MC (or MM) cartridge recommendations

How did the IQ3 compare?


I have a Hana ML now and prior to that had the previous generation AT ART9. When I have to replace the Hana it will be a bit of a coin flip as to whether I go for another ML or one of the new ART9s using one of the the cartridge replacement programmes, though I also have a Shiraz that might get rebuilt as another option. If I was asked to describe the difference, I would say the ML had a slightly faster punchier sound, where as the ART9 was slightly more refined with a wider soundstage. Many years back I had a OC9, the body I eventually swapped for the ART9. The OC9 was another great cartridge. I don’t think there’s a bad choice between them.


I use a DV XX-2 and before that an AT-OC9ML.
I would say the AT is a more polite cartridge with an accomplished midrange whilst the DV has more attack and bite and is suited to rock.


The challenge is, of course, that it is very hard to do a comparative demo of cartridges in the same set up, let alone all the possible candidates. I have a Dynavector XX2 in my LP12/Ekos/ NVC TT setup. It is a fine sounding cartridge especially for the discounted price I paid for it but there are a ton of options. I have had a couple of Rega cartridges, mounted in the RB300 tonearm on an LP12. I found the ones I had were somewhat fatiguing even in the RB300 which is supposed to be a good match. But I think that is very system dependent and may have sounded much nicer with a different phono stage or a Rega turntable.

I like the XX2 because it seems to have some of the characteristics I loved about earlier Linn cartridges such as the Asak, Asak T or Troika such as being both musical and dynamic. I am not that impressed by current Linn cartridges except the two highest priced ones which are a lot of money for a somewhat “disposable” item. The mid-tier Hana cartridges also sounded nice to me although more neutral than the XX2 and they are quite good value for money.


I have a Grado Prestige Gold 2 on my Kuzma player with a Rega RB300 arm.
I find it to be a really good combination into SN3 phono stage. Nice, full bodied sound.


I have an AT ART-9xi, which I like very much, on my LP12 (Karousel, Keel, Ittok 3 and Lingo 2). It replaced an Ortofon 2m black. I agree with the refined comment about the ART-9xi…it is lush without being colored, elevated. It has better bottom end than the Ortofon. The Ortofon was quick and detailed, but had higher surface noise. Overall, the AT is a full step up.

I have an Exact 2 on my P6 office system, which I really like a lot.

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Interesting, I will read later
The Vertere decks are no doubt the best turntables I’ve ever heard, they are however outside my budget.
Some of their MM cartridges seem to be rebranded Audio Technica VM5xx, wonder if there’s more insight ?

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A lot of good options and some first hand feedback, thanks all. Seems like the AT MCs are enjoying good reception as a generally more sophisticated, smoother but less dynamic alternative to the Hana?

May be

740ML or 760SLC vs OC9 or 33PTG on the AT side and being all a bit more affordable (and then e.g. Ortofon, Grado similar alternatives?)

ART9s or Hana ML with slightly different character but a step above?

DV XX2 somewhere in the middle (SQ?) but not a cheap one??

Had a look at the Vertere, nice review but not quite sure where to place them in my mind at present?

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Another vote for the ATOC9XML here, using a Stageline K in my setup.

It might be bettered by paying a lot more, but it sings in my system and provides a seismic bass (using LP12 and Ittok LVIII,



Thanks. Does the K roll off the top end a bit?

Can’t say I’ve noticed Christopher.


Fair enough, without the S as a comparison :slight_smile:

Tried a few cartridges that a friendly dealer had on demonstration, was really good fun. Never a straightforward affair as we know (not same system, carts mounted on more than one TT, not enough time etc.) but somewhere in the £600 to £1200 MC range I though the Hana ML came closest to my idea for an alternative likeable MC option to my AT MM. I had a small bias to start with and got a good offer too, which probably helped. Listening through various albums at home now I suspect it will be less forgiving but the extra detail, space and midrange works well so far with Naim. Still playing with the tracking force and it makes a difference too.
Thanks again, everyone, for the advice, it was very helpful.


ART9XA here. Its nicely detailed without lacking oomph when required. Good all rounder I’d say and I prefer the sound signature to my previous Dynavector cartridges.


Both excellent cartridges that I think represent good value for money.


A quick summary of my experience with cartridges on a Gyro:

AT-OC9 MLII - probably the best bang for the buck of them all.

Dynavector DV17D3 - incredibly fast and exciting but inclined to be bright especially on iffy recordings like some 80’s rock

Sumiko Pearwood Anniversary - sublime, smooth, detailed, the 3rd best cartridge I have used

Lyra Kleos SL - ties for first place - unfailingly neutral, dynamic, open, just fabulous!

Audio Technica ART-20: ties with the Kleos - also sublimely neutral, expansive soundstage, open, dynamic, just fabulous too, at the price probably the best high-end bargain you can buy…

Vertere Mystic - On the leaner side of neutral, excellent soundstage, speed, dynamics, may highlight surface noise slightly

Hana ML - Ties with OC9, well balanced, better soundstage than OC9 but slightly less exciting, possibly better for classical but marginally less impressive for rock

EAT JO No 5 - very refined but a little dull for my tastes.

Kiseki Blue NS - this one seemed like it had the potential to be a giant killer giving 75% of the performance of the £3000+ cartridges at 1/3 of the price, however the demo one I had suffered from a manufacturing fault evidenced as a low level clinking sound on one channel so I terminated the review.

Hope that’s helpful. Frankly at this level (i.e. above £500) nothing is awful, it’s more a question of finding which makes the kind of sound you like and matching with tonearm (compliance etc) and record deck.



I did hear the OC9 and liked it. Probably because the demo system was hooked to a pair of Audio Note speakers, which I found slightly too smooth, the Hana came across more vivace and also a bit more different than my current AT. Who knows, I might have thought differently if it was all at home, but I also thought both are very good indeed.

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Hi Jonathan,
I hope you don’t mind asking me, is the Sumiko cartridge perhaps the Pearwood Celebration II (I have never heard anything about a Pearwood Anniversary)?

I liked a lot the Lyra Delos, on my ex SME 20/2, Rega Rp10. I have a Kleos on my P10 now.

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Mulberry - well done, spotting that - I didn’t!

Many thanks for the correction, JonathanG

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