5 Best Phono Cartridges Under $100 of 2020

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When it comes to cartridges for your turntable a lower-priced one doesn’t mean you get one that is low quality.

There are many high-quality cartridges that you can buy for under $100.

These budget-priced ones promise to give you great performance for the price.

In this article, I have compiled the five top turntable cartridges within our budget.

Before I start, remember that a cheap turntable cartridge doesn’t mean its rubbish.

It just gives you an affordable and often high-quality way to easily upgrade your turntable.

5 Best Phono Cartridges Under $100

In a rush? Here is a quick rundown for you:

Most Affordable
Audio-Technica ATN95E Replacement Stylus for AT95E Cartridge
Twin Set
(2) Ortofon Omega Turntable Cartridges - Twin Set
Top Pick
Ortofon 2M Red Moving Magnet Cartridge
Very Warm
Ortofon OM 5e Moving MagnetCartridge
Easy To Install
Rega - Carbon MM Phono Cartridge
Audio-Technica ATN95E Replacement Stylus for AT95E Cartridge
(2) Ortofon Omega Turntable Cartridges - Twin Set
Ortofon 2M Red Moving Magnet Cartridge
Ortofon OM 5e Moving MagnetCartridge
Rega - Carbon MM Phono Cartridge
Most Affordable
Audio-Technica ATN95E Replacement Stylus for AT95E Cartridge
Audio-Technica ATN95E Replacement Stylus for AT95E Cartridge
Twin Set
(2) Ortofon Omega Turntable Cartridges - Twin Set
(2) Ortofon Omega Turntable Cartridges - Twin Set
Top Pick
Ortofon 2M Red Moving Magnet Cartridge
Ortofon 2M Red Moving Magnet Cartridge
Very Warm
Ortofon OM 5e Moving MagnetCartridge
Ortofon OM 5e Moving MagnetCartridge
Easy To Install
Rega - Carbon MM Phono Cartridge
Rega - Carbon MM Phono Cartridge

All right, let’s get to our list now!

Ortofon Omega Turntable Cartridges – Twin Set

Ortofon Omega - best phono cartridge for bass under 100

If you are in the market for a low budget cartridge only for your turntable, then give this one from Ortofon a look.

It not only performs well for the price, but it works great with older records too.

This cartridge is especially suited to those who also want more bass out of their music because it provides a fantastic amount of bass for the price.

Again, as with other cartridges on my list, you can argue that perhaps the mid-range could be better.

But this cartridge will give you 20 hours of play.

The sound quality will also satisfy you and it does not reflect the price.

I say get this cartridge if you want to experience a high level of sound quality, but you are also being considerate, and you want a budget option.

One tiny additional complaint is that people have complained about the packaging is poor.

If this does happen to you when you buy this then you can simply return it and the company will take care of the rest.

Audio-Technica ATN95E Phonograph Cartridge

Audio-Technica ATN95E - best turntable cartridge for bass under 100

Anyone who loves music and audio knows that Audio Technica has been in this particular business for a very long time.

It has a great reputation.

This cartridge model offers you good performance at a very affordable price.

If your cartridge needs replacing and you are on a lower budget, then this may be the perfect cartridge for you.

But not everything is perfect.

Many people thought that the mid-range on this was not that good.

But this cartridge does well to hide the impurities.

It can deliver an output of up to 3.5mV.

That means that this cartridge is quieter than others that are on the market.

One thing I found was that it can be hard to remove the stylus from its body before mounting.  

But otherwise, it’s a great cartridge for those who have a higher mass tonearm and it works great for playing older records.

Ortofon 2m Red Moving Magnet Cartridge

Ortofon 2m Red - best phono cartridge for rock music under 100 dollars

Out of all the cartridges on my list, if you have money to burn then this is the most expensive one you can buy.

Unlike other cartridges, this one is a little bigger than the usual size.

This is because it is a bonded shank.

But even though it’s bigger it isn’t bulkier, weighing in at just 1.8 grams of tracking force, making it light.

This cartridge works great with low tonearms and ultra-low tonearms.

It operates well and you et some great upgrade options for the future thanks to its body design.

I recommend going with this if you plan to further upgrade your turntable in the future.

Ortofon OM 5E Moving Magnet Cartridge

Ortofon OM 5E - best phono cartridge under 100 for jazz

When you look at this cartridge you can see that Ortofon is wanting to give you outstanding performance for the price.

This cartridge is great for any vinyl listener, regardless of their budget.

It features an elliptical stylus which is great for tightly tracking the grooves of your records.

And it really can track well.

It’s also one cartridge that is compatible with any kind of tonearm.

That means that even if your turntable has a low mass tonearm it can play well with this cartridge installed.

In terms of playtime, you will get around 20 hours of play from this cartridge overall.

Many people choose this particular cartridge because of the warmth and depth it brings to your music.

The cartridge also helps to ensure that over time your sound quality improves.

The Ortofon OM 5E is a moving coil which means that this cartridge is great for those who love music or who want their audio to be at the highest quality.

Rega – Carbon MM Phono Cartridge

Rega – Carbon MM - best cheap budget turntable phono cartridge under 100

This cartridge from Rega is unique.

You get a carbon fiber cantilever.

It is designed to ensure that the performance it gives you and your records are of high quality.

It gives you a velvety sound, at least that’s what the manufacturers say, and it’s great when used on older records.

It uses a conical stylus.

For some people, they prefer this because of the better highs that it offers.

Others have said that this cartridge model is weak and can fail quickly.

I think that, for the money, this is not a good option to pick.

There are better choices out there.

However, I still listed this cartridge, despite its failings because of its price.

Now that we have gone through my list of the best cartridges, I wanted to give you a little more background information to help you with your purchase decision.

Best Phono Cartridges Under $100 – Buyer’s Guide

Here are the most commonly asked questions I’ve heard over the months since I’ve published the previous article about cheap phono cartridges. 

Let’s check them out!

Can any cartridge fit any turntable?

Some turntables come with moving coil cartridges.

That means that they do not have a replaceable stylus.

When it comes to replacing it you usually have to replace the entire cartridge.

There are some turntables out there that work with a single cartridge type only.

Others are capable of working with moving magnet or moving coil cartridges.

Is the Grado cartridge any good?

I didn’t add the Grado cartridge to my list.

But they are well known for great vocal sound quality and an excellent midrange.

They help you get the sound you would typically associate with classic vinyl.

But if you are a high-end cartridge user then they may not be for you.

They are affordable with prices ranging between $100 and $200.

When do I need to replace my turntable stylus?

Based on the opinion of most turntable manufacturers you should replace your stylus at around 1000 hours of use.

If you use your device for 1 hour per day, then you would only need to replace your stylus every couple of years.

The more you use it the quicker you will need a replacement.

It’s always wise to check the manufacturing material used for the stylus.

That way you get an idea of how long the stylus will last.

My Conclusion

It’s now time to crown one of these cartridges the best turntable cartridge that you can buy for under $100.

All of these are great for the price range we are looking at.

But my overall pick, due to its superb performance, is the Ortofon OM 5E.

It’s great in particular if you don’t plan on doing any upgrades later.

If upgrading, later on, is in your plan then this is not suitable for you.

Instead, the Ortofon 2M Red would be a good alternative.

I hope this article has been informative.

Now that you know what type of turntable cartridges you can get for under $100 it should make picking the right choice for you that much easier.

Make a choice and look forward to spinning that vinyl.

Last update on 2020-09-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API