Today we’re going to look at several best phono cartridges under $400 that can be an excellent addition to almost any turntable out there in the market. Frank Schröder, a world-renowned turntable and tonearm designer, explains that you should consider getting a new cartridge to get better sound from your turntable. The phono cartridge on your turntable is essential to supersonic performance.
Using a cartridge, you can change the sound rate of your record player, and it will elevate your listening experience. A cartridge needs to read mechanical grooves and convert them into electrical signals, which are then used as the recording source for your audio equipment.
Our Top 3 Recommendations
up to 1000 hours life time
Genuine Goldring cartridge
Balanced and detailed instrumentalist
Our Recommendations For Best Phono Cartridge Under $400
|Best Turntable Cartridge Under $400||Ortofon 2M Red MM Turntable Cartridge||See on Amazon|
|Best Pre-threaded Phono Cartridge Under $400||Goldring E3 MM Phono Cartridge||See on Amazon|
|Best Moving Coil Cartridge Under $400||Audio-Technica At-F7 Turntable Cartridge||See on Amazon|
|Best Ortofon Replacement Stylus||Ortofon 2M Blue Turntable Cartridge||See on Amazon|
|Best Phono Stereo Cartridge Under $400||NAGAOKA Cartridge MP-110||See on Amazon|
Included in this guide:
- Ortofon 2M Red MM Turntable Cartridge
- Goldring E3 MM Phono Cartridge
- Audio-Technica At-F7 Turntable Cartridge
- Ortofon 2M Blue Turntable Cartridge
- NAGAOKA Cartridge MP-110
Best Phono Cartridge Under $400 Reviews
Best Turntable Cartridge Under $400
Stylus type: Elliptical | Frequency response: 20-20.000 Hz + 3 / - 1 dB | Stylus tip radius: r/R 8/18 µm | Tracking force range: 1.6-2.0 g (16-20 mN) | Type: Moving Iron (MI) | Stylus: Bonded Elliptical | Compliance: Medium | Tracking force: 1.8 g | Load resistance: 47 kOhm | Output voltage: 1000 Hz
REASONS TO BUY
✓ up to 1000 hours life time
✓ Great resolution
✓ Supreme midrange
✓ Having lots of insight
✓ Delivers open and dynamic sound
REASONS TO AVOID
✗ A little touch of warmth
The Ortofon 2m red cartridge is a powerful, punchy bass cartridge with excellent resolution, harmonic clarity, low noise, and good dynamic range. The 2m Red cartridge is a unique, balanced, and detailed bass cartridge that delivers minimal coloration across the entire frequency range.
The 2m Red trebles are crisp and clear, giving the sound an excellent sense of air and space. The Ortofon cartridge mid-band is also open and transparent, so you can enjoy music from the front to the back without any distortion or loss of clarity in terms of performance.
The Ortofon 2m red cartridge weight is 7.2g. It is slightly heavier than the average MM cartridges but can be used successfully on borderline low-mass arms. The Ortofon 2m red cartridge recommended range is not too far off the target weight of a MM cartridge, which will always be right under 7g (7.1g for 2m 30s cartridges).
The 2M Red is a color-coded pin terminal with a maximum frequency of 20 Hz to 20000 Hz. It cares about your stylus, gives you the best performance without lagging up to 1,000 hours, and sounds pretty good too!
Best Pre-threaded Phono Cartridge Under $400
Color: Violet | Stylus profile: Elliptical | Stylus tip radius: 0.3 × 0.7 mil | Tracking angle: 20° | Load resistance: 47 kΩ | Internal resistance: 410 Ω | Cartridge weight: 6.9 g | Mounting: 12.7 mm | Frequency range: 20 Hz -20 kHz | Channel balance: 1.5 dB at 1 kHz
REASONS TO BUY
✓ Aluminum cantilever
✓ Genuine Goldring cartridge
✓ Balanced and detailed instrumentalist
✓ Grace and clearness
✓ Easy to Install
✓ Suitable Aluminum cantilever
REASONS TO AVOID
✗ A cantilever is unacceptably weak (Easily broken Cantilever)
In 1906 the Goldring Company was founded; it’s a family business making phono cartridges in Canada since 1905. It’s especially famous for its moving iron cartridge models. The Goldring E3 comes with a lightweight aluminum cantilever (a type of suspension for a vehicle that keeps the wheel and springs separated from critical sub-systems for better performance, such as safety) and an elliptical tip (in geometry, an ellipse is a closed plane curve that has two distinct endpoints called foci) with a spherical tip design.
The dual magnet structure of this Goldring E3 cartridge gives it exceptional output levels and improved sound wave reproduction. This also allows you to experience superb sound reminiscent of the acclaimed Audio-Technica AT95E series. The E3 cartridge contains a small one on the rear that can be screwed on with Allen bolts. The E3 is a two-speed. It works best if you align it in parallel to either side for the slower speed, as this will avoid resonance. The experts at Roksan say that even aligning the cartridge to the center of the tonearm is acceptable for specific Rega turntables, though only if a piece of high-quality cork is glued to the surface where the headshell holder attaches. This doesn’t take long and will make your upgrades sound much better! However, we have one tip for those using thicker headshells (in other words, more mass attached to their needle). They need longer screws, which they should try before making any final permanent-ins.
The E3 cartridge is not the heaviest quartz, but it has been known to retain weight reasonably well. Although always get a battery life test in your case, as some clients have had problems with this specific model. So overall, the E3 is the best phono cartridge under $400.
Best Moving Coil Cartridge Under $400
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 | Body Material: Aluminum | Weight: 5g | Type: Dual Moving Coil
REASONS TO BUY
✓ Audio-Technica’s dual coil design
✓ Outstanding transparency of tone
✓ High-rigidity VC mold
✓ Elliptical stylus for exceptional clarity
✓ Durable construction (improved signal-to-noise ratio)
✓ 0. 07 mm stainless suspension wire
✓ Neodymium magnet (Increased magnetic energy)
REASONS TO AVOID
✗ Doesn't time as well
The Audio-Technica AT-F7 is ideal for those who want a more dynamic listening experience to appreciate the more delicate intricacies and nuances of vinyl records and compact disks.
The AT-F7 is a moving coil cartridge that uses an elliptical needle tip that lightly grips the groove in the vinyl. Unfortunately, the needle has to be readjusted every 100 hours of use, and it doesn’t work with certain phono preamps made before 1995. The phono cartridge provides excellent and high clarity sound quality, perfect for recording vocals, more accurate frequency response for crisp acoustic recordings, and better stereo imaging so you know exactly where your instruments are in relation to each other in the room.
The AT-F7 comes with 0.07mm stainless suspension wire, typically used in higher-quality moving coil cartridges. This suspension wire plays a significant role by providing the fulcrum point for audio signal transfer. In addition, the fulcrum position stabilizes due to the suspension wire, enabling the auditory lateralization that will provide it with better expressions of HFR (higher frequency range).
The Audio Technica AT-F7 has crisp highs, a distinctly sculpted midrange, and a robust bass response, and overall, the Audio Technica AT-F7 is the best phono cartridge under $400.
Best Ortofon Replacement Stylus
Stylus type: Elliptical | 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
REASONS TO BUY
✓ Has Split pole pins (With copper wire)
✓ Has Hopelex designed body which ensures high rigidity
✓ Easily interchangeable with Ortofon Stylus 2M Red
✓ Color coded pin terminals
REASONS TO AVOID
✗ Exterior noise is a little more apparent
The Ortofon 0.2m Blue record player cartridge provides a purer sound with a broader groove radius than the more popular model, the 2m Red. In addition, Blue’s nude spherical diamond stylus sits directly over the cantilever with no mounting block or shank, which generally leads to better tracking and sound quality.
The 2m blue cartridge output is higher than other cartridges at 5.5 mV and a typical downforce at 1.8g. Laser turntables and many other turntables and phono stages will enjoy the results of this stellar cartridge because they work well with either high or low-output inputs while still performing exceptionally well no matter what any signal source has to offer you.
Most of the 2M Blue’s body might be plastic, but it has a mounting plate with captive nuts to provide the anchor for mounting hardware. Its blue coloring is visually pleasing and functional since it contrasts nicely with other equipment in your setup. In addition, its size and weight are convenient enough to work efficiently with most turntables.
An established company designs the 2M Blue with a vast and long-standing reputation in the professional audio industry. As a result, the 2M Blue is one of the most popular cartridges on the market. In addition, this cartridge has proven to be a good match for many different amplifiers, such as tube amps, solid-state amps, and more.
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. The Ortofon 2m blue replacement is perfect for replacing the original one in old-school stereos. It makes it easy to get the stereo running again. So overall, you will find Ortofon 2m blue as the best phono cartridge under $400.
Best Phono Stereo Cartridge Under $400
Frequency range: 20 Hz – 20 kHz| Channel balance: 1.5 dB | Separation: Greater than 23 dB | Impedance: 47 kOhm | Tracking force: 1.5 to 2.0 grams | Cantilever: Aluminum cantilever| Needle: superfine polished diamond needle| Weight: 6.5 grams of weight| Output voltage: 5mV output voltage
REASONS TO BUY
✓ Light, breezy sound
✓ Excellent detailing and insight
✓ Easy to adjust
✓ Enjoy the sound and listen for hours
✓ Rounded and dry sound
REASONS TO AVOID
✗ Sensitive to VTA
✗ Lacks some dynamics and finesse
✗ Edgy treble
The Nagaoka MP-110 cartridge is an excellent solution for blowing some life into your worn-out system, but it could use some supporting bass to give it the oomph it lacks. With the type of cartridge terrible, some changes are required; for example, the company that makes it, named Nagaoka MP-110, why it is necessary to improve the product. Unfortunately, one of these changes is just not lacking in any refinement, and due to its touch edge, it is not quite as refined when comparing them with its close-priced rivals.
The Nagao MP110 is a relatively inexpensive, cheerful phono cartridge with an easy-to-learn standard mount design. It’s perfect for beginners, thanks to its highly affordable price point, and it competes with the Ortofon series in terms of sound quality. Despite being one of the most affordable options on today’s market, it still provides users with high-quality audio, so if you’re a newcomer to this scene, you can’t go wrong with this cartridge! Using the Nagaoka MP110 cartridge, it is pretty simple to replace the needle, and as opposed to old-style cartridges, one can fit it together with the headshell.
Bass performance was observed within a musical performance to be excellent and polite and more noticeable between 3 kHz and 5 kHz, with a slight bump above noticeable discrepancies compared to the rest of the frequency range.
What exactly is an Audiophile Turntable and Phono Cartridge?
It’s a record player specially built to be “musical.” An audiophile turntable will give you better quality sound. A phono cartridge is what transfers the movement of the needle in your record into electrical energy. You should use these to play your vinyl records; they create a clear, warm, and even sound- and they cost less than most people think!
Are you planning to buy a vinyl record player?
Great choice! This is the perfect way to get back into that old habit of listening to music while relaxing with friends or simply spending time alone. Upgrading your sound quality, putting more money on a kick speaker and a mixer, and choosing the right needle were never made more accessible. With all this superior equipment, you don’t have to worry about buying the wrong cartridge since our ultimate cartridge guide will help you choose exactly what type and brand suits your needs.