What Are Some Of The Best MM/User Replaceable Stylus Carts Out There?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by EdogawaRampo, Feb 10, 2018.

  1. EdogawaRampo

    EdogawaRampo Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I've been using my old Shure V15VxMR with a new Jico stylus for the past couple of weeks. I was really surprised at how good it sounds for being so affordable compared to my other carts (which are due for rebuilds).

    As good as the Shure is, it isn't the last word in detail. It's also missing some of the other performance aspects of my better MC carts (obviously).

    So it all got me wondering what's out there for carts that are similar to the Shure? MM, high output, user replaceable stylus, performing better, maybe 'more audiophile' than the Shure, with a price range of US $800 ~ US $1,500...
  2. John Mee

    John Mee Well-Known Member

    If you haven’t, I suggest you try the Audio Note IQ series of cartridges
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  3. DrZhivago

    DrZhivago Hedonist

    Adelaide Australia
    Ortofon 2M Black?
  4. EdogawaRampo

    EdogawaRampo Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Interesting. Can't find prices anywhere though...
  5. EdogawaRampo

    EdogawaRampo Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Good review of the IQ 3 here:

    [Review] Audio Note IQ3 Cartridge

    "Straight away from the moment the stylus hits the vinyl it's obvious that the cartridge is a very different animal to the Ortofon 2M Black that preceded it. The IQ3 brings a lot more high frequency information and life to the party. It's not that the Ortofon is dull but to my ears it's probably the epitome of cool neutrality or at least what most people would regard as neutrality. The IQ3 is most definitely a cartridge that challenged my perceptions of neutrality and how we describe it."

    "I think we definitely have a contender (and possibly a winner) here for the "best MM" crown"
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2018
  6. John Mee

    John Mee Well-Known Member

    that is correct. Because of a variety of reasons, Audio Note does not publish prices. You’re profile does not indicate where you are so you should check with your nearest AN deealer which may found @ Audio Note
  7. Bob_in_OKC

    Bob_in_OKC Forum Resident

    Dallas, Texas
    The Goldring 1042 is a classic. Of course, the Audio Note IQ cartridges bear a resemblance and could be assumed to be better. Widespread easy availability would be an advantage for the Goldring. Their 2500 moving iron cartridge is also known to be good.
  8. TimB

    TimB Tube be or not Tube be?

    Galion, Ohio USA
    Laugh if you will, an Ortofon OM series cartridge with a budget OM20 stylus or if you can find one an OM40 stylus, the OM30 is very good. Not the last word in accuracy or detail retrieval, but, you have up to 5 styluses that can be mounted, from spherical to hyperlitical ellipsis shaped. Big advantage to this in that you can judge for yourself which stylus shap works best each for every LP you own
  9. TimB

    TimB Tube be or not Tube be?

    Galion, Ohio USA
    Forgot to mention the signet replaceable mc removable stylus setup. My guess that drifted to back of Audio memory’s
  10. macster

    macster Forum Resident

    San Diego, Ca. USA
    From prior experience a Goldring GL2500 works very well on the Classic and would probably kick one of your high price MC's to the curb on that arm.

  11. JNTEX

    JNTEX Lava Police

    linn adikt
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  12. Richard Austen

    Richard Austen Forum Resident

    Hong Kong
    The IQ 3 is $1k US give or take. It will likely be my next cartridge - It has often be said to be the best MM cartridge around replacing many people's MC carts. Their tone arm is really good too. It's nice and simple and doesn't require a lot of work to fidget with to get it to sound good. Pretty much plug and play with great results.

    It's also possible to start with the IQ1 for $400 and then replace the stylus with the IQ3 stylus down the line. But if you have the money the IQ3 does have better materials.

    Their description is here Audio Note

    The weird thing is I have a Goldring shipped with my NAD 533(Rega P2 clone) and I hated the Goldring cart and replaced it with a Shure (much better) but the AN IQ1 which is based on the Goldring destroys in every way shape and form my old Shure M97xE. And the IQ 3 is much better than my IQ1 which already pretty excellent.
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  13. psulioninks

    psulioninks Forum Resident

    Kansas City, USA
    Nagaoka MP-500
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  14. marcob1963

    marcob1963 Forum Resident

  15. gumsrave

    gumsrave Well-Known Member

    Is a user-replaceable stylus still a worthwhile feature if the replacement stylus costs 80-90% of the cart?

    Looking at you, Ortofon 2M series... (in my part of the world, anyway)
    H8SLKC, Pete74, 4011021 and 1 other person like this.
  16. missan

    missan Forum Resident

    For me nowadays it's all about Audio Technica. They suit me. And they measure extremely good.
    H8SLKC likes this.
  17. Drewan77

    Drewan77 Forum Resident

    I use an IQ3 & often play it with the Goldring 1042 stylus which fits perfectly (Audio Note IQs are manufactured under license by Goldring). The Fritz Gyger stylus sounds very similar to the IQ3 version but at a considerably lower cost.

    I also use a 2M Black & an AT150ANV/MLX/SA on another table & when aligned perfectly they are just as enjoyable as the IQ, albeit slightly different sound signatures - all 3 cartridges have different strengths although if I had to pick only one it would be the IQ3.

    (The Nagaoka 500 is another fine cartridge but too laid back for my tastes - not as dynamic, lively or real sounding as these other three. Nice if you want a long laid-back listening session though, it doesn't quite grab my attention like the others)
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2018
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  18. Thomas_A

    Thomas_A Forum Resident

    Uppsala, Sweden
    There are few that match the Shure/JICO in terms of distortion. However, it does not have a perfect linear response. The Ortofon OM10-20-30 loaded with 200 pF and 42 kOhm is the best bet for linear response. The 2M could also be linear with a bit lower resistance than the nominal 47 kOhm. I would not recommend OM40 due to higher amount of noise. However, in comparison to the OM I still prefer Shure V15Vx/JICO SAS, due to the lower distortion.
    H8SLKC, macster and ssmith3046 like this.
  19. JNTEX

    JNTEX Lava Police

    My replacement stylus runs about 300, takes about 10 seconds to swap out if I trash it. Only happened once.

    It's nice to keep the music going while not stopping the liver thrashing.
  20. avanti1960

    avanti1960 Forum Resident

    Chicago metro, USA
    Audio Technica AT150ANV. .
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  21. Gasman1003

    Gasman1003 "The Thinking Man's Drinking Man"

    Liverpool UK
    Ortofon 2M Black
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  22. quicksrt

    quicksrt Senior Member

    City of Angels
    For original stylus' this cart is reaching a semi-dead end. The AT 150MXL seems to be reaching the same discontinued dead end.

    But, here I just bought last night a ATN140LC as a replacement needle for the AT440MLa from stereoneedles.com, we'll see how this goes. $109 plus shipping.

    Audio-Technica at www.stereoneedles.com : ATS10,ATS11,ATS11E,ATS12,ATS12C,ATS12S,ATN12S,ATN12XE,ATN13,ATN14,ATS13,ATS14,ATN15XE,ATN15SS,ATN20SS,ATN23A,ATN24,ATN25,ATN30E,ATN30HE,ATN31E,ATN53E,ATN55XE,ATN70,ATN71E,ATN105,ATN110E,ATN120E,ATN125LC,ATN130E,ATN140LC,ATN155LC,ATN160ML,ATN102P,ATN112EP,ATN122LP,ATN132EP,ATN142LP,ATN152LP,ATN312EP,ATN3100E,,ATN3200XE,ATPN1,ATPN2,ATPN3,ATN3400,ATN3401,ATN3410

    But I would not suggest these carts needles are an easy find for replacements any longer.
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  23. JeffTamarack

    JeffTamarack Active Member

    Would definitely throw a vote at Ortofon and the 2M Black. Have that cart on one of my turntables and enjoy it. Great company almost entitely dedicated to cartridges. As always listening is better than any review or stat sheet.
  24. jon9091

    jon9091 Master Of Reality

    Hmmm...Ortofon 2M Black Stylus is $576. Soundsmith retipping is between $350-$650, but takes a lot longer.
  25. EdogawaRampo

    EdogawaRampo Forum Resident Thread Starter

    A user-replaceable is non-negotiable as far as I'm concerned. I already have several MC carts that require a couple of months downtime to get a rebuild.
    H8SLKC, 4011021, macster and 2 others like this.

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