Best Phono Cartridge Under $500

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hono cartridge refers to an electro-mechanical unit which can transform the content into an electrical signal. This in turn helps with further amplification of the music quality. In most cases, a phono cartridge consists of a magnet, rubber suspension, diamond stylus, coils and cantilever. Each of the different pats have a different role to play in the overall functioning of the phono cartridge. The diamond stylus for example keeps a track of the records while the rubber suspension helps with the groove’s precise tracking. The quality of the phono cartridge has a big role to play in determining the sound quality and can help you enjoy a completely different experience. Today we are going to talk about five of the best phono cartridges which can be added to your cart for less than 500 dollars.

1. Ortofon – 2M Bronze MM Phono Cartridge

Ortofon 2M Bronze Moving Magnet Cartridge


The 2M series of Ortofon was developed by drawing inspiration from the actual look and feel of a diamond. Its contours trace the grooves present on the record’s surface in a graceful manner. You can strike the right balance between form and functionality coupled with this photo cartridge.  The thing you are going to love the most about the Ortofon – 2M Bronze MM Phono Cartridge is a Fine-Line stylus which has been polished by adhering to the highest grades of craftsmanship. You can easily track the highest frequency modulations coupled with the slim profile of the stylus. This in turn makes the cartridge ideal for working on highly demanding materials. The stylus profile also keeps surface noises at a bare minimum while substantially reducing record wear and distortion.


  • Comes equipped with the trademark split pole pins of Ortofon which helps the moving magnet cartridges in having a flat frequency response.
  • Renders images having excellent solidarity and three-dimensionality.
  • Its tapped and threaded body helps out in the easy mounting.
  • The Ortofon – 2M Bronze MM Phono Cartridge comes with all the necessary accessories in the form of a stylus fluff removal brush, simple plastic stylus force gauge, small instruction manual and a mini screwdriver which can get you started with your work almost instantaneously.

2. Ortofon – 2M Blue MM Phono Cartridge

Ortofon 2M Blue Moving Magnet Cartridge


The Ortofon – 2M Blue MM Phono Cartridge comes in as a major upgrade compared to the Red. It makes use of a highly polished nude-elliptical stylus for quieter reproduction and better tracking. It reaches deeper into the grooves of the records for outperforming its predecessor OM-30 which used to come with a higher price tag. You can find the trademark split pole pins in Ortofon’s2M series of cartridges. This ground-breaking invention ensures that the moving magnet cartridges have flat frequency response similar to moving coil cartridge.The Split pole pin technology was offered by Ortofonto the Super OM series and 500 series following its invention. It was developed in collaboration with celebrated Danish designer Møller Jensen Design who have been accredited with the highly successful Kontrapunkt series.


  • Design is inspired by the beautiful facets of diamond which surely seems pretty soothing to the eye.
  • Guarantees accurate and precise information retrieval in the record groove.
  • Its weight and size is compatible with virtually all current turntables.
  • The Ortofon – 2M Blue MM Phono Cartridge makes mounting an extremely easy affair.
  • Doesn’t color sound while accurately reproducing the record grooves.

3. Sumiko – Pearl MM Cartridge

Sumiko - Pearl MM Cartridge


The Sumiko – Pearl MM Cartridge has been specially designed by keeping the audiophiles in mind. This is why it offers supreme refinement without going overboard with the price. The Pearl stands out from its peers with extended and smooth top frequencies while keeping the surface noise low and free of grain at all times. It also has magnificent resolution apart from a dash of midrange warmth making it ideal with every category of music. You can expect nothing short of excellent rhythmic drive out of the Pearl Sumiko cartridges which have also gained global popularity for offering good propulsion of lower frequencies and solid brass. Its elliptical grind stylus offers the dual advantages of high tracking ability and low noise. In stark comparison to traditional designs, the high-power generating system of Sumiko cartridges accentuate the performance level to a great extent.


  • Has fewer windings in comparison to traditional MM designs leading to higher output and that too without sonic penalty.
  • Brings down surface noise without making any sacrifices in terms of high frequency detail.
  • Fantastic stereo imaging stands guaranteed by improved channel separation.
  • Has a wide frequency response ranging from 12 to 30Khz thus allowing surprising depth levels along with strong rhythm sections.

4. GRADO Prestige Gold2 Phono Cartridge w/Stylus – Standard Mount

GRADO Prestige Gold2 Phono Cartridge w/Stylus - Standard Mount


The Gold2 Phono Cartridge has already received rave reviews from users around the world who have unanimously crowned it as the numero uno phono cartridge of Grado’s Prestige range.It strikes the right cord of balance between realism and dynamics to bring along a rewarding reproduction of instruments and vocals. Gold2 makes use of a four piece OTL cantilever coupled with an elliptical diamond stylus which is mounted on a brass bushing. Greater transparency and lower distortion is delivered by its built-in machine turned generator. The optimized transmission line technology of Grado Gold2 helps with ideal transfer of signals to the system generator from the surface of the LP. This ground-breaking technology brings down disruption by rejecting unwanted resonances and preserving the harmonic frequencies of the audio. The noise generated by the cartridge’s motor system diminishes drastically to help you enjoy the best quality sound effects.


  • Brings along drastic improvement to the height, depth and width of the soundstage so that you can make out even the smallest of details.
  • Makes use of high grade copper wire which strikes harmony amongst the four coils of electrical circuit.
  • Powered to the core by a twin magnet system establishing balance between stereo channels.

5. GRADO Prestige Black2 Phono Cartridge w/Stylus – Standard Mount

GRADO Prestige Black2 Phono Cartridge w/Stylus - Standard Mount


Are you on the lookout for a phono cartridge which can strike the right harmony between excellent dynamics, tonal balance and realism? If you have an affirmative answer, then the GRADO Prestige Black2 Phono Cartridge can surely serve you well. The MI cartridge of Black2 weighs comparatively more than its predecessor in spite of having more precise and smaller coils. The optimized transmission line of Grado Prestige Black2 helps with ideal signal transfer to the system generator from the LP surface for rejecting unwanted resonances. All sorts of noises generated by the system motor in the cartridge comes to minimal levels while lowering down distortions to preserve the fundamental and harmonic frequencies of the music.


  • Brings along a sense of neutrality, musical feel and mellifluousness much like the top-grade phono cartridges.
  • Makes use of high purity copper wire which helps with proper unison between four coils present in each phono cartridge.
  • Offers precise balance in between accurate stereo imaging and the channels.
  • Clarity improves to a great extent from front-to-rear sound stage.


People often find it hard to believe, but the quality of needle can have a big role to play in turning a simple record player into a premium grade audio unit. You should thus exercise caution while choosing the same. The five phono cartridges listed above are available for less than 500 dollars can help you make the most out of your audio experience especially while running on a stringent budget.