You've run some pretty fancy MC's, but the _______ MM cartridge really impressed me

Fill in the blank above. If you wish, feel free to mention what MC or MC's you have used. 


I can't remember the specific models, but I derived years of pleasure out of my two Grados.  They tracked well. They delivered big juicy sound. Imaging, if not laser precise, felt natural and a good deal like what real life sound is really like. My two Shure V15 carts, meantime, came off as a trifle cool and analytical, but I never found a single slice of vinyl that gave them any trouble. Old beaten up 45 singles? Not a problem.

OP here....Let’s accept any high output cart including Moving Iron. I apologize for not being specific. I’m actually interested in Grado, along with Clearaudio and Sumiko. I just bought a Luxman PD 151, and am thinking of going with a high output (MM, MI...) cartridge in an effort to keep my second system simple. At this point, I’m just looking for something special. I’m usually willing to sacrifice detail for tone and emotion. Price range is $600-$1500. 

Post removed 

I run a Clearaudio Maestro V2 Ebony in an SME IV tonearm on a Michell Engineering GyroDec. Sounds fine to me and tracks every disc I play, effortlessly. Including DD LPs cut at high levels. Sound quality using MFSL One-Step Ultradisc is about as good as it gets IMHO.

Grace Ruby. Also other more rare Grace MM cartridges, with advanced styli; I forget the nomenclature. Also vintage Acutex (MI) and B&O MMC1 and MM20CL (both also MI). These will blow away many mid priced MCs and all HOMCs I have ever heard ( includes some Sumiko, Transfig Esprit, Benz Glider 1 and 2). These are only my opinions based on listening in my two home systems.

I just put this together in another thread.

Before joining Audiogon, I had a MM Shure V15Vxmr micro-ridge (favorite due to sound and preferred to AT440ml only because of Shure’s alternate damped brush), alternate headshell with MM AT440ml microline; and an alternate headshell with MM Shure 97xe elliptical, also damped brush. My wood floors are flexible, so damped brush can help with that as well as warped lps. No longer a problem due to current rack/TT location


Joined Audiogon, AND covid era left me toooooo much time alone and some otherwise unspent money). Don’t forget, I’m an old dog, 74.

Current Cartridges:

I ’make my own’ by buying bodies with broken cantilevers and if MM eventually finding NOS stylus or if MC having Steve at VAS build me something. Happily, he’s only 35 minutes from me.

I’ve got 6 mounted in various tonearms here, plus a few spares. I have gathered them based on past listening here or hearing friends cartridges; reviews; specs: but not carefully compared them to find differences. Like many LPs, a few I never even listened to yet.

AT 14SA, shibata 1.25g; sep >27db; balance 1.0db. On my garage/shop TT, a Sony Drawer Type, to stack and fit more stuff there, incl dual cassette and 8 track. Note: these TT’s had P mount, or an alternate head for 1/2" which mine came with.

AT TR485U linear 1.25g; sep >31db; bal 1.0db. P mount Shibata (rare) on my Technics SL-J33 programmable compact TT (former garage/shop: spare/loaner these days)

AT440ml micro-linear 1.25g; sep >30db; bal 0.75. Active on Office Mitsubishi Vertical Linear Tracking LT-5V. Wonderful sound, I had a few AT440ml’s over the years.

Shure V15Vxmr micro-ridge 1.25 sep >25 db; bal 1.5db. Originally Beryllium cantilever, broke it. Bought Jico SAS on boron, optional brush, but not damped like Shure’s. Now have VAS ’p’ stylus on boron, with Shure’s optional damped brush, haven’t listened yet. Optional for rear arm of main system and/or office

note: happily, removable/replaceable stylus fits both V15Vxmr body and 97xe body

Shure 97xe elliptical 1.25g; sep >25db; bal 2.0db. Now have advanced stylus on boron, with Shure’s optional damped brush, haven’t listened yet. (bought body with broken cantilever). Bought it to get the damped brush, knowing original body/elliptical sounded great, was my favorite elliptical. Alternate for either main or office TT.

Grado Mono Elliptical: 1.5g. Main system, left arm. Definitely better than using a Stereo cartridge for Mono. I now have the AT33PTG/II Mono body with advanced stylus for modern mono (bottom of list), but yet to hear/compare here

Goldring Eroica LX MC, ’gyger 2’ 1.7g; sep >25db; bal 1.0 db. Listened, very nice, now at my friend’s house.

Sumiko Talisman S Sapphire Tube, van den Hul 2.0g; sep > 30db; bal 0.5db
I’m hoping a spec more bass out of it’s sapphire tube cantilever. Best bass I ever had was V15Vxmr beryllium cantilever. Friend coming over tomorrow, perhaps I will mount it today!

AT33PTG/II MC micro-linear 2.0g; sep >30db; bal 0.5db. Current Favorite. Main TT, main right side 12.5" long arm. 1st MC, when worn: replaced without even considering anything else. And, AT’s trade in program, I got a new one at half-price.

AT33PTG mono body, had VAS make boron advanced ’p’ stylus 2.0g. Heard it at VAS, not yet mounted here. (bought body with broken cantilever). Left mono arm is mission, fixed cartridge, so I guess I will get a headshell and use it on the rear arm, wonderful Acos Lustre GST 801 with instant height change.


 Nagaoka are superb by reputation. (I’ve not heard one.) Their TOTL MP500 can be had at the low end of your price range. Personally, I have been consistently underwhelmed by Sumiko, and Clearaudio cartridges are typically made for them by someone else, which raises their cost compared to similar performers. Among the 3 brands the OP named, I’d go Grado.

Another Curve Ball, I met with a guy at a all weekend event where the Public Attended to receive demonstrations of HiFi Enthusiasts exhibiting their systems.

I was introduced to a Phillips Ceramic Cart' and was so impressed with what was happening, revisited the room multiple times and had Tracks from my owned Albums played for me on a few occasions.

I learned that the Cart' user had stopped using a very expensive MC Cart' to make way for the Phillips Ceramic Cart'. I also learned that when the Ceramic Cart' has a Paratrace Styli added the Cart' owner had decided to stop using MC Cart's. 

Following the encounter, it took a few months of continuous searching, but I was to be  extremely lucky to find a exact model Phillips Cart and a spare new Stylus.

I have spoke with a Third Party Rebuild Service who are to carry out another build for me. They feel confident that the Cart' that is to have a Boron Armature removed , can have the Armature repurposed with the addition of a new Styli and exchanged with the Stylus supplied with the Phillips Cart'. I will then have a bespoke Cart', as well as a option to return to the OEM design.

 The plan is for this Cart' and other owned MM Cart's to supersede my use of MC Cart's. As an initial set up, there is the intention to run two TT's, one dedicated to the use of MC's that will at some stage no longer be replaced, the other TT will be for the Ceramic and MM Cart's.

There will be an interesting period making the time to revisit the stored selection of owned TA's to see where the Ceramic/MM's can be discovered to produce the best SQ to suit my tastes. I am working on the basis a dual TA may need to be designed for the Plinth, as there might be a need for this to get the better out of the different designs. For too many years now, all efforts made have been about discovering where there is betterment to be found for the MC Cart's used. 

A new TT acquisition has been made today, which is the same model as my preferred TT, as the initial preparation to get this experience underway. 

Pindac, I think the idea of a ceramic cartridge in this day and age is more akin to a screwball than to a curve ball, in baseball parlance.  This is not to say it's crazy (one definition of screwball) but that it is more esoteric than a curve ball.

Everyone always forgets Goldring. The 1042 is an amazing cartridge for the money. It is the least expensive cartridge I know of with a Gyger S stylus. My other favorite HO cartridges are outside the OP's budget. 

Soundsmith makes great sounding MI cartridges, I'm currently using the Carmen 2 nice all around sound and very ready rebuild prices.

Grado, Soundsmith, Nagaoka and London Decca are all MI. Of those, if don't start making cartridges again, I'd go for the Nagaoka MP-500. I haven't had anything higher than a Grado Statement 3, or a Soundsmith Sussurro MkII, but to my ears the MP-500 knocks their socks off. If the Deccas are made again, that is a step better, but a lot more expensive.

No question, the Technics EPC 100MK4, a conventional MM with super low tip mass and all the details done right. It has more bandwidth than any MC with flat bandwidth to 80 kHz and a resonance of 100 kHz. It wasn't officially imported into America but in the 80s many of the most famous mixing engineers used it.

The problem with selling it was it would have been a $500 MM by a middle hi fi company Technics when exotic MCs had taken over the market and Technics knew no one would buy it.

The Nag MP500 has been superb, and is the best of the MM genre I've own or heard.  

Another vote for Nagaoka, I use the 200. I like it over the zu/denon 103 and the mid-priced AT my buddy has. My plan is to continue up the ladder eventually, I'm in no hurry. 

I’ve been MC since the late ‘80s (Monstercable Alpha 1), but I did run a Dynavector 10x5 for a while when I needed high output temporarily and was very impressed with what it did at it’s price point.  Not MM I know, but a plug and play alternative in most cases.  

@lewm Just another opinion, that does not help with the encouragment of any individuals who may develop a curiosity/interest in this type of Cart'.

My follow up investigations after the demo' of the Ceramic Cart' introduced me to others who have adopted these Cart's over other readily available options and I also learnt that some have even gone to the extent of producing a modified Phonostage to suit the Cart' in use.

My experience has been to date, I was demo'd a Ceramic Cart' that had a Paratrace Styli as a exchange part. I liked what I was being presented and over the course of a day had a few revisits to the Demo' room and had some of my Albums Tracks played.

The Cart' used in the demo' system replayed my Blues Tracks just as I wanted to hear them, and was not too off putting on other genre of music, the Roger Waters Q Sound recording Bass Line, was delivering the usual system destroying presentation as recollected from any other demonstration it has been used in. 

For the experience of this Cart' to be maintained in my own system has not incurred to much outlay, and the Modified Armature and Styli has only added a small cost, as it is being carried out at the time and in conjunction with another Cart's rebuild.

I am happy to fulfill this experience yet to be created in my own system, as well as make it known it is my intention to do so, what ever the response is to such.  

London Decca, though you need the right arm to tame it, or a damping trough. A Naim Aro was only any good with original mono cuts, an 18g eff mass Schröder Reference makes it behave itself but could be considered overkill. I’m waiting to see what the new owner will come up with, I’d love to replace the maroon with a Reference. I’ll have to try it with my Korf when it arrives but it won’t be the first, I have a Transfiguration Proteus and an SPU Royal N to get through first while the Decca stays on my Schröder.

Clearaudio  Artist V-2 Ebony @ $750 is a beauty and a great value for the $$.

The only mass spec on the 250 I could find was the ST (straight) version, but the S (S shaped) may have a similar mass. Apparently 18 grams total mass with the head shell itself being 15 grams alone. So there's future flexibility with changing headshells to ad or (perhaps) subtract mass to suit a particular cartridge. Another interesting surprise was my Naim XS3 phono does fine with the EMT TSD 75 at a mere 1.0 MV. Not ideal, but it works. So my guess is I'm fine with any cartridge that is equal to or greater than 2.0MV. I figured Nagaoka would see some light in this thread. The Nags have certainly been popular amongst the MM/MI/HO fans. 

Dear @fjn04  : I think that today HO cartridges inside your price range are The Nagaoka  MP-500 and agree with @mijostyn  for the Goldring 1042. 

The stylus tip of the Goldring is the same that uses Ortofon in its 9K LOMC cartridges, the Replicant 100.  !


Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,


I forgot, the top of the line MM in Clearaudio catalog is truly fine too.


You can't go wrong with either one. Good luck.

I am a long-time Grado fan, but they sometimes hum, resisting all kinds of grounding schemes. Even 50 years ago Grado cartridges were simply incompatible with some turntables, the AR being one. Hana EH $450 SH $750 or MH $1200 for an elliptical, Shibata, or microline stylus. I have an SH running on a VPI JMW Memorial 10.5" arm, whose lower tracing error and dial-in arm height make the otherwise very critical setup of any Shibata or Microline stylus a lot easier. While the gain is a little lower than a MM cartridge, the sound is otherwise as close to flawless as I have experienced. My one complaint is the lack of tapped mounting holes, easily remedied by carefully running a 4-40 tap through the existing smooth holes. For the money, or even a lot more, the Hana line are exceptional cartridges.

My old Signet TK 10 ML was wonderful.

My old Signet TK 10 ML was wonderful.

I currently using Audio Technica ART9Xi. 

the Signet ran on an old ADS table for years. 
then moved to a Rega Planar 3 for a year or two before moving to the Audio Technica AT-ART9xi. 

love them both. 

The My Sonic Lab Hyper MC in my main system/turntable offers great detail. But with that wealth of detail, it also offers plenty of body. But I’m sure there will be trade offs for a HO cart in this price range. So with that, I’m just looking for something tonally communicative, with amply body. My Charisma (wood/ruby cantilever) denon 103 has some real mojo for an MC under $1000. So it will be interesting to see if I can find this with a HO cart.

I have Grado MM Mono, no hum.

My friend had a Grado MM Stereo, it hummed. Steve at VAS gave him the clue that many Grado cartridges hum.

Goldring: I heard their Eroica MC LX 0.5mv low output which needs signal boost.

I have not heard, but I suspect their High Output version, same Gyger 2 stylus also sounds terrific. 2.5mv output uses MM phono input, no signal boost needed.


Stanton 881s mkii


I found an NOS example on Reverb. Lovely, balanced, great sounding cartridge and my ears are very much attuned to the ‘modern’ MC sound. The only drawback was the mounting scheme which involves old, hardened nylon pieces that appear to be untapped. Other than that, a very worthwhile cartridge.  

Sumiko Talisman S Sapphire Tube, van den Hul 2.0g; sep > 30db; bal 0.5db
I’m hoping a spec more bass out of it’s sapphire tube cantilever. Best bass I ever had was V15Vxmr beryllium cantilever. Friend coming over tomorrow, perhaps I will mount it today!


I did mount/align it. I played some Cecil McBee, Alternative Spaces before my friend arrived, very impressed.

Not compared it’s sound yet, especially bass output to current AT33PTG/II. Because slight signal strength change, Sumiko 2.6mv; AT 3.0mv, so need to get some pencil marks ready for equal volume, then compare. Happily, both MC’s have 10mv coils and use the same impedance setting on my SUT, just switch inputs with slight volume adjustment.

Friend arrived, we finished listening to Cecil, both loved the sound. He is very familiar with my system sound and a few of my cartridges, including playing his Goldring here.

He brought some ’new to him’ LPs, looked like they had never been played, Sumiko sounded terrific, soon just totally involved in the sound.

He also brought an ’apparently never played’ Louis Armstrong, 2 mono lps, 'Half Speed Mastered' with recordings from 1936 to 1938. All original Decca recordings re-issued.

Switched to Grado MM Mono, and they sounded very very good. Big warp, didn’t bother the Grado tracking 1.5g a bit. If you didn’t look, no idea the big warp existed.

Playing that big warp with a Stereo Cartridge, in Mono mode could not be good, the Stereo cartridges pick up any vertical movement, and your preamp doubles the resulting noise in Mono Mode.

Without the warp, nearly new condition of this modern groove Mono release (1985), a Stereo cartridge played in Mono Mode probably would have been quite good, however the Mono Cartridge always makes a small and sometimes large improvement.

We seemed to notice, there was an improvement in the 1938 recordings over the 1936 ones, I’ll have to give a second listen. I wonder if a new mic or mixing board, .... was introduced, some game changer. Or just better engineers. Anybody know?

Both the ortofon 2m Bronze and the shure m97xe impress me. Own them both, among various moving coils, such as the Hana el, denon dl 103, dynavector 20x2 (low), & dynavector 10x5 (low). Also own other MM, such as ortofon om10, AT 520eb, both nice cartridges.

To be fair to Grado, it’s usually not the cartridge per se that hums, it’s either the TT grounding scheme, as in the case with a Rega TT, or it’s EMI radiated from the motor, if it comes too close to the cartridge. There are remedies in both cases.

Pindac, thanks for posting that YouTube video. Music is wonderful but has little to no bass content, so difficult to judge the overall cartridge performance. I take your word that it’s good. I was hoping there’d be some explanation of the preamplification being used, since ceramic cartridge output V is dependent upon stylus displacement not velocity. So ceramics don’t need RIAA filtering in the phono stage. What was going on when you auditioned the Philips ceramic?

Firstly using Youtube as a means to listen will certainly not give a true insight to what a demonstration has to offer. In this case it has helped home in on what I was experiencing. The Cart' in use in that Clip has Bass Extension, I can assure you, as the Roger Waters 'Amused to Death' recorded using Q Sound has proved. There is a track that makes one believe the system is on the verge of imploding due to the Bass extension, the Track on the system with the Ceramic Cart' in use was inflected with the same assault.

To further understand what was happening, the Link will cover the bulk of what has evolved for the use of the Cart'. I have the same model, as a result of being introduced to it through 'audioflyer', following on from when it had undergone the mod's referenced from Page 8 onwards.

Dear @lewm : As always there is nothing " new " about that cartridge. As a fact Micro Acoustics was who had more susccess about but they not named " ceramic ":.


""" The Micro-Acoustics cartridges had a different construction than Sonotone. The stylus arm was directly connected to the ceramic elements, an idea that was patented by Micro-Acoustics. The transducer elements were referred to as electrets, but were made of the same piezoelectric material, lead-zirconium titanate. The ceramic elements had resonance way above 20kHz to insure good response and separation to beyond 20kHz. The cartridges also had an internal microcircuit to convert the amplitude response of the piezo material to velocity equalization for use in a magnetic phono input on a preamplifier. ""


In the long MM/MC long thread was analizwed and I owned and own from the 2002e and other MA models and as I posted there and if I remember in other threads not only me but other gentlemans have a good opinion on the overall quality levels sound by Micro Acoustics cartridges. Comes as stand alone cartridges that you can mount in almost any tonearm well almost any tonearm because the MA are very ligth around 4gr and runs at 1gr. VTF and is a high compliance cartridge. Btw, in those old times MA developed and puts in the market a test/demostration LP recording that I own too and that time to time appears on ebay ( recomended ).

It runs directly in any MM phono stage and is not sensitive to load impedance/capacitance.


Here you can read something about and after that you can go to the 2002 model and you can take a look what a gentleman that owned sevral carrtridges like the Stanton 881S claimed and you know very well the 881 that’s " almost " the same as the 981 that you own:


Here on sale NOS and is the model I own for several years. Any one have to try/test/listen to these Micro-Acoustic cartridges including @fjn04 :





@lewm : This is the Sonotone that MA made reference. Btw, contrary to the MA ceramic/electret the Philips has a lean bass ( - 1.5db at 50hz to 500hz. ) that you correctly listened :





@lewm I am off the opinion it is not too many years before I hang up the gloves for the use of MC's. The design in my view will not be offering much more over an MM or others to be put to use, as my level of hearing will be deteriorating.

At present I have a range of MM's to bring back into regular use and the Ceramic Cart' has got about £50 tied up in it inclusive of the spare stylus, which will supply a very good investigation and experience for the outlays I have made. I have spent on quite a few occasions, more than £50 on unknown devices, just to see how they perform as a interface, and have kept them available for demo' and loan purposes even if not proving to be to my preference. Tube Rolling is just one experience, Platter Mats another, along with numerous Cables.  

The intention to do more to the Cart' and include a Boron Armature and Replacement Tip, will be the where the bulk of costs are to be associated. That is the cost to experience this Cart' as a bespoke design and to be produced as a build type that I would like experience. 


Raul, For what it’s worth I have an NOS Stanton 881S mk2, as well as an NOS Stanton 981LZS, and a used sample of 981LZS, as well. All thanks to you and your MM thread. Else I might never have appreciated the great now vintage MM and MI cartridges.

Back to the Philips.  It seems odd to first add a filter apparently built into the cartridge to make its voltage output vs frequency curve mimic that of a traditional magnetic cartridge and then connect its output to a conventional RIAA phono stage which re-corrects the frequency response.  Would it not be more pure to run the uncorrected output into a simple linear preamplifier?  (Yes, there is the shelf between 500Hz and 2kHz, built into the RIAA specification, but that by itself would be easier to compensate for in the preamplifier alone, or so it seems to me.)  I guess that built in filter (and reduction of voltage output) was deemed necessary back in the day to encourage sales to 'philes who already owned MM stages.

My favorite back in the day was the B+O cartridge. I had the top of their line. Do not remember the model #. 

MMC1 or MM20CL. I destroyed the OEM cantilever on my MMC1 because of the stupid built in stylus guard. Had it replaced by SS but their sapphire cantilever is solid as opposed to a hollow tube in the original and looks less delicate. I haven’t auditioned the repaired version but the original was one of the best cartridges ever. Tracked everything at 1g.

Just to avoid confusion for anyone wanting to track down one of the great B&O cartridges (they're not all great necessarily), bill K is correct, "MMC20CL".  I was incorrect, "MM20CL" is wrong.  The "MMC" part stands for "Moving Micro Cross", not Moving Coil.  It's an MI type.