10 Best Phono Cartridge Under $200 – Reviews

Our Top Pick
Denon DL-103R Moving Coil Cartridge
Good Choice
Audio-Technica AT91R 1/2" Mount Conical Stylus Turntable Cartridge
Don't Miss
Ortofon 2M Red premounted on headshell
Also Consider
Clearaudio Concept MM Moving Magnet Phono Cartridge
Denon DL-103R Moving Coil Cartridge
Audio-Technica AT91R 1/2" Mount Conical Stylus Turntable Cartridge
Ortofon 2M Red premounted on headshell
Clearaudio Concept MM Moving Magnet Phono Cartridge
Our Top Pick
Denon DL-103R Moving Coil Cartridge
Denon DL-103R Moving Coil Cartridge
Good Choice
Audio-Technica AT91R 1/2" Mount Conical Stylus Turntable Cartridge
Audio-Technica AT91R 1/2" Mount Conical Stylus Turntable Cartridge
Don't Miss
Ortofon 2M Red premounted on headshell
Ortofon 2M Red premounted on headshell
Also Consider
Clearaudio Concept MM Moving Magnet Phono Cartridge
Clearaudio Concept MM Moving Magnet Phono Cartridge

In this article, we have come to review the top best phono cartridges under $200.

Today, it is quite possible for you to update your turntable without facing a serious financial loss and a necessity to buy a new device. Typically, the reason for a malfunction is usually when you get a faulty cartridge.

In a situation such as the above mentioned, a replacement is usually the next thing. Moreover, you are having access to the reviews of the best phono cartridge under $200, it can be something of a breeze to when you are looking to find a perfect component.

All phonograph cartridges, even those ones that are produced from modern materials tend to wear down from regular use, so, in this guide, we have provided you with a great variety of elements.

Our Top 6 Picks Under $200 – Comparison Table

Choosing the Right Phono Cartridge

The needle invariably can turn even the simplest record player into a real high-level audio unit with the divine sound. And for this reason, choosing it should be something that you take really seriously. It is better to have some very detailed checking and define correct accents so you will reduce the possible select options down to several units. So that the selection process can be made easier, you should take the following steps to heart:

  1. Know what your budget is and how much you are willing to invest.
  2. You should know the phonograph cartridge that you will be buying, either the standard one or the p-mount.
  3. Figure out its type. Either the moving magnet cartridge or the moving coil type.
  4. You should choose the stylus (elliptical stylus) shape.

Set the Budget for Buying a Phono Cartridge Under $200

First things first, you should think about your financial expenses because today, the market offers you numerous phono cartridge at varying prices, from 100 – 15,000 dollars apiece. You should know that if you choose to get an expensive vinyl player, a costly but high-quality needle would be needed to get a better sound.

You can always buy a record player cartridge for under 300 dollars or a phono cartridge for under 1,000 dollars, but first, we will advise that you go through our reviews and guide so that you will be able to make an informed decision on what product to buy or not to buy.

Going through reviews and detailed guides is a responsible thing to do because the unit has to harmonize with the turntable tonearm. The best helper, in your case, will be the internet or a manual since on there, the specifications usually include a range of acceptable values. Only have you have been able to compare data will it be possible for you to balance the total weight of the tonearm and the cartridge for the subsequent accurate groove tracking.

Identify the Type of Cartridge

For this next step, we will also require that you get the manual. You should be able to determine what kind of cartridge, which can either be the standard or the p-mount type, your turntable uses. If the physical or the web-version of the manual is not readily available, you should not worry.

It could be quite easy to identify the type accurately even without supervised guidance. A standard unit is usually placed on the underside of the turntable’s tonearm and it is fixed with the special vertical screws. While, on the other hand, the p-mount cartridge is put in the end part of a tonearm and it is secured with a horizontal screw.

Identify the Cartridge Type (Second Opinion)

You certainly have to choose. Which is better: getting a moving magnet cartridge (also called MM cartridge) or getting a moving coil (also known as the MC cartridge) type? The MM cartridge looks like a miniature electromagnetic generator. But unlike the MC, at the tip of the needle holder, there are two permanent electromagnets.

The MC cartridges are fairly expensive. Even the best moving cartridge cannot be compared with the MC products when it comes to sound quality (I know that you know that the latter sounds better).

Moreover, they both do not need additional devices for coordination with phono stages. You should keep in mind that cheapest is the dearest, so, we will disregard all the disposable Chinese record player cartridges with fragile needles. We will only be talking about certified and reliable turntable parts.

Make a Choice of the Stylus Shape

After you have solved all the problems we listed above, you should take care of the stylus. On today’s market, we can find various stylus types, and they are spherical (which is also known as conical), elliptical (which is also called bi-radial), line (which is also called fine line or linear contact), and, lastly, we have Shibata.

The type of stylus that you get is quite important because the surface contact between its tip and grooves of a record define the exactness and depth of the sound, and this reduces the phase problems and distortions.

Another vital thing you need to know is that your record player has to have a phono preamp.

Best Phono Cartridge Under $200 – Reviews

We will be presenting to you the best cartridge reviews of a standard ½-inch type. These components connect them to the tonearm with the help of visible wires. They are also secured by two screws.

  1. Audio-Tecnica CN5625AL – Entry Level Cartridge with a Half-Inch Mount

Audio-Technica AT91R 1/2

This device does sound quite amazing in both low mass straight tonearms and medium mass S-shaped tonearms. With this device’s help, you will always have an opportunity to enjoy the vinyl records because it helps to hide all the faults and noises of pop music.

The build quality of this device is solid, and this is due to the straight cantilever and its greatly polished stylus. This model is great for everyday use and for those ones who call themselves audiophiles.

It is worth noting that the CN5625AL has a conical shape needle. Also, the frequency response (which is 20 – 20,000 Hz), which is sufficient to start the playback after the successful installation and launching a vinyl player. Even with the budget, this model proves the fact that vintage jazz can still sound pleasing.

  • The stylus guide and the cartridge body have a rectangular shape, so, this makes it easy to perform a cartridge aligning.
  • It sounds appealing and warm.
  • Its bass is muddy.

From time to time, the sounding may become two-dimensional and a little bit stringent.

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  1. Audio-Tecnica AT95E – A Breeze Installation with a Pop Sound

Audio-Technica AT95E Dual Magnet 1/2

This model entrenches itself as a very sensitive audio unit. For the installation of this unit, all you would need are a pair of pliers, and once installed, this phono amp will become a great addition.

This device effortlessly extracts enjoyable music from old vinyl records. It helps to smooth out some surface roughness and produces very clean and deep sound.

The cartridge is complemented by an elliptical needle. It is a very thin part, and it can sometimes be dropped, but you should not worry much because this cartridge is very strong. For some users of this model, the AT95E is one of the best, if not the best that you can find under $200, but its low price has an excessive emphasis on both bass and not a very presentable design.

  • It comes at an affordable price.
  • It has a great sound even in the inner grooves.
  • This model fits most existing headshells
  • Its manual is hard to read and comprehend.
  • Its aligning process is very long. You might have to go online to watch videos so you can perform all the operations correctly.
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  1. Ortofon 2m Red – Combination of the Improved Engine and Increased Output of 5.5mV


Ortofon: 2M Red Cartridge Mounted on SH-4 Headshell

Installing this unit is quite easy. This unit is a little over 100 dollars, and it is the cheapest phono cartridge that Ortofon has to offer. It is also a wonderful cartridge for someone who is looking to upgrade their existing one or is even looking to get a new one for an older record player that they picked somewhere.

The echo quality of this unit is great and, to the average Joe, it would sound fantastic.

One of the things that are great about this model is how this is a great way for one to see why vinyl is great, without them having to spend a whole lot on it. Although the quality of sound is nice, there is another thing that is great about it, and that is its design. It looks very appealing, with its red style and its headshell that it comes with helps add to the overall look.

If you want good sound and at an affordable rate, you will certainly not go wrong with this one.

The Good

  • It is known to work with many different turntables.
  • It comes at an affordable price.
  • It is quite easy to install.
  • It has a cool red design.
  • Its split pole pin gives a nice, clean sound.

What Could Be Better

  • This unit’s treble can be a little on the nose.
  • Its headshell is a bit light.
  • For many of you out there, the sound that the Ortofon: 2M Red Cartridge Mounted on SH-4 Headshell is offering will be better than the default cartridge that your record player already has. But if there is one thing that can be brought into question, it is the fact that the treble can be a little high on some records. But of course, depending on the kind of album that you are listening to, this may turn out not to be a problem.
  • If you are one that is sensitive to changes in pitch, then this is something that you should know about. The only other thing that is worth paying attention to is the headshell, while it is really cool looking, it can be a bit on the light side which can, on very rare occasions, jump.
  • This is not something that you should expect to experience quite often, it really won’t be a great deal, and it is the headshell that usually is the cause of this and not the actual stylus.
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  1. Denon DL 103 moving coil cartridge

Denon DL-103R Moving Coil Cartridge

Although the price of this Coil Cartridge may seem to be a little on the high side, especially for those on a budget; one good way to think of this cartridge is that it is giving you a great and high-quality sound, but this is coming at a fraction of the price that some of the higher-end ones are demanding.

The bass and treble both sound incredible, and it does not matter if you are rocking out to some Motley Crue or kicking back to some Barry White.

The sound of this product is great, and it requires very little set up. And, though, this is something that is more aimed at those who regard themselves as audiophiles. It is something that even a novice would be able to put together without any issue.

What we really fancy about this model is its design and even when it is used with older looking turntables, it does not look out of place.

All in all, it is the sound that is really going to amaze you. You should take your time to set it up just right and you will be using this model for years to come.

The Good

  • It has a great sound
  • It has an awesome bass
  • It is quite easy to set up
  • It has a smart design
  • Its price and quality are unimaginable.

What Could be Better:

  • It does need to be broken in.
  • Its price tag may be high for some.
  • Like some of the other more high-quality brands that are available on the market, this particular Coil Cartridge will need you to first break it in. so, you will have to give it a great 8 – 10 hours of use so that it can be at its very best.
  • What is great about this, though, is that even when you are breaking it in, the sound still comes off as fantastic. When it comes to its price, we feel that the price of this model is very reasonable, and some buyers may be put off by it. But if you are looking for high-quality sound and you do not want to spend up to 400 dollars plus, you might want to consider getting this unit.
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  1. Clearaudio concept MM moving magnet phono cartridge

Clearaudio Concept MM Moving Magnet Phono Cartridge

The Clearaudio Concept MM has quite the basic look to it, but that should not fool you because the makers of this model – Clearaudio – have been making vinyl sound awesome for over four decades. We love how simple the design of this model looks, sometimes phonos go over the top when it comes to their design, but the way Clearaudio have kept the design of this model minimal works very much to its advantage, and it is a huge benefit.

This model has almost the perfect weight when it comes to making sure that the stylus is at the perfect depth and that it does not move around too easily.

What this means is that you get far less noise and even on records that also have gotten a few scratches on them, they can play very well and not have flaws in the vinyl that can be distracting.

All in all, the sound value of this unit is quite amazing, as it covers all ranges, and no matter what your taste in music is, you will be very happy with what is coming out of your speakers.

The Good

  • It has the perfect size
  • Its design allows it to have a great sound
  • It has very little noise or grain.
  • Its depth of sound is amazing.
  • Setting this unit up will only take minutes.

What Could Be Better:

  • It requires a great set up for you to get the best out of it.
  • There are a few things that need to be addressed with it. First off, it does need you to break it in, and for the breaking in, you are looking at spending around 10 hours.
  • And although the sound is something that we have come to love, you would need to make sure that you have a good set of speakers and that your rig is all set up just the right way. You take the time to do this and you will take to do this, blowing your mind away at its sound.
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  1. Audio-Technica At-F2 Moving Coil Phono Cartridge

Audio-Technia AT-F2 Moving Coil Phono Cartridgte

The design of the Audio-Technica AT-F2 Moving Phono Cartridge is so great that you know the makers of this unit are audiophiles themselves, and that they also have a love for vinyl.

This is something we say because it is made with making your albums sound as clear, good, and amazing as you would want it. It is the kind that, for many people, will make it seem like they are listening to their favorite albums for the first time.

The materials that were used, the angle of the stylus, and the shape of it have all been carefully chosen to ensure that any record that is played on it comes off as amazing.

The price of this unit is on the high side, but the value for your money is just as incredible. We could also say that there a few supposed high-end ones on the market that do not have this good a sound as this model, making it a huge benefit getting this unit.

Things That Could Be Better:

  • It takes about 10 hours to break it in.
  • This is the kind of brand that will always make the best phono list because it is just so very well made.
  • But at the same time, this model is not aimed at those that are new to the world of vinyl collecting. And this we say because of its price tag, and the fact that while the sound is great once it is taken out of the box, it does need to have a break in time of around 10 hours until it starts to find those grooves on your records perfectly.
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Knowing the Different Kinds of Phono Cartridges

Yes, there is a large selection of cartridges that are available on the market, many of these seem pretty normal, but there are some that have weird designs. In general, though, there are the standard mount and the p-mount cartridges. We did touch on this at the start, but we want to look into these a bit more.

Standard Mount: Standard mount cartridges are the most common ones that you will see in your search for the best. There is a little bit of tinkering with these when it comes to connecting them to your record player and making sure that it is aligned properly. But when it is finally properly connected, the sound from it is quite fantastic.

P-Mount: P-Mounts are made to be easier. You do not have to mess around with these ones. All that needs to happen with these types are: you find the P-Mount that is suitable for your record player, you plug the four little pins into the arm, and you are good to go. There are some great models of P-Mount on the market and many people think that they sound just as good as the Standard Mount, but there are a few audiophiles that would strongly disagree.

Why Do You Need a Good One?

You need a good cartridge so that your records can sound as good as possible. While a huge part of collecting vinyl is all about the fantastic photos and artwork that are on the sleeves. The sound is the major reason many people love to listen to their favorite albums on vinyl. There is a pure and real, almost raw sound that comes from playing your albums on the vinyl. To get the best sound, you would need to have a good cartridge.


In Conclusion

To be frank, we feel that the ones that we have reviewed today show that you do not have to spend hundreds of dollars for you to be able to enjoy vinyl.

Many of the models that we have looked at today will produce a sound that is rich in bass and that makes the vocals of the singers really pop.

We feel that there is a good selection no matter what your budget is. If you are new to the world of vinyl collecting, you can see that you can get a phono cartridge that will help your records come alive and that also will not have you breaking the bank. Even for the audiophiles, they will be pleased with the quality of many of the phono cartridges that we have looked at, which goes to show, again, that you spending more isn’t always necessary.