Turntable Cartridge
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Can Any Cartridge Work for Any Turntable?

Can Any Cartridge Work for Any Turntable?

Turntables are one of the most important devices in the history of DJ. The ultimate performance, however, is determined by its phono cartridge’s capability. The selection of a better cartridge is crucial if you want to enjoy the rest of the system. Your choice of the cartridge will also have a huge effect on the existence of your records. It is vital to keep in mind when choosing a cartridge or update your setup, with vinyl records being more difficult to replace.

Turntable cartridges or phono cartridges are perhaps the most critical aspects of your record player. It provides the point where the stylus makes initial contact through the record and communicates the sound by your whole setup. However, can any cartridge work for any turntable? We are here to find out.

Also, check out: Top 10 Turntable Cartridge in 2021


The Cartridge

The Cartridge

The cartridge is an electro-mechanical instrument that converts data into an electrical signal in record grooves that can be amplified for music processing. There are several types of cartridges. However, moving magnate or MM-type cartridges are the most common ones.    

Near to the end of the players’ tonearm, turntable cartridges (or phono cartridges) are installed. This cartridge contains a stylus that reads the record’s groove’s modulations as it is lowered to the vinyl record. This data is thereupon transported by a motorized current that is then intensified as sound through your set up and you get the output by the speaker. To make every step successful, turntable cartridges require a few elements that work together smoothly.

You can also check Top 10 DJ Turntables in 2021


The Body of a Cartridge: What Things should be there in an Ideal Cartridge?

The Cartridge

All the components on a cartridge are made out of plastic. 

Mount

Positioned at the end of the tonearm, the headshell is can be either shaped similarly with the part of the tonearm or removed. A cartridge containing a removable headshell is easier to set. Nonetheless, all headshells in a single tonearm are better too.

There are mainly three mount types that connect the record player headshell on a cartridge body: 

  • Standard mount

It is one of the conventional mounts. With it, the cartridge gets attached to the tonearm’s headshell with double screws and into the cartridge to make it stable.

  • P-mount

In the case of a P-mount cartridge, the cartridge gets attached straight into the headshell. It is then protected with one screw that directly connects through the tonearm end. Cartridges using P-mounts are slimmer but larger. 

  • Universal

A universal mount is mainly made by using both standard and P-mount tonearm. Generally, there is an adapter with that interface between these two mounts.   

Check out this: How Do You Know When To Change The Turntable Cartridge?

The Cartridge

Stylus 

The stylus (also known as the needle) is the major component in any cartridge. The stylus gets the record’s groove’s data and sends it by the cartridge and device configuration.  

Styli are crafted with a small diamond because of their hardness. This means when the styli will read information about the groove, it won’t deteriorate too much.

You will generally find three styli shape types: 

  • Spherical

It is one of the common, cheapest ones, and can be manufactured easily. However, with it, the record grooves create a minimum amount of contact. That means the stylus will gather less data creating pressure on the groove.   

  • Elliptical

With a lower diameter and polished texture, these tips help the grooves to be properly tracked. It ensures that extra information is gathered and fewer burdens are exerted on the grooves. You may find it a bit pricy but it is still affordable. 

  • Fine-line

The fine-line forms of stylus tips are much costly. You will generally found this type of tip on advanced setups. It is a standard polished tip that has a convenient shape that enables it to make a contract with most of the groove. 

The Cartridge

Cantilever and Suspension

They are essential parts of the turntable cartridges. It reads the rhythm of the stylus and passes it through the magnet and the wire coils. The stylus is situated at the cantilever’s end that is normally a long and thin rod. As the stylus reads the record groove, it pushes the cantilever and can be operated internally by the suspension mechanism. 

Trackability

The trackability spec explains how well a modulated vinyl groove can be tracked by the stylus. Trackability is calculated by recording the highest amplitude that a stylus can trace until the signal is distorted.

Many variables – including stylus shape, cartridge orientation, and tonearm compatibility – affect trackability. The spec is specified in micrometers (μm). However, remember that the higher the spec will be, the better the trackability is. 

The type of Magnet as well as wire coils

Magnet and wire coils are the last essential things that an ideal cartridge needs. These two things ensure that everything will and transfer effectively.

You will see two cartridge types that use these two elements: 

  • Moving Magnet Turntable Cartridges (MM)

With a Moving magnet cartridge, the motions created by the stylus translates the data of the groove and pass that to the cantilever. You will see a magnet mounted near the cantilever with its motions being controlled by the internal suspension mechanism, but as the stylus turns, the magnet then moves, too. 

  • Moving Coil Turntable Cartridges (MC)

This type of cartridge is a similar way to moving magnet, except the position of the magnet and coil is essentially reversed. Where there is a moving coil cartridge, the stylus will read the record’s gloves but instead of wire, there will be a coil. MC cartridges are typically more costly because they need more gentle and reliable processing than moving magnet cartridges.


With different turntable cartridges, you will find different features. That means that your budget will also vary. But can any cartridge work for any turntable? No! You have to look for the body structure of each cartridge mentioned above. You can also follow the manufacture’s advice before installing a new one.

Read more about Essential DJ Equipment

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