Phono Cartridges - HiFi
A phono cartridge is a small electro-mechanical component mounted at the front of a tonearm on a turntable that traces and conveys the information from the half-mile of grooves cut into a typical LP record. The performance potential of a record playing system is defined by the capabilities of the phono cartridge. The quality and substance of the information extracted by the cartridge determine the accuracy and musicality of what you will hear. Tonal balance, frequency response range, clarity, musical peaks, stereo separation, imaging, and freedom from noise and distortion are all affected at the outset. The selection of this first component is thus critical to the performance of your audio system.
A cartridge holds a cantilever tube or bar and needle tip at the end. The cantilever vibrates as the stylus tip (or needle) traces the record grooves. The stylus tip is usually made of diamond for long playing life though other materials have been used such as sapphire and ruby. The cartridge converts the vibrations into electrical signals which are then amplified further down the electronic audio chain. A new cartridge when purchased comes with the stylus included. Most cartridges are designed with a stylus that is replaceable by the end-user.
A cartridge is designed to be mounted on a turntable's tonearm. Some tonearms use a universal headshell. Others use a P-mount. A lesser number use a proprietary mount. The latter means you are restricted to their design.
| ||The half-inch mount or standard mount as it is sometimes called is probably the most common. As illustrated on the left, two screws located a half-inch apart are threaded through the cartridge body and secured to the headshell. Four wires, each of a different color, are attached to the male plugs at the rear of the cartridge body. The other end of these wires are attached to the headshell plugs. |
| ||The P-mount or T4P, as illustrated on the left, utilizes a different approach. The cartridge is plugged into the tonearm and is then secured to the tonearm by a single screw. |
A universal cartridge is designed for use in either a half-inch or P-mount tonearm. A universal cartridge is simply a P-mount cartridge with a standard mount adapter.
At LP TUNES we have an extensive selection of half-inch, P-mount T4P and universal cartridges from
superlative phono cartridge manufacturers such as Audio-Technica, Benz-Micro, Clearaudio, Denon, Grado, Goldring, Koetsu, Nagaoka, Rega, Roksan and Shure.