The VM540ML is likely the best deal in a cartridge for $250. It has a most sophisticated micro-line needle that is exactly the same as records are cut on a master. What this means is it will extract all the information in a record grove unlike other designs. And, unlike some needles that last as low as 300 hours, the VM540ML design lasts 1000 hours. Even a cartridge at $150 with 500 hour life is actually more expensive than the VM540ML due to the lower life. It has to be the best deal anywhere.