By Don Lindich
Week 14, 2021
Q. I have an Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB turntable and would like to upgrade the cartridge. My budget is $100-$200. I am finding that my price range has relatively slim pickings and the cartridges in this segment are largely ignored by reviewers. As I look around most of the recommended cartridges are budget models under $100, or step-up models selling for well over $200. Surely there is something in my sweet spot that will make me smile?
-M.S., Milwaukee, WI
A. I strongly recommend the Goldring E3, which sells for $169. It will surely make you smile!
You may not have been familiar with the Goldring name and hence it escaped your search, but Goldring is an acclaimed British brand that caters to the vinyl record lover and they have a stellar reputation. Goldring has added several new models over the past few years, and the E Series, specifically the E3, has made perhaps the biggest stir.
The Goldring E3 is a moving-magnet cartridge with a replaceable stylus, so when the needle wears out you can just plug in a new one and enjoy like-new performance. It is designed to be easy to mount and align on your turntable, no small consideration since installing and mounting a cartridge properly is an awkward task that most turntable owners don’t have a lot of experience doing. I still recommend finding a dealer who can mount it on the turntable headshell for you, whether you purchase it pre-mounted or take it to a store, but if you have to install it yourself you will benefit from this thoughtful design feature.
The Goldring E3 sound is tremendously good and has won awards worldwide. I have had the pleasure of reviewing the E3 myself and it delivers the warm, smooth sound that vinyl in general and Goldring in particular are known for. This easy listenability is combined with a lively, dynamic sound, strongly reproduced dynamics, great transparency and precisely rendered detail that really digs into the emotions of the music and the performers. It also sounds good with all types of music, the hallmark of a truly greater cartridge. I simply loved it and it is my favorite cartridge under $200 right now.
See the Goldring E3 at goldringusa.com.
Q. I remember your comments about Panasonic plasma TVs in your column a few years back. You had a lot of good things to say about them, but I know they were discontinued a few years ago. I have a 50-inch plasma Panasonic TV which I bought new in 2004. I LOVE it! Unfortunately I am moving soon into a small house and cannot take it with me. I have never ever had any problems with it and the picture quality is just as I bought it 18 years ago. Could you give me some advice about what I could do with the TV? I don’t want to trash it given it cost $7,749.00 all the way back in 2004!
-V.C., San Carlos, CA
A. Unfortunately the high price of your old TV reflects the rarity of plasma and flat-panel television technology back in 2004, and not a spectacularly good television. Back then most HDTVs were rear-projection models that took up a lot of space and a TV that you could hang on the wall was a tremendous luxury. It is not worth much in these days of 4K TVs, maybe not even $100. I suggest donating it to a charity that could really appreciate it and getting a receipt for a tax deduction.