Your top five LOMC cartridges new under $500

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by TheVinylAddict, May 13, 2019.

  1. TheVinylAddict

    TheVinylAddict ___The Enforcer___ Thread Starter

    Note it is OK if the cartridge retails over $500, as long as it can be commonly found under $500. For example, the AT33PTGii retails over $500 but can be easily found under $500 new these days with little effort. Same with the AT33ev.

    I am hoping that others can use this thread as an idea generator for different LOMC choices.

    My list (with the price I purchased mine):
    1. AT33PTGii ($460)
    2. AT-OC9ml/ii ($419)
    3. AT33ev ($454)
    4. Denon DL-301mkii (N/A - came with a used TT - MKI)
    5. Denon DL-103r ($259)
    Note: Please avoid unnecessary grey market discussions that is not the threads intent. I will ask those posts be moderated.
    russk likes this.
  2. Mike from NYC

    Mike from NYC Forum Resident

    Surprise, AZ
    Hana EL

    Ortofon Quintet

    But as with much in life - you pays for what you get.
  3. HiFi Guy

    HiFi Guy Forum Resident

    Orlando, FL
    A/T OC9/ML II
    Zu Audio/Denon DL-103
    Denon DL-103
    Dynavector DV20XL
    A/T 33EV
    TheVinylAddict likes this.
  4. TheVinylAddict

    TheVinylAddict ___The Enforcer___ Thread Starter

    And sometimes you pay too much for what you get!! :)
  5. vinyldoneright

    vinyldoneright Forum Resident

    Pound for pound the AT33PTG/II punches WAY above its weight class
  6. TheVinylAddict

    TheVinylAddict ___The Enforcer___ Thread Starter

    Agreed. My findings too.............. I plan on buying a back up very soon.

    The PTG is a well chronicled / loved cartridge.... especially here on the Hoff.
  7. About to replace my Dynavector DV20XL with another, interested to know where you see them for under $500?
    Benzion likes this.
  8. HiFi Guy

    HiFi Guy Forum Resident

    Orlando, FL
    A long time ago they were $500-525.
  9. Uglyversal

    Uglyversal Forum Resident

    More like too often rather than sometimes.
    Gumboo and TheVinylAddict like this.
  10. TarnishedEars

    TarnishedEars Forum Resident

    Seattle, WA
    Is that your order of preference, or just a random ordering?
  11. HiFi Guy

    HiFi Guy Forum Resident

    Orlando, FL
    Order of preference.
    TarnishedEars likes this.
  12. tubesandvinyl

    tubesandvinyl Forum Resident

    Ortofon quintet blue
  13. Ken Clark

    Ken Clark Forum Resident

    Chicago Suburbs
    Zu Denon DL103 is excellent. That's what I've been using for A good many years now. Under $500 new.
    SandAndGlass and HiFi Guy like this.
  14. Davey

    Davey very clever with maracas

    SF Bay Area, USA
    I can't list five based on personal experience, and some of the ones I see listed above are either discontinued or no longer available at close to $500, but no biggie, it's all for fun and charity...

    I definitely agree on the Audio Technica AT33PTG/II, have one on my Micro Seiki and it sounds great, though mine does seem to have developed a significant bit of channel imbalance over time which dampens my enthusiasm for it just a little. Hopefully it's an isolated case. Fortunately my CJ preamp has remote balance in .7dB steps so I can easily dial it in with 3 or 4 clicks, but still concerning.

    And I really like what I've seen from Audio Technica for the new OC9 replacement, the AT-OC9XML may just be the next cartridge in this price range that I try, really glad they have finally added screw inserts in the body, makes it so much easier to install, and saves unnecessary weight in some installations. I think list price is closer to $550 in the US, but surely it will be available for less from Japan, like the 33PTG and others.

    And since I've already broken the $500 price barrier above, let me just mention what would likely be my candidate for favorite in this general price range, the Benz Micro ACE SL. To be honest, I have never used one, but I have used and loved it's higher price siblings in the Glider and Wood, and it shares many of the same features, including the tiny boron cantilever and Micro Ridge stylus, and has a very friendly compliance range, so I suspect it also shares the very nice sound of those cartridges. It is available for $550 from the Hong Kong dealer "kron" on audiogon (I just verified via email and he consequently just listed it again) so competes with some of the other "special" deals listed above from international dealers.
    SandAndGlass and TheVinylAddict like this.
  15. TheVinylAddict

    TheVinylAddict ___The Enforcer___ Thread Starter

    The Micro or the AT33PTG developed channel imbalance??
    Curious have you owned or tried the OC9, OC9ml/ii or OC9ml/iii?
    Cool - I am going to take a closer look at that one -- you've mentioned this in other places. (one thing for sure is you are consistent :) and I mean that in a positive way --- as opposed to folks like me who are all over the map and at the trying everything stage)
    One thing about the OC9 series -- either they significantly changed the design along the way, or the specs are whacked from AT. I have posed this question to many (here and on coversations with AT, retailers), and the answer splits 50/50. For instance:

    Dynamic Compliance: 9×10-6cm/dyne (100Hz) ; Tracking force 1.25 - 1.75

    OK, so a medium-ish compliance cartridge which translates to 15 - 20 cu @ 10Hz range (depending on what mulitplier you use 1.5 to 2.0)


    Dynamic Compliance: 18×10-6cm/dyne (100Hz); Tracking force 1.8 - 2.2

    Huh? So according to AT specs, the compliance DOUBLES to now a high compliance cartridge in the 27 - 35 cu range @ 10Hz --- yet the the tracking force goes up into a range of things that typically have much LOWER compliance. It is counter-intuitive.

    I asked most recently Rome from LP Gear (who I had a conversation with a couple weeks back) -- he said he has asked AT and they stand behind the numbers...... but he is suspect himself and not sure what to think.

    So - now here comes the OC9XML at 16 x 10-6/dyne @100Hz making it also a high compliance cartridge, but holding firm at 1.8-2.2g tracking force.

    I am starting to think the numbers for OC9iii and OC9xml are 10Hz numbers..... where the OC9ml/ii were 100Hz numbers. I will say one of the reasons I bought the OC9ml/ii and not the iii is because of the compliance rating - the iii was just too high a compliance cartridge if the numbers were correct for my TT.


    Oh - one thing - for AT I use the .EU (European) site because they have more comprehensive specs for the cartridges -- the US site for some reason dumbed it down and dropped things like compliance. Guess they think the average user doesn't need to know things like that --- or maybe it's a semi-admission that the numbers are wrong and not 100% accurate, and they got tired of fielding questions, and deleted? Good on AT for providing such comprehensive specs, I like that, but the accuracy is in question.
  16. TheVinylAddict

    TheVinylAddict ___The Enforcer___ Thread Starter

    I think I recall reading in the archives a while back where you tried both the AT33ev, and OC9ml/ii at the same time --- and actually liked the EV more to start, but flip-flopped over time to the OC9ml/ii?
    HiFi Guy likes this.
  17. HiFi Guy

    HiFi Guy Forum Resident

    Orlando, FL
    Correct. The EV sounded better cold than the MLII did broken in. Once the EV hit about 50 hours, it sounded sluggish and boring. I didn't keep it long.
    TheVinylAddict likes this.
  18. Davey

    Davey very clever with maracas

    SF Bay Area, USA
    The 33PTG, I swapped leads on the cartridge and ran some other tests, can't say for sure when it happened, I think it was a bit gradual and I didn't notice at first since I spend most of my listening time on the table with the Benz. Talked about it here a couple months ago, but the cartridge is a few years old now so I'm not too crushed about it :)

    I've never heard any of the OC9 series, though it is kind of funny how opinions are all over the place on them, makes me want to try to new one, plus I really like the way it looks too. They have that new headshell that really looks cool too, completely integrated look if you have the right overhang and offset (meaning probably Technics 1200 series with default alignment)...

    Last edited: May 14, 2019
    bluemooze and Jim in Houston like this.
  19. TheVinylAddict

    TheVinylAddict ___The Enforcer___ Thread Starter

    It sure is --- I don't think I have ever seen a cartridge series with such dichotomous feedback -- it is all over the map!

    I think you are correct - with an AT headshell (like the LH) as shown in the pic, I think 52mm washer to stylus gets the streamlined look! (ie what the overhang gauge for Technics 1200 will give you in other words).
    Umberto Callegarin likes this.
  20. avanti1960

    avanti1960 Forum Resident

    Chicago metro, USA
    be careful. i tried the ortofon quintet blue and it was no match for the dv20x2l, a noticeable downgrade i couldnt live with it, grainy sounding compared to the smoothness of the dv. the 2m black is better but has no dynamics. if you can, go for the audio technica ART 9. same price but a huge upgrade over the DV20.
    Benzion and TheVinylAddict like this.
  21. Davey

    Davey very clever with maracas

    SF Bay Area, USA
    Oh, just got word that the ACE is right at $500 now without shipping, so no broken price barrier excuses needed anymore, he must've taken notice of me trying to shoehorn my pick in this under $500 thread and decided to make it happen :) ...

    Last edited: May 14, 2019
    TheVinylAddict likes this.
  22. JackG

    JackG Forum Resident

  23. TheVinylAddict

    TheVinylAddict ___The Enforcer___ Thread Starter

    Davey - went and took a closer look at the SL version --- and as with many cartridges walked away wondering if the dynamic compliance rating was a 10hz or 100hz number --- I know most are listed at 100Hz in the spec, but there are exceptions --- but since it is listed at 15 cu, which at 10Hz has it pushing probably at least 25cu @ 10Hz, I thought I would check if you knew.

    It is a fairly high compliance cartridge if that is a 100Hz number...........
  24. Davey

    Davey very clever with maracas

    SF Bay Area, USA
    Kinda perplexing that screw inserts are still mentioned as a special feature, but I guess it's because so many cartridges have plastic bodies now. They are even putting metal plates on top of some cartridges as a screw plate.
  25. Doctor Fine

    Doctor Fine Forum Resident

    Lewes, DE
    When I went looking at LOMC under $500 I thought the Denon DL 103r was the CLEAR winner.
    It even had a relatively inexpensive path to the top of the hill class---just change out the cantilever and stylus for a Soundsmith Ruby cantilever and fine line nude diamond!
    And the re-tip charge was modest!
    And I could use it as a conical for Mono and use it as a conical for OLD Stereo recordings with wide grooves.
    In other words---IT DOES EVERYTHING!
    And for CHEAP!
    So I bought a stock DL 103 and began learning what it took to squeeze the most out of it.
    I modified my arm to greatly increase mass so that it would produce deep strong bass.
    I experimented with Preamps and decided on transformers from K&K.
    I have not just a fine sub-$500 cartridge at this point.
    I have an ENDGAME setup.
    It works up to par on my $40,000 system.
    And that's ALL I will ever need in my tract-home suburban ranch lifestyle.
    I have ZERO interest in any other cartridge.
    The Denon sounds superb and I have been doing HiFi since the 50s.
    I even like how OLD the darn thing is, historically speaking.
    Makes me feel good to be pretty OLD myself...
    bluemooze and SandAndGlass like this.

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