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Using modern phono cartridges with vintage turntables


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I'm the original owner or an Empire 698 turntable, purchased it new in 1976. It sat idle for a long time, as the electronic cueing system didn't work (my fault). I managed to fix the problem, and the cueing works fine now. I also replaced the original belt and bushings, and it works really well. It has an old Audioquest cartridge in-place, from the 1980s. It's probably in need of replacement. With phono cartridges, the sky is the limit on prices these days!

Is it reasonable to use a relatively upscale phono cartridge with an vintage turntable? The tonearm on the 698 has a relatively low mass, and it's always been able to track anything played on it. Any new cartridge has to be mountable from the bottom.

Are any of you folks in a similar situation with vintage turntables? Your thoughts, opinions and recommendations would be appreciated!


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Welcome Ho

Short answer:


I always loved the look of those Empire turntables. 

Guys on this forum like vintage gear and many have vintage 'tables, ranging from relatively cheap ARs (like mine) to setups like Frank Marsi's with crazy-expensive arms and cartridges. As I understand it, the arm on the 698 is low mass and compares very favorably to the SME 3009. Apparently the Empire headshells are proprietary and expensive but I'm wondering whether a turntable wizard like Steve Forsten or Marc Morin could modify the arm to take a universal shell. In any case, AUdioKarma may have more discussion about this.

I'm no expert on the Empire but I believe you can (and should if the Audioquest is shot) use a modern cartridge. And although you're right that the sky's the limit there are many good choices under $500 and even under $200 from Grado, Shure, Ortofon, Sumiko, Audio Technica, Denon and others. Are you a MM or MC fan? MC carts are more but I'd like to try one again.


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