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Posts by Yikes

  All cartridges come with their Stylus. The Grado (and all Grado's in the Prestige line) have a user replaceable Stylus. The AT phono stage will work for your current cartridge as well as the grado that I recommended. the AT will work for just about any High Output Moving Magnet (or in the case of the Grado's Moving Iron) cartridge.   As to if there will be too much surface noise; It'll be subjective, what's too much for one person isn't for another. Record enjoyment...
here's a link to a manual for your pioneer TT (You may have to register) http://www.vinylengine.com/library/pioneer/pl-s50.shtml   FYI - The Denon DL 103R is totally inappropriate. 1st it's too heavy (the pioneer table max cartridge weight is 8 grams the 103R weighs 8.5 grams) also the denon should be used with a Tonearm that is more rigid than the pioneers. 2nd the Denon is too expensive for someone who's looking at the AT phono stage.   For a modest budget...
Shure only makes High Output MM cartridges. The AT will work with every Shure that I've seen sold in the last 30 years. Your cartridge is a MM cartridge, I believe that it is an OEM P Mount cartridge that came with the Pioneer TT. You can buy a replacement stylus, or Shure recommends the Shure M92E as a direct replacement. http://www.amazon.com/Shure-M92E-Moving-Magnet-Cartridge/dp/B00006I5SA/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1314852028&sr=1-1   be aware, this is...
Since I've never seen a Shure MC Cartridge the AT phono stage should work. i'd recommend replacing the Stylus of the Cartridge (unless you bought it yourself recently).   http://www.lptunes.com/product-p/shsr0025edt.htm   or   http://shure.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/1501/~/stylus-for-r25-edt-cartridge
That Audio Technica is a MM phono stage, it can not be considered universal. It will however work with most inexpensive Moving Magnet (or Moving Iron) cartridges. If you state what cartridge you have I (or someone else) will be able to confirm whether the AT phono stage is appropriate.
The Benchmark was an OK (albeit over priced) DAC 2 or 3 years ago. I like many bought into the tremendous hype generated by numerous rave reviews and purchased a DAC 1. I found it a bit threadbare and analytical sounding. I tried for several months to build a system around the DAC 1's sound, but there is no turning a pigs ear into a silk purse. I sold it and moved on. Now it's three years further on and I seriously doubt that it's Cost/Performance ratio has...
define "affordable"   define "universal"   If you get a phono stage with a MM/MC switch it'll be "universal" as far as most are concerned,   I like the Cambridge Audio phono stages, affordable by most definitions.
yes, a cartridge's output is to low (generally less than 5 mv - that's 0.005 volts) for most amps to handle directly, to put it into perspective most sources output well over 1 volt p-p. In addition the phono output needs to undergo a standard (nearly) EQ in order to have a correct tonal balance (The RIAA Phono EQ - google it). You also need to determine what type of cartridge you have so that you can buy an appropriate phono stage.
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