Best Phono Cartridge Under 100 : For The Eternal Love of Music

Most of us inherit a traditional turntable and lots of sweet memories with it. Most of the time, we need to change the cartridge of a turntable. It is because a cartridge has a life span of only 1000 hours on average. So, if you are a musicholic like me, you will need to buy a cartridge very frequently.

Good knowledge of phonograph cartridge will help you to choose the best fit for you. In this review, we will focus on the best phono cartridge under 100 and pros cons. You will find a buying guide at the end of this article, and some frequently asked questions related to buying phono cartridge.

10 Best Phono Cartridge Under 100

1. Audio-Technica AT95E Phonograph Cartridge for 1/2" Mount Turntables

An excellent turntable cartridge for phonograph offers superior clarity. You will admire its tolerance capacity. Different parts of the cartridge are perfectly assembled to provide ultimate user experiences.

Here are the technical details of Audio-Technica AT95E Phonograph Cartridge

Criteria

Specification

Frequency Response

20 Hz - 20 kHz

Channel Separation

>20 dB at 1 kHz

Tracking Force

1.5 - 2.5 g

Stylus

0.4 x 0.7 mm elliptical diamond

Cantilever

Alloy tube

Mount

Half-inch

Replacement Stylus

ATN95E

It's a very light weighed cartridge about 0.201 ounces. The recommended tracking force of this model is 2g. I am a fan of an excellent quality cantilever in a phonograph cartridge, and an alloy tube is a perfect material for cantilever. The excellent frequency response and channel separation range will provide the user with an exceptional musical experience.

The audio reproduction capability of Audio-Technica AT95E Phonograph Cartridge is excellent. Accuracy and clarity are the most prominent feature of this cartridge. There is an elliptical diamond stylus which ensures grooving of the track with perfect synchronization.

The installation process is not dead simple but not rocket science as well. If you have prior experiences of changing phonograph cartridge, then it will be straightforward. But, as a newbie, you might face some trouble. You can always take installation instruction from its user manual.

With that price range, it's an excellent choice for replacing your old phonograph cartridge.

Pros:

  • Premium specification with an optimum price.
  • Wide range of frequency response.
  • Compatible with most phonograph's cartridge slot.
  • Alloy tube cantilever.
  • Crisper and cleaner sound quality.

Cons:

  • In a few instances, installation can give you a hard time.

Our Verdict:

It can be an excellent choice for replacing your old phonograph cartridge with this quality product. With that price, you can never get better quality than this. In local stores, you will find the same product at almost 2X price. Better to purchase from the Amazon store at an excellent rate.

2. Ortofon 2M Red Moving Magnet Cartridge

Ortofon 2M red has improved features of the cartridge from previous versions. Primarily, with the upgraded engine, it supplies an enhanced output of 5.5 mV. I would say its outstanding. It's a very light weighted cartridge. The cartridge weight without screw is about 7.2 g.

You will find preciously optimized sound reproduction and excellent level of sonic accuracy. The cartridge is designed meticulously and compatible with a wide range of phonographs.

It has a special stylus that features a tipped elliptical diamond. You will also get split pole pins connected with a copper cable. Hopelex produces the cartridge's mainframe, which is a renowned manufacturer of musical instruments' body parts. It ensures high durability and eliminates unnecessary resonance. The body is designed in such a way that it will provide simple mounting and alignment.

You will get output voltage 5 cm/sec to 5.5mV at 1kHz. The frequency response range is extensive. About 20 to 20000 Hz frequency response can be found in this model. The tolerance for frequency response is +3 to -1 dB. The dynamic lateral is about 20 µm/mN. The replacement stylus is 2M Red, and it is interchangeable with Ortofon stylus 2M blue. The tracking force of Ortofon 2M Red Moving Magnet Cartridge is 1.8 g.

Pros:

  • Durability.
  • Optimized sound reproduction.
  • High quality features with excellent price.
  • Interchangeability

Cons:

  • For, pros it's a matter of a minute to install but, if you have never installed a phonograph cartridge before, it might be a little bit tough for you.

Our Verdict:

Excellent choice for replacing any old cartridge for better quality sound. It is easily compatible with most of the phonograph's cartridge slots. With long-lasting durability and excellent features, it's a perfect choice for 99$.

3. Audio Technica AT3482P .7 mil Conical Cartridge Fits P-Mount Turntables

There is a rumor in the phonograph audio market about this model. Audio Technica AT3482P is one of the top secrets among all of the phonographic cartridge. Still, you will find a lot of buzz and myths about its conical stylus. Someone would say the carbon fiber is the secret ingredient of this cartridge. I would say, if you roll 45's or the thrift store vinyl, this is the perfect cartridge for you. It's a fantastic performer.

Criteria

Specification

Frequency Response

20 Hz - 20 kHz

Channel Separation

24/15 (dB at 1 kHz/10 kHz)

Vertical Tracking Force

1.0-1.5 grams

Stylus Construction

Bonded round shank

Recommended load impedance

47,000 ohms

Output

5.0 (mV at 1 kHz, 5 cm/sec)

Channel Balance

1.5 dB

Stylus Shape

0.7 mil conical

Cantilever

Carbon fiber

Mount

P-mount

Audio Technica AT3482P has 0.7 mils conical cartridge, and it is compatible with P-mount turntables. The stylus construction is a bonded round shank, which is very efficient in handling resonance.

I would say this is the best phonograph cartridge for replacing any P-mount turntable. It produces very high quality, well balanced, and crisp sound. High pitches are very smooth, and lows are exact. Moreover, the mid frequencies are the champion range of this needle. You will never face any hanging onto the groove issues. It correctly handles warps by its quality carbon fiber cantilever.

Pros:

  • Excellent Features.
  • No hanging over the groove issue.
  • Higher frequency response.
  • Excellent sound quality.
  • Efficient resonance handling.

Cons:

  • Very light weighed.
  • Doesn't work with turntables with no arm adjustments.

Our Verdict:

Undoubtedly, an excellent choice for replacing your existing needle. It will provide you heavenly musical experiences. Highly recommended product for longer and smoother music experiences. One of the best phono cartridge under 100 for sure.

4. Ortofon OM Pro S Single Pack - 1 x DJ Cartridge fitted with stylus

Just leave out every possible great feature of a cartridge. What will you look for? The price, of course. Other existing cartridges can not easily beat the price Ortofon OM Pro S cartridge offers. Now, come back to the features part of a cartridge. It offers an almost equal number of features compared to high priced products.

It's an all-purpose DJ phonograph cartridge. Ortofon OM Pro S cartridge has a spherical shaped diamond stylus, and it reduces wear and scratch. The rugged cantilever can efficiently handle hectic motion at the turntable. It can be easily fitted on the headshell.

The tracking force of this tremendous cartridge is 4.0g. Force is remarkably better than other expensive cartridges. The output voltage is 5mV, which is pretty standard. The frequency range is about 20-18000 Hz.

Regardless of the application, Ortofon OM Pro S Single Pack cartridge provides outstanding versatility for any setting. It produces excellent sound quality consistently.

Pros:

  • Low price.
  • Outstanding for DJ scratching.
  • Durable.
  • Good quality sound.

Cons:

  • It does not come with a headshell. You need to have an existing headshell to install it.

Our Verdict:

Excellent for DJ setups. With that low price, I would say it the best choice for any cartridge replacement.

5. Sumiko Black Pearl High Output Moving Magnet Phono Cartridge

Do you have a lot of first-generation 45 RPM discs? Or 16~ RPM Seeburg discs? If you have one of these, you must know that it needs 0.5 mil stylus. Already, you have got my hints, right?

Sumiko Black Pearl Phono Cartridge has a compatible needle to play these discs. It will track like a pro on your favorite ELAC 50H. This cartridge performance will stun you if you compare it with mono LPs and Eps.

Sumiko'sweight is about 3.2 ounces. It has a moving magnet stylus with a size of 0.5µ, and the cantilever is made of alloy and bonded with a spherical stylus. The frequency response is ranged from 18Hz to 27KHz, and channel separation is 28db.

It builds on the exclusive strength of Oyster, which is Sumiko's trademark cartridge genre. The diameter of the stylus is relatively smaller and created with an innovative generator assembly. The output of this cartridge capable of greater separation and a larger frequency dimension. Best mm cartridge for sonic music playing.

It will give the user a direct experience of cutting-edge technology. Sumiko Black Pearl Phono Cartridge provides outstanding construction and music quality by focusing on real-world presentations.

Pros:

  • Excellent sound quality.
  • Moving magnet cartridge.
  • Wider frequency range.
  • Greatest assembly.
  • Higher compatibility.

Cons:

  • Price.

Our Verdict:

It's an excellent product for music-loving people. You might feel its price is a bit higher than other cartridges, but the service and experience it can provide you are out of this world. Amazing! Truly Amazing.

6. NAGAOKA MP-100 MM Cartridge From Japan

First of all, you will not find any better reviews of this specific product on the internet. This platform provides/will provide you exclusive product reviews that can not be found anywhere else.

If you are looking for a very high-resolution device, then NAGAOKA MP-100 MM Cartridge can be the perfect choice for you. As input, if you pass as low as 16bit 44.1Khz CD, you will get outstanding output in return.

The IM type design concept has come to market to make the moving parts lighter in weight and enhance the capability to read signals correctly. The more massive objects like magnet and cantilever coil may hinder good quality sounds, and by keeping these aspects in mind, the MP-100mm cartridge has been designed.

You will also find great stylus, which will influence the magnetic characteristics positively. With this product, it is even challenging to distort a strong signal.

Sometime you will find a little resonance here and there. This may have resulted because the original sound is produced through a joint round needle. If you like cartridge with quirky sounds, it might not be the best fit for you.

In general, for music-loving people, it can be an excellent alternative for a traditional cartridge.

Pros:

  • Good sound quality.
  • No distortion on a higher frequency.
  • Excellent stylus.
  • Highly compatible.

Cons:

  • Minute resonance has been observed.

Our Verdict:

It's a perfect quality cartridge with cutting edge Japanese technology. If you are a true fan of precise and smooth quality sound, it will soothe your ear. Price is also between the affordable range.

7. Audio-Technica VM520EB Dual Moving Magnet Elliptical Bonded Stereo Turntable Cartridge

Audio-Technica VM520EB is the best mm cartridge of the slot of products we are currently reviewing. If you have the budget around its price, you must, but it—end of the discussion.

Oh! Wait?

Curious to know more. Here are the details.

It has a tremendous dual magnet. These magnets match with right and left, both channels of any stereo record, and resulted in a great groove. You will also get excellent channel separation features and prolonged frequency response. The stylus is elliptical bonded. The size of the stylus is about 0.3 x 0.7 mil. It will track the record groove with excellent accuracy, and frankly, you will be amazed by its extraordinary audio reproduction capability. The cantilever is made of aluminum.

It has Paratoroidal coils, which will upgrade the generating capacity. A quality center shield plate has drastically reduced crosstalk. The center shield plate is situated between the left and right channels.

Polymer housing presents durability with low resonance. With this excellent product, you will get mounting hardware as well.

Pros:

  • Outstanding sound quality.
  • Enhanced Audio reproduction capacity.
  • Durable polymer housing.
  • Reduced crosstalk.

Cons:

  • Price is a little bit higher.

Our Verdict:

Audio-Technica VM520EB Dual Moving Magnet Elliptical cartridge has outstanding features, rare in current generation cartridge. It has a bit higher price, but you have to remember the quality. Comparing to the service, worth every penny it demands.

8. Ortofon 2M Red PnP Moving Magnet Cartridge

I love this cartridge. Currently, I am using this beauty and fully satisfied with its features. It has incredible audio quality. Overall, by counting all the features, you will be amazed for sure.

The installation process is straightforward. It has an S-shaped tonearm, and it is the unique feature of this cartridge, fits universal phonographs. 2M red is widely known for its all-purpose suitability.

It delivers dynamic, open, and soothing sound with a little splash of warmth. There is an elliptical diamond stylus that provides grooving of the track with fantastic synchronization. Moreover, Ortofon stylus 2M Red can be upgraded with Ortofon Stylus 2M Blue.

The split pole pins are the flagship feature of 2M Red, enabling the mm cartridge to deliver a smooth and flat frequency response. The split pole pins are Ortofon's invention, and they first launched it in the 500 series. It is widely known that Ortofon 500 series is the most expensive and flagship product of Ortofon. Now, you will get the same features with Ortofon 2M Red.

Pros:

  • Excellent sound quality.
  • Split pole pins.
  • Elliptical diamond stylus
  • Easy installation process

Cons:

  • Price.

Our Verdict:

It's a great cartridge, and you will get all the premium features of Ortofon 500 series in it. The price is a little bit on the higher side. But, it's not a matter of a headache as long as it serves quality sound.

9. Audio-Technica AT-XP5 1/2" Mount Elliptical DJ Turntable Cartridge

Audio-Technica AT-XP5 is an exclusive DJ edition turntable cartridge. It's a professional DJ cartridge with supreme qualities and features.

The high-performance features make it an unbeatable cartridge for professional, android, and club DJ use.

It has a strong PPS or polyphenylene sulfide body with a tracking force ranged from 2.0 to 4.0 grams. It has an impressive 0.3 x 0.7 mil elliptical bonded stylus. The stylus is designed in ultimate accuracy to provide record groove with excellent precision for audio reproduction. Additionally, because of its design, the stylus tip gets the utmost visibility. The power output is a salient feature of Audio-Technica AT-XP5 turntable cartridge. It delivers 5.5 mV of production.

It has a durable carbon fiber made cantilever. Carbon fiber will ensure long-lasting and break-free musical experiences. Technica AT-XP5 has nylon cable suspension, and this wiring system provides accurate tracking.

Pros:

  • DJ edition.
  • Excellent tip quality.
  • High Output.
  • Durability.
  • Price.

Cons:

  • If you are installing a cartridge for the first time, it can give you a hard time.

Our Verdict:

Excellent choice for DJ uses. The best tones can come out from the scratches. With the price, it's an excellent buy indeed.

10. GRADO Prestige Black3 Phono Cartridge w/Stylus - Standard Mount

GRADO Prestige Black3 Phono is an excellent compliance cartridge. It is an excellent match to small mass carbon fiber tonearm on any traditional turntable.

The weight of the product is 4.8 ounces. GRADO's twin magnet system is the latest advancement to make this Black3 model unique than other models. It is compatible with the other most common type of turntables. GRADO Prestige Black3 Phono has a standard mount system.

The outer housing is durable and provides a stunning look and adopts four superior quality copper cable coils. The frequency response is 10 Hz to 50 kHz. The principal is MI, and you will get channel separation at 1KHz:30. GRADO Prestige Black3 Phono can take an input load of 47K and provide a substantial output of 5mV at 1KHz 5cm/sec. The recommended tracking force is about 1.5g.

It has an E type stylus and inductance of 45mH. You will get arm resonance near about 9 Hz.

Overall, it has excellent features for a wide range of uses.

Pros:

  • Good Sound quality.
  • High Compatibility.
  • Durable Housing.

Cons:

  • If you have bad luck, you might face issues with the right channel.

Our Verdict:

Overall, it's the right product. It is durable and will provide excellent sound quality—the best phonograph cartridge with higher compatibility.

Buyer's Guide:

Compatibility: Before buying a new best phono cartridge under 100, the first thing to check its compatibility. You need to be sure about your existing turntable will be compatible with the cartridge you are planning to buy.

Frequency Response: The thumb rule of a cartridge's excellent frequency response is, higher the better.

Channel Separation: Recommended channel separation range is greater than 20 dB at 1 kHz.

Output: Louder output is better for excellent musical experiences. The standard production is near about 5 mV.

Moving Magnet: Moving magnet is an excellent feature of any cartridge. Some cartridges have a double moving magnet. It will give enhanced audio production.

Housing: Durable housing is preferable. In most of the cases, you will find ABS made housing. It is standard for cartridge housing.

Frequently Asked Question:

Is it possible to fit any cartridge to any turntable?

Generally, No. It solely depends on the compatibility described in the specification section of the cartridge.

Is it wise to replace the stylus, or should I replace the cartridge?

A decent rule of thumb, if your cartridge is mounted to the tonearm with screws, then it is possible to replace both the cartridge and stylus. But, if there is no screw, then you can only replace the stylus.

What is the life span of a cartridge?

In general, a cartridge runs around 1000 hours of playtime.

Why my tracks skip automatically or suddenly?

You might face this sort of problem due to a bad needle.

How often should I clean the stylus?

It depends on how often you use the turntable. It is better to clean the stylus once in a week.

Final Words:

The choice of an excellent phonograph cartridge can be varied according to your existing turntable. But, those of us who love nice, clean, and smooth sounds have no alternatives to the high-quality cartridge. In this review, we have illustrated the top ten best phono cartridge under 100  of recent times you can choose from according to your turntable compatibility.

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