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Inexpensive cartridges
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December 07, 2011, 02:25:40 AM
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  • BSD2000
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I picked up a pair of inexpensive cartridges last week: an Audio Technica AT92E and Ortofon Omega.

[attach=2]     [attach=1]

Although I have a high end cartridge on my 'good' turntable as a reference, I'm always on the lookout for inexpensive cartridges to try on my Technics turntable to use as a baseline and comparison. I'm always answering requests for recommendations on replacement cartridges for people getting back into vinyl on limited budgets; so I like to do some research so my suggestions are based on experience. Plus, I like to see just how wide or surprisingly narrow the performance gap is between high end cartridges and cheaper entry level cartridges.

I'm still evaluating and testing the cartridges on my Technics turntable. So far, they are both surprisingly good for the price. The AT92E can be found for $20 shipped online and the Ortofon Omega is less then $30. They are both pleasant to listen, easy to setup and are very forgiving on alignment. Once I have more listening experience with them I will post a mini review.

Maybe I should do a shootout of a few inexpensive cartridges? What cartridges should I include in the shootout? I was thinking of including:
  • Audio Technica AT95E  (already own)
  • Ed Saunders Red  (would need to purchase)
  • Shure M97XE  (already own)
Any others I should consider?
« Last Edit: September 14, 2014, 09:33:17 AM by Admin »
Rega P25 Zyx Omega G Zyx R100H Audio Research PH5 Denon DP-52F Denon DL-103D Burson HA-160 Sennheiser HD-650 and HD-800


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December 07, 2011, 07:25:35 AM
  • lshin80
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Stanton 681 EEE Mk III;
Denon DL-110.
But these are a step higher, they can be considered the doorway to the audiophile world.
Pro-Ject RPM 5.1 Denon DL-110 Sony BDP-S373 Fred Nachbaur High Precision Tube Phono Preamp Nuova Elettronica FET preamp Nuova Elettronica IGBT power amp Mission 701 Clicktronic cables Norstone Loudspeaker Cable


December 11, 2011, 06:26:45 PM
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The Stanton and Denon cartridges are great, but I was looking to keep the budget to less then $75, with the main target being around $50. In the future I may write an article for cartridges in the $100 ~ $250 range so I'll keep those suggestions in mind. :)

Today I ordered an Ed Saunders 'Red Ed' elliptical cartridge for $29.95 shipped. My neighbor's Music Hall 2.2 turntable originally came with a Goldring Elektra cartridge. I was able to audition it breifly before it was replaced with an Ortofon Kontrapunkt B and it didn't sound that bad; actually very good considering it's price. It will be interesting to hear how the Ed Saunders performs in comparison, especially how inexpensive the price is. The cartridge, stylus and specifications look to be an exact match.

[attach=1]  [attach=2]

For some reason, I've been on a 'budget' kick, trying out lower priced alternatives and comparing the sound quality vs the price. It's not that I'm unhappy with my Zyx Omage G - not at all - but I realize the price of that cartridge is prohibitive to most buyers. Most of the emails I receive are from people who want to dust off their older turntables and get back into spinning vinyl, but don't want to spend a fortune jumping head first in the high end arena.

From my experience, you don't need to spend a lot of money to get back into vinyl and enjoy it. My mission is to help these people make an informed choice and give them an opportunity to hear these cartridges before making a decision.
« Last Edit: December 16, 2011, 09:07:56 PM by Admin »


December 19, 2011, 02:19:53 PM
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The Ed Saunders Red Elliptical came in today. The packaging is very no-frills, it was packed with a couple of foam 'nuts' and stuffed in a used Pfanstiehl plastic case. I'll post pictures later today.

The total cost was $29.95 ($27.95 + $2 shipping). It will be interesting to hear how all of these cartridges compare to one another and to higher end cartridges.


December 28, 2011, 07:48:46 AM
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The Ed Saunders Red Elliptical came in today. The packaging is very no-frills, it was packed with a couple of foam 'nuts' and stuffed in a used Pfanstiehl plastic case. I'll post pictures later today.

The total cost was $29.95 ($27.95 + $2 shipping). It will be interesting to hear how all of these cartridges compare to one another and to higher end cartridges.

Unfortunately, the cartridge was defective. One of the channels was dead - no audio but a constant hum.  :(

The good news is, a replacement should be here this week. What I did hear from the one working channel sounded fantastic. It may be a bit premature, but this could be THE killer cartridge to beat in the under $50 or even $100 price range.  8)


November 01, 2012, 02:56:39 PM
  • GoodVinylLover
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    Vinyl lover not a fighter :P
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I own many cartridges (ATOC9/III, AT440MLa, Ortofon 2M Bronze, etc...) but I'd like to purchase a budget one in order to play my "old crackling vinyls" without being concerned about the needle's integrity, you know what I mean :D So I find this thread very useful. This new cartridge will be fitted in another turntable located in another room (anyway I still have to decide that matter).

I've read good reviews of the AT120E... but maybe I'll settle on the AT120E/II which is a bit cheaper. I have an "old" ATN440MLa stylus that will provide better traceability and detail to the cartridge... Anyway I'm open to any suggestions  ;)
« Last Edit: January 08, 2015, 05:34:17 AM by GoodVinylLover »
Audio Technica AT440MLa + Pro-Ject Debut III Esprit Sony DVP-NS700V Sony TA-V925EE preamp + LBT-V925 power amp Sony APM-141 ES speakers.


January 17, 2013, 07:47:43 AM
  • seanb
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Hello good vinyl lover, if when you say old records you mean mono ones. you ought to try a proper mono cart like a G.E VR2. ive just bought one and they really make a difference over using a stereo cart. i find a lot less noise, any scratches are a lot quieter too. a much nicer experience. ;)



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