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A good $100 - $150 cartridge for an AR-XA

Posted: 30 Jan 2006 12:20
by OldRelayer
I have used one of these for more than 30 years, about to replace mine with a refurbished one, not sure who will get the money yet, but there are a few options. Some have no cartridge which I actually prefer because none of the carts that come with them do I know much about or trust. I am looking for something that would track at .75 grams.

I have used for as long as I have had the table a Stanton 681EEE which I have been very happy with and as I compare it to others, at least spec wise it compares favorably. Ortofon Cartridges have caught my eye and read awfully good and you can get a pretty nice one for my budget.

So I am taking recommendations for the most quality, durability and gentleness to the record and of course fidelity. What is your experience?


Posted: 30 Jan 2006 13:01
by bauzace50
Hello Relayer,
I had two AR XA for over 20 years, and yesterday I was loaned one for a long-term period. The present one has an Ortofon Super OM-20 cartridge, which has excelled on this table for about two years. Of course, this is above your intended expense. This very same table also used one Stanton 680 E, adding the 681 EEE stylus (which is the same cartridge anyway), with excellent results. The Ortofon adds a bit of treble sparkle which the Santon tames a bit.
Replacing the stylus of your 681 EEE might be the only necessary thing to do, which we both know work well with this table.
However, one cartridge I like VERY much is actually below your intended expense, with performance WAY above its rock-bottom price. I use it with my SME 309 tonearm, in a highly unlikely price match, raising some eyebrows in the purist camp. It is none other than the "lowly" Stanton 500 E Mk II. Notice very carefully the Model Designation...because other versions are DJ-oriented, with lesser "audiophile" performance. Of course, this is just one man's opinion.
Best regards.

Re: A good $100 - $150 cartridge for an AR-XA

Posted: 30 Jan 2006 15:49
by Guest
OldRelayer wrote: So I am taking recommendations for the most quality, durability and gentleness to the record and of course fidelity. What is your experience?

the audio technica AT440ML for $85 is hard to beat in all your requirements.
Except it doesn't track at 0.75g, but thats not an issue as it has an extended
contact tip, so it causes much less wear than an elliptical. A line contact tip
also lasts ~ twice as long as an elliptical.

Posted: 30 Jan 2006 18:03
by OldRelayer
Thanks guys for the replies. That ortofon is a bit out of my league, but I assume it sounds great.

However, the audio Technica does read really well and gets some good user reviews. Most people found it bright especially for the first 20 hours or so and a tad laid back in the mid. Frankly I am not sure what all the means to me in what I listen to and my system. I think it must be relative, because most of us that like Vinyl like its warmth. And the over all consensus is this is a terrific cartridge for little money. To answer your question about replacing the stylus on the Stanton, I don't have it anymore or the table, to painful to talk about. I have always been happy with the Stanton, but ready to take everything up a bit, I am finding with digital music I am enjoying it less and less, I want to get back to that 70's feeling of music and sound.

So this is my direction. I bought a Marantz 4140 Quad amp because I thought I was going to bi-amp but that isn't going to happen but it is still a great 70 w/c 2 channel amp and it just looks great and sounds.... well just has that great mid 70's Marantz sound. Tomorrow I am bringing it somewhere and having it blueprinted, that is brought back up to factory spec. I had a pair of AR-3a's restored with all matching drivers, all new crossover caps, the works. I will be picking those up Sunday. I may at the same time be picking up a turntable from Vinyl Nirvana or one from Ebay, not sure yet, but in either case it will be a totally restored AR-XA.

This is where you come in, now I need to pick a Cartridge that will match this system and blow my socks off, like the guy in one of the Audio Technica reviews, up all night listening because he just didn't want to go to bed, that is what I want. I remember what great sound is, I just haven't had it for a while, but that is about to change.