DJ Cartridges: A Buyer’s Guide

So, you’ve bought a turntable and want to start playing your vinyl collection, but you’re stuck with what DJ Cartridges and stylus to buy?

Most of the time, your turntable will come with something basic to get you going, though upgrading your DJ Cartridge and stylus can considerably improve the performance and sound of that “stock” Cartridge.

As there are so many options available in the DJ Cartridge world, we have put this guide to take out the guesswork and ensure you purchase the right thing for you.


Step One: Finding Out What You Need

Firstly, it’s important to understand that a Cartridge and Stylus are two different things:

  • A DJ Cartridge is the full all-in-one piece for your turntable, including the housing for your needle and headshell, which mounts to the tonearm directly.
  • The Stylus is just the needle and housing to mount it to a compatible Cartridge, which is especially useful for those that only need to replace a worn-out needle.

It’s worth noting that not all DJ Cartridges have the ability to change out the stylus, so if your needle wears out on a fixed Cartridge, you need to replace the whole DJ Cartridge.


Step Two: Take Your Pick…

Ortofon and Audio Technica do some of the best quality DJ Cartridges for all price ranges, so let’s have a look at some of them, and what they have to offer…

Option 1:

This is the Ortofon Concorde Mix MK2 DJ Cartridge and is perfect for those starting out mixing on vinyl for the first time or those dusting off those 1210s and wanting to replace ageing needles, but not wanting to shell out the earth for them.

Ortofon Concorde Mix Mk2 DJ Cartridge Product Image
Ortofon Concorde Mix Mk2 DJ Cartridge

It has the classic concord design, made famous by Ortofon in 1979, and is made of 2 parts, with the headshell and cartridge being an all in one piece, and the stylus being a replaceable tip. This has a spherical stylus, which is hard-wearing and less likely to pick up dust and scratch noises from the record. 

Option 2:

Why not go for a different vibe and try a more traditional design from Audio Technica?

Audio-Technica AT-XP3 Professional DJ Cartridge Product Image
Audio-Technica AT-XP3 Professional DJ Cartridge

The Audio Technica AT-XP3 Professional DJ Cartridge is a cartridge and stylus great for general listening and beginner DJs alike. This can also be purchased with a headshell, which is the part that connects the cartridge to the tonearm, unlike the Ortofon Concorde style, which fuses them together. 

Option 3:

If you want to start getting your turntablism up to scratch (sorry), then the Concorde Scratch MK2 DJ Cartridge from Ortofon is the one to check out.

Ortofon Concorde Scratch MK2 DJ Cartridge Product Image
Ortofon Concorde Scratch MK2 DJ Cartridge

Purpose-built for scratching, back-cueing and everything else a scratch DJ needs, these have a high output of 10mV (the highest Ortofon offer), and incredible durability. Great bass response, and looks that kill! Also, these are available as a twin pack, so you can get both turntables locked and loaded and save some cash.

Option 4:

The Audio-Technica AT-XP5 Professional DJ Cartridge is a good step up from their entry-level products and is a superb sounding and robust option, perfect for DJs.

Audio-Technica AT-XP5 Professional DJ Cartridge Product Image
Audio-Technica AT-XP5 Professional DJ Cartridge

These have an elliptical stylus, which means you get more detail out of the record groove, so improved frequency response overall, whilst still being hard-wearing enough, and affordable. Again, you would need to connect these to a headshell, but they can be purchased as a bundle with the headshell included. 

Option 5:

If you want the best sound we have to offer, the Ortofon Concorde Club MK2 DJ Cartridge is superb for DJs wanting the best sound possible, whilst still being hardy enough for clubs’ sometimes-punishing environments. They have an elliptical stylus shape and a great output of 8mV, so you get a detailed sound, without compromising on the level. 

Ortofon Concorde Club MK2 DJ Cartridge Product Image
Ortofon Concorde Club MK2 DJ Cartridge

Option 6:

The Audio-Technica AT-XP7H DJ Cartridge with Headshell is one of the finest DJ Cartridges we’ve heard.

Audio-Technica AT-XP7H DJ Cartridge with Headshell Product Image
Audio-Technica AT-XP7H DJ Cartridge with Headshell

This has some great design features, including a transparent surround by the stylus tip, for maximum visibility, and a polyphenylene sulfide (PPS)/glass fibre body, which is very rigid and durable, great for the working DJ. 

They have an elliptical stylus, an output of 6mV, and a stainless wire suspension system for even more detailed highs. This is perfect for the DJ or listener looking for that extra level of finesse.

Option 7:

Also worth looking at the Ortofon Concorde DJ Mk2 DJ Cartridge, one of our biggest sellers due to its versatility and its high spec for the price.

Ortofon Concorde DJ MK2 DJ Cartridge Product Image
Ortofon Concorde DJ MK2 DJ Cartridge

Option 8:

The Ortofon Concorde Digital MK2 DJ Cartridge is a high output cartridge’s designed for the digital DJ using a DVS (digital vinyl system) like Traktor Scratch, Serato, or Pioneer’s Rekordbox DJ.

Ortofon Concorde Digital MK2 DJ Cartridge Product Image
Ortofon Concorde Digital MK2 DJ Cartridge

So whatever your budget or requirements, if you want to improve or invigorate your setup, we should have DJ Cartridges to suit your needs. Happy mixing!