This blog will review excellent-sounding phono cartridges that are best suited for improving the sound quality of your incredible but entry-level turntable. The most well-known tonearm and turntable designer, Frank Schöder, states that upgrading a cartridge is the perfect way to better any turntable’s sound quality.
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Changing the cartridge on your turntable can have a huge sonic impact! The older you are, see the better performance it gives. Why? By changing your needle to a brand new one, you’re essentially pulling not just more unknown but also more precise benefits out of your gaming deck. You’re allowing your music to breathe even more and moving air around tiny spaces that weren’t available before with an old Phono Cartridge in place or no cartridge for that matter.
If you’re interested in buying a new turntable, you can browse our selection of audiophile cartridges to find precisely what you are looking for. If you have an existing turntable or would like to replace your current model with a new one, we have compatible cartridges for every turntable type out there. We also offer high-quality products that will work exceptionally well with any pre-existing system setup, so whether you want to install one cartridge in place of another or are entirely replacing your turntable setup, we’ve got you covered.
Best Phono Cartridge Under $200 Summary
|Audio-Technica AT-F7 Dual Moving Coil Cartridge||See On Amazon|
|Goldring E3 MM Cartridge||See On Amazon|
|NAGAOKA MM (MP) Cartridge MP-110||See On Amazon|
|Ortofon 2m Blue Moving Magnet Cartridge||See On Amazon|
|Ortofon 2m red cartridge||See On Amazon|
If you’re a newbie and you want to get your hands on some phono cartridges, but don’t want to make any mistakes, then this article will help point you in the right direction. Sometimes, it can be risky to buy one of these cartridges without an expert guide because it could cause problems when setting them up. It’s always good to read reviews from people that have had first-hand experience with them.
Best Phono Cartridge Under $200 At a Glance:
- Audio-Technica AT-F7 Dual Moving Coil Cartridge
- Goldring E3 MM Cartridge
- NAGAOKA MM (MP) Cartridge MP-110
- Ortofon 2m Blue Moving Magnet Cartridge
- Ortofon 2m red cartridge
Best Phono Cartridge Under $200 Reviews
The Audio-Technica AT-F7 is best for those who prefer to immerse themselves in their music and music alone. With its nude elliptical stylus and aluminum cantilever, the Audio-Technica AT-F7 is geared towards those looking for precision, accuracy, and class-leading sound.
The cartridge is excellent and provides high clarity, transparency, and frequency response from vocals, sounding just like you’re in person with your favorite artists. And it offers acoustic instruments a layered experience of both style and substance for a very rich listening experience.
The AT-F7 cartridge comes with a stainless suspension wire of 0.07 mm thickness that is carefully designed to be used in a high-quality moving coil phono cartridge, which transfers sound at higher frequencies. The durable and carefully wound headphone wires allow the movement within itself so that it can assist in bringing out details you may not have been able to hear before due to their ability to reproduce sounds at a higher frequency range.
A cartridge may have to be replaced when the pins are worn out. However, make sure not to remove the pin protection and apply pressure of 2 grams. When you note down that your cartridge pins are worn out, you need to replace the cartridge and consider replacing the complete toner. Make sure to remove the Pin protection as well as adjust pressure accordingly.
Audio Technica is one of the most well-known brands for people who aren’t necessarily audiophiles but still want to enjoy good quality sound. The AT-F7, if you’re looking for an affordable pair of Bluetooth headphones with a solid build and excellent noise cancellation, is certainly worth checking out.
Goldring was established in 1906, making it one of the oldest cartridge manufacturers around. Until 1936, these cartridges were produced in Germany, but then they were relocated to Japan, where they were sold under the Goldring name.
The E3 has a uniquely shaped elliptical stylus. It is made of bonded aluminum and elliptically profiled to provide optimal musical reproduction. In addition, the dual magnet MM engine design on the E3 helps to deliver an added sense of realism and depth for music lovers seeking impeccable detail.
The Goldring E3 model cartridges have a nice, prominent violet tint, which is aesthetically pleasing. The design of the E3 model cartridge is also shared with other model types, and they differ mainly in the color of the bottom edge of both the body and tone needle. As far as construction materials go, the bodies and hands of these cartridge models are built robustly to withstand many playing hours while still delivering quality sound.
On the E3 cartridge, there are captive nuts that simply fasten to the front of your turntable, where you will find a straight edge. This allows you to quickly align and mount the cartridge accordingly. As per some Turntable experts, those mounting an E3 with Rega Planar 2 may not take as much time as it would if they didn’t have access to the straight edge included with the cartridge. The only caveat is that those people who plan on using a thicker headshell might need longer screws (not provided by Soundsmith)
The E3-weighted cartridge both tracks and weighs accurately at the 2.0g mark, which is impressive considering how much strain it undergoes when an individual uses it daily.
When it comes down to audiophile turntables, Nagaoka MP-110 is a very popular cartridge. It is lightweight and versatile and offers a great range of music reproduction. But in order for this cartridge to work properly, you would need a low-to-mid frequency analog amplification that is light on bass.
With the cartridge terrible, there is some room for improvement, such as Nagaoka MP-110 needs more refinement, and because of its touch edge, it is not quite as refined if it compares with some closely priced rivals.
The Nagaoka MP110 is a budget-friendly and supremely cheerful cartridge that’s under the budget like the Ortofon, but it works great. It’s also good for quality sound and gets easier replacements than the Ortofon series, specifically in America, where most record players are more popular anyway.
Using a Nagaoka MP110 cartridge is easier to install than regular gramophone needles. Plus, if you want an easier way to mount them together with the headshell, then this type of needle is the better option, as you’ll often find in many systems.
The MP110 is good for those seeking a bass-emphasized sound or those who enjoy eastern instruments. The Nagaoka MP110 has an interesting bump in the mid-high frequency area (around 3kHz) and can also get bright depending on how well it is isolated from other components like speakers or your DAP.
The Ortofon 2m Blue Moving Magnet Cartridge features a nude elliptical diamond stylus. It has a larger contact area with the groove compared to the 2M Red, which comes with a mounting block. The advantage of having no block is that it allows for a more accurate and forgiving output from the cartridge itself.
Output is a higher-than-average 5.5mV and downforce a typical 1.8g, all of which makes the 2M Blue a pretty universal cartridge in terms of both turntables and phono stages, with an ultra-lightweight (1.6kg) and an affordable price tag (about $250).
The 2M Blue is at least 90% plastic, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It comes with a unique exterior design meant to enhance the entire turntable aesthetically. Also, unlike some other turntables, the 2M Blue has a weight and size intended to complement most of them.
A lot of new cartridges have been introduced over the past few years. Most are notable because they’re very expensive, but the 2M Blue is not one of those cartridges. It’s an entry-level price point cartridge that would be suitable for anyone who needs to deliver a balance between the bass and treble.
The Ortofon 2m Blue replacement is easy and means you can screw the fixing bolts straight into the top and not have to deal with tiny nuts to thread on. The Ortofon blue replacement is one of the most popular cartridges available today.
The Ortofon 2m red cartridge bass is a great example of vintage Ortofon quality. It is punchy, textured, and well-balanced. The Ortofon 2m red cartridge bass has an extremely wide tonal range and, with its excellent clarity, dynamics, and balance, is ideal for any style.
The 2m red treble is designed to give the best sense of air and space to the sound, and the cartridge mid-band is also open and clear.
The 2m red cartridge is recommended for use with the Ortofon MM cartridge, which is a low-mass arm. It has been known that many cartridges are liable to fall off the arm during playback of loud music due to heavy-duty flanges on the arms.
The 2M Red has color-coded pin terminals and a maximum frequency of 20 Hz to 20000Hz. It cares about your stylus, gives you the best performance without lagging up to 1,000 hours, and sounds pretty good.
The Ortofon 2M Red cartridge is the latest addition to the famous Ortofon Red range, and it comes within the budget range of a maximum of $100. It has been in production since 1961 and has earned a reputation for being one of the best cartridges out there.