The Big Moving Coil Cartridge Poll - $1000 to $1300

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Davey, Jan 10, 2022.

  1. Davey

    Davey NP: Broadcast ~ Haha Sound (2003) Thread Starter

    Location:
    SF Bay Area, USA
    This is a pretty popular question around here, someone asking today for cartridge recommendations in the $1200 range, usually gets a lot of responses, mostly LOMC carts at that in that price range, so thought it might be fun to have a poll with all of the MC cartridges I could come up with in this general price range. I'm sure I missed a few, and there are also some nice MM carts I left off just to limit the poll size (the Soundsmith Carmen MI cart did slip in since it is pretty popular), so go ahead and add your favorite with the Other selection and chastise me for my ignorance :)

    The selection criteria was just current availability new to a US buyer within this price range, could be retail or street price, B&M or internet, can ship from Japan or Hong Kong or wherever, not too restrictive. There are some cartridges that aren't readily available in the US for reasonable prices so I left them off, but can be had for instance in the UK.

    If available in both high and low output versions, I just listed the low output version, so feel free to comment on your choice (comments are encouraged!).

    Anyway, just for fun and to get some new ideas, so feel free to list others and tell us why they are worth considering.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2022
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  2. Oelewapper

    Oelewapper Plays vinyl instead of installing it on the floor.

    The Ortofon Cadenza Blue.
    I don’t own one myself, but heard it at a friend for quite a few hours… gawd those FG-70 styli sound good!
     
  3. Davey

    Davey NP: Broadcast ~ Haha Sound (2003) Thread Starter

    Location:
    SF Bay Area, USA
    Quite a bit above the poll price range here in the US, though. It does get down close to the price range via kron on audiogon, but not quite.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2022
  4. Oelewapper

    Oelewapper Plays vinyl instead of installing it on the floor.

    Really?
    I thought it was about 1300 bucks?
    Or maybe Ortofon is more expensive in the US?

    Edit: Holy crap, looks like they’ve pushed up the price quite considerably… they were about 1200 euros over here only a few years ago!
     
    patient_ot likes this.
  5. Joshua Tree

    Joshua Tree Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hamburg, Germany
    One vote for the Ortofon SPU Classic GM Mk. II.

    @Oelewapper Ortofon raised their price significantly on October 1st last year.
     
  6. FulhamTarheel

    FulhamTarheel Forum Resident

    Location:
    NC, USA
    Dynavector all the way. Love the sound.
     
  7. gakerty

    gakerty Forum Resident

    Location:
    California
    Out of that list, I've used the Shelter 501 (with upgraded line contact + ruby cantilever), the Clearaudio Concept MC, and the Benz Wood SL. The Benz Wood takes the cake, and at ~$1000 is a huge bang for your buck cart, beautifully musical with a large soundstage (perhaps by virtue of its large channel /separation (>35db). I do not have experience with the other carts and I do not doubt that one can better the Benz in that price range, but yes I am a Benz fanboy, so there goes my vote.
     
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  8. Davey

    Davey NP: Broadcast ~ Haha Sound (2003) Thread Starter

    Location:
    SF Bay Area, USA
    Yea, I'm inclined to agree, though I don't think it can be had for $1000 anymore, cheapest I know right now is $1200 from kron. At one point in the last few years he did have them as low as $900, though. Not sure how much he's open to offers now, be interesting to hear from someone who bought one recently.
     
    GyroSE likes this.
  9. NielsSS

    NielsSS Forum Resident

    Location:
    Denmark
    My vote for the Shelter501 mk III. I used one for many years and i loved it's lush clear sound. I am planning to have it retipped and brougth back to active service
     
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  10. GyroSE

    GyroSE Forum Resident

    Location:
    Sweden
    I agree. Benz Micro Wood is the winner for me too, as you say it’s great value for the money invested. I’ve auditoned 6 of the carts in the poll and to these ears the Wood is hard to beat in this price bracket compared to the other 5. Highly recommended.
     
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  11. Oelewapper

    Oelewapper Plays vinyl instead of installing it on the floor.

    All the more reason to shop for Audio Technica cartridges for me I suppose!
    Vote changed to Audio Technica ART9XI.
     
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  12. Harris11235

    Harris11235 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Minneapolis, MN
    Keep it clean.

    OP, I have experience with similar models of the Hana and DV carts you listed. Of the two, I prefer the DV. The Hana is really beautiful, but the DV delivers the punch where the Hana loses steam. For the music I listen to, that's a pretty big deal.
     
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  13. gakerty

    gakerty Forum Resident

    Location:
    California
    I've never heard a Dynavector-- They are on my shortlist of new cartridges to try. I really wish I had multiple arms on my table, or at least multiple tables. On one would be my Benz LPS, the other would have a Lyra for contrasts sake, and the third a Dynavector, maybe a 17DX or above. So many carts to try, and not enough years in my life to try them all!
     
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  14. Slippers-on

    Slippers-on Forum Resident

    Location:
    St.Louis Mo.
    I voted Shelter....very nice cart, but If I had a chance and could get a new one,( Discontinued but still can find one and similar to the Shelter in sound) I'd take the Denon DL-S1. Not in your poll and sells for right at about 1k$ and just gives beautiful music.
     
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  15. avanti1960

    avanti1960 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago metro, USA
    Cadenza Blue is $2039 US.
     
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  16. gakerty

    gakerty Forum Resident

    Location:
    California
    I used a Shelter 501 MKII for a while, with a Soundsmith upgraded ruby cantilever + line contact. It is a lovely cart, and yes definitely leans towards the "lush" side. The Shelter is somewhat Benz-like in that regard, albeit with a smaller soundstage. It's all good, carts are the most personal and subjective part of one's analog setup.
     
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  17. Davey

    Davey NP: Broadcast ~ Haha Sound (2003) Thread Starter

    Location:
    SF Bay Area, USA
    Wasn't the DL-S1 discontinued over 5 years ago, though? Are you still seeing new ones available? Agree it is a nice cart, especially when sold with the AU-S1 SUT, that has really gone up in price, very nice combo.
     
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  18. avanti1960

    avanti1960 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago metro, USA
    A franken cartridge may be a consideration for some that have an older cartridge in need of retip, or buy a damaged one at a discount.
    For example I had a Dynavector DV20X2L that sounded very good but kind of congested and unrefined.
    When I busted the cantilever I sent it to SoundSmith. They fitted it with a ruby cantilever and new line contact stylus. Sonics improved considerably in refinement, transparency and dynamics. Alomst the equal of the AT ART9 at that point but not quite.
    Could be a time consuming but budget friendly alternative.
     
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  19. Slippers-on

    Slippers-on Forum Resident

    Location:
    St.Louis Mo.
    Every now and then one will pop up gently used, they say. But if too old for the poll I get it...but thought I'd mention it seeing its a fantastic cartridge. I still have mine.:)
     
    Davey likes this.
  20. Davey

    Davey NP: Broadcast ~ Haha Sound (2003) Thread Starter

    Location:
    SF Bay Area, USA
    Yea, I can relate. I did put the older and similar air-core ART7 on the poll since it is still available at many places, and can be had under $1000 (goknight has it at 10% discount and free shipping, though unfortunately they now collect sales tax in many states beginning in 2022). I don't know of any direct comparisons, but would suspect them have a similar presentation, and both down around 0.10-0.15mV output, so would both benefit from a similar SUT.
     
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  21. rl1856

    rl1856 Forum Resident

    Location:
    SC
    Have you considered rebuilt cartridges ? There are plenty of Denon, Ortofon, Audio Technica and others floating around that are in need of new styli etc. This could be a way into a more expense cartridge but still within your budget- if you are willing to invest time in research and patience. Perfect example would be an Ortofon Rohmann or similar- this was a statement cartridge when introduced and now readily available in clean used condition. Send it off to a top rebuilder and you will have an outstanding cartridge for less than the cost of new cartridge of comparable quality.
     
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  22. tyinkc

    tyinkc Forum Resident

    I own and love the Ortofon Quintet Black. The only other cart on your list that I have personal experience with is the Blackbird, which I also like. All in all though, the Quintet is my favorite.
     
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  23. ddarch

    ddarch Forum Resident

    Location:
    NH
    I voted for the 20x2L, but wanted to mention the Hana SL at $750 retail really gives it a run for its money. I plan to try the Hana ML later in 2022...and I would not be surprised if that eclipses the 20X2L.
     
    Harris11235 likes this.
  24. Harris11235

    Harris11235 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Minneapolis, MN
    Agreed. Those are the two I compared in my earlier post.
     
  25. 5-String

    5-String μηδὲν ἄγαν

    Location:
    Sunshine State
    My favorite from the list is the Audio Technica ART9 but not the XA or the XI, I have not heard those.
    Very close second to ART9 is imo the Quintet Black and the Dynavector.
    I was never impressed by the Hana or the Rega, which I have heard many times in friend's systems but never owned them.
    So, no personal experience with these either.
    The ART9 performs above its price. I had it on the same table as the Cadenza Blue and it compares very favorably to the Blue.
    I paid for it less than $900 but I would have paid more for it without complaining and without feeling cheated.
     
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