Not all cheaper turntable cartridges mean a wrong cartridge. Indeed, there are many high-quality ones within a budget of under 100 dollars. In this writing, we are going to focus on reviewing the best turntable cartridges. They promise to give you outstanding performance. Also, they are friendly with your budget. Now, let’s take a look at our reviews below. Then, you can make the perfect choice for your needs.
Turntable Cartridges Comparison Table
Top 10 Best Turntable Cartridges under 100 Reviews
Turntable Cartridge is a small piece of hardware, but it has a massive impact on the sound. If you’re looking to buy a cheap phono cartridge to upgrade your turntable, then this article review is for you. Below are some of the best Turntable Cartridges under $100 available in the market. A budget phono cartridge doesn’t have to mean junk. Enjoy!
Audio-Technica AT85EP Turntable Cartridge with Elliptical Stylus P Mount
This model from Audio Technica is very versatile. It will be good for P-mount record players and the cartridge comes with a replaceable elliptical stylus of 0.3 x 0.7 mil and therefore in case any damages can be additionally replaced. You get the external simplicity that goes so well with the technological solution and high precision of cartridges that you get at expensive rates. The needle sticks with the circular bar and cantilever devices of the unit have been made out of aluminium. All of these features make this one a reliable investment.
When compared with the tapered needles, this cartridge follows a sharp soundtrack modulation. It has improved phase characteristics and frequency. The distortions are also low. The phono cartridge also allows the record player owners for enjoying decent audio without any kind of audio defects like squeaking, noise, etc.
- It comes with a toroidal coil design that makes sound clarity arrangement with better channel separation.
- Its installation is simple because of the wonderful design that fits perfectly with P-mount units.
- The cartridge offers crisp audio of cymbals and vocals. The grove distortion goes completely unnoticeable.
- There can be times when a song might skip.
- The material of the cartridge smells plastic.
GRADO Prestige Black3 Phono Cartridge w/Stylus – Standard Mount
Now, this is a highly reputed American company that has been known for a long time for the cartridge manufacturing. They are also credited to be inventors of moving coil cartridges and a lot of people don’t know that. This mode from the prestige line is one of the most affordable options that you can go for. You get detailed sound with clarity and high sensitivity. And it’s difficult to find such detailed audio while remaining under the budget of $ 100.
The model comes under their Prestige line and therefore you will find a lot of similarity in the construction, but the sound quality increases with price in the same range. The Black model has a fixed magnet coil that’s light in weight and has a soft piece of iron that’s placed between the cantilever and stylus. The motion does change with the distribution of the magnetic field and offers the sensitivity that the company has been known for. It is also compatible with several other amplifiers.
- The new screw system for mounting has high levels of outputs and allows faster calibration and screw mounting in the cartridge without the need for little bolts.
- The tracking is good on the older bouncy hardwood floors as well.
- It gives a reduction in rubles that comes from vinyl records.
- At higher volumes, the sound starts to fade.
- The high inductance of the coil makes the pre-amp hiss worse.
Ortofon OM Pro S Single Pack – 1 x DJ Cartridge fitted with stylus
This OM Pros S cartridge by Ortofon is one of the most common used by Dj’s in the initial phase as its affordable and yet provides great sound quality. When we talk about the design is the same one that you find in other models from the brand and is spherical. This makes sure that you have a sound experience that’s of good quality when one is just listening records or scratching that many DJs include in their music.
Ortofon OM Pros is one of the models that offer all of the features of the highly-priced cartridges at a low budget. However, there is no compromise with the sound quality.
- Offers unparalleled audio quality when compared to competitors in the same range.
- The spherical trademark design translates the vibration well between amplifier and vinyl record.
- The name Pro-S means that this one has been made for DJ scratching. Therefore for different records, the sound quality can be lost.
- It’s tracking forces ranges from 3 to about 5 grams, so find another one that’s more apt for several record scratching.
LP Gear CARBON FIDELITY CFN3600LE stylus
If you are on a very strict budget and looking for one of the cheapest options available in the market, then this one will be a great choice. The LP Gear Carbon Fidelity CFN3600LE stylus is one of the most economic and pocket-friendly values for money products.
The LP gear products have been manufactured by Audio Technica. Therefore you know that there will be absolutely no compromise with the quality but at a low cost. The diamond stylus is elliptical and provides an accurate and smooth response. It also has technology for carbon fibre that makes sure you have high fidelity sounds for a lower price.
The composites are stronger and lighter when compared to traditional steel. It makes the cartridge agile and flexible and produces realistic sonic audio that’s complete in all aspects. You will be blown away by the detailing to musical finesse it provides that might not even be found in some of the cartridges that cost three times that this one.
- The sound quality is incredibly crisp and stereo split occurs smoothly.
- Its installation is easy and you are going to notice a few differences.
- The stylus works well in limiting the distortion in inner grooves.
- The bass can get overwhelming.
- At some points, there is sound distortion in vocals.
Audio-Technica ATN95EX Replacement Turntable Stylus for AT-LP5 Turntables
This one is one of the best choices that you can make from a well-renowned brand in the world. The AT95EX is a bit expensive as a complete unit over the needle alone. But still one can call it mid-ranged. It provides premium features like the dual magnet design that offers high channel separation. It has a stylus that’s round shank that makes it durable and you can enjoy uninterrupted music for hours at a stretch.
- The product comes from a reputable brand.
- Its design is excellent.
- High durability and will last for years.
- Offers the best sound quality.
- It can be used only on ½ inch mounts.
- The product information listed seems limited.
Ortofon OM 5E Moving Magnet Cartridge
This model ensures to give you amazing performance. This one is great for any money pocket. It comes with an elliptical stylus that is perfect for monitoring tightly in the grooves. It can track damn effectively.
This turntable cartridge is compatible with any tonearm. Therefore, it’s even ideal for those who have a low mass tonearm. It can play well. Mainly, this one can operate for 20 hours of play.
Many people choose the Ortofon OM 5 E because of its warmth as well as depth. Also, the cartridge ensures to help you improve your sound over time. Ortofon OM 5E is a moving coil(Read more: Moving Magnet vs. Moving Coil ) which perfect for music lovers and audiophiles.
Audio-Technica AT95E Phonograph Cartridge for 1/2″ Mount Turntables
This brand has been on the business for a long time. It has a perfect reputation. Moreover, this model offers you good performance at an affordable price. It’s ideal for those who have the cart on the lower needs upgrading.
However, some people complained about the mid ranges. This turntable cartridge may hide the impurities. It features an output of 3.5 mV. That’s why this unit is quieter compared to other cartridges out there.
It may be hard to remove the stylus from its body before mounting. This model is great for those with a higher mass tonearm. It’s beautiful for playing older records as well.
Rega – Carbon MM Phono Cartridge
The Rega carbon brings a carbon fibre cantilever. It is designed to perform well. It promises to give you a velvety sound. You can use it for older records.
The device comes with a conical stylus, which some folks like the highs it offers. Some users said that this model is weak and may fail quickly. For me, this is not a good option worth the money. However, it’s still listed as a better choice out there for the price.
Ortofon Omega Turntable Cartridges – Twin Set
If you are going for a low budget cart, you can consider this model from Ortofon. It is able to perform well. It’s also suitable for your old records. If you want to get more bass in your music, this model is just for you.
However, some users complained about the mid ranges. However, it can provide you with a minimum of 20 hours of play. Sure, you will be satisfied with the sound from this cart. It’s ideal for those who want to dip their tones into the higher quality cartridge while they can still stick to the budget.
Some customers are not satisfied with the cart arriving in poor packaging. However, as a customer, you will receive a good return policy. It means they will give you a new one sent out in no time.
Ortofon 2m Red Moving Magnet Cartridge
When it comes to the most expensive cartridges to consider, we can’t miss the Ortofon 2M Red. This model is more massive a bit since this one is a bonded shank. However, the cart is still light thanks to its light tracking force of 1.8 grams.
You can use this cart with low as well as ultra-low mass tonearms. It can operate well. The model will give you some great upgrade choices with its body. Therefore, it should be your choice if you plan to get some upgrades in the future.
Here are some questions and guide to choosing a good phono cartridge.
Is any Cart fit any turntable?
Well, some turntables come with moving coil carts. These models typically don’t bring a replaceable stylus. That’s why you may need to replace the entire cartridge. In fact, some models of turntables out there are suitable for only one cartridge type. Others are capable of working with moving magnet or moving coil carts.
Is Grado cartridge good?
These cartridges are famous for their excellent midrange as well as perfect vocals. This model is warmer a bit compared to Shure’s range. This cartridge can help you get a more classic vinyl sound. However, it may not satisfy those who are familiar with higher-end cartridges. You can buy Grado cartridges with a price ranging from 100 to 200 dollars.
When Do I Need to Replace a Turntable Stylus?
According to most manufacturers, it’s essential to change stylus at around 1000 hours of use. It means you need to replace your turntable stylus every couple of years if you are using your device for 1 hour per day.
Besides, this task also depends on the material the manufacturers use to make their products. We recommend you to check the lifespan recommendation of the manufacturer when getting it.
All the units we’ve mentioned previously are the best considerations for you when it comes to the best carts under 100. However, our top pick is the Ortofon 5 E because of its excellent performance. However, if you’re planning for some upgrades later, it may not be suitable for you. Instead, you can consider the Ortofon 2M Red as a good alternative. Now, you have a good idea of what you are looking for in your budget. So, make the right purchase!