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Audio-Technica VM540ML Phono Cartridge

6 Reviews

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Audio-Technica VM540ML

The VM540ML MicroLine® stylus cartridge is the premier 500 Series model in Audio-Technica’s new VM cartridge line – a line that harks back to A-T’s early days as a manufacturer primarily of high-end phono cartridges, while also incorporating today’s advanced technology. Like all VM cartridges, the VM540ML is equipped with dual magnets that are positioned to match the left and right channels in the stereo record groove for outstanding channel separation and extended frequency response. The cartridge’s MicroLine® stylus allows it to trace the record groove with incredible accuracy, resulting in nuanced audio reproduction that elliptical and conical styli simply can’t match. The stylus’s multilevel shape also wears better than other styli, while reducing the wear on your records. Includes mounting hardware.

Audio-Technica VM Technology - Closer to the Cutterhead

A cutter head carves out the record grooves. The modulations in the groove are “analog” mechanical equivalents of the original audio signals. To “read” these modulations, Audio-Technica developed the patented Dual Magnet design which duplicates the structure of the cutter head. Instead of using a single, large magnet, the two magnets are arranged in the shape of a V. The two magnets are positioned precisely to match positions of the left and right channels in the stereo groove walls. Consequently, the VM design provides outstanding channel separation, extended frequency response and superb tracking. All models feature high-purity 6N-OFC (99.9999% pure oxygen free copper) wiring for maximum sonic purity and extraordinary resolution of fine musical detail.
  • VM dual magnet cartridge with MicroLine® stylus
  • Aluminum cantilever
  • Center shield plate between the left and right channels reduces crosstalk
  • Durable low-resonance polymer cartridge housing
  • Technical:
  • Frequency Response: 20-27,000 Hz
  • Channel Separation: 28 dB (1 kHz)
  • Vertical Tracking Force: 1.8-2.2 g (2.0 g standard)
  • Stylus Construction: Nude square shank
  • Recommended Load Impedance: 47,000 ohms
  • Output: 4.0 mV (at 1 kHz, 5 cm/sec)
  • Channel Balance: 1.0 dB (1 kHz)
  • Stylus Shape: 2.2 x 0.12 mil MicroLine®
  • Cantilever: Aluminum tapered pipe
  • Mount: Half-inch
  • Replacement Stylus: VMN40ML
  • Coil Impedance: 2,700 ohms (1 kHz)
  • DC Resistance: 800 ohms
  • Load Capacitance: 100-200 pF
  • Coil Inductance: 460 mH (1 kHz)
  • Static Compliance: 40 x 10-6 cm/dyne
  • Dynamic Compliance: 10 x 10-6 cm/dyne (100 Hz)
  • Vertical Tracking Angle: 23° Dimensions: 17.3 mm (0.7") H x 17.0 mm (0.7") W x 28.2 mm (1.1") D
  • Weight: 6.4 g (0.2 oz)
  • Ratings & Reviews

    6 reviews

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    Excellent cartridge!


    I was recently looking for a cartridge upgrade for my TEAC TN300. I started with the Ortofon Blue but ran into tracking issues. Brian suggested I try the AT VM540. I am happy to report that this cartridge has been excellent. Tracks that easily tripped up the Blue have been smooth sailing with the AT. The sound of the 540 is very balanced and detailed. I am hearing things in my LPs that I did not know were there. The bass was a little lean out of the box compared to the 2M blue but it has improved greatly as the cartridge has broken in.

    Overall the only thing that has impressed me more than this new cartridge is the awesome service provided by Brian at the Needle Doctor. They have earned my future business and I see some upgrades such as a pair of the excellent Nola Boxers in my future.

    High value modern stylus-cartridge. Exceptional clarity and ambient soundstage.


    Equipment is Dual 1218, and Pioneer SX 950. Cartridge properly aligned following turntable leveling and maintenance. Description of test recordings is: Bach Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 in F Major. Recording is cut in record's inner grooves; is slightly warped, high range brass and woodwinds in innermost grooves. High end clarity, definition crisp and bright, tracking superior to Shure M97Xe (the VM540 tracks heavier than the M97Xe-contrary to popular views on tracking force as stylus shape contraindicates this notion. Yes,Close To The Edge,1972 (George Piros), familiarity. Pink Floyd,Dark Side Of The Moon,remaster,180g vinyl,deep resonant bass. Santana, Abraxas, M.F. OMR, complexity. Fullness and depth abundant in low end, not detracting from midrange and high end. No distortion perceived. Jonah Jones,Muted Jazz,1957,original release,monophonic. Small ensemble. True test for modern stylus, (mono). The soundstage the VM540ML creates is as if sitting in a small venue. Intimate,clear.

    Substantial upgrade from Ortofon Red


    I recently got the VM540ML to replace the Ortofon 2M on my Rega Planar 2. My goal was to both upgrade a bit and get rid of a small but perceivable hum from the Ortofon. I was expecting an improvement in the overall sound quality but the magnitude of the improvement was a pleasant surprise. Everything sounds better—there is more definition, separation, and depth. Albums I’ve heard many times sound like new recordings. I couldn’t be happier. Thanks to folks at The Needledoctor for suggesting this cartridge.


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    This cartridge is simply amazing. Compared to previous cartridges I've used, it was like going from VHS to blu-ray. I'm hearing details I didn't even know were in my records.

    Loving vinyl again.


    Well, after using my Music Hall turntable with stock Tracker cartridge for 10 years I finally upgraded to this AT540. Why on earth didn't I do that sooner? It's like cleaning the dirt off the windows, everything is so much more vibrant, there's so much more clarity and detail. Just incredible sounding and tracks very well. I can't imagine what it will sound like after the break in period. Loving vinyl again.

    So this is what vinyl is supposed to sound like!

    by -

    I bought my Project 1xpression II and had played it for a couple of years with the included Sumiko Oyster of unknown condition and mileage. It made me assume vinyl as a medium sounded flatter and less lively than CD or digital.

    Wow was I wrong. After contacting Needle Doctor to replace a lost power supply, I started talking with Quinn about cartridges. He recommended the 540 and a few others in my price range. I mounted the 540 last week and have been playing it constantly ever since. Is it broken in yet, I don't know. But I can say, from the first record I played my ears were opened.

    Vinyl sounds amazing in my system now. Clearer highs, deeper lows and fuller mid-section. Every record I've played old or new sounds good, not so with my old cart. Upgrade your cheap cartridges everyone. Thanks Quinn and Needle Doctor!