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Optimal Cartridge for a Technics SL 1210: 2M Blue or Bronze, Super OM 30, Denon DL-110, AT 150 series (AT 150MLX or 150Sa), or AT 440 MLa, MlLb or new VM 540?


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Optimal Cartridge for a Technics SL 1210: 2M Blue or Bronze, Super OM 30, Denon DL-110, AT 150 series (AT 150MLX or 150Sa), or AT 440 MLa, MlLb or new VM 540?


Hi Folks:


Not sure where to post this. Let me know if it belongs elsewhere.

Most of the info below is tell you folks about me and my gear. You can skip it if you like, as it is a bit detailed.


My Technics SL1200 ?M3D is no more. Also gone is the Nigthclub S Cartridge and extra stylus. I still have the Music MMF-5 with a Goldring cartridge (?1024?), from about 10 years ago. It is my bedroom rig in New Orleans, I was never very happy with this, but completely different set up from what is noted below, except for the Onkyo.


I work up in the DC area now and I have Klipsch LaScalas for my front speakers, Heresy Is for center and rear and a Fender 18” pro audio ported subwoofer (for which there is virtually no info on the web, nor from Fender). The LaScalas are “bright”, even for LaScalas. Therefore, I really do not need an over “bright” TT cartridge. I have a Pro-Ject - Debut Carbon Esprit SB (DC), 2M Red. It was bought knowing it had some damage and I got a 2M Blue stylus to put on the straight TT arm to replace the mangled Red stylus. It sounds very nice, but I have never had another needle on it. I do not intend to replace it. Also have a Pro-Ject Audio - Tube Box DS – Black phono pre amp. I have never compared this to anything else either. Seems to work fine. I only have a small studio apt now so I use the Tube Box for any / all TTs. Thank goodness for thick walls in an older building !!  I use an Onkyo TX SR 805. Also about 10 years old. It is an all in one receiver, but with a very good amp for such a unit.


I have acquired 3 additional TTs:

Technics SL-1800 (repaired), 1210 MK5 and 1210 M5G (one of the 1210s also got minor repairs locally, the other has a gimpy ?gimble point on the tone arm, but it works fine – for now). (Long story on getting them.) Not sure I want to do the KAB fluid dampers on these now, nor any other modding now. Might consider mods after I get a good needle.

They came with various used cartridges including an AT 92E, Stanton Groovemasters, etc. I have no way to know how “used” any of the cartridges and styli are. That said, none sound bad. I would like to have 1 good needle that I can easily interchange between these 3 TTs. Therefore, some sort of plug and play set up would be ideal, whether via a compatible cartridge mounted onto a head shell or a DJ needle, Best reccs for a DJ needle seem to be for the Ortofon Arkiv, but I doubt that it would be as good as any in the post title for regular hifi listening.


I mostly listen to Jazz, Blues, 60s/70s rock, Disco, etc. I should also state that many of the dozen or so records I have up in DC now have seen better days and all were bought used. I have cleaned some of them, and yes there was gunk on them. The gunk and scratches were one reason to leave out the Super OM-40, as some web postings said that all the scratches etc are easily noted with the 40. Combined with the horn loaded speakers, I think the sound of nice new vinyl might be great, but most all of my 150+ records in NOLA are from the cheap used bin. I have listened to most of them before buying to make sure that that the records were at least in ok shape.


2M Blue- sounds fine on the Pro Ject and some say it is ok with the SL1200s. $210/165 (cartr/stylus, LP Gear or TTNeedles). It is mounted onto the Pro Ject arm and I am not going to mess with it. However, I would consider a second Blue on a headshell for the Technics TTs.

Some really like the Bronze, but I do not know if either Blue or Bronze is a good match for my 3 Technics TTs when compared to the OM 30 or others listed here. $370/290.

Super OM 30 gets good comments on the web. However, more postings seem to favor the ATs or Denon. $290/220, so more than Blue, but less expensive than a Bronze. TTN Jico Shibata stylus for OM 10, 20, 30, 40: $160

Super OM 40 might be better for those with high quality records, as I guess you hear every pop and such in the vinyl. Some folks on the web preferred the 30. $385/300.

Denon DL-110 is said to be well mated to the 1200 series. However, there is no separate stylus for this cartridge, and setting the mount properly might be difficult. It might also be too bright for my LaScalas and Heresy’s. $200-300

AT 150 series (AT 150MLX or 150Sa) is said to be a real step up from the 440s – but so is the price. I am not really sure how much difference there is from the Sa to the MLX. $270-450/335. Perhaps the bargain, if I could score a Sa for $270 and if the Sa is similar to the MLX. AT has just released the VM740ML, VM750SH and VM760SLC to replace the 150s, but I know very little about them.

AT 440 MLa, MlLb or new VM 540 get good reviews. MLb is $199/179

I have a few Mono records, not sure the $90.00 OM D25M is worth it for me. One potential advantage to the OM 30 is if I could get a stylus for the D25M that would work mounted onto the OM30 cartridge.


Also note that some plug and play or otherwise premounted to headshell sets are available from some of the web retailers. There were also some comments about how difficult some of these are to set up.


Any advice appreciated.

From NOLA with love.



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Want to know the technical specifications
of cartridges?


Not for all cartridges in this database the pF (capacitance) values of the MM cartridges are given. The best way is to determine the best match with a specific (pre-)amplifier of which you have the specifications of the Phono Input and add it to the capacitance of the phono cable you use. If necessary choose a cable with less capacitance or a cable with a higher pF.

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Are you interested in truly cleaning your records?  If so, search "B'Jesus" for @Mallette's enthusiastic endorsement of the Reg Williamson cleaning system.  It links to my original thread.  If you're willing and able to make and use the PVA facial, it will amaze you.

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I've got a 2M Blue on an Audio Technica  AT-120-USB which is similar (a low-cost copy) of an SL-1200, and the Ortofon pairs with it really well.  The Ortofon is not a bright sounding cart.   


FWIW,  the Crites 4500 crossovers with replacement CT-125 tweeters really tames the brightness in a LaScala.

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You said, 


"Denon DL-110 is said to be well mated to the 1200 series. However, there is no separate stylus for this cartridge, and setting the mount properly might be difficult. It might also be too bright for my LaScalas and Heresy’s. $200-300."


I was fortunate to purchase a Denon DL-110 a few years ago for $139.00. Since it is a high output MC cartridge, it can be used with either a MM or MC phono stage.  In my experience, it works well with either.  


I only use it to rip vinyl to FLAC files.  It seems to have the ability to track portions of grooves that other cartridges never touched.  It, combined with a Reg Williamson PVA facial, make bargain bin finds sound like new.


It's now $210 from Amazon, which is still a good deal.  As you noted, a drawback is the lack of a replaceable stylus.  With careful use it will last longer than I do.  It's the last cartridge I expect to buy.

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RE:  Optimal Cartridge for a Technics SL 1210: 2M Blue or Bronze, Super OM 30, Denon DL-110, AT 150 series (AT 150MLX or 150Sa), or AT 440 MLa, MlLb or new VM 540?


First, thanks for the replies so far !!

One Q not on the forum was why I have what I have. The ProJect TT was damaged and had a good price. I bought this first after my original Technics was no more. Sounds nice now after partial repairs and with the 2M Blue, but all things considered I likely should have bought new or undamaged as I will never get much $$ back if I sell it.

As for the Technics x 3, I was not able to find any nearby at a reasonable price initially, they are all from SoCal. Yes there are likely better TTs out there for hifi use, given the price. But, easy to resell if I want to and recover at least most of what I paid. Many net postings note the tonearm as a weak point, as is true for one that I bought. However, simply stated I know the 1200 Series and its cousins (like the 1800). The 1800 was bought almost as an afterthought for low $ and after the POTs were cleaned sounds nice. However, very fine speed adjustments are easier on the 1200s/1210s. The second 1210 was simply available at a reasonable price, came with lots of used cartridges and a cover, which got beat up in shipping L.


No doubt there are many needles that can sound good to great on various TTs, TT arms, TT preamps, etc. The total rig, stereo receiver, amp, speakers, room, etc all can make a huge difference. Nice to know so many cartridges can work nicely on a 1200 series TT. I also checked out vinylengine, audiokarma, etc for info via web searches for various cartridges and Technics 1200 etc as key words.


To address each reply to date:

Dirtmudd: THX for the links.

The various Shure cartridges do have a nice advantage of various JICO SAS styli to use.

DizRotus: “Mr DeMille, I am ready for my (facelift)”…LOL

Thx for the info, but the process to make the peel seems a bit too involved. I also do not know where to get all the ingredients easily. I would think about buying a facial peel to try on some old vinyl if there was a means to buy it (hint). I think I found several links explaining the process. Some were a bit too detailed, even for me. My existing home brew cleaner is isopropyl alcohol 91% from CVS, distilled water or equivalent from WalMart and a drop or 2 of Dawn dishwashing liquid. I cannot recall the proportion of IPA and H20. I only made about 3-4 ounces and only cleaned a few records, rinsing with dist H20 and using microfiber cloths. I know it is not perfect. I also do not know if Dawn has appropriate surfactant. But lots of yuck was removed.

Justinsweber: I found someone with a lightly used Bronze at a good price and we are starting an email dance now. I am happy with the Blue on the ProJect.

For Denon, as best as I can sort out, the DL-110 might have some better reviews, although either seems like  good match for the 1200 series tonearms. My concern is that if I have to replace a 1210 tonearm (maybe via kabusa.com or other), the Denon might not match (which I assume could be true for any of these needles to be honest). Although you can find any review you want of most anything on the web, there seemed to be more positive AT reviews.

Thanks jimx2bo

Thx Guy Landau (any relation to Martin…LOL)

Hasty thx for info. I have bought caps from Bob Crites (or his son) in the past. FWIW, ALK has a $99.00 rebuild of the AA xover noted via a peculiarly obscure link on his website. (Please no flame wars). I have also bought from Al in the past.

DizRotus: When I read 5-10 year old web postings I am shocked by the price increases for several cartridges. Also noted is that the styli can cost 75% or more of the entire cartridge. As a general point of info, it seems that the finer (?thinner / more oval) styli cost more (JICO SAS all appear to be over $100, many at $160-),some like the 2M Black are just too expensive for my rig. They also seems to hug the inner grooves better and be quite faithful to the groove itself. The latter can lead to many pops, hisses, etc on unloved vinyl. In brief, seems like great new vinyl will do well with such needles. But for my collection, maybe something less in a needle, which will not be as faithful to the ?deep groove will provide a more pleasant listening experience.


So at this point, heavily influenced by current prices, these are my thoughts:

1. A potentially lightly / minimally used Bronze for about $300.00, This of course assumes that the bronze is better than the OM-30. I am not certain this is true. There were some postings indicating that the 2Ms could be a better match for the 1200 series tone arms vs the OM / Super OMs.

2. Super OM-30 for $290. Add the D25M mono stylus for about $50.00 - hoping that the mono stylus works ok on this body. If the 30 is similar to the bronze, I might go this route, simply on the basis of saving $50- for not needing the mono cartridge, just the mono stylus.

3. AT150Sa for $270. Overall, I seem to have found the most positive reviews for the 150MLX and the 150Sa has some good reviews. An MLX is at least $400. So maybe the Sa is close enough, given the cost. Without the mono needle consideration per the above, I would likely have this as my first choice. More liked this over the bronze or 30, however none were highly critical of the Ortofons in comparison.

4. The Shures, except for one model that is no longer made are certainly less expensive. But I the reviews I read from various web postings from real users often do not place it ahead of the above listed needles.


Gladly listening back for more input J

From NOLA with love.


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I second the vote for the Shure M97xE.  I used one on my SL-1400 Mk2, and when I replaced that turntable with a new SL-1210 M5G in 2010, I had the M97 transferred to the M5G's headshell, with a new stylus.  The M97 has good detail retrieval, is pleasant to listen to, and doesn't emphasize the sound of any scratches it encounters.  The replacement styli are not expensive and are easy to find.  I'm really pleased with the cartridge.

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  • 3 years later...

I have a VM540ML and it is fantastic, I picked that one after a lot of research looking for best bang for the buck in that price range. Don't have a lot to compare it though. There's no right answer, so in the end you can't go wrong!

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