Advice on best mid priced MM cartridge choice for Rega P3 (2016)

Greetings,I am interested in advice or opinions from actual owners of Rega P3 (2016 version) turntables on what mid priced moving magnet cartridge they have paired with it and have success with. I have narrowed my choices down to the Ortofon Bronze, Nagaoka MP 150, Sumiko Moonstone, or Audio Technica VM540ML. I am not interested in MC carts, and have read that Grado does not pair well with Rega.

Currently I have the stock Elys II mounted. It has been solid, but I am looking for a more dynamic sound. I understand there may be spacers required for VTA, etc. for various cart choices. I am most interested in your opinions on the sound quality of the carts mentioned above-what do you think sounds great with this turntable?
Thank you for your help!
How about a MM cartridge, where the manufacturer believes in it so much, than they have a return policy?

Who has return policies for cartridges? Who the heck would do such a thing....

Perhaps they believe the the person buying it will never give it up, once it has actually been heard by them..and then, over when heard by enough people..... the return policy can be put away.

Perhaps they believe, with a self changed stylu (purchased just about anywhere --price shopping)...from the supplied Elliptical ..up to a ML or Shibata tip.... that it exceeds, in overall sound quality...pretty well all other MM cartridges currently in existence.

The trick, is to try it early -- while the return policy still exists.

Logically, this can only work, for the buyer and the manufacturer both ---if all that is stated about potential, is actually true.

Additionally, that the given cartridge..just might drop onto a Rega turntable with perfect height - right from the get go.
nags have a fuller rounder less detailed sound

audio technica the reverse... more detail flatter response

ortofons somewhere in the middle

don’t know your budget... consider a benz glider hi output... another class of sq, musicality - there is one for sale on agon now
Garrott P77i , don’t be scarred, the price is in Australian Dollars (not USD :)

No one never mentioning this brand new model on audiogon, except me.
You guys know nothing about cartridges or don’t want to know :)
It’s so boring to read about the same 5 brands in every thread here on audiogon.

Do you really know any other brands except for Ortofon, Nagaoka, Audio-Technica, Grado, Sumiko, SoundSmith ? Why it’s always the same list ???

Garrott Brothers (RIP) were legendary re-tippers and cartridge designers from Australia. Young Reto Andreoli was trained by them ( he’s another legend today).

What is a mid priced MM ? $300-400 ?  

2m bronze for less detailed, warmer sound. 2m black if you have good electronics. More detail, more dynamic. 
too bad you are bored chakster

the question was asked by someone learning, with a good basic tt, the thread isn’t to entertain you

the brands mentioned are not the only ones out there, but they are solid. long standing brands with good reputations for quality and good sound

person goes on a car board asks for a good solid reliable reasonable priced car... we say honda toyota vw now hyundai or kia - what are you gonna say? alfa romeo? renault?
@jjss49 Well said.

Also, Goldring makes some excellent mid priced cartridges, and the carts that the OP mentioned seem like great choices.
This may be a little out of your price range, but you might look into the SOUNDSMITH CARMEN MKII.  The OTHELLO is a little less expensive, but I have no experience with that cartridge. You can't go wrong with the CARMEN
I have a Nagaoka and must say they are extremely musical . It's the type of sound that grabs your atention , makes you close your eyes and transport you. 

On detail the 150 is very good 
 It doesn't sacrifice detail at the expense warmness . On musicality the Grados are excellent . From the least expensive Black they sound very good for the price . Problem with Grados is setup . They are a pain to get them tracking correctly and are very sensitive with setup. 

Ortofons tonally are right smack in the middle tonally . On the Bronze and Black if your system is already warm the Bronze will move it to much towards that warmness , so IMHO the Black would be the better alternative . 

The problem with the Black is that its a very neutral and revealing cartridge so you need very good electronics , if not on some recording your system might sound shrill and threadbare . 
I would recommend the Nagaoka . Musicality with a bit of warmness and detail , great tracking and easy setup . Its a bit expensive but IMO worth every penny . Take care and safe bro. God bless
Check out the Hana line of carts. I’ve been using the eh, yes it’s moving coil, but can be used with a mm phono stage (47khom). It gets hardly anything but 5 star reviews, which tells me it must be pretty versatile. 
Never heard you table/arm, just a thumbs up for Audio Technica Microline’s, I have prior model 440ML. AT’s 540ml price is shown $370. Amazon $250.

People say specs are not a reason to choose, but imaging of a group of musicians, jazz players especially for me, is important because it is so enjoyable, and hearing the skills of individual players reveals their magic. Also appreciating the work of great engineers. The stiffness of the cantilever material is a determinant.

IOW, while checking reviews of sound qualities ... keep an eye on the specs.

Recently, I compared sound and especially imaging from 4 cartridges, using very familiar well engineered evaluation tracks. 3 arm deck allows instant comparisons. Center is phantom created by matching l/r. I can definitely hear the tighter center imaging, and how wider separation ’lays’ the instruments out more distinctly across the stage, that helped by the tighter center as well.

CS 25db; CB 1.5db Shure V15VxMR with new SAS stylus on boron from Jico

CS 30db; CB .75db AT440ML OEM Microline on aluminum

CS 30db; CB .5db AT33PTG/2 Microline on boron (MC, my first, and now favorite).

CS 25db; CS 2db: Shure 97xe elliptical on aluminum

I like the brush feature of the Shures, but both Audio Technicas produced very enjoyable sound quality while producing improved imaging.

I'm suppose wide frequency response, especially lows and their subsequent overtones is involved in the results:

AT33PTG/2 is 15-50,000hz
Shure 97xe is 20-22,000hz 

Specs: directly comparable to each other???, I just refer to what they publish.

I'll second the hana eh recommendation. I use the el version and it is lovely. 
If trying high output MC, like Hana EL, directly into MM Phono, it's still only 2mv. 

IF you have any hum when you turn your phono/preamp/amp volume up, I suggest sticking with MM as OP wants to do.

Thank you all for your input, I really appreciate it!
My reasons for potentially choosing one of these four cartridges are price and accessibility.

My system is modest, so regarding price I’d prefer to stay under $500. $350-$450 would be the sweet spot. I’ve heard the Ortofon 2M Blue and Nagaoka MP-110 on other turntables, of the two I liked the Nagaoka better.

But I like the way the Ortofon mounts better than the Nagaoka carts, with the top screws. So my hope is to learn from someone with a Rega 330 tone arm who has actually experienced these carts. Maybe the Bronze would sound great on it, or maybe the Nagaoka is a better choice? I have no experience with the AT or Sumiko carts.

I have not had hum issues thankfully, I use the phono stage built into my Marantz PM KI Ruby integrated, and it seems solid. As a relative newcomer to this hobby, it is quite helpful to learn from all your experiences-thank you for your generosity to share what you have learned!
I have a Rega Planar 3 with groovetracer mods and the Hana SL cartridge is amazing with it.  I'm sure their MM cartridges would work equally as well.  A 2mm shim was all that was required.
There is only one cartridge here that has an actual return policy. A policy that says, if you don't like it, return it for a refund.

And that is the new Teo Audio MM CBP Cartridge. 

We believe in it enough that we don't think that anyone will return it.  Even if they normally use cartridges that cost 2-3-4-5-x times as much. Be they MM or MC in type.
I used a Denon Dl-110 on the same table, sounded great. People seemed to like the Nagaoka better though.
I went from Grado Red to Ortofon Bronze, best $500 I've spent on audio so far.
You also might wanna check out Ian’s YouTube channel, HiViNyws. He auditions a ton of carts and often uses a Rega deck. 
Some killer Moving Magnet cartridges at mid price in my opinion:

Sony XL-50 with boron pipe cantilever. 
Pickering XSV/4000 with Stereohedron stylus tip. 
Pioneer PC-1000 MK II with Beryllium cantilever. 
Stanton SC-100 WOS with sapphire coated cantilever and Stereohedron tip.

Best buy is Pickering XSV/3000SP (under $450) or just regular XSV/3000 and its brother Stanton 881s for under $350 NOS. It's extremely low price for a high quality performer with amazing stylus profile that can be user for over 1000 hrs. Those carts were offical disk mastering monitoring cartridges of Doug Sax at The Mastering LAB. 

Compared to these cartridges all modern MM in this price range are junk in my opinion.  

I’m willing to bet that the Teo Audio ’CC’ MM cart, with a shibata, at $600, outperforms them all, Chalkster. Everything I know, multiple kitchen sinks..are in that cartridge. There is stuff in there...never seen in any cartridge.

So no, not junk.
The cartridges are new. Too new. Just arrived, in a crowded market. And when it becomes known, the prices necessity... go up.

Consider the gauntlet thrown down. :)

The ’money back if you don’t like it’ (on the basic version) says it all.

Eg, the first buyer bought the CC version (carbon Composite shell) with a nude elliptical. His Ortofon A95 is away being re-tipped. Purchased to be his interim cartridge. He called it ’A triumph’.

I can do better, but I'd have to re-design all the alloys, metals, and plastics from the ground up. All of that is in hand, but unavailable due to financial constraints. And that means we have to sell a few of these - first.

I use the Nagaoka 110 but not on a Rega. My cartridge is great. I have heard you want to be careful in picking out a cartridge that works with the rega line. Sometimes when the cart gets close to the motor you can get some ground loop hum. I would pick a rega TT despite this little problem but make sure someone is already using the cart on an unmodified TT or use what rega recommended. Because carts are not typically returnable I would make sure it is going to work. 
I’m willing to bet that the Teo Audio ’CC’ MM cart, with a shibata, at $600, outperforms them all, Chalkster.

First try to write my name correct.

If you’re not familiar with classic high-end gear from the golden age how can you say a word ? Just because there is a Shibata on Teo Audio? Well Stereohedron is equal to Shibata / Line Contact type.

You’d better explain what is Teo Audio to the people, add some links if you want to contribute something useful. There is NO cartridge on Teo Audio site.

Are you associated with Teo Audio yourself ?
You’re here to advertise your Teo Audio cartridge?

I purchased the VM-95E with the paratrace stylus for about $200, only available from UK, great mm for the price. It would be great on the rega and will surprise you compared to higher priced alternatives.
If you are patient, you can usually find a Rega Exact selling new on Ebay, or somewhere in the $300 ballpark. I've had two in the past several years, and it's a really nice cartridge - especially with the Rega table.

Why do you always recommend the same old handful of cartridges?????
Why do you always recommend the same old handful of cartridges?????

Actually not the same, it depends on the budget and tonearm. 
But at least I recommend something that can sound amazing, not just average sounding modern cheap MM carts with mediocre cantileveler and stylus profile with very short life span. 

We have one problem here on audiogon, people who own some cartridges think those cartridges are amazing, but they never tried any good cartridge (or any better cartridge). 

Some cartridges does not have even nude diamonds (only bonded). 

What do you recommend and what is your contribution on this forum? 


I came across this Stanton Catalog, two interesting technical performance and stylus type charts.

what is the difference between Stereohedron and Stereohedron II?

One aspect of Stereohedron’s very long life must be it’s very light tracking centering on 1g. My Shure V15Vxmr liked 1.25 g. Most Mono and MC want heavier tracking which I prefer avoiding.

It seems many of the outputs are in that difficult range near 1mv, where only a few SUT’s have low enough x factors of 5 or 6 are about right.

What was in common use with these cartridge output strengths?

Thanks everyone for your input-I opted for the Ortofon Bronze this round. Pleased with the choice. Plan to try Nagaoka in the future. All the best
In the current range of the Ortofon 2M series I like the most
this Ortofon 2M bronce.

For my hearing it was more balanced than the black.

So it is a big bang for the buck.
yes -- with ortofon mm’s i have also found higher up the line gives more detail/treble sizzle

each user needs to find the sweet spot for them given the tonal balance they seek for their system
Sumiko Pearl...inexpensive and sounds amazingly good, well rounded and really gets a lot out of the groove, so to speak.
I came across this Stanton Catalog, two interesting technical performance and stylus type charts.

what is the difference between Stereohedron and Stereohedron II?

Shared this link many times on this forum before, some of the best Stanton models are in the catalog, except for the signature SC-100 with Stereohedron II (top model, but not in the catalog).

One aspect of Stereohedron’s very long life must be it’s very light tracking centering on 1g. My Shure V15Vxmr liked 1.25 g. Most Mono and MC want heavier tracking which I prefer avoiding.

Stetting with the brush must be 2g, but the actual tracking force will be 1g and it’s recommended (however, the range is +/- 1/4).

It seems many of the outputs are in that difficult range near 1mv, where only a few SUT’s have low enough x factors of 5 or 6 are about right. What was in common use with these cartridge output strengths?

I have active gain phono stage with adjustable gain (Gold Note ph-10).
Long time ago my Low Impedance (low output MM) Stanton 980/LZS was fine with 1:10 SUT with my low power tube amp. But i was much more impressed with my Stanton CS100 (regular output). Now I have excellent Pickering XLZ/4500 and XLZ/7500, they are both low impedance (very low output MM).

*** Here is a part of the review from feb. 1982:

"Aficionados of moving-coil (MC) cartridges will be surprised and pleased to learn that 980LZS is indistinguishable from the very best moving-coil (MC) types in the most rigorous laboratory and aural tests. Stanton’s is an impressive dual achievement. I was continually aware that 980LZS sounded like a moving-coil (MC) cartridge. The bass was well defined and tight with good sonic clarity, as well as transient response and applause definition. Transparency of sound was excellent when reproducing the high recorded levels present on most direct-to-disc recordings. At no time did I notice any coloration of the music. The 980LZS is also one of the very few phono cartridges that can cleanly reproduce the cannon fire on the Telarc DG-10041 recording of Tchaikovsky’s 1812." - B.V.Pisha (Audio Review, Feb.1982)


Stylus Type: Nude Stereohedron Contact Radii: .0028 (71u)
Scanning Radii: .0003 (8u)
Stylus Tracking Force: 1 gram (+/- 0.5)
Setting with Brush: 2 gram (+/- 0.5) resulting operation tracking force 1 gram (+/- 0.5)
Frequency Response: 10 Hz to 50 kHz +
Output: .06 mv /cm/sec
Channel Balance: Within 1 dB @ 1kHz
Channel Separation: 35 dB @ 1kHz
Cartridge DC Resistance: 3. ohms
Cartridge Inductance: 1.mH
Cartridge Weight: 5.5 grams
Load Resistance: 100 ohms or greater
Load Capacitance: 1000 pF, or less (incl. arm leads cable and amp.)

P.S. None of the modern MM will sound as good as the Stanton/Pickering top models. Those are the finest MM for realistic prices. The low impedance (low output MM) will blow away your LOMC.
+ 1 for Rega Exact  Or wait a few years and  go to Tokyo and see if you can find what chakster likes .