Best Turntable Cartridge Upgrades

by Bruno Brozović

Today I will present you with the best turntable cartridge upgrades for your turntable.

The best cartridges for little money

If you buy a turntable, a cartridge is usually pre-installed or included, which hopefully sounds pretty good. However, if you want to get a little more out of your turntable, the best place to start is with the cartridge.

You almost need a degree in physics to understand the function of a cartridge in detail, but fortunately, some cartridges offer high quality at fair prices.

For the inclined music fan, however, cheaper variants are also sufficient, which still provide a good sound and you can find them in cartridge tests or guides like this one.

The best turntable cartridge guide

As with the turntable, so with the cartridge, it is not essential to understand exactly what each part does and what it is used for. It is still an advantage to have a little understanding of what is in front of you. In addition to the best cartridges, we also want to explain a few terms in our cartridge guide.

Function and structure of the cartridge

The cartridge picks up the mechanical vibrations of the record and converts them into electrical voltage. To be able to fulfill this task, it is mounted on the front of the tonearm.

The cartridge is an assembly and consists of several individual parts. In addition to the housing and the converter, you will also find a flexibly mounted needle carrier and the needle (stylus) itself.

The best turntable cartridge

The tip of the record needle is a very sensitive piece, it is usually made of diamond. But there are also needles made of sapphire and ruby. However, the most common is the diamond needle with a playing time of around 1000 hours. In contrast, a sapphire needle only lasts about 50 hours.

There are also differences in the cut of the needles. Needles with elliptical cuts are louder and have a very high-frequency spectrum, but they wear the record more. In contrast, spherically cut needles are quieter and wear down the record less.

MM and MC cartridges

Cartridges are available in two versions, a distinction is made between the transducer system in MM (moving magnet) and MC (moving coil).

Although the procedure is different, in both systems the signal voltage is generated electromagnetically.

The difference is as follows, while in the MC system, a coil that is firmly connected to the needle moves in a magnetic field, in the MM system the magnet itself moves.

MC systems are mainly found in high-end turntables because while you can usually change the needle of an MM cartridge when it is worn out, you have to replace the entire cartridge with an MC cartridge. In return, the MC cartridges deliver a higher-quality sound.

Recommended turntable cartridge upgrades

If you want to improve the sound of your turntable or have already used up your cartridge so much that you need a new one, you will be happy that you don’t necessarily have to spend a lot of money for a great sound.

Another important note, before you compare the cartridges, is that the product recommendations shown are based on the compilation of test results from other portals as well as on our own experiences with some of the products.

Audio Technica AT95E Cartridge(MM)

The Audio Technica AT95E offers superior overall performance for a mid-range system with an elliptical diamond stylus and dual-magnet construction. An absolute price-performance monster.

Audio-Technica AT-VM95E Dual Moving Magnet Turntable Cartridge Green
2,856 Reviews
Audio-Technica AT-VM95E Dual Moving Magnet Turntable Cartridge Green
  • VM95 Series dual Magnet cartridge with 0.3 x 0.7 mil Elliptical stylus
  • Aluminum cantilever
  • Specially wound coils increase output voltage
  • Durable low-resonance polymer Housing
  • Threaded inserts in cartridge body enable cartridge to be mounted to headshell with just two screws - no nuts required

Audio Technica AT-110E Cartridge

The Audio Technica AT-110E cartridge has an incredibly good sound for a fair price. It has been designed for light to medium-heavy tonearms and is an absolute all-rounder.

Ortofon OM 5E Cartridge

The Ortofon OM 5E cartridge features an Elliptical stylus that provides balanced and distortion-free playback. Elliptical diamonds can follow the groove oscillations more accurately than spherical diamonds due to their contoured shape. This results in better tracking and less distortion.

Ortofon OM 5e Moving Magnet Cartridge
  • Fits most standard turntables
  • Easily relpaceable stylus
  • Elliptical diamond
  • Offers distortion free playback of stereo records
  • Low mass design reduces record wear

Ortofon 2M Red MM Cartridge

If you are a beginner and want to get the most out of your turntable, you might want to take a look at Ortofon 2M Red cartridge. For a super good price, you will get a cartridge that has already convinced die-hard professionals with its sound.

Ortofon 2M Red Moving Magnet Cartridge
  • Universal fit for most turntables
  • Upgrade from stock cartridges
  • The Ortofon 2M Red is an all-purpose cartridge that delivers open, dynamic sound with a slight touch of warmth
  • The Ortofon 2M Red features an Elliptical diamond
  • Can be upgraded with an Ortofon Stylus 2M Blue

Audio Technica AT-VM95EN Cartridge

A broad spectrum and great sound quality at a low price. The AT-VM95EN cartridge is inexpensive and is ideal for increasing demands after entering the world of turntables.

Audio-Technica AT-VM95EN Dual Moving Magnet Turntable Cartridge Orange
  • VM95 Series dual Magnet cartridge with 0.3 x 0.7 mil Elliptical Nude stylus
  • Aluminum cantilever
  • Durable low-resonance polymer Housing
  • Threaded inserts in cartridge body enable cartridge to be mounted to head shell with just two screws - no nuts required
  • Compatible with any at-vmn95 Replacement stylus

Ortofon 2M Blue Cartridge

It’s a bit more expensive than the other ones here, but of course, I don’t want to leave my absolute favorite among the cartridges unmentioned here. In my opinion one of the best and still affordable cartridges on the market.

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 reproduces more details
  • The 2M Blue features a Nude Elliptical diamond
  • Stylus is replaceable

Cartridge adjustment

A new cartridge also means that everything has to be set and adjusted again because this is the only way to achieve optimal sound and protect the record and needle from excessive wear.

Setting up a turntable and a cartridge correctly doesn’t take long and with the right tools, the good thing is quickly ready for use again and you can enjoy your music again.


I hope that my little best turntable cartridge upgrade guide can help you with the selection.

Facebook Comments Box
5/5 - (1 vote)

You may also like