The 7 Best Moving Coil Cartridge Under 1000 Bucks in 2018

Today I have a real treat for you fellow music lovers and that is a look at some of the best Moving Coil cartridges under 1000 bucks. I have been collecting vinyl for quite some time now and I have been lucky enough to test out some of the more high end moving coil cartridges that are on the market right now. These are all under 1000 bucks, but I have also picked a couple that are a little more expensive for you folks who have a little bit more money to spend! Check out my review of the 7 best moving coil cartridges below 1000 bucks!

What Is A Moving Coil Cartridge?

Just a quick heads up here on what we are actually talking about today. Typically a moving coil cartridge is going to be smaller than the other styles of cartridge (MM) that are out there. The reason that they tend to cost more is that they are engineered differently, to the point where they are seen by many audiophiles as the ultimate way for getting the best sound out of your records. So think of a moving coil cartridge as the ultimate way to enjoy your vinyl records.

The Best Moving Coil Cartridge Under 100 Bucks Reviews

1. Audio-Technica AT33Sa MC Type Dual Moving Coil Stereo Cartridge
2. Hana MC Stereo Cartridge with Shibata Tip
3. Audio Technica Moving Coil Type Stereo Cartridge AT-OC9/III
4. Rega Ania MC hand-made Moving-Coil Phono-Cartridge
5. Audio-Technica AT33PTG/II AT33PTG/2 Dual MT Type Moving Coil Cartridge
6. Benz Micro Wood SL MC moving Coil low output phono cartridge
7. SHELTER Model 501 III Moving Coil MC Cartridge

I was lucky to be given the chance to test out five of the top moving coil cartridges under $1000. However, I have also handpicked a couple, slightly over our 1000 bucks mark MC cartridges that I think look really neat and could be awesome if you have a slightly higher budget.

1. Audio-Technica AT33Sa MC Type Dual Moving Coil Stereo Cartridge

Audio-Technica AT33Sa MC Type Dual Moving Coil Stereo Cartridge

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Pros:

-Vocals sound phenomenal
-Very high quality
-Deepest and richest bass at this price
-Easy to install

Cons:
-It is close to that 100 bucks mark
-You need to make sure it is set up properly to get the best sound

I have used many Audio-Technica cartridges over the years and it was awesome to get my hands on the AT33Sa. The main selling point of this according to the folks at Audio-Technica richer and deeper bass is what they were going for with this moving coil cartridge and I can tell you that right from the first record I tested which was Master Of Puppets by Metallica, I was impressed. Usually, a cartridge (of any style) requires a little bit of breaking in. However
right from the first record I tried, the sound quality was fantastic. I am not just talking about the bass either.

One thing that I think is very underrated about the Audio-Technica AT33Sa MC Type Dual Moving Coil Stereo Cartridge is the vocal clarity. If you are a music lover who loves their strong vocals, you will be blown away by this. One thing I made sure to do was try out a couple of live albums. The stylus fits like a glove and I was very impressed with how small it was.

One thing I have to mention is that this really is one of the best sounding moving coil cartridges under $1000. However, in order to get the very best out of it, you have to make sure you have it aligned just right. It will sound great no matter what, but taking the time to really set it up right is key to getting that flawless sound.

While it may be real close to 1000 bucks, the provides some of the deepest bass and most crystal clear vocals I have ever had the pleasure to hear. If you want to really “hear” your favorite albums, this is the cartridge for you.

2. Hana MC Stereo Cartridge with Shibata Tip

 

 

Pros:

-Price is not bad at all
-Shibata tip makes music come alive!
-Very impressed with both bass and treble
-Vocals are nice and clear

Cons:
-Body is made of plastic
-Price might still be a little high for some

Look as much as I love music and my music tech, I was a little confused as to what exactly the benefit of a Shibata tip was. However, once this arrived I was very excited to test it out. One of the main things when testing out a new cartridge is the first record you play with it, the one that had the pleasure here was a reissue of What’s the Story Morning Glory by Oasis.

Anyway, Hana have given this one a really laid back, all black kind of style. I really like it and decided that my black turntable upstairs was what deserved to try this out. Connecting it, could not have been any easier and I found that aligning it just right was nice and easy too. It is made of plastic, which I know at this price range some may not be too crazy about, but I have no complaints.

But enough about that, you guys want to know about the sound quality! That Shibata tip is said to bring incredible clarity to records, even older ones. So while the first record I tested it with may have been a new pressing. I do have some older, used vinyl that I felt was perfect for putting this through its paces.

The sound is very impressive. With solid bass, good treble and the vocals were great too. I really do not have any nitpicking at all with this moving coil cartridge. Like the others, setting it up just right is key to getting the best sound, but I feel that the Shibata tip will allow for any “miscalculations” during the first couple of albums you test.

At around 750 bucks, I feel that the Hana MC Stereo Cartridge with Shibata Tip is a fantastic higher end moving coil cartridge. It is great if you want awesome sound, but want to be a little bit away from that $1000 price tag.

3. Audio Technica Moving Coil Type Stereo Cartridge AT-OC9/III

Audio Technica Moving Coil Type Stereo Cartridge AT-OC9/III

 

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Pros:
-Sound is very crisp
-Nice deep bass
-Even older vinyl records sound good
-Price is more than reasonable

Cons:
-Does require a few hours to get the best out of it
-Style may not go with all turntables

As I have said, I have used many Audio Technica cartridges over the years, but I think that the Audio Technica Moving Coil Type Stereo Cartridge AT-OC9/III has the most elegant design I have seen from them. If you are like me and want your turntable to be as much of a showcase piece as it is to blast your favorite albums, you will get a real kick out of this.

This is actually a style of cartridge that these folks have been making since the 80’s and it is awesome  to see it fine tuned to perfection. Before I tell you about the sound, I must say that this is coming in at a couple hundred bucks under that $1000 limit. So it is one of the best value moving coil cartridge under $1000.

Sound wise, as you would expect from Audio Technica, it is fantastic. I actually used this for around 8 hours and it really reached its perfection after a couple hours of solid playtime. It has a really fine tip (one of the finest I have seen so far) and this gives you a crystal clear sound, I noticed no distortion at all. I even used my original (I have had since I was a kid) Open Up And Say Ahhh by Poison album and it sounded so crisp.

Newer vinyl pressings are really going to knock your socks off, that much I can promise you. One thing that is really neat is that in the package when I opened it up, all the screws and tools needed to attach it to your turntable are included so if you are a first time vinyl collector, you cannot go wrong with this at all, especially considering the what I consider to be a fantastic price.

The Audio Technica Moving Coil Type Stereo Cartridge AT-OC9/III AT-OC9/3 EMS NEW really did blow me away. Honestly, they could be charging an extra 100 bucks for this and I would still recommend it!

4. Rega Ania MC hand-made Moving-Coil Phono-Cartridge

Rega Ania MC hand-made Moving-Coil Phono-Cartridge

 

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Pros:
-Sounds awesome!
-Diamond tip stylus brings albums to life
-Great value for a Rega stylus
-Easy to install on your turntable

Cons:
-Price is certainly going to increase over the years
-May be a little pricey for some

Despite being a vinyl enthusiast for many years now, Rega is a brand that I have never had the pleasure to use so I was really excited to get the chance to test this out. The design is very interesting, it is black so it fit right in with my second turntable that I have, but it also has a clear section.

I think the folks at Rega have done this so that they can show off their special and unique way of making a MC phono cartridge. The asking price is currently at around 800 bucks, but I have a feeling that this is going to increase as word gets out about what a great cartridge Rega have created here.

Once I connected this to the turntable, I picked my new pressing of Nevermind by Nirvana which my son got me for my birthday. It sounded great right from the start, I should also say connecting it and getting it aligned just right could not have been any easier. I will not bore you with the details, but the aluminum body, the diamond tipped stylus and the clever way that they have crafted this make it one of the most impressive moving coil cartridges I have ever used.

Rega are known for their very expensive, but very high quality cartridges and that has always put them out of my reach, so seeing this one here that is made to the same high standard as their others, but at a much lower price point is really cool. I can honestly tell you that this is the kind of cartridge that I could see myself using to listen to all my favorite records, even my older (over played stuff) sounds great!

If you want a MC cartridge that is made by people who know what they are doing and want you to enjoy your music in the highest quality possible, check this out.

5. Audio-Technica AT33PTG/II AT33PTG/2 Dual MT Type Moving Coil Cartridge

Audio-Technica AT33PTG/II AT33PTG/2 Dual MT Type Moving Coil Cartridge

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Pros:
-Close to 500 bucks!
-Certainly an upgrade for most people
-Even people new to the hobby will be able to install it
-The sound is pretty good

Cons:
-Does require a bit of breaking in
-Not the highest quality sound on the list

AT33PTG/2 Dual MT Type Moving Coil Cartridge is one of the best value, high end cartridges. This is coming in at way under the 1000 bucks we have set, it is actually closer to $500. So this is one phono cartridge that you want to take a closer look at if you are on a tighter budget. The black and silver design really does look great, Audio Technica do a wonderful job in making elegant and cool looking cartridges and I really think that this deserves to be on any best moving coil cartridge under $1000.

As is the case with all Audio Technica products, connecting this to a turntable is very easy. Once it is set up, you will need to play a few albums to really break it in. The instructions are all in Japanese, but it is very easy to get connected to do not worry. It has a micro linear stylus that they say will last for over 1000 hours! That is great value for money. I found that the sound out of this was really good.

No matter what I tested with it from classic rock to some questionable hits from the 90’s the sound was good. I think if you have a turntable and you have not yet upgraded your phono cartridge that this is the kind of thing you need to look at. For someone like me who has already dabbled in the higher end world of high quality MC cartridges, it may not be ideal. Still, the bass is good, nice vocals and in general, the sound quality is great and to most people, they will be very, very happy with it.

For those on a tighter budget, the Audio-Technica AT33PTG/II AT33PTG/2 Dual MT Type Moving Coil Cartridge is just what you are looking for. It may not be the best MC cartridge I have tested, but it is still great and certainly an upgrade for people with a standard phono cartridge that came with their turntable.

6. Benz Micro Wood SL MC moving Coil low output phono cartridge

Benz Micro Wood SL MC moving Coil low output phono cartridge

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Pros:
-Wood looks really cool
-Made to give a real authentic sound

-Made by real audiophiles
-Will last for many, many years

Cons:
-Costs well over $1000
-Only really for people who are audiophiles

Full disclosure here, this is the first of two on this list that I did not personally test, but man it looks awesome! It is a couple hundred bucks over the $1000 price limit, but it looks incredible. To start with it is made of wood. I think this is such an interesting design choice and it is sure to last longer than plastic ones. Also, as you can see this MC cartridge looks incredible and it is something any music lover would be pleased to have.

Now, I cannot say personally how good the sound is, but from the few reviews I have read, the sound is fantastic. What they are going for with this phono cartridge is the best sound possible. “real world output levels” is their slogan with this cartridge.

I have used cartridges before that go for that real and raw sound, where it is supposed to be like you are in the room as it is getting recorded and it sounds like these guys have nailed it with this. No distortion, no moving when it is supposed to and in general, I really cannot see anything about this not to like…. Well except maybe the asking price, but if you are on a higher budget or willing to save a little longer, this might be worth looking at.

The Benz Micro Wood SL MC moving Coil low output phono cartridge could be one of the most impressive MC cartridges I have seen! If someone wants to send one my way, I really would not mind at all.

7. SHELTER Model 501 III Moving Coil MC Cartridge

SHELTER Model 501 III Moving Coil MC Cartridge

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Pros:
-Designed to work with both new and old records
-Japanese style and elegance
-Third version of an already popular cartridge
-Looks pretty darn cool

Cons:
-Costs a little over $1000
-Instructions may only be in Japanese

This is the second slightly more expensive MC cartridge on this list and like the last one, I have not actually personally tested it. Still, it is one that I found very interesting and one that has that classic Japanese style. I swear, Japan still make some of the very best stereo equipment and this phono cartridge is a prime example of it. They know that you can have both good looks and great sound.

I really want to get my hands on this as from what I have read about this MC cartridge, the sound is just phenomenal. This is the third version of this phono cartridge and from the sounds of it, they have really perfected what they were going for. The idea behind it is that you are going to get real and rich sound no matter the record. So you could be playing some classic from the late 70’s or you could be listening to a brand new album, they are both going to sound as good as possible.

The fact that the SHELTER Model 501 III Moving Coil MC Cartridge is made with both new and older vinyl records in mind is something that makes this very interesting.

What Is The Best Moving Coil Cartridge Under $1000?

As you would expect getting the chance to test these phono cartridges out on my two turntables was pretty awesome. The Audio-Technica AT33Sa MC Type Dual Moving Coil Stereo Cartridge and the Rega Ania MC hand-made Moving-Coil Phono-Cartridge are the two that really stick out for me. I feel that they are both very well made and offer fantastic sound quality, no matter the age of the vinyl that I tested them with.

I think that at this kind of price range, you really have to give a phono cartridge a fair amount of time to show you what it can do. As well as reading my reviews, I suggest you read as many as possible, this way you can get an idea of what MC cartridge suits your needs best. My biggest suggestion for you is to look for ones that work great with not just newer vinyl pressing, but older ones as well.

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