Best P Mount Cartridge: Find the Best Tune for Your Turntable!

Choosing the best p mount cartridge in your budget can be a tough job. Especially, when you get confused between moving magnet and moving coil cartridges. 

Lower your confusion with me! Keep reading this entire article on the best p mount cartridges. You’ll find the right cartridge for your turntable and it’s a promise!

Our Top Picks for Moving Magnet P Mount Cartridges

Image

Product

Frequency Response

Channel Separation

Price

20 Hz to 20 kHz

25 dB

20 Hz to 18 kHz

20 dB

20 Hz to 20 kHz

20 dB

To make it easier for you, here’s a comparison graph-chart comparing the top 2 Moving Magnet P Mount cartridges through a rating out of 5.

Moving Magnet P Mount cartridges chart

Finding the right tune and music in your turntable. What else can feel heavenly? The cartridges below will help you bring back the tune to the turntable you’ve been looking for!

Ortofon 2M Blue Cartridge

Just the Right Tracking Response!

The star of today’s p mount cartridges is the Ortofon 2M Blue Cartridge. It is extraordinary in producing higher outputs and clearer notes.

This blue Ortofon is an upgraded version of the Ortofon 2M Red Moving Magnet Cartridge. It drops the needle and finds the groove faster than the Red Ortofon. 

As an audiophile, you’ll notice the sound quality this Ortofon Blue cartridge offers. It has a better tracking ability with a tracking force of 1.8g. Where 1.5 g is the sweet spot, the Ortofon does an even better job!

Again, this p mount cartridge produces output voltage at 1kHz with 5.5 mV at 5cm per second. This output voltage is more than the Shure M92E Hi-Fi Moving Magnet Cartridge. So, you get better sound output with this cartridge than the Shure M92E.

Well, some audiophiles may raise a concern about the sound being a bit cold. But the nude elliptical stylus cancels out all those concerns. 

Here’s a heads-up. The tracking setup is a bit sensitive. So, I would recommend setting it to the manufacturer’s recommended pressure. 

Though it’s a universal p mount cartridge, the Ortofon Blue isn’t much compatible with the Sumiko Rainier. So, if you have one, be careful about this matter. 

Also, the frequency response is more than the Shure M92E. Where Shure cartridges produce up to 18 kHz, Ortofon can go up to 20kHz. However, the stereo channel balance is 1 dB which is lower than that of Shure’s (2 dB). 

But what I like most about this cartridge is that it takes less time to install. Within 10 to 15 minutes, you can install it like a pro.

Now, the Ortofon 2M Blue can be a bit expensive for some audiophiles. If you want to lean towards a cheaper option, you can check out the Ortofon Super OM 10 Cartridge.

The Pros:

  • It has a loud sound with higher output than most brands.
  • Produces clearer and livelier highs than most other brands.
  • The instrument separation is clear with an improved sound stage.
  • Takes only 10 to 15 minutes to install the cartridge.

The Cons:

  • Doesn’t produce good highs in the LP 120 turntable.
  • Overall response lacks a little bit at the top end and at the bottom.

Shure M92E Hi-Fi P Mount Cartridge

Takes you to heaven with warm music

The second best moving magnet p mount cartridge is the Shure M92E Hi-Fi P Mount Cartridge. Because of its versatility, this cartridge has won many hearts!

The best thing about this p mount cartridge is that it fits two major types of tone-arm mounts perfectly. The sound production is top-notch having a frequency response from 20 Hz to 18 kHz.

This cartridge gives you a warmer and balanced tone. It performs well in the highs and makes the tone crisper.  

Where most cartridges produce muffled sounds, Shure has none. It’ll take you straight to the original notes. So, if you’re a lover of old, warm tones, this p mount cartridge is the best option for you.

It produces up to 5 mV having a tracking force of 0.75 – 1.50 g. Usually, you can consider 1.5 grams as the sweet spot for a p mount cartridge. So, Shure does the best job in this case.

But if you’re looking for a tracking force over 1.6 g, you can take a look at the Grado Prestige Blue3 Cartridge.   

Back to the Shure p mount cartridge. It lets you worry less about aligning the needle. You won’t have to adjust the tonearm. It already comes in the perfect shape and position. 

Another great aspect of this cartridge is that it’s quite easy to install. It’s compatible with most RX3P turntable cartridges. Also, it’s a budget-friendly option compared to brands like Grado or Ortofon.

Also, you can blindly trust this brand as they’re in the industry for decades. They have been dominating the industry since 1925!

The Shure M92E is the perfect cartridge for vinyl collectors who are neither audiophiles nor DJs. Play some Moody Blues LPs with it, you’ll notice how heavenly it sounds.

The Pros:

  • Allows ease in alignment and doesn’t require any tonearm adjustment.
  • Produces a warm tone balance without shrill highs.
  • Lessens the unwanted vibration better than any other cartridges.
  • Fits perfectly with any turntable.
  • It has a better tracking response within the sweet spot range of around 1.5 grams.

The Cons:

  • There isn’t much air around the instruments.

Audio-Technica AT85EP Cartridge

Revives old songs like a charm!

The final moving magnet p mount cartridge we have is the Audio-Technica AT85EP Cartridge. It’s the charmer for your antique turntables that revive old songs. 

This p mount cartridge has a controlled bass. You’ll notice the smooth midrange in sound that separates each instrument clearly. Not to mention the detailing this cartridge can create in sound.

Just like the Ortofon 2M Blue cartridge, the Audio-Technica AT85EP also has a frequency from 20 Hz to 20 kHz. This means the cartridge can capture sharper notes. It also has a channel separation at 1 kHz. 

The vertical tracking force of this p mount cartridge is from 1 to 1.5 g. It also has a tracking angle of 20 degrees. So, the stylus does the job quite well in producing a well-balanced sound.

Speaking of the cantilever, it is made of Aluminum. Again, the p mount cartridge has  the stylus is elliptically bounded with a shank construction.  

However, it can create a channel separation at 20 dB at 1 kHz which is not up to the mark. For this, you’ll notice small metallic effects on the high notes.

The Pros:

  • Has a controlled bass with enough detailed structure in sound.
  • Revives old turntables like a charm.
  • Has reinserting securing screws with a simple plug-in.
  • Has a good separation capability and amazing trackability.

The Cons:

  • It can have a small metallic effect on high notes.
  • Skips beat elliptical and spherical p mount cartridges.

Our Top Picks for Moving Coil P Mount Cartridges

Image

Product

Frequency Response

Channel Separation

Price

15 Hz to 50 kHz

30 dB

15 Hz to 32 kHz

28 dB

20 Hz to 50 kHz

28 dB

Here’s a graph-comparison of my top two Moving Coil P mount cartridges through a rating out of 5-

Moving Coil P mount cartridges chart

Audio-Technica AT33PTG/2 Moving Coil Cartridge

Swipes out unwanted noises like a pro!

For moving coil cartridges, Audio Technica is a Goddess brand. And their AT33PTG/2 is the best model of all. 

This p mount cartridge is exquisite having a micro linear stylus. As a result, it can reproduce full-range audio. 

Unlike other brands, Audio Technica reduced the coil weight in this model. This helped in improving the audio quality overall, especially in the high frequencies. 

The best part of this p mount cartridge is that it has a very thin cantilever. The cartridge has a 30 dB channel separation ability with a strong channel separator mold. So, this cartridge can separate unwanted noises very well. 

Moreover, it can create soothing music under 15 to 50,000 Hz frequency. What makes it more reliable is that it has a tracking force from 1.8 to 2.2 g where 2 g is the standard.

If you want to play 45 rpm records, this cartridge is the best fit for you. But don’t use it for 78s RPMs. The stylus won’t fit and so it will create a lot of noise in the background. 

Another good thing about this cartridge is that it lasts for about 1,000 hours. So, this means you can use this moving coil cartridge for a long period of time. 

But make sure you take care of the cartridge and install it correctly. Otherwise, the cartridge won’t last long as expected.

The Pros:

  • Has an average lifespan of around 1,000 hours.
  • Has a strong but lightweight channel separation mold that reduces unwanted vibration to a greater extent.
  • It uses a neodymium magnet and a permendur yoke that enhances magnetic energy. 
  • Cantilevers are thin and parallel to the body and so they can track the most difficult vocal sibilants.
  • If installed properly, it ensures minimum wear and tears.

The Cons:

  • Doesn’t come with a plastic protector.

Hana SL Series Cartridges

Better output, better music

Next, I have an outstanding moving coil cartridge from the Hana SL series. It’s so good that it’s hard to just utter words for it. It’s like watching a sunset over the Grand Canyon!

This cartridge produces audio quality having an output balance of less than 1.5 dB at 1 kHz. This is similar to the first moving coil cartridge I reviewed in the above section.  

But then again, the frequency response is from 15 to 32,000 Hz. It’s not as good as the Audio Technica cartridge I reviewed above. But it’s quite a good range for moving coil cartridges.

Speaking of the impedance, you get a 3-ohm impedance at 1 kHz where the load impedance is less than 400 ohm. And it can separate channels at 28 dB per kHz. 

This cartridge produces a vertical tracking force of 2g. It has a trackability of 70 µm of the weight it can track. It’s a pretty decent number as a moving coil. So, you don’t have to worry about the sound quality.

Moreover, this moving coil cartridge produces less than 1.5 dB output balance per kHz. This indicates a good sound quality. The stereo can perfectly balance the loudness according to your taste. 

What’s great about this cartridge is it can produce clean and energetic music. You won’t find such quality in other cartridges below $2000. And you’re getting it at less than $1000. So, it’s like a winning situation for you!

The Pros:

  • Has an average lifespan of about 2,000 hours. 
  • Has vocal smoothness at a frequency range from 15 Hz to 32 kHz.
  • Produces cleaner and more energetic music like a $2000 cartridge.
  • You won’t get any listening fatigue by using this cartridge for hours.
  • The bass response is clean and satisfying.

The Cons:

  • You cannot replace the needle of this set.

Audio-Technica AT-OC9XSL Cartridge

No more distorted music!

Finally, I have another amazing moving coil cartridge from Audio Technica, the AT-OC9XSL model. It has been launched very recently. The specs are so amusing that I think this newcomer will bring a revolution to the music industry!

Well, it does have a lot of similarities with the Hana SL series I described above. It also has channel separation ability at 28 dB. 

But it can produce a frequency response from 20 to 50,000 Hz. This is almost closer to the range of the Audio Technica AT33PTG/2 cartridge. 

What you’ll like most about this cartridge is that the coils are aligned in a reverse V-shape. So, the stylus gets a little amount of pressure which negates distortion. 

Moreover, the aluminum body is also very helpful in minimizing unwanted vibration. So, you get the most superior audio quality for under $1000. 

Mind that this cartridge produces low output. So, you’ll need a high-quality moving coil phono preamp to get better output from this cartridge. 

There’s a small drawback to this cartridge. Audio Technica didn’t put much effort into the cantilever for this model. The flimsy cantilever can’t take too much pressure from the tracking force as the other cartridges reviewed.

The Pros:

  • Perfect highs with no extra sibilance.
  • You’ll feel the vocals in a livelier manner.
  • Has better air and decay around instruments that make the sound more real.

The Cons:

  • Requires high-quality moving coil phono preamp.
  • Flimsy cantilever.

Buying Guide: How to Choose the Best P Mount Cartridge?

Choosing the best p mount cartridge isn’t too hectic if you know what to look for. You need to look at both numbers and usability.

How to Choose the Best P Mount Cartridge
Source: Reverb

So, first, let’s talk about the numbers. You have to understand the important specifications and what they mean.

Here are the specs you should care about at the beginning:

Frequency Response:

The first important aspect you should look for is the frequency response. It refers to the range of sound measurement the cartridge will reproduce. Basically, the cartridge will pick the uniformity of the sounds and dictate the flatness of response.

Output Level:

The output level is another major specification that impacts the noise level of your turntable. If the phono cartridge output level is too low, you’ll hear a lot of noise. On the other hand, if it’s too high, the preamp can get distorted.  

Typically, 2.5 mV is the standard output for a moving coil cartridge. But for moving magnet cartridges, you must opt for 4-5 mV.  

Channel Separation:

Next, you should look out for the channel separation feature. It’s a key specification that measures the capability of a channel ignoring another stereo channel. The higher the frequency, the clearer the sound. 

Anything between 38 dB and 42 dB is considered a good channel separation for moving magnet cartridges. On the other hand, the range is between 55 dB and 70 dB for moving magnet phono cartridges.   

Channel Balance:  

Channel balance refers to sound quality production and good design. When both sides of the stereo have equal loudness, you can consider it to have a good channel balance. 

Now, let’s focus on the usability of the p mount phono cartridge. You must check out the following aspects of a phono cartridge:

Stylus Shape:

Stylus shape has a great influence on sound production. There are three popular stylus shapes in the market – elliptical, linear, and Shibata. 

If you want a budget-friendly stylus, you have to look out for spherical tips. These tips are pretty simple in use as well. However, for more premium sound quality, elliptical, line, or Shibata work the best. 

Mount Type:

P mount cartridges usually have four slim pins that go straightly plugged into the tonearms. They are protected with a lone screw. It’s important to check whether these pins match your turntable correctly. 

Trackability:

You should also consider trackability while choosing a p mount cartridge. This part ensures how well the stylus can adjust the record groove. By measuring trackability, you can direct if there’s any anomaly in cartridge adjustment and tonearm compatibility.

Cantilever:

Cantilever helps to understand how well a cartridge can replicate audio frequencies. When you’re purchasing a p mount cartridge, make sure to look for the material. 

Mostly, you’ll see Aluminum alloy in the market. However, cantilevers can be made of other materials too such as carbon, boron, and copper alloy. 

Budget:

Now, let’s talk about the bucks. P mount cartridges come in a variety of budget options. So, you should definitely fix a specific budget before buying the cartridge. 

Well, if you are a beginner, I would suggest not going for luxurious cartridges. Try to understand the specs and choose a cartridge that isn’t too bad for your budget. 

How to Install a P Mount Cartridge on a Turntable?

In case, you’re in doubt about how to install the p mount cartridge on your turntable, here’s a quick guide for you.

  • First, you have to unscrew the old cartridge from the turntable.
  • Then, gently remove the cartridge wires using a set of long nose pliers.
  • Now, take the new cartridge and connect the wires to the turntable.
  • It’s time to make the cartridge secure! Screw the cartridge onto the headshell tightly.
  • After that, you have to set the counterweight tracking force balancing the tonearm.
  • Then, place the cartridge in the right alignment.
  • Finally, set the anti-skate. Then, check the tracking force before using your turntable. 

Voila! You’re all set for listening to your favorite music!

FAQs

Are p mount cartridges interchangeable?

Yes, the p mount cartridges are interchangeable. When you see T4P imprinted on a turntable, it indicates that the p mount will be the right fit for its tonearm. But for this, you don’t have to use a cartridge from the same brand as the turntable.

Do all cartridges fit all Headshells?

No, all cartridges don’t fit all headshells. Depending on the type of cartridge, each of them has a different fit. You have to understand if your turntable requires a p mount cartridge or a half-inch one. Only then you can figure out which one will fit the headshell.

Do phono cartridges need to break in?

Yes, phono cartridges need to break in. It can take from 40 to 100 hours for a running period of the phono cartridge. It helps to reach the full potential of the cartridge. 

Final Verdict

That’s all about phono cartridges! By going through this review, I hope you get to buy the best p mount cartridge for your turntable. Best of luck!

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