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  1. #1

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    Question Suggestions for budget phono cartridge

    Hey guys, I have a question for you. I am very close to getting my TT set up and am very excited to have my own vinyl setup! However, I would like input from you guys for phono cartridges. I am looking for a good budget cartridge, less than $100 out the door. All arrows seem to be pointing to the Shure M97xE, which can be had for about $80 shipped, maybe less. However, before I pull the trigger on this cart, I wanted to know if there was something possibly better out there in the same price bracket. Associated equipment is a JA Michell GyroDec w/ Rega RB300 tonearm. Any input is appreciated, thanks!

    - Jeremy
    - Jeremy

    Amps: Jolida FX-10, NAD 3045, NAD C320BEE, Sansui G-9700
    Speakers: Polk Monitor 7A's, KEF Reference 104aB
    Sources: ProJect Debut Carbon, Sonos streaming FLAC

  2. #2

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    call Needledoctor.com in the morning, tell them which TT and arm you have.
    Speakers: SDA-1C (most all the goodies)
    Preamp: Joule Electra LA-150 MKII SE
    Amp: Wright WPA 50-50 EAT KT88s
    Analog: Marantz TT-15S1 MBS Glider SL| Wright WPP100C Amperex BB 6er5 and 7316 & WPM-100 SUT
    Digital: Mac mini 2.3GHz dual-core i5 8g RAM 1.5 TB HDD Music Server Amarra (memory play) - USB - W4S DAC 2
    Cables: Mits S3 IC and Spk cables| PS Audio PCs

    Ofc: Wright WLA12 preamp: Anthem Amp 1: Pio Elite DV-79AVI: Airport Express: CAL Sigma II DAC: PA LS90 sonicaps and mills

  3. #3

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    http://www.lpgear.com/Merchant2/merc...ode=GRADBLKSTD

    I've got both and prefer the Grado Black std.
    Better range, smoother, and less $$$

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    I got the Shure M97xE a couple of weeks ago on Amazon for $60. I'm happy with it so far, especially for the price.

    Good advice from thsmith. I've found that he knows what he's talking about.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by HB27 View Post
    http://www.lpgear.com/Merchant2/merc...ode=GRADBLKSTD

    I've got both and prefer the Grado Black std.
    Better range, smoother, and less $$$
    The Grado was actually my second option. I couldn't find as much info on it as I could the Shure, but what I did find was definitely positive.

    I will give needledoctor a call tomorrow, thanks for the advice. Hopefully they don't try to steer me to a more expensive cart than i need just because they want a sale.
    - Jeremy

    Amps: Jolida FX-10, NAD 3045, NAD C320BEE, Sansui G-9700
    Speakers: Polk Monitor 7A's, KEF Reference 104aB
    Sources: ProJect Debut Carbon, Sonos streaming FLAC

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zitro View Post
    The Grado was actually my second option. I couldn't find as much info on it as I could the Shure, but what I did find was definitely positive.

    I will give needledoctor a call tomorrow, thanks for the advice. Hopefully they don't try to steer me to a more expensive cart than i need just because they want a sale.
    A lot of good suggestions. They won't steer you into a more expensive cart. Tell them your budget and they will do right by you.

  7. #7

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    Shure M97xe and Grado Black are perennial favorites. The latter has some tt compatibility issues (google "Grado hum database" and "Grado dance") but a nice, lush sound (if that kind of thing is your bag; it is mine).

    Some recent chatter elsewhere suggested a few other house-branded options.
    http://www.audiokarma.org/forums/sho...d.php?t=280738 check post #10, e.g.

    For the record (so to speak), I am not a big fan of virtually any of AudioTechnica's offerings. YMMV, though. They've certainly got cartridges at all price points.
    Last edited by mhardy6647; 02-15-2010 at 09:18 AM.
    all the best,
    mrh

  8. #8

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    I've been using the Shure M97xe for about 6 months now, It took about 40 to 60 hours to really break-in but now it sounds great. I haven't had the opportunity to demo many cartridges, but for $60 this was a good choice for me.

    Jimmy

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    Never tried one, but I've heard very good things about the M97xE.

  10. #10

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    Amazon.com has the M97xe all the time for around $60 with free shipping. I've had one on my Goldring gr1 (aka rega P2) for over a year and am extremely pleased with it. For the price you just can't go wrong.

  11. #11

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    Quick question,

    Why are you wanting such a cheap cart on that excellent table/arm combo?
    Regardless, my vote is for Grado Black1
    Pro-ject RM-9.1 w/ Grado Sonata 1 -> USP-1 -> RPA-1 -> Vienna Acoustics Mozart Grands

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by bigred7078 View Post
    Quick question,

    Why are you wanting such a cheap cart on that excellent table/arm combo?
    Regardless, my vote is for Grado Black1
    heh, I hadn't even noticed the hardware in the first post! :-( Good question... but, heck, it's easy enough to upgrade when circumstances permit.
    all the best,
    mrh

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by bigred7078 View Post
    Quick question,

    Why are you wanting such a cheap cart on that excellent table/arm combo?
    Regardless, my vote is for Grado Black1
    My budget is quite limited right now. The Rega arm took most of the money I had to spend on this TT. The GyroDec is a gift, believe it or not, from a close friend who hasn't used it in years due to upgrading to a better table. Considering I also needed to buy a phono preamp and another pair of IC's, about $80 is all I have to spend on a cartridge. But...

    Quote Originally Posted by mhardy6647 View Post
    heh, I hadn't even noticed the hardware in the first post! :-( Good question... but, heck, it's easy enough to upgrade when circumstances permit.
    ...this is exactly what I plan on doing when funds permit. I will definitely upgrade the cart later and let this table/arm really do its thing :)
    - Jeremy

    Amps: Jolida FX-10, NAD 3045, NAD C320BEE, Sansui G-9700
    Speakers: Polk Monitor 7A's, KEF Reference 104aB
    Sources: ProJect Debut Carbon, Sonos streaming FLAC

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zitro View Post
    My budget is quite limited right now. The Rega arm took most of the money I had to spend on this TT. The GyroDec is a gift, believe it or not, from a close friend who hasn't used it in years due to upgrading to a better table. Considering I also needed to buy a phono preamp and another pair of IC's, about $80 is all I have to spend on a cartridge. But...



    ...this is exactly what I plan on doing when funds permit. I will definitely upgrade the cart later and let this table/arm really do its thing :)
    WOW, what an awesome gift! haha. Thats nuts, what a good friend. :D

    Definately make sure and save up for a great cart though, that table deserves greatness :D Enjoy:)
    Pro-ject RM-9.1 w/ Grado Sonata 1 -> USP-1 -> RPA-1 -> Vienna Acoustics Mozart Grands

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zitro View Post
    Hey guys, I have a question for you. I am very close to getting my TT set up and am very excited to have my own vinyl setup! However, I would like input from you guys for phono cartridges. I am looking for a good budget cartridge, less than $100 out the door. All arrows seem to be pointing to the Shure M97xE, which can be had for about $80 shipped, maybe less. However, before I pull the trigger on this cart, I wanted to know if there was something possibly better out there in the same price bracket. Associated equipment is a JA Michell GyroDec w/ Rega RB300 tonearm. Any input is appreciated, thanks!

    - Jeremy
    I scanned your post so quickly I missed this. Nice TT and very decent tonearm. As mhardy said be careful with the Grado cart as they are finicky as to what tonearm they are attached to. If you call the Needle Doctor, or whom ever you choose to make the purchase, make sure you tell the rep what tonearm you are using so they can recommend one in your price range that is compatible with the 300.
    Last edited by hearingimpared; 02-15-2010 at 02:30 PM.

  16. #16

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    A DL-160 wouldn't be a ridiculous choice, albeit a bit pricier than the original budget.
    all the best,
    mrh

  17. #17

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    Thanks guys. I will probably call NeedleDoctor shortly and I'll see what they tell me. Yeah, it is a very nice table and I am very lucky. My good friend is actually my girlfriend's Dad who is a huge hifi and analog nut. We're very close and he likes that we share this hobby; said he'd rather have someone else enjoying the table than it sitting stored away. He upgraded to a very nice Clearaudio some 5 or 6 years ago. He says I will never experience audio bliss until I get a dedicated analog setup, and based off of his rig I think he's right

    Quote Originally Posted by mhardy6647 View Post
    A DL-160 wouldn't be a ridiculous choice, albeit a bit pricier than the original budget.
    lol, yeah thats definitely out of my budget, and this isn't your fault since I forgot to specify, but my phono preamp only supports MM cartridges, so this would be a no-go either way.
    - Jeremy

    Amps: Jolida FX-10, NAD 3045, NAD C320BEE, Sansui G-9700
    Speakers: Polk Monitor 7A's, KEF Reference 104aB
    Sources: ProJect Debut Carbon, Sonos streaming FLAC

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zitro View Post
    Thanks guys. I will probably call NeedleDoctor shortly and I'll see what they tell me. Yeah, it is a very nice table and I am very lucky. My good friend is actually my girlfriend's Dad who is a huge hifi and analog nut. We're very close and he likes that we share this hobby; said he'd rather have someone else enjoying the table than it sitting stored away. He upgraded to a very nice Clearaudio some 5 or 6 years ago. He says I will never experience audio bliss until I get a dedicated analog setup, and based off of his rig I think he's right



    lol, yeah thats definitely out of my budget, and this isn't your fault since I forgot to specify, but my phono preamp only supports MM cartridges, so this would be a no-go either way.
    That's a kick the behind. However there are some really great sounding MM cartridges out there but they are out of your price range. At least you know for the future they are out there.

    Boy are you on a roll, free speakers, free turntable . . . great way to break into this hobby.

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zitro View Post
    lol, yeah thats definitely out of my budget, and this isn't your fault since I forgot to specify, but my phono preamp only supports MM cartridges, so this would be a no-go either way.
    heh, I hear you on the budget... but the DL-160 is a HOMC (1.6 mV, if the web is to be believed) that's potentially amenable to your MM preamp :-) Just sayin' (otherwise I'd have suggested the venerable DL-103
    LOMC).

    Nice fellow your GF's Dad; that's a fine tt (as is the arm); sounds like you knew that already!
    Last edited by mhardy6647; 02-15-2010 at 03:38 PM.
    all the best,
    mrh

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by hearingimpared View Post
    That's a kick the behind. However there are some really great sounding MM cartridges out there but they are out of your price range. At least you know for the future they are out there.

    Boy are you on a roll, free speakers, free turntable . . . great way to break into this hobby.
    Yes, I considered this before purchasing the preamp (Cambridge Audio 540P) but for now mostly MM cartridges are whats in my budget, and I've been told they're easier for beginners anyways. And trust me, I know; I've been beyond lucky *knock on wood* and am incredibly grateful. I really love this hobby and couldn't do it on my own right now or any time soon so I'm just glad I've been fortunate to run into some very kind people. CP has helped a lot, and later on when I have more money to spend, there will definitely be some Karma-ing on my end going on :)
    - Jeremy

    Amps: Jolida FX-10, NAD 3045, NAD C320BEE, Sansui G-9700
    Speakers: Polk Monitor 7A's, KEF Reference 104aB
    Sources: ProJect Debut Carbon, Sonos streaming FLAC

  21. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by mhardy6647 View Post
    heh, I hear you on the budget... but the DL-160 is a HOMC (1.6 mV, if the web is to be believed) that's potentially amenable to your MM preamp :-) Just sayin' (otherwise I'd have suggested the venerable DL-103
    LOMC).

    Nice fellow your GF's Dad; that's a fine tt (as is the arm); sounds like you knew that already!
    Thanks; he actually gave me the stipulation that if I wanted the table I had to buy that particular arm or he wouldn't give it to me since it wouldn't be doing the table justice lol. He's a great friend and an even better man.
    - Jeremy

    Amps: Jolida FX-10, NAD 3045, NAD C320BEE, Sansui G-9700
    Speakers: Polk Monitor 7A's, KEF Reference 104aB
    Sources: ProJect Debut Carbon, Sonos streaming FLAC

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zitro View Post
    Yes, I considered this before purchasing the preamp (Cambridge Audio 540P) but for now mostly MM cartridges are whats in my budget, and I've been told they're easier for beginners anyways. And trust me, I know; I've been beyond lucky *knock on wood* and am incredibly grateful. I really love this hobby and couldn't do it on my own right now or any time soon so I'm just glad I've been fortunate to run into some very kind people. CP has helped a lot, and later on when I have more money to spend, there will definitely be some Karma-ing on my end going on :)
    You must be doing something right.:) Great attitude too!

  23. #23

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    Don't forget to look at used on Agon also. I've purchased at least 3 that way and could not tell the difference from new. Plus, I was able to resell for the same price later when I upgraded.
    madmax
    Vinyl, the final frontier...

    Avantgarde horns, 300b tubes, thats the kinda crap I want... :D

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    If you go the agon route there is a thread somewhere here that has a cartridge/tonearm compatability formula chart or you can find one via Google.

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    Well, I called needledoctor and they actually recommended the Ortofon OM10 over the Shure, although he agreed the Shure was a good one. He found the Ortofon to be a more detailed cart. Anyone have experience with this cart? It's only $69, which is under the budget of about $80 that I gave him.
    - Jeremy

    Amps: Jolida FX-10, NAD 3045, NAD C320BEE, Sansui G-9700
    Speakers: Polk Monitor 7A's, KEF Reference 104aB
    Sources: ProJect Debut Carbon, Sonos streaming FLAC

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zitro View Post
    Well, I called needledoctor and they actually recommended the Ortofon OM10 over the Shure, although he agreed the Shure was a good one. He found the Ortofon to be a more detailed cart. Anyone have experience with this cart? It's only $69, which is under the budget of about $80 that I gave him.
    Cool! I've heard of the Ortofon and remember reading a review on it but I've never heard one. Good luck and have fun with it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hearingimpared View Post
    Cool! I've heard of the Ortofon and remember reading a review on it but I've never heard one. Good luck and have fun with it.
    Gracias sir

    I think I am going to go with the Ortofon OM 10 super phono cart, unless anyone gives me any reason to do otherwise.

    http://www.needledoctor.com/s.nl/it....2&category=402

    Here it is. Any last suggestions before I pull the trigger?
    - Jeremy

    Amps: Jolida FX-10, NAD 3045, NAD C320BEE, Sansui G-9700
    Speakers: Polk Monitor 7A's, KEF Reference 104aB
    Sources: ProJect Debut Carbon, Sonos streaming FLAC

  29. #29

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    lp gear might have better prices.
    SDA-2BTL with custom IC
    Adcom 565 monoblocks--Monarchy Audio M-10 preamp
    Theta Data Basic Transport--Camelot Arthur DAC--Camelot Dragon Pro2 MK III
    Harman Kardon T-55c TT
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    Prophecy Cryo-Silver Reference AES/EBU
    Prophecy Cryo-Silver i2s digital cable
    4 Furutech FP-314Ag with FI-11cu Plugs/FI-11AG IECs--- Power Cords
    DH LABS REVELATIONS ICs-amps
    Revelation Audio Labs Paradise cryo-silver ICs-Source to pre

  30. #30

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    Ugh, got thrown a curveball...David (my girlfriends dad) just informed me that he has a cart he can lend me until I get my own...because my money is needed elsewhere since apparently the GyroDec has an issue with the power supply and won't power up. I have to get it fixed :( . Do you guys think a general electrician should be able to fix what it is? David has no idea what's wrong with it.
    - Jeremy

    Amps: Jolida FX-10, NAD 3045, NAD C320BEE, Sansui G-9700
    Speakers: Polk Monitor 7A's, KEF Reference 104aB
    Sources: ProJect Debut Carbon, Sonos streaming FLAC

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