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Check Out the Best Budget HiFi Guide for Products in the $200-$1200 Price Range

Grado Statement Reference1 Wood ~ $1500

Cartridge

The Grado Statement Reference1 Wood cartridge is made from a specially selected species of mahogany and is 100% made and tested in the USA.  Grado’s fixed coil design offers one of the finest mid-ranges you can hear for a price that rivals other cartridges many times more expensive.  It is hard to best this cartridge.

Other Recommended Cartridges – Lenhmann Black Cube SE, Sumiko Blackbird, Soundsmith The Voice, Koetsu Black Goldline

Grado-Statement-Reference1-
Specifications

  • Frequency Response 10-60
  • Principal MI
  • Channel Separation at 1KHz 40
  • Imput Load 47K
  • Output at 1KHz 5CM/sec. 0.5mV

Sumiko Blackbird ~ $899

Cartridge

The Blackbird from Sumiko is possibly the most musically pleasing cartridge under $1000.  It is even, solid in the lows, delicate and clear in the highs, and very quiet.  It is sensitive, and can break easy, so be extremely careful with installing it or have a pro-shop do it for you.  A runner up for best cartridge of the year in 2004 from Stereophile, it is hard to beat.

Sumiko-Blackbird
Specifications

  • Cartridge Type: High output Moving Coil
  • Stylus Type: Low mass elliptical stylus
  • Cantilever Material: Long grain boron
  • Compliance: 12×10 (-6) cm/dyne
  • Frequency Response: 10Hz to 50,000Hz

Sumiko Blue Point Special Evo III ~ $399+

Cartridge

With a name this long it has to be good? Right? Well it is.  I personally own the Evo III and would recommend to anyone pairing it with a $1200-2000 table and a $400-600 phono amp.  The Evo III is incredibly revealing, a solid performer in the lows, detailed and full, and handle sibilance (when set up correctly) wonderfully.  Adding just a whisp of the shh sound.  Mid range is clear, full, and captivating.  On a well recorded LP you can hear the room as well as the music.  Often recommended by shops, at least almost everyone I’ve been in.

Sumiko-Blue-Point-Special-E
Specifications

  • Cartridge Type: MC
  • Frequency Response: 12Hz-50KHz
  • Output Voltage/Channel: 2.5mV
  • Channel Separation: 35dB
  • Stylus Size/Shape: .3x.7/Elliptical

Shure M97XE~ $89

Cartridge

If you are looking for a quick upgrade to your entry level turntable or possibly even a flea market find, the Shure M87XE is the trick.  Something I have personally used and have seen recommended many times on the AudioReview forums.  It is warm and detailed in the mid-range, soft and laid back in the highs, and gives you a solid bass that doesn’t all sound the same.  A wonderful performer that is solid, easy to mount, and wont let you down.  Especially good if you are looking for a more nostalgic and warm sound.  It tracks well, offers well above average detail in the highs, and good dynamics.

Shure-M97XE
Specifications

  • Output: 4.0mV RMS at 5 cm/sec
  • Stylus:Diamond tip, Polished natural gemstone, Elliptical, Side x front radii: 0.2 x 0.7 mil
  • Cantilever: Shure Type II – Very Low Mass, Heat-treated aluminum alloy / tubular, 1.0 mil wall thickness / 20 mil diameter
  • Frequency Range: 20 to 22,000 Hz

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  • derek says:

    Monitor Audio speakers have always been a favorite choice for me. Smooth roll-off the highs, very tight sounding bass response without being overpowering, and mids that make your favorite vocalist sound even sweeter.

    Nice job of picking components that won’t break the bank.

  • adam says:

    Derek -

    Really – you found Monitor Audio speakers rolled off at the high end – not what I normally hear about them. What amplifier or rest of the system, source for instance, did you pair them with, or heard them paired with? Not saying they are harsh, but the RS6 I’ve heard had a slightly thin airy high end. Good if you were looking to hear the room in a recording, but definitely didn’t help with a black whole for a stage.

  • DBoy says:

    There is lot of PMP that sound better than iPod
    for less than 800

  • Jack says:

    For those of you who have trouble justifying big speakers to your significant other (like me), try the Silverline Minuets. They are small enough that they can sit on a desk and they absolutely rock. They go low enough that they don’t demand a sub but I recommend one.

  • Rubén says:

    Hi all,
    Iam newbie in this forum.
    Is the new Magnepan similar in soun dto the olds models?

    Best Regards
    Rubén

  • Rubén says:

    I currenlty have Apogee and for my they are not surpassed even today in the planar range.

  • Rubén says:

    I miss said that full planars like Apogee is very demanding on room space and position

  • Rubén says:

    But when they are paired with a good power amp is IMHO one of the more realistics speakers

  • Rubén says:

    A few years ago change the olds ribbons with new ones (manufactured in Australia) and sound even betters than the originals.
    More extended, transparency, air

  • Rubén says:

    For full potential the Divas must be actively biamped

  • Lorenqo says:

    planar speakers all sound wimpy and apogees require a amp you could use for arc welding to drive them properly. maybe there ar PMP that sound better than Ipod but they’re not tha good either. the Hifiman is a real audio product and with it’s versatility is a bargain reelly

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