Audio-Technica AT440ML Cartridges

AT440ML

Dual Moving Magnet Cartridge

  • Frequency Response: 10-30,000 Hz*
  • Channel Separation: 30/20 (dB at 1 kHz/ 10 kHz)
  • Tracking Force Range: 0.75-1.75 g
  • Stylus Construction: Nude square shank
  • Recommended Load Impedance: 47,000 ohms
  • Output: 4 (mV at 1 kHz, 5 cm/sec)
  • Channel Balance: 0.8 dB
  • Stylus Shape: MicroLineâ„¢
  • Cantilever: Gold-plated boron
  • Mount: 1/2" centers
  • Replacement Stylus: ATN150MLX
  • User Reviews (12)

    Showing 1-10 of 12  
    johnjohn   Audio Enthusiast [Mar 31, 2014]

    I'm finding that the brightness of this cartridge is turntable dependent and to a lesser extent tonearm. Cable capacitance makes a difference but I think turntable material makes a bigger difference. AT440MLA prefers tables with lots of wood for terminating the tonearm. Will sound bright if installed on turntables using metal arm plate or subchassis. Right now this cartridge sounds fantastic on my Thorens TD320 MkIII using TP90 arm - dynamic, fast and not a hint of brightness. I tried it on a TD160Super with Grace 747 and despite more ideal arm/cartridge mass resonance it was a little bright. Since Grace is quality tonearm, the cartridge must not like low mass arms. Also tried it on LP12 with medium mass Ittok, wasn't too bright and good mids but bass was loose with felt mat. Have not tried on my Technics 1800. Suspect it will also be a little bright.

    OVERALL
    RATING
    5
    VALUE
    RATING
    5
    stratman672001   AudioPhile [Dec 21, 2009]

    I actually have both the 440ML and the newer 440MLa. And to tell the truth the MLa is a touch more refined than the ML. I originally bought the ML in 2003 and had it mounted on a Pioneer PL400 'table and was duely impressed. A pretty uniform response although a little steely in the high end. My brother in law was also very impressed with its performance and actually preferred its bass response to his own V15 III. I did eventually wear out the stylus but never replaced it (it cost as much as the cart itself at the time). I popped it off and put in a vastly inferior Pickering TL-3. A few years later I had heard about the improved 440MLa and decided to try it out. This unit is worth every penny. Still very flat response and a tamed top end, but eventually the 'table I had it mounted on died (it was 27 years old and for $99 I had gotten my money's worth indeed). I picked up a Rega P3-24 and mounted the MLa and was greeted by a great sound... And a low level 60 cycle hum. It would seem that neither the Rega's motor and AT's cart designs are shielded (this is a problem with Grados as well). This isn't so noticable on loud rock songs, but on quieter recordings such as Frank Sinatra's "Sings for Only the Lonely" it is glaring and unacceptable. I am now looking into other slightly more expensive carts. The Ortofon 2m Black looks very inviting, but I digress. So all in all this is an excellent cart with the right table. Synergy synergy synergy.

    OVERALL
    RATING
    4
    VALUE
    RATING
    5
    davetruestory   Audio Enthusiast [Nov 23, 2009]

    My experience with this cartridge concur with everything said before with the exception, that mounted on my Linn Basik/Akito outfit the highs become liquid. A characteristic that easily can become addictive. For me it excel with acoustic music: pop, jazz or classical, especially with female vocalist like Patricia Barber, Eva Cassidy etc. And on a final note, about this ridiculous thin that the 440 have cd sound I put it to the test using lps and cds from the same label. Like MoFi lp and cd Steely Dan Aja Album or Chesky records Rebeca Pigeon The Raven lp vs cd. In both comparison I found that the lp version sounded more musical and warmer than the cd.

    OVERALL
    RATING
    5
    VALUE
    RATING
    5
    D. Paul Navigator   Audio Enthusiast [Sep 26, 2009]

    Amount paid $84

    Terrific, and maybe the best buy cartridge on the market. If I was going to improve on this cartridge, the next step would be an Audio Technica moving coil. It tracks better than any cartridge I've ever used (I used many), including my second table and cartridge the AT311ED with the Shibata stylus (my second favorite). It's micro linear design, which rides a path similar to the original cutter on the record master (V shaped stylus). The output of this cartridge is very sensitive to the quality of your preamp, so if yours doesn't have the sound you expect, try replacing your preamp and bi-pass the one on your receiver. After all, if you had a moving coil you would match the quality of the cartridge with a similar quality preamp, now wouldn't you? The highs are airy and detailed, the mid range is there without that honkiness that older cartridges give you. My bass is solid (keeping in mind that bass is weak on some older records). Several of my Buddy Miles albums really hit the low notes, while other albums don't seem to have a lot (output equals input). Some others have said this stylus could track the Telac 1812 cannon shots, and they are absolutely correct, as very few others will consistently stay in the track. I only gave the rating 4 stars on "money doesn't matter", because a great moving coil cartridge this is not. However, it might be the best Moving Magnet you would ever want to invest in.

    OVERALL
    RATING
    4
    VALUE
    RATING
    5
    automaticmojo   Audio Enthusiast [Sep 25, 2009]

    While this cartridge has all the nice design features and great stylus design, it's real world execution leaves a bit to be desired.
    The 3 main problems I have found, after 100 hours of use. 1st, It is over analytical, in the highs. The detail is harsh, and lacks musicality. Reminds me of badly mastered 1st generation CD's. 2nd, the midrange is suspect, piano solo's come off as blurry, off balance and unfocused, as best I can desrcibe..far from sounding realistic.
    3rd, the bass is a bit lean on many 70's rock albums, and particuliarly Beatles(60's) lp's. This I could live with, but the overall balance of this catridge makes it hard to listen to IMHO.
    I would suggest a Audio Technica 120 E/T. At $80, and after break in (the suggested 100 hour break is exagterated in my experience, around 20-35 hours and it sounds great-the brightness subsiding) the overall balance is much better. The lows are fast and quick, without being lean, or bloated. The mids are sweet and accurate, and the highs are crystal clear and sweet, no harshness here.
    You can save a minimum of $40 off the current LP Gear price, and save it for extra vinyl, cleaning supplies, what ever.
    I think the bodies of these 2 cartridges are similiar in design. Perhaps the micro ridge stylus of the 440mla is less ideal than the .3x.7 elliptical in this body design.
    I have found quite a few people who have some problems with the sound of the 440mla, but few if any who don't appreciate the 120 e/t.

    OVERALL
    RATING
    3
    VALUE
    RATING
    3
    loepke72   Audio Enthusiast [Nov 08, 2008]
    Strength:

    Great overall performance at this price, will track anything, virtually no inner groove distortion

    Weakness:

    Tends to the brighter side

    After reading many positive things about this cartridge, I decided to try one for myself as the Grado I was using was wearing out its stylus. I mounted the cartridge to a Technics SL-1200Mk5, and after setting up the cartridge to specs, tried out a few inner groove "torture tracks" to see how well it performed against what others had been saying. It sounded a bit "trebly" at first, but I was stunned when some records I thought had groove damage actually sounded clear! I had been listening to cartridge distortion, not worn records all this time. To be fair, the Grado stylus had more than a few hours on it and it still did better on inner groove tracks than some other cartridges I've used. In addition to excellent inner groove performance, this cartridge has the best tracking ability out of anything I have used up to this time. If there is distortion, it's the record that's the problem. This cartridge even tracks the infamous Telarc 1812 overture cannon shots at the manufacturer's specified tracking force without skipping. The much-praised Shure V15VxMR I had some time ago couldn't even do this.

    However, there is a slight tradeoff at this price: the frequency response does not sound to be quite flat to my ears. The midrange sounds somewhat lower, while the treble is emphasized. Mind you, it's pretty slight, and is really only noticeable in an A-B comparison against something else, be it a CD or other cartridge.

    What others have said regarding break-in I also found true. The cartridge sounded ear-piercing bright for some time, then I found it mellowed out after a few weeks of playing a few hours a day, on average. So, if you buy one and find it bright, give it some time and you'll be pleased.

    I give this cartridge 5 stars because it does so many things right for a good price compared to the competition. If you are in need of a cartridge but don't have lots of money to spend, you can't go wrong with the AT-440MLa, especially if your system tends toward the "dark" or "warm" sound.

    Similar Products Used: Grado Prestige Green, Shure V15VxMR, Denon DL-103, Denon DL-160
    OVERALL
    RATING
    5
    VALUE
    RATING
    5
    James Robertson   Audio Enthusiast [Oct 28, 2007]
    Strength:

    musical and well balanced performance.
    Amazing value for dollar when you consider the prices of other products

    Weakness:

    none at this price

    The AT 440 MLa is a really fantastic value considering the crazy prices of some esoteric cartridges these days. I am delighted to have found this at a reasonable price. After bending the stylis on a Dynavector 20XH rendering it garbage, I have become a little shy of expensive cartridges that do not have replaceable needles. I actually find this needle to be more involving than the Dynavector which was 5 times the price. the Dynavector was on an LP12 with an Akito arm(maybe not a good match?) . The AT 440 mla is on a Systemdek XII with a brand new Jelco 250 S tone arm (very good match). Top to bottom this cartridge sounds fabulous. The highs have the right amount of presence and are silky smooth. Midrange is open and natural. Base is tuneful and fast. The tonal balance of the presentation seems just right in my system.

    There are alot of cartridges on the market. I doubt there is a better one at this special price of $84.99. If there is I would like to hear about it.

    Similar Products Used: Shure 92?, AT 130E, Grado Signature 8, Grado Gold, Goldring Eroica, Linn K9, Dynavector 20XH
    OVERALL
    RATING
    5
    VALUE
    RATING
    5
    James Robertson   AudioPhile [Oct 28, 2007]
    Strength:

    Great hi frequency resolution open and natural mids and tuneful fast base. makes for an involving listen. It tracks well and it seems to show less surface noise than my Linn K9

    Weakness:

    none

    This Cartridge was a great choice for my system. It is very musical and sounds alot more expensive than it cost. My last purchase of a cartridge was a Dynavector 20XH at more than 5 times the price of this $85.00 dollar baby. The AT 440MLa sounds as good or better in my system ( I had an accident and bent the tip of the Dynavector and therefore have been scared away from higher priced cartridges that do not have replacable tips). For reference the Dynavector experience was on an LP12 with an Akito arm. My current Audio technica is on a Systemdek IIV with a new Jelco 250 S tonearm. Top to bottom this Cartridge has really satisfying detail. At this point my cartridge is likely not fully broken in but I am already completely happy with the performance. At the suggested retail price I immagine this product may have some competition Grado Gold? Sumiko Bluepoint?but at the 85.00 price I cannot imagine anything beating its performance. I think I might buy another for a spare in case the special pricing goes away. Considering the ridiculous prices that can be spent on cartridges these days, at $85.00 this product represents an amazing value.

    Similar Products Used: Shure 92?and Grado Signature 8 on a Rega planner3, Linn K9 on planner 3, LP12 and Systemdek IIV Goldring Eroica on a MMF7 that I still own, Dynavector 20XH on LP12
    OVERALL
    RATING
    5
    VALUE
    RATING
    5
    Chris   AudioPhile [Jun 11, 2007]
    Strength:

    loud, clear, tracks well.

    Weakness:

    a little soft on vocals, a tiny touch odd sounding with some piano.

    I've only had this for a while but I am pretty well pleased with it. It is a touch bright, but reveals startleing details on familiar recordings. Some of these details my Grado Red does not bring out, however the Grado has it's own strength's ( vocals, low mids, piano ).This is an outstanding "rock" cartridge, but does quite well with audiophile recordings as well.

    Similar Products Used: Grado Black, Blue, and Red. Also Shure M70EJ.
    OVERALL
    RATING
    4
    VALUE
    RATING
    5
    Unknown User   Audio Enthusiast [Aug 05, 2006]
    Strength:

    I like the technology of creating a needle to mimick the cutting head. I choose this cartridge because it seems to me that needle shaped like the cutting head would fit better in the groove and cause less record wear as opposed to diamond eliptical shapes.

    Weakness:

    Performance to price ratio defys faulting this cartridge.

    A fantastic cartridge right out of the box and probably one the best audio deals I've come across ever considering the special price.

    I'm interested to see how it compares to Sumiko's Blue Point and hopefully someone will post such a review. In my system, I found it very refined and articulate with only a few hours on it. It delivers those fast passages and handles the weight of an orchestra with finesse. Beautiful cartridge for the money. I'm using it with a Graham Slee Grand Amp 2 Special Edition MM phono amp.

    Top to bottom it delivers the details for around $85 and sounds like I paid a whole lot more. With a replacement needle for it around $80, what they hey, I'm buying another cartridge. Tracks beautifully at around 1.4 grams, great specs as well.

    My speakers use Seas Millenium tweeters and deliver a really smooth sound even with solid state.. I'm also using darker cables so that has something to do with it as well as I'm not getting any of the brightness the other reivewers mentioned. Ultimately, it's the synergy of your system components that forms your sound.

    See my review of the Technics SL1210MK5G for complete equipment listing.

    OVERALL
    RATING
    5
    VALUE
    RATING
    5
    Showing 1-10 of 12  

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