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Cartridge suggestions

Discussion in 'Source Components' started by Dentman, Dec 26, 2017.

  1. Dentman

    Dentman Well-Known Member

    Looking for some advice on new cartridges for my Lab 400 Turntable. It's been 35 years since I bought one. I've owned units by Pickering, Empire, and Audiotech(SP) in the past. I found the Pickering to be the most neutral in the $100-150.00 price range
  2. Flint

    Flint "Do you know who I am?" Superstar

    Everyone I know loves Shure, they only make one HiFi cartridge which sells for about $100, but it is good.

    Personally, I love Audio-Technica because (to me at least) they sound more subtle and detailed. They are not as punchy or in your face as some brands (like Grado), but they are sweet and tight, which I happen to like.

    Just be sure to pick as HiFi cartridge and not a DJ cartridge.
    Dentman likes this.
  3. rammisframmis

    rammisframmis Well-Known Member

    One of the Ortofon moving magnet cartridges. Unless you specifically want a moving coil (MC) cartridge and your preamp has a moving coil compatible input, get a moving magnet (MM) type.

    One other thing you need to be mindful of is that basically all cartridges manufactured today assume the turntable has a medium mass tone arm, and that you will be using a current cartridge which is of medium compliance. If your turntable was manufactured before CDs became the norm, the tone arm is probably a low mass type. Low mass tone arms needed to be paired with high compliance cartridges to work best; high compliance cartridges are not made anymore to my knowledge. The Shure V15 series were the prototypical high compliance cartridge.

    Just do a bit of research and ask some questions before you buy.
  4. Dentman

    Dentman Well-Known Member

    I know Sure is well regarded but in the past I never thought much of them until you got way up in the price point. That's actually what I have now.
    I got my phono stage hooked up and I'm not real happy with what I'm hearing. Could easily be the phono stage as well. However when my father bought this Sure I know it was about the cheapest one they offered.
  5. Dentman

    Dentman Well-Known Member

    No, I want a MM cartridge for sure, and yes I have a low mass tone arm. Thanks for that info, I had no idea things changed.
  6. Dentman

    Dentman Well-Known Member

    Do u advise leaving well enough alone until I can upgrade to a newer Rega possibly?
  7. rammisframmis

    rammisframmis Well-Known Member

    You might query the cartridge manufacturer about compatibility with your arm.

    Although I've not been able to get a straight answer about this, I have the feeling that in some respects turntables have been dumbed down in certain ways having to do with arm mass and cartridge compliance. The traditional low mass arm/high compliance cartridge combination from the pre-digital era allowed very low tracking forces in the range of 1 gram. Now the norm is about 2 grams. I have even read claims from some "knowledgeable people" that heavier tracking weights are actually better for the records than lighter weight. That makes absolutely no sense as long as the lighter tracking cartridge is not mis-tracking at that weight.

    Anyway one possible problem with an arm mass/cartridge compliance mismatch is that the natural arm/cartridge resonance point which should be around 8Hz to 10Hz would be wrong with the wrong combination of arm mass and cartridge compliance.

    Mis-tracking would be the result of this mismatch, as would feedback sensitivity.

    Yes, in a way its not our vinyl world anymore in some ways.
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2017
  8. Dentman

    Dentman Well-Known Member

    Wow your not kidding it's not our world anymore. Yes I'm tracking right now at one gram. I always believed the lighter the better...to a point of course. 2 grams seems outragoiuse to me.
    WTF, why must they screw with everything.
  9. JeffMackwood

    JeffMackwood Maxi-Me

    What rammis said.

    In addition, I think that if you stick with a "classic" turntable paired with a recommended "classic" cartridge, and follow the manufacturers instructions for both, you probably won't go wrong. (After all, if the same things worked well back then, they should now!)

    For some such classic cartridges, OEM replacement styli are available. But with the vinyl craze, they are getting rarer. Luckily there are still a few companies around selling replacement styli that are essentially as good (and exact) as the originals.

    A few weeks ago I took stock of all of the cartridges that I still own. I assumed that, with the exception one that currently on the Stanton 681EEE with my Yamaha P-850 turntable which I know to have low hours on it, all of the others are likely worn out, because I don't trust that they are not. (I suppose I could have them inspected to find out.)

    That includes the Shure M91E that I have on a Pioneer PL-510 that I want to start using in an all-analogue (vinyl and cassette) "vintage" stereo system I'm assembling (for shits and giggles - not sonics!) And rather than looking for a replacement stylus, I decided to bring either an audio-technical AT130E or an Audio Dynamics ADC XLM Mk II Improved back into service instead. After some thought, and after looking for sources of replacement styli for each, I decided on the ADC, and the new stylus is sitting beside me waiting to get installed and mounted.

    But to Dent's question, assuming (after some research) that the match between tonearm and cartridge is ok, then any of the cartridges that I've mentioned should sound quite good, and not break the bank, assuming you can find them, and replacement styli for them.


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