Finding The Right Turntable Cartridges

By Essie Craft

In a turntable, a cartridge refers to the transducer that is used for the playback purpose. It helps in the conversion of the mechanical energy generated by the needle of the record groove into an electrical charge. With the turntable cartridges, electrical charges are further amplified and converted to sound that is then projected by the loudspeaker.

Usually, they are made of a magnetic substance that exerts light pressure on the grove, thus improving its playback quality and reducing the rate of record wear. Moreover, the magnets help them to apply lighter tracking force, which essentially limits extent of grove destruction. Magnetic cartridges also have relatively lower rates of voltage output which requires large amounts of amplification.

The gadgets are usually designed in a manner that allows them to incorporate different mechanisms that are aimed at improving their working rate. There are mainly two types of magnetic cartridges, the moving coil and moving magnet types. The former are made of several tiny wires and tiny electromagnetic generators that are used to attract the styli and move within the magnetic field generated by the permanent magnets of the cartridge.

The electromagnetic generator however produces small amounts of voltage because it has few windings of the thin wires. Similarly, it generates a signal of few micro-volts that are easily consumed by the noise produced by the loudspeaker. Therefore, this requires a step-up transformer that is used to amplify a moving-coil cartridge to produce low inputs of noise.

There are other types of moving coil cartridges, of high-output, that can be used to produce large amounts of electric voltage. Despite the fact that the moving coil kinds are tiny and relatively expensive, they are usually preferred for use by the audiophiles because they are perfectly designed for that. Moving magnet types on the other hand have styli cantilevers that are made of several magnetic materials, which constitute the electromagnetic generator.

The tiny magnets are placed between the cartridge coils and vibrate in line with the movement of the stylus of the record groove in order to generate electric currents. Normally, the tiny magnet is not attached to the electromagnetic generator in order to allow the record stylus to move in line with the tracking force of the record groove. Generally, the moving magnet cartridges often use a set of two types of magnet to enhance its functionality.

The device has a moving iron and induced magnets, which are attached to the cantilever to provide the moving piece of iron. In addition, they also have a permanent bigger magnet that is placed over the coils to provide the required magnetic flux. Given the differences in their designs and prices, many people often try to evaluate which type of cartridge is the best between moving coil and moving magnet one.

Moving coil turntable cartridges offer very low inductance, while the moving magnet types offer relatively high inductance and impedance. However, high inductance can negatively affect flatness of frequency and phase linearity. In such a situation, the moving coil cartridge would be preferable to moving magnet cartridge. Therefore, preference of the best cartridge for a turntable would entirely depend on the aforementioned factors, including cost, design, and inductance, among others.

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