Best Phono Cartridge Under $1000; The Last Piece Of The Puzzle

When it comes to setting up your turntable for use, a phono cartridge is the last piece of the puzzle.

But it’s equally the trickiest thing to buy except you have a buying guide at hand or a shortlist of recommendations to pick from.

And that is what I am providing you with here.

After your 15 minutes on this page, you will walk away with the best phono cartridge under 1000.

I will also give you a handy buying guide that stretches out the things you should look out for when buying a phono cartridge for your stereo.

Don’t have the 15 minutes to spare? Check out my number one choice on the list below.

Best Choice; Ortofon 2M Black PnP Moving Magnet Cartridge

Topping the list is a model from the 2M series of yours truly, Ortofon. This 2M Black PnP is a universal moving magnet cartridge, an elegant solution with a practical headshell that allows easy and direct mounting on all S-shaped tonearms.

Ortofon 2M Black PnP Moving Magnet Cartridge
Ortofon 2M Black PnP Moving Magnet Cartridge

It offers a thoroughly polished Shibata diamond stylus designed decisively for wide contact with the spectrum of your groove body, ensuring a more detailed production. In my opinion, this is a great choice both for audiophiles and for home listening. See a full-blown review of it below which includes all the technical information about this cartridge if you so wish. Otherwise, just go for it.

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Before drilling into my recommendation list, see my budget pick below.

Budget Pick; Ortofon 2M Bronze Moving Magnet Cartridge

If you’re a conservative buyer and a discerning listener you can save 500 bucks on this one. Still, on the same 2M series with the previous Black PnP, the 2M Bronze is another moving magnet that is 100% true to the groove and highly recommended for all turntables as long as they have an S-shaped tonearm.

Ortofon 2M Bronze Moving Magnet Cartridge
Ortofon 2M Bronze PnP Moving Magnet Cartridge

This baby here positions and aligns its sleek black and slim highly polished profile body on the stereo, tracking whatever signal comes its way on the groove with a diamond stylus that is easy to replace. If you want a direct and easy mounting, reduce unwanted humming and vibrations, and bank in on high rigidity, this is pure gold at a steal price. Whether you’re replacing the cartridge of a home stereo or you’re looking for a scratching cartridge as a gigging DJ, this will save you half your $1000. You may check out the complete details as stretched out in the full review down below or just go for it.

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That is that. Now, to the main part. See my complete list below for the top-liner cartridges you can buy at $1000.


My A-List Of The Top-Liner Cartridges Under $1000

Prices and images pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

A sweet shortlist, right? See the breakdown of each model below reviewed in unique ways.

Best Phono Cartridge Under 1000; Complete Review

  1. Best Choice; Ortofon 2M Black PnP Moving Magnet Cartridge

This is a hi-tech 2-channel design with a rigid headshell body and a universal mount fitting for correct alignment with all S-shape tonearms.

Ortofon 2M Black PnP Moving Magnet Cartridge

It leaves a larger footprint on the stereo with its slim and thoroughly polished Shibata diamond stylus for accurate tracking whilst eliminating unwanted resonance with an environmental-friendly cartridge body made from Hopelex. Overall, the 2M Black PnP MM is compatible with an assortment of preamp phono preamps and a variety of playback turntables on the market. See the complete specifications and the included accessories in the pack as illustrated below.

  • Universal mount fitting to all S-shape tonearms
  • Rigid body for stable elimination of unwanted vibration
  • Correct alignment with stereo
  • Precise and accurate tracking on highs and lows
  • Good sound quality
  • Small frequency response range
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  1. Best For Scratching; Mofi Master Tracker Dual MM

Master Tracker from Mofi is another dual-magnet MM cartridge with a V-shape magnet formation for reasonable channel separation on real-time stellar tracking on your LPs.

Ortofon 2M Black Moving Magnet Cartridge

This V-format magnets separation is far away from self-talk between the magnets so you can enjoy a distortion-free and original vinyl playback. By integrating a micro-line diamond stylus, Master Tracker is indeed a master tracker, tracking your vinyl groove walls with a microscopic precision almost like a moving coil-based phono cartridge. Finally, the damped millet aluminum choice for the cartridge body keeps resonance in check for a tighter and isolated production. The overall design is aesthetic and lightweight so you can use it in the studio. Likewise, the stylus is short and exclusively durable for aggressive scratching by the DJs.

  • Microscopic stellar tracking accuracy
  • Accurate bass reproduction
  • Smart output voltage
  • Durable body made to last
  • It may pick and blow up inconsistencies from the groove wall
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  1. Best For DJing; DV-20X H/L MC Cartridge

Straight from Dynavector’s DV series, the DV-20X is a micro-ridge stylus type cartridge with high output to mass ratio. It extends its 6mm solid aluminum pipe cantilever and drops its micro-ridge stylus on the groove wall, which withstands all the scratching and DJing you throw at it.

Denon DL-103R Moving Coil Cartridge

Built into the body are powerful neodymium magnets providing flux damper and stable softened magnetism within with 2.8mV output. This setup makes DV-20X H/L MC dynamic both for moving coil and moving magnet stages. Also, the hard aluminum alloy body neutralizes all incoming vibration/shocks for a mud-free sounding whilst emphasizing the essence of the durability of this cartridge.

  • High quality moving coil cartridge
  • High output to mass ratio
  • Tough needle for DJing
  • Dynamic vinyl both for MM and MC stages
  • Softened and flux damper magnetism
  • Not aesthetic
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  1. The Professionals’ Choice; Zephyr MIMC

Zephyr MIMC is Soundsmith’s first entry into the high-end, low output market of fixed coil/moving iron cartridges. This moving iron for moving coil spots an output of 4mV and it is only meant to be used along with your moving coil preamps.

Soundsmith Zephyr MIMC ☆ Star Low Output Phono Cartridge

If you’re a professional studio producer, a podcaster, or a professional live performer, this is the gear for your turntable as long as your preamp is capable of a gain of 58-64dBs. Zephyr MIMC produces a three-dimensional, deep, wide, and stable sound on the stage. Add to that the 100% protection from mechanical artifacts together with an impressive presentation liquidity. You can expect freedom from bumps and lumps throughout its frequency response range and equally an airy, fullness on connection with your speakers.

  • Best deal for professional vinyl players
  • High frequency-response range
  • Bum-free and lump-free playback
  • Quality amplification give-out on speakers
  • Impressive tonal performance
  • A bit crosstalk between channels
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  1. Best For Low Output; HANA SL Low Output Moving Coil Cartridge

Brilliant and gorgeous, Hana is a top-quality moving coil cartridge designed from the ground upward for detail production as required by audiophiles and as well for home listening of vinyl playbacks.

Hana MC Moving-Coil Stereo Cartridge with Nude Microline Tip - ML (Low Output)

Though this is a Japanese product and may not be your kind of a thing, if you’re after quality over big names, you are getting a great deal with this unit. It employs the tracking performance of Shibata nude stylus in a solid aluminum alloy cantilever, resulting in excellent and supreme transparency in its high-frequency response. If you’re buying for a low output turntable, this is for you. See the complete specs, pros, and cons below.

  • Excellent trackability and transparency
  • High-performance sound production
  • Aesthetic design with a lightweight body
  • Durable and tough

  • Relegated to low output stereos
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  1. High Output Model; ZYX R100-02H

The ZYX R100-02H is a breakthrough cartridge to listen to all those old and scratchy grooves you couldn’t play with the sensitive models of cartridges.

Soundsmith Sussurro mk II ES Series Hand-Made Low-Output Ruby-Cantilever Phono Cartridge

It is a superlightweight design, a real stereo generator system, staying lightly at the top of your groove walls whilst tracking at its best a micro-ridge2 solid diamond stylus. ZYX R100-02H is super dynamic and will perform on any type of stereo you set it up with. And thanks to the 80, 000Hz maximum frequency response, it is an ideal recommendation for the club, big parties, house parties, and other heavy-duty vinyl sound playbacks. It keeps an equal sound balance on each channel, keeping your vinyl sounds more natural, pure, and open.

  • Super lightweight
  • Real and natural sounding
  • Balanced channel output
  • Low profile body that aligns with your stereo

  • The cartridge may be too small in size and inconceivable
  1. Audiophile’s Choice; MC Quintet Black S

Whatever comes from Ortofon or Audio Technica is great, but this one appears to be greater. The MC Quintet Black S is an ST-7 transformer-based moving coil cartridge with an LH-4000 headshell.

Ortofon MC Quintet Black Phono Cartridge

If you’re looking for something bold, precise, with effortless sounding, MC Quintet Black S is every audiophile’s most wanted. Once you set it up to the correct level, it reveals itself to be a talented and highly distinctive cartridge boasting a reasonably dark tonal balance without restricting the energy at the high frequency’s top end. MC Quintet Black S is revealing, it brings out the detail of vocals whilst zoning you in on the background music behind every tack. Overall, this the gear for pure, detailed production at a reasonable price.

  • Highly distinctive and dark tonal balance
  • Best phono cartridge for audiophiles
  • Refined, powerful, and agile body
  • Professional sound quality

  • It may turn out to be slightly heavy
Ortofon 2M 78 Moving Magnet Cartridge


  1. Budget Pick; Ortofon 2M Bronze Moving Magnet Cartridge

Last on the list is Ortofon’s big stride into the low-price point of the market.

Ortofon 2M Black PnP Moving Magnet Cartridge

The Bronze MM cartridge is one of Ortofon’s 2M series, ie dual-magnet. It emphasizes rigidity with its Hopelez environmental-friendly body and a nude diamond Shibata stylus for tracking efficiency. See the complete features below.

  • Forgiving to rough groove walls
  • Dynamic tonearm adaptation
  • Open, fast detail on your reproduction
  • High-resolution transducer
  • A lot of benefits at a steal price

  • The body is not all too strong
Click Here To Check Price On Amazon

As promised, see below for the ultimate buying guide for the best phono cartridge under $1000.

Ultimate Buying Guide For The Best Phono Cartridge Under $1000

  • Frequency response; depending on the volume you want from your turntable, choose the right frequency response.
  • Stylus type; so far, Shibata nude stylus is the best. Then again, the size of the stylus and cantilever should be chosen wisely. If you’re looking to be aggressive as a DJ with your system, a shorter stylus would do. Also, check for the mileage or wear time of your cartridge’s needle. 1000hrs mileage is reasonable in my opinion.
  • Durability; depending on the cantilever material and the body material of your cartridge, your cartridge may or may not last. Hard aluminum alloy is the best both for the cantilever and the body.
  • Tracking force and tracking angle; the greater the tracking force and angle of your cartridge, the better it tracks.
  • Moving Coil Or Moving magnet; moving coils give you more details whilst moving cartridges conceal inconsistencies in your groove walls. If you are an audiophile, go for a moving coil, otherwise, the moving magnet will be great.


I hope you are finally able to decide the best cartridge for your 1000 bucks. You may drop all your questions in the comments below.

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