A budget Audio Technica cartridge presents consumers with a great option if they are wishing to spend no more than $100 dollars on a cartridge.
AT92ecd Audio Technica Cartridge
To be frank, the AT92ecd should be the bare minimum spend for a cartridge. If you’re really scraping for cash, or just interested in experimenting with vinyl, the AT92ced should be your choice. It comes with a universal adapter so it will suit any tonearm well enough. It’s very cheap as well. Spending a little more on its bigger brothers will provide a noticeable improvement in sound though.
AT95e Audio Technica Cartridge
The Audio-Technica AT95e comes with an elliptical stylus. What makes the AT95e an excellent budget cartridge is its even frequency response and balance. For a budget Audio Technica cartridge, it does a fine job of getting right down low and up high. Compared to other budget cartridges, it does especially in the treble range. They sound good out of the box too compared to some other cheap turntable cartridges which need some time to break in.
The AT95e, due to its quality and baseline as a great budget cartridge, is often modified with custom styli, with fantastic results. In terms of sound, you get what you pay for. LPgear sells a modified version of the AT95e called the AT95he which comes with hyperelliptical stylus, which costs around $100. It is not entirely clear which stylus is on this Audio Technica cartridge, though it’s thought that the stylus with this is from Jico, which are very highly regarded. LPgear sell their own Shibata shaped stylus as well as well: the AT95SA. The pick of the two would have to be the cheaper one with the Jico stylus in terms of value for money.
AT120e Audio Technica Cartridge
The Audio Technica AT120E/T sounds smoother than the 95e and provides more detail. It does an excellent job of tracking and is not prone to the same inner grove distortion as the AT95e. It is definitely not light years ahead of the AT95e though. The AT120e suits low to medium mass tonearms, which is in comparison to the AT95e which suits medium to high mass tonearms. Let tonearm weight be your guide here. If you have a medium mass tonearm, then go for the AT120e if it’s in your price range.
Cheap Audio Technica Cartridges Compared to the AT440MLA
The At440MLA (see link for separate review) is a top notch cartridge. At $150 on Amazon, it is a little more expensive than the other options and for some people it certainly won’t count as ‘budget’. What does the AT440MLA bring that the others don’t? Mainly, it’s tracking. Cheaper Audio Technica cartridges can be prone to inner-grove distortion. The AT440MLA in comparison to the cheaper cartridges provides much greater clarity and detail. A cheaper Audio Technica cartridge will have a laid back sound, but a AT440MLA will be more involving without being fatiguing.