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Best Phono Cartridge Under $500 in 2024

Turntable phono cartridges have a significant impact on sound quality during playback. When compared to a new turntable, the vinyl collection usage of a phono cartridge can radically transform the sonic operations of your senior turntable and can sufficiently improve the listening experience. A phono cartridge typically reads the mechanical tracks of a record player and then converts them to electrical audio signals.

Denon DL-103R Moving Coil Cartridge

Denon makes some really nice phono cartridges and Best Phono Cartridge Under $500. Of course, at this high price range, I would expect incredible sound and let me tell you that he does his job so well that it goes unnoticed after a while. The turntable cartridges doesn’t sound very good, but it is a testament to the quality of the design of this phono cartridge. I took a closer look and since this is a moving coil phono cartridge, the way the bobbins have been wound seamlessly allows it to slide along your records and really give them the feel of the is listening for the first time. hour.

I’m in favor of this one for all studio producers and all audiophiles obsessed with sensitive ears. From the beginning, the Denon DL-103R has been a classic, killer voice coil replacement for listening to pure vinyl music. And for the fact that there was an upgrade to the old spool with a 6N spool replacement on the cantilever shaft, you can expect a lot of value for your money. Delivers smooth sound and excellent low and low frequency details. However, the only downside to this setup is that if you have scratches or dirt on the disc, you will be able to hear it more than with any other cartridge. But as much as you keep your beat clean and new, nothing beats that baby on your studio turntable setup.

Ortofon 2M Blue Moving Magnet Cartridge

Ortofon 2M Blue Moving Magnet Cartridge
  • Universal fit for most turntables
  • Upgrade to the Ortofon 2M Red
  • The Ortofon 2M Blue adds more dynamics and resolution, sounds more open and...

The Ortofon 2m Blue MM is best turntable cartridge for the money. The diamond stylus guard is directly linked to the cantilever with no mounting block or shank, resulting in a more accurate and forgiving output than the 2M Red model. The Ortofon 2m Blue is the most recent addition to the iconic Ortofon turntable line. The elliptical diamond stylus rake angle in this distinctive 2m stylus is incredibly sensitive and responsive, delivering a wide, direct, and natural sound from any vinyl source.

The 2m Blue phono cartridge by Pfanstiehl has a 5.5 millivolt output voltage and 1.8 grams of tracking force, making it suitable for most turntables and tonearms on the market today just like the ortofon 2m bronze. The 2M Blue has a distinctive appearance that will complement the majority of modern home and business interiors. The outside of the 2M is made up of a solid aluminum sheet with machined aluminum caps at the ends. Because the stainless steel bolts and brass nuts are not included in the packaging, it can only be used with turntables that have an M3 mounting pattern. The 2M Blue is a capable cartridge capable of producing a pleasing and well-balanced sound. Furthermore, it has excellent dynamics, transparency, and resolution for the price point.

The Blue Ortofon 2M Bronze moving magnet cartridge is a universal fit for all turntables just like the red ortofon. As an update to the 2M Red in recent times, this new blue version not only retains the tracking stability of its predecessor but also adds more resolution and dynamics to the open vinyl sound. In the same light, you get completely close to the beat, picking out whatever signals come up for a deeper, more detailed sound. You can easily replace the nude color diamond elliptical stylus when the turntable cartridge wears out as the replacement cartridge is widely available in the market as one of Best Phono Cartridge Under $500 retail price tag.

Audio-Technica AT440MLB Phonograph Cartridge

Audio-Technica AT440MLB Phonograph Cartridge
  • Micro-Linear, stylus mounted, VM cartridge.
  • VM type dual-magnet system and high performance par toroidal power...
  • Adopted PCOCC for the coil.

Audio Technica AT440MLB phonograph cartridge is one of the first moving magnet cartridges in the Audio Technica VM series. This entry level honograph Cartridg series of phono cartridges is essentially a response to the detailed sound demand of audiophiles in the studio. Therefore, the AT440MLB phono capsule is a specially designed phono capsule for deeper penetration into the groove of each sound. To achieve this, the mm cartridges are designed as a dual-magnet cartridge capable of tracking both channel balance of its record grooves, producing a more complete range of frequency response. In addition to this, the choice of material per toroidal integrated static coil system is super sensitive, opening the doors to more signal generating power and finally placing the AT440MLB phono cartridge in the high-performance category of the Ortofon 2M phono cartridges. Bronze.

The Audio-Technica phono cartridge is an affordable, high-performance cartridge that offers clear sound (including bass) and good stereo separation. Tracking is excellent even if the traction control is not calibrated. This may be the best cartridge under 100 to play very old discs in order to reproduce each of them as accurately as possible, but it may not be suitable for those who mainly want to improve bass (improves mids better) . The balance between highs and lows is not a problem, and dynamics are everywhere when it comes to all genres of music. The unit removes most of the surface noise from recordings. Better to calibrate the weight to 1.7 grams to eliminate scraping and dragging noises. This is one of the best mc cartridge under $1000.

NAGAOKA MM (MP) Cartridge MP-110

NAGAOKA Cartridge MP Series - MP-110 Record Stylus
  • Produces crystal clear clarity over every sound frequency
  • Fluidity across the frequency spectrum
  • Up-to-date modern construction materials

Nagaoka MP-110 cartridge brings out the midrange aspects of your audio sources. A slower tracking speed MM like the Sumiko Bluebird or the ZYX Airy 3 might be more appealing to you if you desire a cartridge weight with added bass support to back up the light-weighted sound quality created.

The Nagaoka MP110 is a low-cost and incredibly colorful cartridge. The tracking weight cartridge competes well with other mid-range goods such as Ortofon and offers good sound quality at a moderate price. The cartridge offers a warm high-end sound that’s ideal for listening to rock or jazz, but it also works well with classical music and sound effect songs. Users are not need to send the entire gadget in for maintenance because the cartridge replacement is rather straightforward. Just be careful not to apply excessive pressure if you opt to change the needle yourself!

The Nagaoka MP-110 is a great value K&M cartridge that, unexpectedly, outperforms its silver counterparts. The Nagaoka’s pricing is even comparable to that of the well-known Ortofon, making it a good choice for those searching for a lower-cost alternative that nevertheless delivers high quality audio recordings. Aside from the superb sound quality, one feature of this product that truly sticks out is how quickly you can replace the needle because it’s detachable, which adds to its fine line attractiveness.

You can’t change the stylus on the Nagaoka MP110 cartridge because of the way it’s built. This works in its favor because the top and body of the cartridge are distinct and easily interchangeable for the frequency responses. These records, unlike those played on other cartridges, will not wear out as soon.

The Nagaoka MP110 cartridge has solid and courteous bass performance, and there is a rise in overall volume between 3k and 5kHz that lends a good touch of clarity to vocals, particularly sibilance. Overall, the Nagaoka MP-110 phono cartridge is the best phono cartridge under $500.

Goldring E3 Phono Cartridge

Goldring E3 Phono Cartridge
  • 0.3 x 0.7 mil super elliptical diamond stylus shape
  • Aluminum cantilever
  • Tracking force range: 1.5 g - 2.5 g (2.0 g recommended)

Every E3 cartridge body design comes with a lovely violet color, and the design for this cartridge is common among several model kinds, which were varied by the color of the bottom edge. The body is constructed using a large stocky form that has been expertly created in plastic molding. It has the same form as Ortofon’s M2 / OM series cartridges. The Goldring company is the oldest cartridge producer in the world, having been formed in 1906. It is most renowned for its iron models that move.

This phono cartridge has an aluminum cantilever, an elliptical tip with a 0.6 mil circular profile bonded to the stylus, and an elliptical tip with an elliptical tip of 0.3 x 0.7 mil. The twin magnet MM engine delivers exceptional stereo performance, almost identical to the AT95E series from Audio Technica.

Captive nuts are located on the E3 cartridge’s front side, making it simple to attach mounting Allen-key bolts. There’s a straight edge there to help with the actual cartridge positioning for the vinyl records. Installation takes less than ten minutes, according to Turntable Expert users, once you’ve aligned the E3 cartridge into your Rega Planar 2 turntable. Only those who choose a thicker headshell should be aware that longer screws may be required for assembly for some users.

The E3 cartridge comes with a set of nuts and bolts for attaching the various mounting attachments. You’ll find a straight-edged guide that will help you position your cart to the headshell with ease. The installation is straightforward, but Rega Planar II owners may require longer screws due to the thickness of the headshell behind the platter. The E3 has a very light weight. In fact, it weighs only 6.9 grams, which we truly adore. It weighs in at 2.0g, which is surprising considering how light it is in comparison to most other digital calligraphy pens. This is the best phono cartridge under $200.

Sumiko – Blue Point #2 High Output MC Cartridge

Sumiko - Blue Point #2 High Output MC Cartridge
  • Cartridge Type: HO MC
  • Frequency Response: 15Hz-25KHz
  • Channel Separation: 32db

Sumiko, a well-known brand for turntables, has created a treasure in the Sumiko – Blue Point 2 High Output MC Cartridge. It has one of the best sound quality for the best moving coil cartridge under $500!

Many people use this high-output moving coil phono cartridge because of its affordability and ability to produce pleasant sound quality playback without load impedance. It was capable of capturing the correct frequency response range and faithfully reproducing them. With this MC phono cartridge, everything is perfectly articulated, from tonality to dynamics. The stylus is built in such a way that it sits lower in the grooves than other elliptical stylus. This indicates that the sound tracking is exceptionally precise. The body is also designed to be lightweight.

Shure M97xE High-Performance Magnetic Phono Cartridge

Shure M97xE High-Performance Magnetic Phono...
  • High-performance phono cartridge with finely polished elliptical diamond...
  • Accurately reproduces difficult musical passages, particularly in...
  • Viscous-damped dynamic stabilizer maintains uniform distance between...

The Shure M97XE is a high-performance MM phono cartridge that can be used for a variety of hi fi applications. It’s designed to make signal passage from your groove as easy as possible for the stylus tip. This is especially important for high frequencies, which can otherwise build up and muffle your music with unpleasant hums. You also don’t have to spend the extra money on a PAD.

Meanwhile, the elliptical diamond stylus is precisely polished for tracking precision, and it works in tandem with the viscous-damped stabiliser to keep the distance between your record and the cartridge constant. The entire body design is sturdy, and because to the integrated side-guard system, the M97XE can endure most bumps and stylus damage in a decent amount of time. This is the best vinyl cartridge under $500.

Best Phono Cartridges Under $500.

Grado Timbre Series Platinum3 High Output Phono Cartridge w/Stylus

Grado Timbre Series Platinum3 High Output Phono...
  • The latest enhancement provide improved performance
  • Low Mass Generating System - Specially Cut Diamond - 1/2" Mount
  • 4 Piece OTL Cantilever

A super-lightweight cartridge with a long needle life that tracks sound perfectly. This cartridge was created to be one of the most durable in the industry for hard mixing, spinning, and scratching.

However, if you want to listen to it on your personal audio, you won’t be losing any money. The 4-piece cantilever’s ultra-high quality long crystal oxygen-free copper coil retains the design 10% lighter and 50% more pure and clear in frequency broadcasting.

Audio-Technica AT150Sa Dual Moving Magnet Cartridge

Audio-Technica AT150Sa Dual Moving Magnet...
  • Sublime musicality, delicacy and accuracy
  • Nude shibata diamond tip for exceptional groove tracing accuracy
  • Frequency response: 10 ~ 25,000 Hz

The Audio-Technica AT150Sa Dual Moving Magnet Cartridge is a mid-range phono cartridge with everything you might want. It really smacks you with a great, wide-ranging dynamic sound that will absolutely blow you away without stylus damages, thanks to a good dual magnet cartridge and the Shibata Line stylus.

The pivot point has a full-range audio system as well as excellent left/right channel separation. This also means that the sound clarity is excellent. The Pcocc coil design reduces noise while also improving the overall efficiency of the phono cartridge. Only the AT150SA has access to this technology at a good asking price.

The tapering aluminium cantilever of the Audio-Technica AT150Sa Dual Moving Magnet Cartridge gives a solid base to hang on to the stylus, which we enjoy. This ensures that the stylus makes the best possible contact with the vinyl records at all times, resulting in less vibration and a cleaner sound. This is the best phono cartridge under £500.

Buying Guide for Phono Cartridges Under $500

When choosing a phono cartridge under $500, consider the following factors:

Cartridge Type

Choose between a moving magnet (MM) or moving coil (MC) cartridge depending on your preference, budget, and equipment. MM cartridges are typically more affordable and easier to maintain, while MC cartridges generally offer superior sound quality.


Ensure the cartridge is compatible with your turntable’s tonearm. If you’re unsure, refer to your turntable’s manual or consult with the manufacturer.

Output Level

Check the output level of the cartridge and make sure it’s compatible with your amplifier or preamp. High-output cartridges should be compatible with most standard phono inputs, while low-output cartridges may require a MC input or a separate MC step-up device.

Stylus Type

Consider the type of stylus on the cartridge. Options include elliptical, fine line, Shibata, and others. These different shapes can affect how the stylus tracks the record grooves and can impact sound quality.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is A Phono Cartridge?

You may scoff at this if you’ve been listening to vinyl since before it was cool again, but there are plenty of individuals who are just getting into the amazing world of listening to music on vinyl. Essentially, the phono cartridge is what you most commonly refer to as “the needle.” However, the needle is only one small element of the phono cartridge, which is the entire unit.

What are the types of Phono Cartridges?

There are thousands of various types and styles of phono cartridges, but all of them must fall into one of three categories: moving magnet, moving iron, or moving coil.

Moving Magnet Cartridges

They’re also known as MMCs, and they include a small magnet inside that creates an electrical current between the coils as the stylus moves. In comparison to other types of phono cartridges, the MMC has a very simple design.

Moving Iron Cartridges

These varieties use a little bit of iron that is lighter than the cartridge’s magnet, reducing the overall force exerted by the stylus when it makes contact with the disk. The MICs are also used to improve the overall accuracy and quality of the sound production.

Moving Coil Cartridges

These cartridges differ from the other two in that they use a magnetic force to move electricity-conducting coils within the stylus’s arm. The Moving Coil Cartridge is smaller and finer than the other cartridges, allowing it to produce low voltage outputs while also catching noises and vibrations.

How Often Should I Replace My Phono Cartridge?

The lifespan of a phono cartridge depends on how often you use it and how well you take care of it. On average, a phono cartridge should last between 800 to 1,000 hours of play time. However, you may need to replace the stylus more frequently, generally after about 500-700 hours of play time.

Can I Upgrade My Phono Cartridge?

Yes, upgrading your phono cartridge can often result in a significant improvement in sound quality. When choosing a new cartridge, consider factors such as the type (MM or MC), compatibility with your tonearm, output level, stylus type, and price.

What is the Difference Between MM and MC Cartridges?

MM (Moving Magnet) and MC (Moving Coil) refer to the two main types of phono cartridges. MM cartridges are generally more affordable and easier to maintain, with replaceable stylus assemblies. MC cartridges often offer superior sound quality but are more expensive and usually require the entire cartridge to be replaced when the stylus wears out.

Can I Install a New Phono Cartridge Myself?

While it’s possible to install a new phono cartridge yourself, the process requires precision and can be a bit complex if you’re not familiar with it. You’ll need to remove the old cartridge, install the new one, align it properly, and set the correct tracking force. If you’re not comfortable doing this yourself, it may be best to have the cartridge installed by a professional or someone with experience.