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...



Hey Reubent,

The reason for recommending the Empire 2000Z is that it's a great sounding cartridge & one of the best Empire made. That one also comes with a NOS stylus so you would be in good shape for a long time. In regard to risk when buying an old cartridge... It is certainly there. Although IME, it is less of a risk when buying from US Audio Mart or Audiogon.   

Hello All,

So, if you've recommended a cartridge, and understand cartridge loading (I don't), can you tell me if the cartridge you recommended is compatible with my Pioneer's tonearm and my Rega's phono input?

Rega Elicit-R Phono

Input 1 switch set to phono) -2mV Load 47K in parallel with 220pF


Pioneer PLX1000 Tonearm 

Arm Type: Universal S-shape tonearm, Gimbal-supported Bearing Structure, Static Balance
Effective Length: 9.05"
Overhang: 0.59"
Arm Height Adjustment Range: 0.23"
Tracking Error: Within 3º
Tracking Force Range : 0 Gms to 4 Gms
Cartridge Weight Range:
      Normal: 3.4 to 12.8 Grams
      With Headshell: 3.4 to 6.25 Grams
      Balanced weight: 0.21oz to 0.35oz
      Sub weight: 0.33 to 0.45oz


Thanks, and Enjoy...

That should work fine with the Empire 2000Z. Perhaps Chakster could chime in to confirm?

Ordered the AT-VM740ML here early this morning via Amazon Prime and it's supposed to arrive later today. Hope it shows today as I'm experiencing some issues with the current cartridge.

Will provide an update once it's installed and has some hours on it.

Thanks for everyone's input.

You will be very please with the 740ML. I just switched back to the 540ML on my 1200GR just for a change and I forgot how great the cartridge sounds.