Need some Cart recommendations, $300 - $700 (New/Used) range…warm, full, yet great def.

As always…all thoughts welcomed…but actual experience is preferred.



Background: I want my records to sound like records (full, organic, etc.) not cds (I say this because I’ve had and heard several hi end turntable/cart combos that sounded sterile and analytical… I hate that). I don’t care if it’s coloration I’m seeking or not. If you have a problem with this notion…that’s ok but please don’t debate it here.

Right now I’m very satisfied with all aspects of my system…just want to have an extra cart to rotate in.



I have the following

-Turntable is Vintage Kyocera p701 (think old HK, AR suspended design…uses ceramics to dampen) it’s an awesome table worthy of even very high end carts.

-cart is a Hana SL …which I really really like after wasting a lot of time and money on other carts. (And no, not ruling out the ML…but wouldn’t mind a bit of a different sound signature)

-Phono pre- PS Audio Stellar- love this too…landed on after many disappointments and wasted $. My pre should accommodate most suggestions and it’s not going to change.


I am open to MM, MI, or MC…but seems like we are moving toward MC?


As mentioned/implied above…I like FULL/LUSH sound


Carts I’ve liked: Shelter 201 (awesome for the money!), Shure Vintage Carts (M95ED?), Hanna SL

Carts I think I’d like: Nagoka, Grado

Carts I haven’t liked: dynavectors, ortofon red, blue, bronze, and, omg, Rega Exact (yuk!) 😉


re. Grado…sounds like these may be my exact cup of tea…but, possibly foolishly, from what I’ve heard, I worry about hum and weight… Definitely would love some input from folks with actual experience here! I am intrigued by Grado.


I’ll try to find some specs in mean time.


Thanks in advance.





Charisma Denon 103...EMT HSD006 (may be a bit out of $ range), but discounts are generally possible. You could consider an EMT Tsd series used. Have you tried the Dynavector 20X. It's a much different sound than the 17D for instance...Of the above, I have a TSD 75, and have lived with the 15 it replaced. Full body sound with plenty of meat on the bone...not warm/colored, but certainly not cool/dry or thin. Paints with a broad brush...Same with the Charisma (Denon), but much lower output, and maybe the EMT is a bit more refined. Splitting hairs...the Charisma is a gift for the money. I believe the retail was $700 US when I bought mine. I believe you are on to something with Grado...and perhaps the Nagaoka. BTW- the Charisma tracks a bit lighter than a standard 103, for which it shares nearly identical specs. It worked fine on a Well Tempered arm for me. It also played nicely on my Kuzma arm. Have fun. 

Thanks for the wonderful suggestions.  

re. Dynavector 20x…yes tried that one….liked it but didn’t love it (been a while, but ifI recall…it may have been pleasant but didn’t grab me)it wasn’t until I got the Cheap Shelter that I knew I was onto something I really liked. Then the Hana SL …and here we are.

ohh…and unfortunately I have to admit…unfortunately, this whole SUT thing does sound VERY interesting….however, after my budget…I’d still have only one cart.

 Tried to find more mass info for my tonearm…having difficulty.  Makes me kinda fear going Down the Grado path (I’m going to try to post a picture link or update my profile with my tonearm…I think it’s an early Jelco…configured specifically for the table…seems medium mass at best.  Maybe some can I’d it..etc.   I don’t usually worry about such things  (frankly, I think we throw pennies around like manhole covers when it comes to vinyl) but do want to ensure within spec for my arm…for best results.

Re. Grado…any thoughts on the Sonata 3 vs. platinum 3 …I think retail is $600/$400 respectively? 

Lots of good stuff here…scratch the Grado question…my motor location may not be great for MI after all.

The Denon 103R keeps coming up…hmmm…attractive pricing too.


The Garrott Bros p77i is ~$500 USD.
I like that a lot, but there are lots of options in that dollar range.