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A boring cartridge question I’ve been trying not to ask …

Discussion in 'audio' started by eisenach, Mar 22, 2021.

  1. eisenach

    eisenach #JeSuisProf

    ... because we've all got different ears, equipment, rooms and priorities. However, I’ve just bought a second-hand Technics sl-1200G, and when I pick it up when the restrictions lift, it’s going to need a cartridge. I could spend up to £500ish if necessary; after all, it’s got to do justice to quite a good turntable (by all accounts).

    It seems finding the right cartridge is a minefield, especially in the current circumstances. It’s not as if you can borrow a few to try out ! I’ve read around here and the net, but not much seems to relate to classical.

    At the moment I have a Goldring G1042 on a Rega RB300 arm on a very old, AC motored Gyrodec. It works well enough. I don’t really trust myself trying to get the cables off the cartridge pins safely, never mind removing it and fitting it to a new headshell !

    Whatever I buy …
    • It must be smooth-sounding and suitable for classical music, mainly. I can’t stand thin-sounding strings, so it has to have some body, probably on the warm side, but also be good at detail retrieval. I have lots of choral music, too, so a choir needs to sound good.
    • It has to track well and not be prone to fizzing treble and sibilance.
    • It absolutely has to be easy to fit ! The last time I fitted a cartridge was to an entry level Micro Seiki belt drive turntable in 1979. In those days, my eyes worked, my hand was steady and my fingers had some strength and feel in them. Something already attached to a headshell or an Ortofon PnP would be ideal.
    • Something with a stronger output than the G1042 would not go amiss.
    I have a Primare R32 phono stage, which can do both MM and MC. I’ve never used an MC, except the one supplied with the Technics SL-10 I had for 10 years or so in my nomadic early adult life. I suspect to get a good one, it will cost more than I want to spend.

    Apparently, Technics demonstrate the G using an Ortofon M2 Black, so that seems an obvious choice, but I’ve also read that it can be a bit bright in the top end and picky about disc quality. I’m wondering about the M2 Bronze, supposedly warmer and more easy-going, and which can be had as PnP.

    Summary: smooth, warm, detailed, good with classical, easy to fit. What do you recommend ?

    I have no intention of modifying the deck.
    Mr Pig likes this.
  2. Amber Audio

    Amber Audio This is the Day

    I have the 1200G and a few carts, reckon a Hana EL or EH would suit, worth a Google for reviews/opinions, I’d describe it as a balanced all rounder - bit safe for me.

    The pnp 2M Bronze would maybe suit not heard one, you can put a Black stylus on it as the body is identical. I ended up with a Cadenza Bronze on my 1200G but it’s way over budget.

    Popular Deck and budget for a Cart, I expect you’ll get a few real world opinions/recommendations shortly.
  3. Woodface

    Woodface pfm Member

    AT33 PTG is a good place to start, excellent tracker & even handed
    dommydops likes this.
  4. pocketkitchen

    pocketkitchen Registered User

    I’d certainly try the Goldring on the new deck first. If you’re not happy then I’d strongly recommend taking a look at Nagaoka and Dynavector cartridges.
  5. narabdela

    narabdela who?

    Going by your criteria, I reckon a Nagaoka would be right up your street.
    Bairnstorm likes this.
  6. early

    early pfm Member

    To the OP , please take the cartridge height into consideration . The 'arm on the G model doesn't have enough adjustment to accommodate shallow cartridges ( I speak from experience ) , you can use a spacer or thicker mat to help .
    Audio technica VM750SH works really well providing you can get the correct VTA .
  7. Amber Audio

    Amber Audio This is the Day

    There is an old version of the Technics mat, a 6mm one, RGS0010A, they come up fairly regular, the supplied one is 3mm.
  8. Mike Reed

    Mike Reed pfm Member

    One m/coil; one m/magnet (ish). By repute, both should complement the Technics, though the arm (mass etc.) needs to be taken into account. For classical, lower surface noise (commensurate with tonal qualities, I'd say) should be important.

    Any loadings/adj. on your Primare?
  9. cobbers

    cobbers pfm Member

    If you are going to go with MM be careful about capacitive loading - I note the Primare says nothing on that front:mad:
  10. eisenach

    eisenach #JeSuisProf

    It seems to be out of stock at AT, though some dealers (e.g. HifiGear) claim to have it available.

    I wouldn't trust myself even to try to pull the wires off the pins. 64-year old fat fingers. Unfortunately, I don't know anyone local who's crazy enough to be into this hobby. Do you fancy a coffee ? (I promise not to put the Archers on ! :))

    Which one ? The MP200 would appear to be affordable. There's a big price jump from there to the MP300.

    The difference between the EL and the EH seems to be the output level. Does it make any other difference ?

    Thanks to everyone for the suggestions so far. Keep them coming. I'd be especially interested in anyone's experience with the Ortofo M2 Bronze.
  11. Amber Audio

    Amber Audio This is the Day

    Here’s a comparison review of the EH vs EL, personally I’d go with the EL, I prefer MCs cos that’s what I’m used to I guess and am used to messing with the various phono stage settings.

    Fitting a cart to a Technics headshell is pretty straightforward, there is a nifty plastic gauge you use to get the positioning correct. Likely you could get a dealer to fit the cart to a headshell and then ship it to you as a package.

    The AT33PTG/II is an excellent cart, RRP £599 but available discounted, it’s my favourite sub £1K cart of the several I’ve tried, but I wouldn’t describe it as warm, not as brightly treble lit as an OC9 though. Seems to be out of stock on the AT website, maybe a replacement is due, they recently replaced the ART7 and ART9 carts, bumping the price.

    Some carts have screw threads which make them easier to attach to a headshell. Some headshells like the MG10 have screw holes which limit the positioning but make mounting carts with smooth through holes easier. You need the correct length of screws.

    The AT MG10 and AT33PTG/II are what I have in my office on a 1200GR, cheaper version of your deck but a very similar arm.


  12. eisenach

    eisenach #JeSuisProf

    The user guide is not exactly illuminating, especially if you don't know what's what ! :) I was led to believe that the impedance loading choices are only relevant to MC cartridges. Who knows ?! It sounds good, though; the best phono stage I've had, though it takes a side to come on song.
  13. Amber Audio

    Amber Audio This is the Day

    With the Hana EL I’d start with Impedance = 500 Ohms. It has 30 Ohms internal impedance, rule of thumb is 10x that so 300 Ohms, your nearest option is 500 Ohms. With the AT33 try starting at 200 Ohms. You can mess around up/down and see what sounds best.

    MM you can boost the gain with a jumper swap by opening the case but that appears to be your lot.
  14. daytona600

    daytona600 Registered User

    I can’t stand thin-sounding strings, so it has to have some body, probably on the warm side, but also be good at detail retrieval. I have lots of choral music, too, so a choir needs to sound good.
    Warm & woody dense sound on strings
    Ortofon SPU #1 E , Grado Timbre Platinum 3
  15. Simon s

    Simon s pfm Member

    I reckon based on the tastes you descibed that a Nagaoka MP300, or 500 if you can stretch to it could do the trick. Only problem is they are a bit pricey.
    Alternatively slightly cheaper but superb sounding would be an Audio technica AT33PTG11.

    You can get them here. (btw i have no affiliation with the place which are selling. Just noticed they are cheaper than most)
  16. Simon s

    Simon s pfm Member

    Congrats on sourcing such a fine deck btw.
    eisenach likes this.
  17. eisenach

    eisenach #JeSuisProf

    Thank you very much. That's a good find.
  18. foxwelljsly

    foxwelljsly Hawkwind and Fire

    As someone that has been using one for 13 years, I can highly recommend the AT 33PTG.

    I tried my 12 year old Mk 1 back to back very recently with a new Ortofon 2M Black using a Linn MC/MM phono stage and previously tried it when new against an Ortofon Rondo Bronze MC using an Exposure MC phono stage (Acoustic signature challenger/Rega Tecnoarm in both cases) and it was the clearly the better sounding cart in both cases. Far less side end distortion, quieter, fewer 'worn' sounding sibilants and more precise and less woolly bass.

    I now have the Mk II, which is marginally better in all regards. I suspect my ancient Mk 1 still has some life in it, though!

    Being a glutton for punishment, I have a more expensive Ortofon Shibata MC on order to try with the considerably better arm and MC stage I now have.
  19. foxwelljsly

    foxwelljsly Hawkwind and Fire

    Incidentally, aligning a 2M black is an absolute PIG. It doesn't have parallel sides, making it a nightmare to align using a cartridge protractor as you have to remove the stylus to ensure precise alignment. The Shibata stylus also requires absolutely precise tracking and VTA alignment if it is to sound at it's best.

    The AT is a doddle to setup with basic tools (a VTA/Azimuth Protractor, Shure stylus gauge and Baerwald alignment protractor) by comparison (tricky and imprecise counterweight adjustment on my unipivot notwithstanding). But so, I expect, would almost any other cart.
  20. awkwardbydesign

    awkwardbydesign Officially Awesome

    Rug Doc likes this.

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