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  1. #1
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    Upgrading Technics SL-5200

    I have a very good condition Technics SL-5200 (bought unopened in 2006) with an original cartridge but the stylus was damaged during a recent move. While I was going to replace the cartridge in a year or two, it looks like it will be happening now. I was previously looking at purchasing the Grado Black and wanted your opinions (I know there have been a variety of threads on this subject). Aside from the Grado, what other cartridges should I be looking at in the $60-$100 range?

    Also, I have never changed a cartridge before and would like to know if there are any special tools or know-how required.

    Cheers

  2. #2
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    Take a look at Ortofon, probably my favorite from back in the day, Stanton is very good and Shure. My personal preference I don't favor Grado or Audio Technica. These were all under $100.00 I used several years back with my Pioneer table.

    If your cartridge is P-mount the replacement is pretty easy, no tiny wires to play with. If memory serves, one small screw to remove, unplug old and on with the new, insert screw, check weight and pretty much it.
    Mark Levinson #512
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    SVS PC13 Ultra (sub)
    Marantz BD-7003 > AV-8003 > LINN 5125
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  3. #3
    Retro Modernist 02audionoob's Avatar
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    Indeed if you had a P-mount, replacement would be a little easier. But the SL-5200 would have what is known as the 1/2-inch mount. You'll need to plug the four wires in on the back of the cartridge and hang it from the underside of the headshell with two screws. Then you align the cartridge parallel to the headshell and measure the distance from the base of the headshell to the tip of the stylus and it should match the spec in the manual...probably 52 mm. You might have even received a gauge in the box to measure this distance, known as the overhang.

    Best bets under $100 are probably the Shure M97Xe and the AudioTechnica AT95E, AT120E/T or AT440MLa. There's also the Ortofon 2M Red. Why Grado?

  4. #4
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    Yeah, I stopped short of covering both styles of carts, if I had to rely on myself to replace one of those I'd be in trouble. We are all supposed to have a talent and playing with those fine wires is not mine.
    Mark Levinson #512
    Pass Labs XP-10 & X250
    Clearaudio Performance DC, Dynavector 10x5, AcousTech Ph-1p
    Clarus Crimson loom - AC outlet to speaker terminal
    Revel Performa F52 main/center & S30's
    SVS PC13 Ultra (sub)
    Marantz BD-7003 > AV-8003 > LINN 5125
    Transparent cables / Tributaries HDMI
    PS Audio Quintet

  5. #5
    Retro Modernist 02audionoob's Avatar
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    They are a bit challenging. My eyes aren't as good as they used to be...but then whose are...

    I used to make it harder on myself than it needed to be...trying to use templates to align a cartridge on the Marantz. Then, as it turns out, I learned that the 45 adapter is used for measuring overhang.

  6. #6
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    Thanks for your recommendations - I'm checking out the models mentioned above.

    Does the tonearm have any affect on the cartridge selection ie do some manufacturers pair up better than others?


    Also, I thought it would be helpful to mention that I listen to primarily Jazz and favor an earthy mellow sound (not sure how much of that will be distinguishable between cartridges in this price range).

    My equipment is as follows:
    adcom 545 II amp
    adcom 555 II preamp
    pair of paradigm atoms
    Last edited by stevemarconi@gmail.com; 08-13-2009 at 10:20 AM.

  7. #7
    Retro Modernist 02audionoob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stevemarconi@gmail.com
    Thanks for your recommendations - I'm checking out the models mentioned above.

    Does the tonearm have any affect on the cartridge selection ie do some manufacturers pair up better than others?


    Also, I thought it would be helpful to mention that I listen to primarily Jazz and favor an earthy mellow sound (not sure how much of that will be distinguishable between cartridges in this price range).

    My equipment is as follows:
    adcom 545 II amp
    adcom 555 II preamp
    pair of paradigm atoms
    If you like an earthy mellow sound, it seems like you've put together a good system for your tastes. However...I have a GFA-545II that I used to have paired with a GFP-565 and and I found my whole system a little bright for my taste. Part of it was the speakers, though. I later demoted the Adcom to the bedroom and paired it with my JBL S38's, which are a little boomy...so the end result is oddly enough, not bad.

    Where I'm going with this is - If your system is at all bright, you might be able to mellow it out with a Shure M97XE. If you don't have brightness to worry about, maybe the lower end of Grado is a decent option. I've heard of people using the high-output MC Denon cartridges on Technics turntables, but I would think they're a tough match for the gain of the phono stage. I think the gain of the M97XE and the AT95E is about right for the GFP-555II. The Denon cartridges have lower output and probably could benefit from a phono preamp with adjustable gain. There are nice thrifty Goldring cartridges like the 2200 that have higher output, which can be good in that you don't have to turn the volume knob as high...which means you get lower background noise...but then you can get higher distortion.

    Last comment for the moment...I suppose you could say some manufacturers match up better with a Technics but it's probably more accurate to say many cartridges are more suited than many others, without regard to manuacturer. For instance, the Ortofon 2M series is something like 2g heavier than the OM series. So I suppose that's why you'd see a 2M on a Technics and an OM on a Dual. Some of those differences can be worked out with counterweights and tracking force, but that's more detailed than I've gotten into it.

  8. #8
    Forum Regular hifitommy's Avatar
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    the beauty of detachable headshells

    is that it makes cartridge changing oh so easy, much more so than mounting one on a captive arm in a turntable. about a year and a half ago, i mounted my friend's atOC9 on his rega rb300 on his vpi hw19 tt.

    it is nerve wracking for me as i am accustomed to having my sumiko mmt arm with detachable headshells (i have several with cartridges already mounted for easy swapping). when i change cartridges on my grace 707 arm, i remove it from the tt and turn it upside down and prop it up with heavy items so i can work on it easily.

    anyway, what you need is some fine needlenose pliers and a small screwdriver (many times they come WITH the cartridge). usually you want a short driver with a nice wide flat tip.

    patience is the virtue you want to use and well thought out movements. the needlenose pliers will be used to put on and take off the wires from the rear of the cartridge. grip the clip and not the wire with the pliers and CAREFULLY and slowly work the clip onto or off from the pin. if the clip is way too tight, use a round toothpick and gently force itinto enlarge the opening a bit.

    conversely, if the opening is too big, put the toothpick in the opening and squeeze it with the pliers to tighten it. this will circumvent flattening the clip and making it useless as it will likely break after being flattened and reopened.

    then use a downloaded protractor or the little jig technics supplies with the table to align the cartridge (it works).

    as for carts, the grado black will do nicely. the at95 at LPgear is also a good bet. the shure m95xe is a bit bland overall at least for me. it HAS been said that it sounds better not using the brush but i wont be going there, i have a v15Vxmr which still fills the blandness shoes. i keep it in case theres a record that proves to really difficult to track. so far i havent had to resort to that.

    i hope you got the info you need, have fun!
    ...regards...tr

  9. #9
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    I think I've narrowed down my search to two carts - the AT 440MLa and the Ortofon 2M Red. The biggest drawback with regards to the 440MLa is that it is a little more pricey....I have some thinking to do. I wish I could just hear the damn things so I wouldn't have to take a gamble when I order them!

  10. #10
    _ Luvin Da Blues's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stevemarconi@gmail.com
    I think I've narrowed down my search to two carts - the AT 440MLa and the Ortofon 2M Red. The biggest drawback with regards to the 440MLa is that it is a little more pricey....I have some thinking to do. I wish I could just hear the damn things so I wouldn't have to take a gamble when I order them!
    Can't comment about the Ortofon but the AT will track a groove across Steve Tylers face (Dude looks like a lady. Exceptional tracking so if your LPs are not quite flat, this maybe the one for you.
    Last edited by Luvin Da Blues; 08-21-2009 at 12:50 PM.
    Back in my day, we had nine planets.

  11. #11
    _ Luvin Da Blues's Avatar
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    Have you checked out our AR reviews for the 440?

    http://www.audioreview.com/cat/analo...9_5823crx.aspx
    Back in my day, we had nine planets.

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