Would you put a $7,000 cartridge on a $4,500 turntable?

Should I buy that TT + cartridge, of save money and buy a house?

My very short answer is: “Yes!”

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What gets in between my money and a high dollar cartridge is the fact that cartridges wear out, often 3,000 to 5,000 hours. And mine gets a lot of use.
That said, I just installed a cart that for me, was my high limit on price and it’s worth every penny.
(Kiseki Purpleheart)



Linn used to run a demo where they played a K9 MM cartridge in an Ekos arm vs a Troika or Arkiv in an Ittok arm (same table and PS). The Ekos/K9 decimated the Ittok/Troika or Ittok/Arkiv. I’ve heard a similar dem with a Rega P10/Exact absolutely destroyed a P8/Aphelion2. Those are both slightly hyperbolic, but there was no question for anyone in the room of the results.

@Serhan made an invaluable point when he wrote about balance. People need to avoid the reductio ad absurdum that is commonly deployed on such questions and recognize that no, most people are not going to put a $69 cartridge in a $5k arm (even though that is exactly my setup at the moment while I decide between an ART9X, a Dyna 20x2, a Hana ML, or a retipped Linn cartridge). Using a 7K cartridge on a 4.5K deck/arm will result in a lesser musical result than the other way round. Seriously, would anyone put a Clearaudio Goldfinger at $17,500 on a MoFi Ultradeck? Ivor Tiefunbrun of Linn got the essential hierarchy generally correct (generally because he didn’t consider the phono stage), and it saves people time, money, and angst if it’s followed.

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My situation is likely a rare exception to the rule.

My deck, the Technics SL-1200GAE (not to be confused with the SL-1200G of the same generation) has the same magnesium tonearm as that found in the $18K reference SL-1000R. It’s an Anniversary deck built to reference standards.

My Soundsmith Hyperion + Technics setup has been nothing short of exceptional and I see no reason to change it.


Correct, imo tonearm and motor rule (everything else assumed decent).

With the table it’s easy in definition (but expensive and complicated in design): just as far as possible isolate the platter from any connection to the base and spindle.

Isolation from the floor (which is in the focus for most) is not so hard to achieve and not that meaningful except under hard conditions and for the last 3%.

Recommend cart from VPI, I believe…

I always wanted to try a Koetsu Rosewood Signature, just can’t make myself pull the trigger in large part due to the limited lifespan of carts

I put a lot of hrs on my cart as is and when the weather turns “cool” in Buffalo, which if I’m being honest, could be next week🙂 we will spin even more vinyl spending many more hours inside



Yup. Harry just said: “get one”, so I got one. The dynamic range is great. And the density everywhere is wonderful, especially the bass.

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John, not to troll this thread, but I am about to receive my Koetsu Rosewood Signature back after retipping and suspension tuning from Steve Leung of VAS Audio (he’s got a great reputation and I’ve retipped four carts with him). PM me if interested as I will sell it for a fraction of the original price.

And to contribute to this thread, last year I put an Air Tight PC-1s (MSRP $9K) on a VPI Classic 3 with a JMW 3DR tonearm (~$5K?) prior to upgrade to a Clearaudio Innovation Wood table (MSRP $15K). The cartridge was worth housing on both tables, and I got more benefit from the cartridge than the difference in quality between the tables.


I know I’m late to this thread, but what phono preamp are you using?

I’m using a Modwright PH9.0X stage. The X is a newly offered upgrade as of January that removes all capacitors from the signal path and replaces them with high quality Lundahl transformers and makes it nearly sonically equivalent as the $8K PH150. It was a giant killer already prior to the upgrade and even better after. I pair it with NOS Russian Reflektor tubes for both tube sets.


Thanks for sharing.

vee, I’m with you. I have the Technics SL-1210GAE (number 0845) with a DS Audio headshell and I just ordered a Hana Umami Red from The Cable Company. They have a great trade-in program going on with Musical Surrounding products, so I will send my Hana ML to them when I get the Umami. My other TT is a VPI Prime Scout uni-pivot, and I jumped at the chance to get the Technics. It’s solid, fun and the tonearm has plenty of stability and adjustment. With the Hana ML it tracks and sounds very good. Can’t wait for the Umami to arrive.

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I have two friends who are nuts about their Umamis.

I’m running the VPI Prime Signature with an Ortofon Cadenza Bronze (a VPI recommendation) through the PSA Stellar Phono Preamp. Gorgeous music.


Do you like the SL1210GAE better than the VPI I like the SL1200G better than the VPI Prime with the 3D arm which I hated so much. I sold the G and got a SL1200 GAE and a 1210GAE, I hear better details between cartridges easier with the Technics so much so that I probably will be selling my high end TT which is 17K with the tonearm

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I also have the 9.OX I was a Beta tester for Dan Wright I had the first one with balance outputs the 9.0X is just killer


I just can’t like the 3d arm on the VPI. That uni-pivot drives me crazy and I always have the lingering doubt that it’s not aligned and not tracking correctly. I had a VPI HW-19 with a Wheaton Tri-Planar back in the late 80’s and that thing rocked. Still, I like the SL-1210GAE much much better than the Prime Scout. I hear better dynamics, a better defined and deeper soundstage and less surface noise, though the DS Audio headshell may play a part in these observations. The build quality on the Technics is substantial and impeccable, and it may look like a “disco table” but it’s high-ish end for sure. I know Mikey Fremer thought highly of it.


Technics 1200 GR here with a KAB s40 Concord (sounds just like a 2m Black to my ears). I could not be happier. I want to add a 1200g as a second table and leave my GR set up for 78’s. Ultimately, an SL-1000R would be my endgame table. Going with a high end cartridge with a company like Soundsmith (where rebuilds are so economical) on a not so high end TT makes sense if you foresee an major TT upgrade down the road.