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Your Cartridge and You!


cartridge matching, how does a cartridge work, tone arm and cartridge, vinyl sales 2014
McIntosh's exquisite MT5


It is no where near recent news, but in the last 20 years vinyl has grown over 1100%* with over 9.2m units sold in 2014.

Whether you have revived your old, pre-loved collection or are looking to venture into a world of analogue bliss, it pays to get an understanding of the process.

As Manu has eloquently written in his article, a simple clean can give your vinyl a new lease on life.
But what else can be done? How do I get every last, precious frequency from that etched out plastic?
Let's start with 'first contact'.

Stylus and cartridge play a big role in the general sound of the turntable, with 2 major designs in play and a thousand and one different manufacturers take on these, it can be a bit confusing.
You'll notice the terms moving magnet and moving coil coming up a lot. These are essentially the same thing in reverse.


cartridge matching, how does a cartridge work, tone arm and cartridge, vinyl sales 2014

A simplistic view of a Moving Magnet cartridge.

At the end of the cantilever is a small magnet that moves due to the stylus' interaction with the vinyl's groove. This interacts with two sets of coils, inducing a voltage and voilà! You have a stereo signal.
In a moving coil system, you have a coil at the end of the cantilever, and that moves between two magnets.

There are pros and cons to either of these designs. A moving magnet design is a lot easier to manufacture as the parts are larger
The downside being these are 'heavier' and therefore do not track as well, resulting in less detail and a less convincing outcome.

A moving coil cartridge is a much finer piece of engineering. The coil is tiny and incredibly lightweight meaning it tracks very well due to it's low inertia, resulting in fantastic information delivery, detailing, soundstage and overall fidelity. But it's manufacturing process is a bit more convoluted and their price generally reflects this, however with modern engineering techniques, these have become much more obtainable.





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