This blog will review fantastic-sounding phono cartridges that have proven to perform well in the past. Frank Schröder is the CEO of Frankly Audio in Germany and has proclaimed that a company’s turntable can experience an upgrade in sound quality and volume if only one chooses to change its current cartridge.

Using a vinyl record player can improve the sound quality of an older system and make the sound better than ever before. The cartridge of a turntable can significantly alter the way your disc sounds. The primary purpose of a phono cartridge is to convert the mechanical grooves of any record player into electrical audio signals so it can output music through a speaker or headphones.

Whether you are new to the dj/turntable world or an experienced veteran, it can be risky if you’re unsure which cartridge to buy. We’ve provided this guide on the best phono cartridge under $300 from the experts in their field! Phono cartridges are high-quality of good quality sound, transparency, and frequency response. It’s incredibly high on vocals and acoustic instruments. It has better stereo imaging than most models and a very precise tone.

Popular Recommendations

Ortofon 2M Blue Cartridge Best Phono Cartridge Under $250 Ortofon 2M Blue Cartridge Read More See On Amazon
Audio-Technica at-F7 Cartridge Best Phono Cartridge Under $200 Audio-Technica at-F7 Cartridge Read More See On Amazon
Ortofon 2m red cartridge Best Turntable Cartridge Under $300 Ortofon 2m red cartridge Read More See On Amazon
NAGAOKA MM Cartridge MP-110 Best Moving Magnet Cartridge Under $200 NAGAOKA MM Cartridge MP-110 Read More See On Amazon
Goldring E3 Phono Cartridge Best Elliptical Diamond Stylus Shape Cartridge Goldring E3 Phono Cartridge Read More See On Amazon

Best Phono Cartridge Under $300 Reviews

Ortofon 2M Blue Cartridge (Image credit: Amazon)

Ortofon 2M Blue Cartridge

Best Phono Cartridge Under $250


Output voltage: 5.5mV | Frequency response: 20 ~ 20Hz | Tracking force: 1.8g | Tracking angle: 20 degrees | Weight: 7.2g | Replacement stylus: Ortofon 2M Blue | Design: Moving Magnet Phono Cartridge | Stylus type: Elliptical


+ Good timing

+ Ease of installation

+ Decent dynamics

+ Stylus is replaceable

+ Features Nude Elliptical diamond

+ Upgrade to Ortofon 2M Red

+ Universal fit for most turntables


- Lacks some insight

- Surface noise is a little more apparent

The Ortofon 2M Blue model features a nude elliptical diamond tip. It provides a more accurate and forgiving output than the 2M Red model, which features a mount and shank. In addition, the nude stylus allows closer contact of soundwaves to the groove for a more direct transfer of helpful information.

The 2M Blue 5.5mm Cartridge is a high-quality cartridge that provides a smooth, clear, and dynamic sound with minimal distortion. In addition, its low noise output allows it to be used with any phono stage, whether a tube preamp or an active cartridge.

The 2M Blue has a unique, robust, and aesthetically appealing design. It impresses anyone when placed on a tabletop or integrated into a custom-built system. The cable body is formed from an Opal dielectric, dramatically reducing induced noise during operation.

This model features ultra-high purity (UHP) 99.999988% oxygen-free copper conductors for enhanced signal clarity and silver-plated nuts to ensure optimal connectivity with RCA-compatible equipment. 14AWG OFC shielded Teflon insulated, twisted-pair wire allows your music to shine through in all its glory, while the PVC jacket protects the delicate conductors from abrasion damage. Whether you enjoy your favorite records or listen to them again through digital playback technology, this model offers everything you need to get the best sound possible from every listener, be it boutique amps or wireless speakers!

2M Blue is a cartridge that produces a more dynamic sound from your system. These ‘Blue’ cartridges are designed to deliver a more even-handed, dynamic sound with a larger bottom end than you’ll get from other cartridges.

The Ortofon 2m blue replacement is easy and means you can screw the fixing bolts straight into the top and not have to deal with tiny nuts to thread on. In addition, the Ortofon 2m blue replacement makes it easy to replace your vintage blue cartridges with a new, vibrant color.

ReadBest Active Speakers For Turntable

Audio-Technica at-F7 Cartridge (Image credit: Amazon)

Audio-Technica at-F7 Cartridge

Best Phono Cartridge Under $200


Frequency Response: 15-50,000 Hz | Stylus Construction: Nude Square Shank | Vertical Tracking Force: 1.8 – 2.2 g | Output Voltage: Voltage: 0.35 mV | Stylus Shape: Elliptical | Cantilever: Aluminum | Terminal Pins: Brass | Mounting Feature: Half-inch mount | Weight: 5g | Type: Dual Moving Coil | Body Material: Aluminum


+ Good dynamic contrast

+ Incredible richness of detail

+ Beautifully immersed midrange

+ Elliptical stylus for exceptional clarity and clearness of tone

+ 0. 07 mm stainless suspension wire for excellent expression

+ Neodymium magnet for increased magnetic energy


- Neodymium magnet for increased magnetic energy

- Doesn't time as well

The Audio-Technica AT-F7 is an excellent choice for vinyl and CD music lovers seeking pure, unadulterated, exceptionally warm sound. The AT-F7 cartridge comes with an 0 .07mm stainless steel wire. It is used for the higher quality moving coil cartridges and serves as the fulcrum point for audio signals to better convey to your stereo. In addition, the position of the wire makes for more stable sound impressions that enable high frequencies to be heard better, so it’s a pretty neat aspect of this particular model!

If your best phono cartridge under $300 is getting worn down and the music printouts are unclear, then it’s best to replace the existing phono cartridges. So overall, the Audio Technica AT-F7 provides excellent tracking and builds much better, quiet, and more dynamic in the price range.

See More: Best Cartridge Alignment Protractor

Ortofon 2m red cartridge (Image credit: Amazon)

Ortofon 2m red cartridge

Best Turntable Cartridge Under $300


Tracking force: 1.8 g | Load resistance: 47 k Ohm | Output voltage: 1000 Hz | Stylus type: Elliptical | Frequency response: 20-20.000 | Tracking force range: 1.6-2.0 g | Type: Moving Iron | Stylus: Bonded Elliptical | Compliance: Medium


+ Excellent resolution

+ Expressive midrange

+ Lots of insight

+ All-purpose cartridge

+ Delivers open, dynamic sound

+ A slight touch of warmth

+ Features an Elliptical diamond


- It needs a touch more power

The Ortofon 2m red cartridge is a fantastic sounding bass cartridge. The sound is punchy but not harsh and has a nice warm tone and rich midrange. The bass is deep and well-textured, especially for a relatively small diameter. The Ortofon 2m red treble is crisp and clear, giving an excellent sense of air and space to the sound and the cartridge mid-band is also open and clear. The Ortofon 2m red cartridge weighs 7.2g compared to the 6.4g in the Ortofon 2m black cartridge, which is a little heavier than average MM cartridges.

The Ortofon 2m red is the world’s first color-coded, high-frequency (20Hz to 20000Hz) ultra-low profile pin terminal. Ohm probe tones are used for signal detection, and with its high frequency, it can monitor up to 8 pins simultaneously with no lagging. The Ortofon 2M Red cartridge is the latest version of the Ortofon 2M, which was released earlier. With its improved power, it will give you longer playing time. The new motor is designed for higher speeds and provides better control over loud passages in your recording. So overall, the Ortofon 2m red is the best phono cartridge under $300.

NAGAOKA MM Cartridge MP-110 (Image credit: Amazon)

NAGAOKA MM Cartridge MP-110

Best Moving Magnet Cartridge Under $200


Cantilever: Aluminum cantilever| Needle: superfine polished diamond | Weight: 6.5 grams | Output voltage: 5mV | Frequency range: 20 Hz – 20 kHz| Channel balance: 1.5 dB | Separation: Greater than 23 dB | Impedance: 47 k Ohm | Tracking force: 1.5g to 2.0g


+ Light, breezy sound

+ Superb detailing and insight

+ Rounded and dry sound

+ Appreciate the sound and listen for hours

+ Easy to adjust


- Edgy treble

- Sensitive to VTA

- Lacks some dynamics and finesse

The Nagaoka MP-110 cartridge is a fantastic choice for anyone seeking an affordable, bright-toned cartridge and comes highly recommended to those with light, neutral-sounding systems or tonal balances.

In addition, a little warmth goes a long way in supporting this cartridge’s lively, dynamic energy. Due to Nagaoka needing more refinement and the touch edge not being quite as refined, the cartridge isn’t as close in price when compared to comparable rivals.

The Nagaoka MP110 is a reasonably new one when it comes to phono cartridges. But apparently, the company has not set their standards low because this cartridge gave me a warm and lively output that was a step above similarly priced ones.

The Nagaoka MP110 cartridge makes it easy to replace the needle. It’s a good option to show how well this particular cartridge works. You don’t have to disconnect and reconnect things every time you want to change your needle is pretty cool, especially if you use your tables regularly! The Nagaoka MP110 cartridge produces clean and solid low-end frequencies. However, there is a slight bump at 3 -5 kHz, and there is also a slight tendency toward sibilance in that range.

Goldring E3 Phono Cartridge (Image credit: Amazon)

Goldring E3 Phono Cartridge

Best Elliptical Diamond Stylus Shape Cartridge


Color: Violet | Stylus profile: Elliptical | Stylus tip radius: 0.3 × 0.7 mil | Frequency range: 20 Hz -20 kHz | Channel balance: 1.5 dB at 1 kHz | Tracking angle: 20° | Load resistance: 47 kΩ | Internal resistance: 410 Ω | Cartridge weight: 6.9 g | Mounting: 12.7 mm


+ Easy to Install

+ Unfussy nature

+ Suitable Aluminum cantilever

+ Expressive dynamics

+ A balanced and detailed instrumentalist

+ Refinement and clearness


- Suitable Aluminum cantilever

In 1906, the Goldring Company was founded, as it turns out, with some research on our part since we are such Goldring fans (for obvious reasons). Even to this day, they are very well known for their moving iron models while they also have newer variations of their styli which have been more widely adopted in recent times.

With an Aluminium cantilever, elliptical tip, and a bonded-elliptical design, you can draw similarities with the Audio-Technica AT95E series. This needle’s dual magnet mechanism and 0.3 x 0.7 mil elliptical tip let you improve your stereo sound system.

On one side of the E3 cartridge, you will find intricate nuts used to fasten Allen key screws simply by attaching them to a straightedge placed on the front of the cartridge. When using the Rega Planar 2 turntable, the E3 cartridge can be mounted and aligned in little time because, according to Turntable experts, it’s far more straightforward than with other cartridges. This caution is only for those who may require screws longer than what is included when mounting a cartridge onto a headshell. The E3’s weight is 6.9 grams, and it is neither a heavy-weighted cartridge nor a track consistently. So overall, the Goldring E3 is the best phono cartridge under $300.

Read: Best budget powered speakers for turntable?

It’s easy to get misplaced looking through the many affordable cartridges. However, if your existing cartridge is not working correctly or you have just bought a Brand New turntable, but the cartridge that comes with that turntable is not working correctly, and you don’t love the sound of that pre-installed cartridge, then these alternatives are great quality at an excellent value. The options below can be updated to install onto your existing setup by following our steps so you can enjoy good quality sound on your phono player again!

Read: How To Clean Record Needle

William is technical editor of Wooster Audio, an audio enthusiast passionate about cutting-edge technologies. He has been working with us for three years, meticulously reviewing and evaluating wireless (speakers & soundbars), hi-fi, and home cinema equipment, and has covered 1000+ audio products. His background is based in Audio engineering and he has an ardent passion for building home theater systems and audio systems and loves audio mixing, editing and sound designing. This allows William to share this knowledge on Wooster audio site. He provides the most comprehensive audio information available by tapping into his expertise and keen insights. He can guide you to audio excellence on Wooster Audio with his discerning ear and commitment to quality. Contact William for any question (