I've been trying quite a number of cartridges during the past 6 months, so I thought I could share my experiences. I'm just going to mention few quick notes, and that's it.
Please note that these are only MY experiences, and might NOT correlate with your situation. Furthermore, the reference quipment has been changed few times, but that has always been on the cheaper side as well. All decent turntables and phono stages though, not toys. Plus I can somewhat distinguish what cartridge is doing and what the turntable & phono are doing.
I hope this is at least a little bit useful for someone looking for an entry level cartridge. I know all these are not widely available anymore, and I know there are people disagreeing with some or all of my statements. Too bad
MUSIC: Jazz, rock&pop, classical
One more thing is that I've been extremely rough on the cartridges I didn't like - mostly describing their bad sides. Here goes;
-Boring, bad tracking, liveless
-Good tracking, punchy, musical
-Boring, top notch tracking, clinical
Audio Technica AT95E
-Upper midrange, musical, lacking
Audio Technica AT130E
-Bright, good tracking, fast
Stanton 500A mk 2
-Balanced, rhythmic, bouncy, good tracking
Stanton 885 LZS
-Neutral, rhythmic, top notch tracking, musical, reference
-Neutral, rhythmic, punchy, rough high-end, shouty
-Good midrange, mild low and high-ends, whimpery
Goldring Eroica H
-Good tonally, lazy, liveless, quiet
-Neutral, rhythmic, snappy
-Splashy high-end, neutral, annoying
-Warm, rough high-end, good tracking, rich, musical
Would I recommend any of them? No. If I add "for the price" then I would say AT130E and Stanton 500A mk2. Stanton 885LZS is clearly the best one in every aspect, but is really hard to find and requires a nice loading and step-up. Pickering XV-15 and Nagaoka MP-200 are acceptable or even great, but their prices tend to be quite high nowadays. Goldring Eroica I've only listened to since this morning, but frankly, with the money I would probably go for something like Ortofon 2M Black, albeit I've never heard it.
If you have something to add, please do so. I might add more impressions of more cartridges later. One thing I share with my girlfriend besides a loo is an addiction to diamonds..