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Looking for a good, inexpensive cartridge?

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Looking for a good, inexpensive cartridge?

Postby Sunwire » 21 Nov 2017 05:32

I just bought two of these Audio Technica AT-450s.
Seemed like a pretty good deal.
A nude mounted .3x.7 stylus on a tapered cantilever generally sells for about twice as much as this.
And you get a cartridge body, a p-mount adapter, and mounting hardware, too!
Even if the body does not have a fantastic upgrade path, it won't go obsolete anytime soon. There are plenty of other needles available for it, including some that are better than the one included.
Only $32.
LPGear is selling the same thing for $67.
Appears to be roughly comparable to an AT120E/T, which is $165 from LPGear.
https://www.ebay.com/itm/172933122629
The seller has a few other pretty good deals, too, but this one seemed like the best.
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Re: Looking for a good, inexpensive cartridge?

Postby eriathomas » 21 Nov 2017 08:18

That is really cheap, and not too much more than the budget AT92E people suggest. That's awfully cheap for a nude mount. May need to grab one for a back-up. Thanks.
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Re: Looking for a good, inexpensive cartridge?

Postby lini » 21 Nov 2017 10:13

Sw: Nice deal. I'd doubt that it'll actually sport a tapered cantilever, though - as it should be a renamed AT316EP/AT3472NE.

Greetings from Munich!

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Re: Looking for a good, inexpensive cartridge?

Postby wolfie62 » 21 Nov 2017 20:35

It doesn't say nude mounted stylus. NOS. Are these any good? I'm not an AT user.
Often....invention is the mother of necessity.
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Re: Looking for a good, inexpensive cartridge?

Postby wolfie62 » 21 Nov 2017 20:47

It says NUDE on the box...Duh! I failed to view all the pics.
Often....invention is the mother of necessity.
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Re: Looking for a good, inexpensive cartridge?

Postby Sunwire » 22 Nov 2017 01:18

I haven't received or heard one yet.
I'm assuming it will sound as good as my other AT cartridges with similar specifications.
The AT-120ET is quite well-regarded.
The AT450 has virtually identical specs, so I expect it to sound pretty good.
I don't know of anything else comparable for such a low price.

Lots of people here rave about the AT-95E.
The AT450 costs less and has FAR better specifications in every measure.
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Re: Looking for a good, inexpensive cartridge?

Postby smee4 » 22 Nov 2017 02:32

Should the fact that it is NOS be a cause for concern? I remember having an old AT cartridge that the suspension had collapsed - presumably due to age.
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Re: Looking for a good, inexpensive cartridge?

Postby Sunwire » 22 Nov 2017 03:41

Manfred/lini, your deep knowledge of these cartridges is again invaluable.
Thank you!
Yes, the specs match exactly the AT316EP/AT3472NE!
Do you think it was simply renamed for a special distribution channel?
I know this was a fairly common practice in the U.S. during the 1970s and 1980s.
Manufacturers would make a renamed version of a common turntable or receiver or speaker they could then sell for whatever price they wanted and claim they were offering the "lowest price available" since no one else actually sold that item with the same model number.
Or they could jack up the "list price" on their special model and then offer an illusory huge discount from that inflated "list price" to make it seem like an amazing deal.


And you are right. It probably doesn't have a tapered cantilever, as the seller claims.
That would be the next model up, the AT331LP.
The specs on this one are quite impressive, though.
I'm getting very curious to see how it sounds.

I'm not too worried about age-related problems. I have other cartridges older than these that have visible corrosion and look downright nasty, but still sound good.
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Re: Looking for a good, inexpensive cartridge?

Postby Sunwire » 22 Nov 2017 05:49

Looks like LPGear has several different needles available as replacements for the AT3472NE, including 78 rpm, conical, regular elliptical with carbon cantilever, a VividLine, and a Shibata.
The Voice of Music has quite a few, too.
So, it's got lots of possibilities.
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Re: Looking for a good, inexpensive cartridge?

Postby lini » 22 Nov 2017 23:24

Sw: All I can say is that it was one of the numerous "renames" (in quotation marks, because not all of these were simple renames - in some cases the renames also had different body or needle colours...), but I have no idea, why AT in some cases made so many and in other cases next to none.

And, yup, I also wouldn't expect any suspension problems with these ATs yet.

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Re: Looking for a good, inexpensive cartridge?

Postby wolfie62 » 23 Nov 2017 09:02

I do have an AT 331 LP cart. I haven't listened to it yet, because the P to 1/2" adapter makes it too tall for my turntable. Would mine be substantially the same? It is NOS, never used, was with a TT I bought last year on eBay.
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Re: Looking for a good, inexpensive cartridge?

Postby Snead » 23 Nov 2017 09:13

In effect what you get is an AT95e in p-mount form, high compliance, with a nude .3x.7 stone.

Nice if you like the 95 sound, if not, avoid.

Thx to Sunwire for mentioning it however!
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Re: Looking for a good, inexpensive cartridge?

Postby wolfie62 » 23 Nov 2017 09:26

Different subject, but I just don't get the enthusiasm around the AT 95e. Very average sounding. Sounds like a $50 cart to me. Perhaps when I can hear the 331 LP I will become an AT convert. I'm a fan of the Shure V15VXMR, and ADC ZLM/XLM.
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Re: Looking for a good, inexpensive cartridge?

Postby Sunwire » 24 Nov 2017 07:00

I am also not a fan of the AT95E. I think it is just OK and I would recommend it only if your budget can't go ANY higher and you have a medium to high mass tonearm. Otherwise, there are better choices.
But the AT120, even with a conical stylus, sounds quite good.
With an AT155LC stylus it sounds fantastic.
I have several Shure cartridges, including a V15Vx with both original and SAS needles.
I prefer the AT120 with AT155LC stylus.
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Re: Looking for a good, inexpensive cartridge?

Postby Sunwire » 24 Nov 2017 07:10

I have not heard an AT331LP, but I would expect it to be very good.
It sports three important features: an advanced stylus shape, nude mounting, and a tapered cantilever.
Ir doesn't have an exotic cantilever like the AT155LC, but I bet it sounds fairly close. It's specs are very, very good.
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