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  1. #1
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    Cartridge Recommendation for Denon Turntable

    I have a Denon DP-300F turntable, and need a recommendation for upgrading the cartridge.

    I've done some research, and I've come up with the Audio Technica AT120E/T as a candidate. I'm not an audiophile, but I know that I'm not fond of "brightness". I'd rather have a mellower sound, but I want all that detail I've read about, on a budget, of course (hopefully, less than $150).

    I'm concerned about the AT440MLa because it's been described as giving a bright sound, and hard to listen to after a while.

    I also considered the Shure M97xE. Frankly, I've done so much reading tonight, that I don't recall why I eliminated it. But, there was something about it that I didn't like.

    Is this the best choice for me, or are there others that I should consider?

    I've upgraded my old sound system (20-yr old Sanyo rack system), so I suspect that anything I do will be much improved over what I'm used to.

    Thank you for your help.

  2. #2
    Vinyl Fundamentalist Forums Moderator poppachubby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kugeldog
    I have a Denon DP-300F turntable, and need a recommendation for upgrading the cartridge.

    I've done some research, and I've come up with the Audio Technica AT120E/T as a candidate. I'm not an audiophile, but I know that I'm not fond of "brightness". I'd rather have a mellower sound, but I want all that detail I've read about, on a budget, of course (hopefully, less than $150).

    I'm concerned about the AT440MLa because it's been described as giving a bright sound, and hard to listen to after a while.

    I also considered the Shure M97xE. Frankly, I've done so much reading tonight, that I don't recall why I eliminated it. But, there was something about it that I didn't like.

    Is this the best choice for me, or are there others that I should consider?

    I've upgraded my old sound system (20-yr old Sanyo rack system), so I suspect that anything I do will be much improved over what I'm used to.

    Thank you for your help.
    You've picked a good amount for your budget...
    I recently purchased the Ortofon 2M for my Technic SL-Q2 DD table. It's an upgradable cart. I have the "entry level" stylus, the Red. The Shure M97xE is a fantastic cart also. As far as brightness, after logging enough hours, both of these will round out nicely and make your Denon sound great. Excellent price/performance within your budget....

    Read about the 2M here...

    http://www.ortofon.com/index.php?opt...d=89&Itemid=75

  3. #3
    Retro Modernist 02audionoob's Avatar
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    Is there any reason you've eliminated the Denon cartridges? The DL-110 and DL-160 are nice and not very expensive. They're high-output moving coil, so their output is lower than the moving magnet cartridges.

    The M97XE is a good cartridge but many people find it sounds too dull for them. The highs may sound rolled off. I've seen where some people with adjustable phono preamps or with some electronics expertise have changed the load of their preamp to bring out the highs in the Shure.

    The AT440MLa has a linear contact stylus so it makes better contact with the groove walls than other shapes, so there is some advantage to that. You could also consider the AT95E if you want to save a little money.

    Considering where this turntable stands as far as price range, I agree you're in the right ballpark on cartridge cost. In this price range I'd also be interested in the Grado Prestige series...probably the Bue or Red, the Ortofon 2M Red as mentioned by poppachubby, and the Goldring GL2100. The Goldring has the highest output of all of these, while the Denons have the lowest. The Shure and AT are around midway between.

  4. #4
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    02audionoob,

    My concern about the Denons is that they're moving coil carts, and my understanding is that you can't just change the stylus when it goes bad, but you have to change the entire cartridge.

    My concern about the AT440MLa is that I've read that it sounds very bright. I tend to not like harsh or bright sounds. I also don't like the comments about "listening fatigue".

    I haven't researched the others, but I'll check into them.

    Here comes the dumb question...what's the concern about high vs. low output? Is this a volume, or voltage issue, or? Since I have a Denon TT, and the Denon carts are low output, and they're indicated on the Denon website as upgrades for the TT, should I stay with a low output cart?

    What do you all think about the Audio Technica AT120E/T cart with the ATN155LC stylus? That gives me the linear contact stylus like the AT440MLa, but it's supposed to be not as bright sounding.

  5. #5
    all around good guy Jim Clark's Avatar
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    I run both the Shure M97xE and the AT440MLa on a Dual CS 5000 and Kenwood KD 070D respectively and absolutely love the heck out of both of them. I've never experienced any fatigue or brightness with either. There's a lot of superior cartridges out there but in terms of bang for the buck I think it would be really difficult to beat these two.

    If push came to shove I'd probably pick the AT as my fave of the two but I think a lot of that boils down to the KD070D is a better table even though it's a DD.

    jc
    "Ahh, cartoons! America's only native art form. I don't count jazz 'cuz it sucks"- Bartholomew J. Simpson

  6. #6
    Super Moderator Site Moderator JohnMichael's Avatar
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    I have owned an AT440ML and did not find it bright but thin sounding. Instruments did not have as much body. Of course that cartridge had the berillium cantilever and the AT440MLa now has an aluminum cantilever which was supposed to improve the balance of the cartridge. I have not heard that one so I can not say how succesful was the change. Of course the cartridge needs to be aligned properly and vertical tracking angle set to get the best sound due to the stylus used.
    JohnMichael
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  7. #7
    Silence of the spam Site Moderator Geoffcin's Avatar
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    Hope you guys don't mind me shifting this thread to the Analog room. Now that I'm going to be back into analog, (this week hopefully) I want more company!
    Audio;
    Ming Da MC34-AB 75wpc
    PS Audio Classic 250. 500wpc into 4 ohms.
    PS Audio 4.5 preamp,
    Marantz 6170 TT Shure M97e cart.
    Arcam Alpha 9 CD.- 24 bit dCS Ring DAC.
    Magnepan 3.6r speakers Oak/black,

  8. #8
    Do What? jrhymeammo's Avatar
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    Without knowing much about your tonearm it makes it hard to say, but the Shure M97EX has very nice sound, and I never found it to be bright, but not warm. It's a very very good cartridge with my Rega tonearm.

    With your budget, I would also consider DL-110 or 160. I have a DL-110 and it really makes me want to listen to music for hours and hours. I believe Feanor had purchased the very same cartridge and never found it to be anything special though. But I believe Feanor and I have opposite preference in sound.
    My concern about the Denons is that they're moving coil carts, and my understanding is that you can't just change the stylus when it goes bad, but you have to change the entire cartridge.
    Here is something to consider. MC cartridges do not offer stylus replacement, but by the time you are due for a stylus replacement, will you want to replace with the same stylus? Or Would you rather seek a different cartridge that offers different sound?
    If you just want to stick with the same cartridge and sound you like, then MM will work for you, but if not, MM is as useful as a worn out MC cartridge.
    What phono stage/preamp do you have?

    Have Fun and welcome to AR.com.
    JRA

  9. #9
    Super Moderator Site Moderator JohnMichael's Avatar
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    Back in the days before cd's when I played vinyl exclusively I would wear out the stylus. Of course since I play a lot of cd/sacd's and the cartridge is used for about 20% of my music listening the cartridges styli last for years. I would choose a cartridge based on sound, compatability and reputation and not fear ot stylus wear.
    JohnMichael
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  10. #10
    Retro Modernist 02audionoob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kugeldog
    02audionoob,

    My concern about the Denons is that they're moving coil carts, and my understanding is that you can't just change the stylus when it goes bad, but you have to change the entire cartridge.

    My concern about the AT440MLa is that I've read that it sounds very bright. I tend to not like harsh or bright sounds. I also don't like the comments about "listening fatigue".

    I haven't researched the others, but I'll check into them.

    Here comes the dumb question...what's the concern about high vs. low output? Is this a volume, or voltage issue, or? Since I have a Denon TT, and the Denon carts are low output, and they're indicated on the Denon website as upgrades for the TT, should I stay with a low output cart?

    What do you all think about the Audio Technica AT120E/T cart with the ATN155LC stylus? That gives me the linear contact stylus like the AT440MLa, but it's supposed to be not as bright sounding.
    I wouldn’t worry about the ability to change a stylus. They cost almost as much as the cartridge.

    I wouldn’t get too hung up on the one characteristic you’ve read about a cartridge like in this case the AT440MLa. However, the world of cartridges is too vast to boil this down to just AT versus Shure.

    The Denon cartridges are high-output MC. Those have much lower output than most MM cartridges. Without looking it up, I think they’re around 1.5 mV. The low output MC cartridges are usually around 0.5 mV. The Shure and the AT and probably the Ortofon are around 4 mV. The Goldring is around 6 mV. I think the upgrades listed at the Denon site are a good indication that the built-in preamp can handle cartridges with output as low as those.

    This does come down to a volume issue. Some phono stages need more than others to provide enough gain to the preamp. With a cartridge of lower output you do have to turn up the volume more. I use a Goldring high-output MC cartridge with 2.5 mV output with my 50-watt amp and the normal listening position on my volume knob with that setup is around the 1:00 position. I really prefer to keep it at 11:00, which I can do with my Goldring MM cartridge. But I decided there’s no need to worry about where the knob is if it sounds good.

    Last thought…The linear stylii are less forgiving of alignment. If you go that route, be very careful to get it right.

  11. #11
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    I have a Pioneer Elite VSX 23-TXH Receiver, 110 watts/ch; Infinity Primus 362 front flr speakers, 10-200 watts. Hopefully, lower output won't be an issue. ?
    Thank you for the caution about the linear stylii. This will be the first turntable I've set up, so I should probably take a conservative route for installation (although I do have OCD, I'll try to make it perfect!)
    I think I'll look at the Denons again. Denon with Denon makes sense to me.

  12. #12
    all around good guy Jim Clark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kugeldog
    I have a Pioneer Elite VSX 23-TXH Receiver, 110 watts/ch; Infinity Primus 362 front flr speakers, 10-200 watts. Hopefully, lower output won't be an issue. ?
    Thank you for the caution about the linear stylii. This will be the first turntable I've set up, so I should probably take a conservative route for installation (although I do have OCD, I'll try to make it perfect!)
    I think I'll look at the Denons again. Denon with Denon makes sense to me.
    Just out of curiosity, what are you using for a preamp?

    Regards,
    jc
    "Ahh, cartoons! America's only native art form. I don't count jazz 'cuz it sucks"- Bartholomew J. Simpson

  13. #13
    Super Moderator Site Moderator JohnMichael's Avatar
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    The Denon DP-300F has a built in phono stage.
    JohnMichael
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  14. #14
    all around good guy Jim Clark's Avatar
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    Well, I guess that's one way to do it : )

    j c
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  15. #15
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    I was all settled on the Denon L-160. Then LPGear recommended the Audio Technica AT-7A. Does anyone have experience with this one? Or, with LPGear's recommendations?

    http://www.lpgear.com/Merchant2/merc...tegory_Code=A3

  16. #16
    Do What? jrhymeammo's Avatar
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    I usually get drilled for saying this so I will only say very little.
    With your tonearm mass rated around 13g, that cart will produce very low tonearm resonance frequency at 6hz. This combination may cause dull sound.
    The denon will keep the freq

  17. #17
    Super Moderator Site Moderator JohnMichael's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jrhymeammo
    I usually get drilled for saying this so I will only say very little.
    With your tonearm mass rated around 13g, that cart will produce very low tonearm resonance frequency at 6hz. This combination may cause dull sound.
    The denon will keep the freq


    Keep preaching my friend. Cartridge compliance and tonearm mass must be compatible.
    JohnMichael
    Vinyl Rega Planar 2, Incognito rewire, Deepgroove subplatter, ceramic bearing, Michell Technoweight, Rega 24V motor, TTPSU, FunkFirm Achroplat platter, Michael Lim top and bottom braces, 2 Rega feet and one RDC cones. Grado Sonata, Moon 110 LP phono.
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  18. #18
    Retro Modernist 02audionoob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jrhymeammo
    I usually get drilled for saying this so I will only say very little.
    With your tonearm mass rated around 13g, that cart will produce very low tonearm resonance frequency at 6hz. This combination may cause dull sound.
    The denon will keep the freq
    Nice catch. I can't see what you'd get drilled about.

  19. #19
    Forum Regular hifitommy's Avatar
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    i think poppa is right

    the orto 2M series may be JUST the thing here. i looked at the tt on the denon site and thats a nice arm. the price is right too. i cant vouch for the phono section built into the tt however. is it defeatable? if so, another phono section (there are many at affordable prices) or even one built into you current gear could be better sounding.

    that may be worth trying even with the old cartridge.
    ...regards...tr

  20. #20
    Retro Modernist 02audionoob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hifitommy
    i cant vouch for the phono section built into the tt however. is it defeatable?
    Yes. There's an on/off switch.

  21. #21
    Forum Regular hifitommy's Avatar
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    by the looks of things..

    thats a highly recommendable tt at its price.
    ...regards...tr

  22. #22
    Retro Modernist 02audionoob's Avatar
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    Maybe, but

    The Debut III is in the same price range and would seem to be equally recommendable, or perhaps moreso if you don't want to use the Denon's built-in phono equalizer.

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