Lowest priced MC thats better than a Premium MM?

I’ve only used MM’s with my Technics 1200Gr with Luxman Phono Pre. I’ve used a couple AT "540ML" series, a Ortofon black, KAB Concord with 40 stylus (very close to Ortofon Black in sound) and my current Nagaoka JT80BK (which I love). I tend to change cartriges (and keep them with headshell intact) at a point to where the stylus still has around 40% -50% life. I sometimes I switch out and listen to my older ones for a change of flavor.

I’m now wanting to try a MC however, I want to keep it under $1200 or so. An Ortofon SPU would be fun to try, however, from what I've read, I do not think its a good match for my tonearm. For my 1200GR, can anyone recommend a good MC Cartridge. I’m tempted to try a ZU modified 103r. Thoughts?


My experience:

The best MM I have is the Shure V15 VMR with a JICO SAS stylus. Very nice. 

A Hana SL, $750 at the time. Very nice.

And an AT33PTG/2,$549 when I bought it, but now it's $599 on the Audio-Technica site. This is my favorite by a good margin and I am completely satisfied. I run it on a Sumiko Premier MMT rewired with Cardas  for comparison. I am using a Musical Surroundings Phonomenon II. A modest set up but surprisingly satisfying.

The Audio Technica  AT 33SA is a fine cartridge for top shelf moving magnet money. A top shelf moving magnet is a fine sounding cartridge in its own right. Use of a top shelf moving magnet cartridge is not like suffering in a gulag.

VAS Nova. Hand built by Steve Lueng of Valve Audio Science in New Jersey, who is great to deal with by the way. He has 3 or 4 different output levels now. Harry Weisfeld of VPI once compared it to the Lyra Atlas! Entry level .8mv  output is around 1500.00. I started with that one but but .4 mv a couple of years ago, and sent it back to Steve recently who upgraded it for an upcharge difference and rewired my VPI tonearm with upgraded wire. Very happy with the result.

@billstevenson I think the reason I wanted to try an MC is because all over the various forums there a "you are missing out on something" attitude by some by using a MM. I see there are a few using Denon 103's or the ZU modified versions on 1200gr's, however, there others that say 103's are a terrible match for the GR tonearm. For 78's I have a KAB concorde and a OM 78 stylus. I listen mostly to Jazz recordings and Classic Rock. 

Well, many very decent LOMC cartridges have already been named, many of them made by Hana. Why not pick one and see for yourself if it’s a revelation? I’d only stay away from Denon DL103 variants and all HOMCs, not because those cannot possibly be good choices but because those are a bit off the question. By the way, I can’t recall whether your phono stage has enough gain for a typical LOMC (0.2 to 0.6 mV output at 3.54 or 5 cm/sec stylus velocity). If not, there’s another can of worms.