MM Cartridge to MC Cartridge

Hi All. First post. I’m thinking about moving from a MM cartridge to an MC cartridge. I hesitate a bit, because about a year ago I moved from an inexpensive MM cartridge to an expensive MM cartridge and noticed little difference. My vinyl system consists of:

Rega Planar P3 with Rega Exact Mk 2 cartridge 

McIntosh MP100 phono preamp

McIntosh MA252 integrated amp

Budget is less than $1k. Thinking Rega Ania MC cartridge because reviews are positive and install easy.

Do you think this change will be worthwhile? Suggestions?



My biggest fear of going to a MC is that I don't spend enough to prevent it from being a lateral move.   You definitely have a good phono pre.     

I was thinking the same thing and wondering , do I have to spend $1500 on a cartridge for a just a modest improvement?   Not sure I want to do that.   My biggest improvements since getting back into vinyl were the accessories to dial things in better.  Stylus Gauge ,  MoFi Geodisc, VTA block .    After some trial and error sound improved dramatically.  

If you go with another Rega , the 3 screw mount system takes a lot of fuss out of the equation.   If not a mirror protractor or geodisc is an easy way to get good results


An easy recommendation is the Hana SL mc ($750). This has the Shibata stylus for superior detail retrieval. It is my choice for an mc cartridge under $1K. After that the skies the limit!

When I moved from MM I opted for the Denon DL103 - even though it has a sperical stylus it was noticebly better and very affordable

Then after reading about the ZU version (and similar approaches) I applied my DIY mind to the problem and epoxied a brass plate to the cardridge, which again improved things, because

  1. it added some mss, which suited my Rega arm better
  2. it tightened up the sound - much crisper with a tighter bass

The final upgrade was to replace the stylus with a Soundsmith mod to ruby cantilever with an optimized Countor contact line stylus, which improved the details amazingly

Now I am not suggesting you go thruogh the same steps, but the things that make a difference are

  1. stylus profile and cantilever material
  2. Matching the tonearm

BTW - I had a Rega cartridge and by comparison it was muddy and lifeless

@jasonbourne71 recommendation is pretty good by all accounts, but also look at the Denon range (not necessarily the 103).

Audio Tecnichnica also have some MM carts that may improve things also

Hope that helps - Steve


Absolutely not! Reviews are always positive. You are for better off going for a good MM cartridge than a cheap MC. Get an Ortofon 2M Black LVB version. It will be a noticeable improvement but don't expect to be bowled over. To do better with an MC cartridge you would have to spend $3000 plus.

@williewonka : you are right about matching the cartridge compliance with the arm mass. Low compliance needs a heavier arm. High compliance needs a lighter arm. This relates to the resonance frequency of the arm/cartridge combination - ideally below 10 hz..

@mijostyn : I disagree that one must spend thousands for a good sounding mc cartridge! The venerable DL103 wouldn't have held its esteemed status among audiophiles if it didn't sound good! Of course the higher-priced Denon MC's offer a more refined sound! 

The OP can consider the Grado moving-iron cartridges. The new Prestige series starting at $79 and up is worth checking out!

To do better with an MC cartridge you would have to spend $3000 plus

My $600 Denon 103 modified by soundsmith will give most $3000 carts a run for their money. It equaled a Van Den Hul cart in every way.

I stopped looking once I  bought it

Regards, Steve

Another thing to consider is the arm.

I have an Audiomods series three. It improved the performance of my Denon  103 greatly. It has a one piece silver harness with low mass KLE Innovations RCA plugs.


So its not ALL about the cartridge.


Regards Steve


@jasonbourne71 , @williewonka 

Grado can make a great cartridge, I do not think they enter their own until they get away from elliptical styluses.

I owned a 103 and like the Linn LP 12 everyone wants to make mods to them because they are all over the place and dirt cheap. In its day it was a good cartridge. Today it is just a platform for everyone to screw around with. If you can not pick up the difference between any modded 103 and say an Ortofon Verismo either your system, your ears or both need work. The first thing you will notice is the Verismo will be MUCH quieter due to its stylus profile, then sharper transient response due to its diamond cantilever.

The Ortofon 2M Black LVB version is superior to any Grado at or below it's price point. There is no, let me repeat, no $1000 MC cartridge that can compete with a 2M Black LVB cartridge. 

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I think the most important part of a modern cartridge is the stylus cantilever assembly. In the LVB the upgrade to the boron cantilever which is stiffer and lighter will improve detail, transient response and tracking. The stylus effects high frequency reproduction and most importantly signal to noise ratio! Many of us have noticed that fine line styluses track quietly. This is because the contact area is much larger and linear, not a point. It is less likely to fall into imperfections. The result is less background noise. Other MM cartridges that have advanced stylus profiles are many of the ATs, the Goldring 1042, Some of the Clearaudios and some of the Soundsmiths. I'm sure there are others that I do not know of. The Soundsmith Voice is the best high output cartridge I have ever used. My Voice is now performing magnificently in a system built on Magico S7s, a Basis Debut with a Graham arm. The new owner's first comment after lowering the needle was," there's no noise!" He insists it is the best cartridge he has ever had in his system. 

@prufrock28, @mijostyn - re...

Grado can make a great cartridge

I agree, however, way back when I tried a Grado on my Rega, it had a hum, which got louder as the cartridge got cloaser to the Motor

  • you can ground the motor to eliminate this, but it is a little tricky

FWIW - after I replaced the Rega arm with the Audiomods arm (which is very easy) I heard so much more....

  • There was little sign of unwanted sibiliance
  • Bass imporved greatly
  • imaging and clarity improvements were very noticeable

This was by far the the most worthwhile upgrade to my turntable, the second being the Soundsmih upgrade to my Denon 103. {Note: I am promoting the Denon approach. There are lots more worthy alternatives in today’s world}


Regards - Steve


That hum is typical of the old cartridges with some turntables. The newest ones are not supposed to have that issue

Thanks for all the comments on this. I do think I’ll try an affordable MC cartridge, and will report back on the outcome.


A suggestion that you might consider is to have a look into how you are creating a optimised environment that is most suited to your TT's overall function.

How the TT, is mounted and the material used for the Platter Mat, are both able to have a substantial impact on the produced sonic for the betterment.   

Making time to investigate and putting some funds towards this might produce the best version of this TT you are to encounter.

The outcome should be, that when the set up for the TT is optimised, and additional ancillaries are added, the carefully thought out set up, will prove to be very beneficial to the new additions function.

In order to maximize the upgrade, I would recommend making sure it has an advanced stylus shape (line contact) as opposed to elliptical. 

Thanks. I’m chuckling to myself right now because I’m so out-to-sea that I have no idea what a line contact stylus is. Advantages?

Rega makes it simple for you to go up their line of cartridges. Set up is a breeze. Detour to a different brand and now you’re pretty much stuck scratching your head trying to figure out whether or not the cartridge height will match, how to set overhang properly, etc. unless you have Rega spacers and a good protractor. 

Upscale Audio folks have data on cartridges that work well with Rega tables if you want to venture outside the Rega line up, Ask about Hana ML. If it works, that’s the cart I’d recommend. It’s a great sounding pickup and works well with MP100 phono amp.