Moving Magnet Phono Cartridges

I probably sound like a broken record (no pun intended) but I still haven’t pulled the trigger on the Hana MC cartridge.  I have been considering a moving magnet cartridge instead and have been researching.   I haven’t found many reviews of the better ones online except for users comments.  

I have been looking at the Audio Technica cartridges, Goldring and Ortofon.   I really wish I could find a Shure V15 or equivalent.  To the users of moving magnet cartridges, can you help me out or steer me in the right direction?


Thank you @lewm good point, a Jico stylus will give the OP the best chance to see if this is the direction he would like to go without actually owning a OEM stylus. There is nobody I know of with the equipment or the propensity to test a Jico replacement stylus for dynamic compliance so it is hard to say if they do not match OEM or if they do in fact come close to matching OEM specs so using factory specs to check compatibility with tonearm matching is common practice. I believe Jico does do a good job copying Shure stylus’s so I believe their Stanton copy should be as close to OEM as they can get it. Maybe somebody else could chime in here and say what their Jico D81 is tracking at, if it is tracking close to 1g then it is possibly pretty close to OEM. A shibata is also apart of line contact family alongside stereohedron so that should not be a problem but yes most say the sterohedron is a little smoother. Cheers


For everyone who is still following this post, I purchased an AT VM540 moving magnet cartridge pre mounted on a headshell. This way I can still use the ZU cartridge as well. I received it on Saturday and have been thoroughly enjoying my Rock records. I was leaning heavily on the AT VM760 cartridge until I read TAS review comparing it to the one I bought. The reviewer did say the 760 cartridge was tipped up in the treble compared to the 540 and also said the 540 was the sweet spot in the line up. I received many PM’s telling me to look at the AT line of cartridges for Rock music. I had never owned an AT in the past and hadn’t ever considered them.

I did have one member here trying to get me to purchase one of his used MM cartridges, and when I declined, he took it quite bad. He started off nice enough and sent me a list of around 10 used MM cartridges. I quickly realized I didn’t want any of them as it wasn’t what I wanted. He resorted to insulting me saying that “did I ever hear of the internet?”He tried to goad me into buying from him. I explained he didn’t have anything I was interested in yet he kept hounding me trying to sell me one of his Signet cartridges. He sent me quite a few messages. Keep in mind he contacted me via PM, I did not initiate anything. Also I do not like going outside of Audiogon. It was only after I told him I would block him and report him to Audiogon administration did he leave me alone.

At $300 including the headshell purchased right from AT, I am ecstatic. Thank you to everyone for your help and tips, very appreciated.  Now, if I can find a used Shure VM35 body, I will snap it up and get the Jico stylus for it.  It would be nice to have a third cartridge in the rotation. 

Glad you enjoy the AT!

I have both a Clearaudio Maestro V2 (mm) and a Hana SL (mc) cartridge which I switch out every now and then for variety's sake and to save wear and tear. The Hana is better at imaging while the Maestro casts a wider soundstage. 

People like @lewm , rauliruegas and myself have owned tens if not hundreds of cartridges over the years. We go all the way back to ESL and have had Shures, Stantons, Pickerings, ADCs, B+Os, Astatics, Empires, even GE and ElectroVoice. IMHO all of them pale in comparison to modern MI cartridges mostly due to modern cantilevers and styluses. Styluses in particular have a much better finish/polish than in the old days. A lot of the diamond was so contaminated they looked black under the microscope. Modern advanced stylus profiles have much larger contact areas creating slower wear on both the stylus and the record not to mention they are much quieter.  Soundsmith, Grado and Nagaoka are representative brands. I have not used a Grado for a while so I can not comment about the new models. The Soundsmith Voice is the best high output cartridge I have ever used by a country mile easily competing with $10K MC cartridges. I have a Friend who is using a Sussurro Gold who thinks it is better than any other cartridge he has had in his system and this fellow runs a CS Port turntable. We both have ordered the new Hyperion MR. I gave my Voice to another friend who has an older Basis Debut/Graham table. His first comment after 30 seconds was, "Boy, it's quiet!" These cartridges are neutral, incredible trackers and very well made. @lewm has a new Nagaoka MP500, their best cartridge and he seems thrilled with it. Perhaps he can compare it to other cartridges. Some Grado owners have chimed in. I would love to hear an Epoch, maybe the next cartridge? That will cost me a new kitchen.

I hope that it will be possible again in the future to include the London Reference in the list of superlative MI cartridges. A descendant of the Decca design, there are very few cartridges at any price that can come close to its speed, transient response and naturalness. Since John Wright (an ex-Decca engineer) retired over a year ago, there have been no new ones for sale, but have taken over servicing them, and did briefly mention on their website that a new version was planned, but that has now disappeared. I expect there is some difficulty about sourcing the stamped, thin, iron armature that holds the stylus. I believe Peter Ledermann offered to make them at one point, but was turned down by John.

It is often said that grounding can be awkward, but that more an issue for the older three-pin designs: I have no hum with it. It is also claimed that they are not the best trackers, but I have had no issues with either the Jubilee or the Reference, using them on SME IV and V arms, only the latter of which has a damping trough. I have the Reference back in play at the moment, on a IV. It still sounds like the most honest and neutral of all my cartridges, with a wonderful ability to make me tap my feet. The LP-S is warmer and richer, but that is perhaps an added colouration rather than honesty. The Sussurro, MP-500 and Grado Statement 3 come close, but none of them beat the Reference to my ear. Here are a couple of representative reviews:

Absolute Sound