Generally speaking, are MC cartridges more delicate than MMs?

Here's why I ask: I'm planning, finally, to get my retirement turntable. My one concern: I'm blind. I've used a Rega Planar 3 for many years without difficulty, though on the rarest of occasions I come up a tad short when cueing up a record and the stylus slides off the platter until I quickly lift the lever and set things right. Not great, obviously, but this is, as I said, rare. And so far has caused no obvious problems. I'm using an Ortofon 2M Black at the moment.


Suppose I were to get a better Rega (Planar 6 or 8) with, say, an Ania Pro. If the same sort of mishap were to occur, would it be likely to be a complete disaster, ruining the cartridge forever and leaving me out of luck and out of music, or would it be more likely to be just like what I described with the setup I've got now?


Thanks for any help anyone can provide.


-- Howard



"MC cartridges offer a level of performance that is definitively superior to MM cartridges but at 4 to 5 times the expense."  This is pure BS and also bad thinking.  Are you prepared to say that ALL MC cartridges outperform ALL MM cartridges?  If not, you said it anyway.  All the rest of what you say that follows that unsupportable generalization is as unsupportable as your opening salvo.  Nandric, where are you now that we need you?

You're welcome to your opinion, of course.

The replaceable styli of some MM cartridges is the main feature you’d lose and there are a few well regarded cartridges from Ortofon, Goldring (with derivatives from Audionote UK and Roksan), Nagaoka, etc that have this feature. As you’ve not needed to make use of this with the 2M black maybe it doesn’t matter that much. Turning to MCs there is a fashion for having the cantilever hanging out the front where it’s most vulnerable. Lyra do this and so do some others including the Regas you mention, though they at least give it some protection with a wire loop above it. Other MCs have the cantilever tucked underneath out of harms way, one of particular note might be the Dynavector 17DX which has a very short diamond cantilever, I ran a couple of its predecessors and they were very good at surviving mishandling. They worked well in a Rega arm too. Most other MCs have either an aluminium or boron cantilever that’s considerably longer, though there are some sapphire ones about and even a couple with cactus spines. Boron breaks and aluminium bends but either will mean a rebuild should that happen, Dynavector will only offer an exchange on a 17Dx. For those that have a rebuild option the cost can vary quite a bit as a proportion of the new cartridge price so check that when considering. Soundsmith, though not MC, make some that have a similarly low output and are very reasonable in this respect.

Technically MC are ever so slightly less robust than MM. This is due to the reason for MC in the first place is to reduce moving mass as low as possible. Less moving mass means a lighter cantilever and suspension. But while this is major in terms of tracking ability and sound quality it is so slight a difference in absolute terms as to not really matter in terms of what you are talking.

For being willing to do this you have my utmost respect. What I would do, have someone make a little peg out of wood or something, cut to almost the height of the platter and stuck to the plinth with blue tack or maybe double sided carpet tape. Have them stick this in just the right place so when you cue up a record you can feel it with your little finger and in no time you will know exactly where to drop the arm. As long as it is cut below the top of the platter, and as long as you use the arm  lift to cue, there will be no risk of hitting it even if you do miss a drop.


Setting aside the notion that MC cartridges are always superior to MM cartridges, which is patently absurd anyway, and accepting the notion that it is possible to obtain perfectly acceptable performance from either type, your special circumstance seems to me to weigh heavily in favor of choosing a cartridge from among those that have a user replaceable stylus.  The idea of a SoundSmith MI, which is relatively painlessly repaired, is also a reasonable suggestion.  I own an Experion and it does perform near the top.  But this is me, if I were in your shoes I would probably prefer my 2M Black, or my AT150 ANV, either of which is very satisfactory.

Thanks so much for your well-considered responses, which have provided me with much to think about. I'll likely be getting my retirement 'table in the spring, so I'll have some more time to think. Thanks, again.


-- Howard