I Demon?

    Boynton Beach, FL
    As a long time Ortofon user I recently switched to a Nagaoka MP110, and couldn't be happier. I'd look at the highest spec Nagaoka your budget can afford. I listen to hard rock/metal almost exclusively (and some soundtrack type electro stuff)
  11. sberger

    sberger Grumpy geezer who likes dirty records

    If you listen to rock, and you like punchy output with good volume, don't hesitate to try the Shure M44-7, and the Shure M35X. Both of them are described by Shure as DJ carts in their marketing material, but they are a lot more then that. The 44-7 in particular has been around forever, is a great tracker, with with a big output. It will deliver a big, rock presentation for the records that you like to listen to. Same with the 35X, although a little less output if you prefer that.

    The 44-7 is $80 and 35X $60 at Amazon. You can probably find both at brick and mortar outlets like Guitar Center, too.
    JMAC, bru87tr, bluemooze and 3 others like this.
  12. Threshold

    Threshold Well-Known Member

    Manchester NH
    Goldring GL 2100 is excellent if your looking for a lively sound.
    KWJ and EmmEff like this.
  13. Vinyl Addict

    Vinyl Addict Forum Resident

    Just looked at the Goldring 1012GX. It's now $500+??
  14. EmmEff

    EmmEff Member Thread Starter

    Ontario, Canada
    I've never heard this model come up in the context of a 2M Blue before. It's less than half the price... does it really compare?

    FWIW, my Pro-Ject tonearm has a fixed head shell.

    Thanks for the reply.
  15. EmmEff

    EmmEff Member Thread Starter

    Ontario, Canada
    I actually had a Denon DL-110 at one point, but it suffered a premature death at the hands of my lovely wife :(

    I did like this cartridge (and got it on a stupid sale for just over $100 USD), however I later learned it wasn't a good match for my Pro-Ject and I probably wasn't getting everything out of it.
    rich100 likes this.
  16. EmmEff

    EmmEff Member Thread Starter

    Ontario, Canada
    Out of curiosity, what prompted you to switch?
  17. EmmEff

    EmmEff Member Thread Starter

    Ontario, Canada
    All excellent replies and suggestions, guys. Thanks. I've got lots to consider. Seeing as there isn't a way of me trying any of these prior to purchase, I'll have to rely on reviews and just pick one.
  18. Thorensman

    Thorensman Forum Resident

    If you are discovering tastes for a warmer presentation them i would
    Go with my instincts.
    The Shure M97XE mentioned and Nagoaka MP110 are perfect .
    More musical perhaps?
  19. Bob_in_OKC

    Bob_in_OKC Forum Resident

    Dallas, Texas
    It can be found in UK for about $300.
    EmmEff and Vinyl Addict like this.
  20. Here's a link to the info sheet about the Shure M97xe:

    I realize that the Pro-Jet doesn't have a removable headshell, which is why this type of turntable would never work out for me. Although most of the records I play are rock and pop from the 70's/80's, I also play lots of 50's/60's records and 78's which date back to the 30's. Some of my favorite 78's are rock 'n' roll from the mid to late 50's, some even made in Canada. Being able to exchange headshells is a must and better that just swapping the stylus. You want to handle a stylus as little as possible to avoid damage and wear.

    Using many different cartridges and brands over the years, including Ortofon, one thing that I have found is that the original brand stylus is the best for whatever cartridge it was made for. The best carts for me were the Audio Technica's from the 70's, plus Stantons, Pickerings and Shures. What I found to be the best overall was the Shure V-15's. The Shure M97xe is the current incarnation of the V-15.

    Usually, the stylus is the most expensive part of a cartridge. If you want to judge what a particular company thinks about their cartridge body, check how much their replacement stylus costs compared to the cost of the complete cartridge and stylus.
  21. russk

    russk Forum Resident

    Syracuse NY
    It's a totally different sound. A lot less resolving, definitely not as bright sounding as the 2M Blue. Some do like the warm, bassy sound. I think it sounds muddy personally.

    I'd save up till you can drop around 600 or try the Denon DL110 or 103 if you can use a low output MC cartridge.
    SandAndGlass, Pythonman and EmmEff like this.
  22. EmmEff

    EmmEff Member Thread Starter

    Ontario, Canada
    I actually had a DL-110 for a short while, but I've since learned it's not a good match for my Pro-Ject's 8.6g effective mass tonearm. It did sound good to me at the time, though, but I'm still a budding novice. Apparently, the DL-103 is even a poorer match (less compliant?).
  23. avanti1960

    avanti1960 Forum Resident

    Chicago metro, USA
    Save your money for the 2M black. It is a great cart and beats most $1000 to $13oo cartridges.
  24. russk

    russk Forum Resident

    Syracuse NY
    Denon doesn't measure the compliance of their cartridges like everyone else. If you're going to use a compliance claculator you would have to multiply their compliance spec by 1.7 I think. It's been awhile since I used one of their cartridges. I wouldn't have a problem running a 110 on that arm but it is too light for the 103.

    If I were in your shoes I'd save up and get something like a Dynavector 10x5 and then look to upgrade the deck. Or do both.
    Bob_in_OKC likes this.
  25. chahooa

    chahooa Forum Resident

    I like Goldring, but geez, $500!!! That's crazy.

Share This Page