Question New cartridge or new turntable


Active Member
I have a Project Debut phone purchased from an AVF member April 2013 - thanks ReValveiT.

The Ortofon OMB 5E cartridge has eventually worn out. Now the dilemma is to either upgrade the cartridge or go whole hog and upgrade the turntable?

What cartridge should I look at, realistic pricing (up to £100?) given the turntable it'll attach to please.

Or is it better to upgrade? I do like Avid, but need a lottery win first. So what about say a Project Essential II Digital at £299 at Kronos or £309 with £40 of vinyl from Frank Harvey?

You'll note that I do not have a phono board in my amp, or a separate one. Need to figure that into the cost.

Or if anyone knows of a Avid going for a VERY good price...any Avid! Doesn't need to be a Reference SP, a nice Diva II SP would be just fine.

All advice gratefully received.


Active Member
No replies? :(

I had hoped at least Blue Wizard would have popped in for a chat :hiya:.


Active Member
Unless you manage to aquire the coveted Avid the most cost effective and simple way forward is to upgrade the Ortofon Stylus, say to an OM20. It should (so far as I can tell) be a direct plug in to the OM5 cartridge and if so the only adjustments required will be to the tracking force and anti-skate. Other cartridges are available to choose from at around the same price but will need more work to install.

I certainly don't think you will see much improvement by swapping the debut for the essential. It seems the built in phono stage can't be bypassed so the best reason for changing the deck would be to choose one WITHOUT a built in phono stage so that you can use something better in that area - but then you need a bigger budget unless (perhaps) you buy used. It's that old refrain I'm afraid - you get what you pay for, and pound for pound there isn't much to distinguish a Rega from a Project or a (insert name here)...



Distinguished Member
The Project Debut is a pretty fair turntable. One of the most popular Cartridges would be the Ortofon 2M RED which I believe is about £85. It is the standard cartridge on the new Project Debut Carbon turntable, and is highly rated.

The newest version of the Project Debut Carbon DC runs about £325 -

Project Debut Carbon DC Turntable

Here is the Ortofon 2M RED cartridge (£85) -

Ortofon 2M Red Moving Magnet Cartridge - Superfi

A bit lower down on the scale would be the Audio Technica LP120 (£210) and the TEAC TN300 (£279) -

Audio Technica ATLP120USBC USB Turntable - Superfi

Teac TN300 USB Turntable - Superfi

Unless I'm mistaken, the Audio Technica does not come with a cartridge. The TEAC TN300 comes with a basic cartridge.

So, that's kind of what you are torn between - £85 for a good quality cartridge, or +£300 for a new turntable.

The Ortofon OM5E is about a £50 cartridge. The Replacement Stylus is about £45. The Stylus are precision cut Gem Stones, so they represent a considerable part of the cost of the cartridge which is mostly copper and plastic.

So, there is your third choice, £45 for a new Stylus.

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Active Member
Thanks both.

OK, as a temp solution I picked up a new Ortofon OM10E replacement stylus for £45. I'll upgrade to a whole new turntable later this year. I tend to spend £1,000 per item of kit, but it'll need to be £1,000 for the whole shooting match of turntable, arm, cartridge and phono amp. So no Avid then, but I'll be back for some recommendations to test before purchase.

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