New Pioneer PLX-1000 Turntable - Need recommendation for MM Cartridge and Mat

Hello A-goN'rs,

I just picked up a nearly new Pioneer PLX-1000 Turntable from a local seller. It came with an Ortofon Concorde MkII Mix cartridge and a Fluance PA-10 phono pre-amp. I set it up in my system, played around a bit with VTA and I've listened to a few records. My initial thought is that it sounds pretty darn good, especially since it is using a $99 DJ cartridge. I'm using the built-in phono pre-amp in my Rega Elicit-R integrated amp, not using the Fluance.

My reason for buying the Pioneer is to have a robust TT that I can take out of the house for an occassional music night with some local friends. It is going to work very well for that purpose. However, given how good it sounds in stock form, with the cheap cartridge, I'm wondering if a couple of minor upgrades might promote it into my main system to replace my current budget-priced belt drive table.

Does anyone have a recommendation for a <$500 MM cartridge for this TT? Also, any recommendations for a Mat that might offer an improvement in Sound Quality? Lastly, I've never owned a DD table. Regarding the platter/mat: do aftermarket mats get placed on top of the stock rubber mat? If the stock rubber mat is removed, the platter has a recess where the stock mat sits, and an elevated ring around the outside of the platter. Curious if an aftermarket mat sits on top of the stock rubber mat, or do I need to buy a replacement mat that fits in the original recess?

Thanks for your thoughts and recommendations...



SAEC SS-300 solid mat is excellent for Pioneer platter. The best cartridge is Pioneer PC-1000 mk2 with Beryllium cantilrver, but it's very rare, the sound signature is very close to the best Stanton cartridges from the '80s. You can use some of the best classics on Pioneer tonearm: Stanton 881s and 881s mk2 (or Pickering equipment XSV/3000 and XSV/4000). 

@chakster  - Thanks for the reply. Regarding the SAEC Mat: Per an eBay classified I found, it says it is 298mm diameter. That means it is going to sit up in the raised lip of the platter. Considering it is a solid Mat, only the edge on the mat, and the inside of the spindle hole, will be touching the platter. It would not fit down inside of the recess in the platter. Is that typical with the "Super-OEM turntables, or even the original Technics tables? Just curious.

Regarding the cartridge, I'm probably going with a current production cartridge, unless I can find a vintage cartridge that I can audition locally. What do you think of an Ortofon 2M Bronze? I've read several posts, on various sites, stating it is very good on this new Pioneer model. 

I added the PLX1000 to my TT collection. I am using the Denon 103R mc cartridge along with a Bellari SUT into the RGR 4 preamp. I prefer a mc over any mm. Superior transient response and lower noise floor. Better detail retrieval from LPs - more dynamic too! At around $300 the Denon 103R is an easy budget choice.