As we know, a turntable is a device that can play sound recordings. This works on the rotation of a phonograph. To make sure you get the best sound output, it is advised that you buy the best phono, vinyl cartridge.
Only with the proper cartridge, the sound is at the best quality. These were made of ceramics. It worked with piezoelectric effects which create an electric signal.
Here, this article shares some of the best phono cartridges for turntables, whether you’re looking for MM or MC Cartridge, you got one here.
What is a Phonographic Cartridge?
This cartridge is a small component which is mounted on a turntable. This is an electro-mechanical transducer. Phono is short for phonographic and a cartridge is also called as a phono cartridge. The other name for this type of cartridge is the magnetic cartridge. The cartridge may contain a portable stylus or a permanently mounted stylus.
The tip of the stylus is usually made of a good quality gemstone. The record has grooves. The tip and grooves make physical contact. The contact between the stylus and the groove makes the magnet move between the magnetic field of the electromagnetic coils which is inside the cartridge. This creates a current in the coil and hence the electrical signal generated by the coil gets amplified.
There are 2 types of phonographic cartridges. They are:
- Moving magnetic cartridge in which the magnet is small and is placed between 2 coils which are fixed. The magnet vibrates and induces a current in the coils.
- Moving coil cartridge in which the coil is small and made of thin wires and attached to the cantilever. The coil moves within the field of the permanent magnet which is in a fixed position.
Moving Coil vs. Moving Magnet Cartridge
As there are 2 types of these cartridges, it is very important to know the details of both the types.
Though the working principle is similar, there are a few differences between them. Knowing them can help the customers buy what they need. There are some basic characteristics on which they differ.
These differences can help people learn and check what type they may need to serve the purposes.
The moving magnet cartridge has a comparatively simpler design than the moving coil. This hence makes MM cartridge more popular. For example, in case of a problem with the stylus, it is very easy to replace it in case of a MM cartridge by pulling it out but in an MC cartridge, it is difficult as it is attached to the cantilever and to the cartridge. Pulling, in this case, can cause damage to the wire and eventually the entire cartridge.
The MM cartridge has a very simple design which means that it is very easy to manufacture the same whereas MC has a very complex design and is comparatively more expensive.
Though the design is complex, the MC cartridge weighs much lesser compared to the MM cartridge. This has very light coils made of thin wires, making it lighter than the MM cartridge.
The moving magnet Cartridge has a very high output delivery compared to the moving coil cartridge. This means that it is compatible with almost all the phono input on the stereo component. Some MC cartridge also has higher outputs and can work on standard phono input but it is still not higher than the MM cartridge.
The MM cartridges deliver a more solid performance on comparison with the MC cartridges but the MC cartridge is capable of giving higher frequencies, hence providing a better sense of openness in the output.
How to Choose a Phono Cartridge for Turntable?
There are a number of factors that we consider when we buy anything, especially an electronic gadget. Similarly, there are a number of things that you need to check while buying a proper phono cartridge.
The cartridge for a turntable is not something you can just go and buy. The cartridge that is bought must be a perfect match for the turntable you use. To make sure you have the best output, it is better to buy a high-end phono cartridge.
It is said that it is better to allocate a proper budget on this to get the best performance. The cost of a phono cartridge also depends on design and manufacturing.
To get the perfect phono cartridge, it is very important to check the shape of the needle. The common shapes are spherical, line and elliptical.
shape of the needle can have an effect on the performance of the cartridge.
The better the contact between the tip of the needle and the grooves, the better is the sound accuracy. This also determines how long the cartridge works properly.
The most popular is the spherical needle. It is always difficult to place the needle properly. This needs a lot of tools and practice. To make replacing and repairing easy, it is important to research on the needle shape and buy one that satisfies all the needs.
Elliptical or the spherical needles are the typical choice for a perfect audiophile.
The next thing is to get the proper type of cartridge that suits your turntable. The tonearm’s mount is usually of different categories and it is very important to make sure the cartridge is compatible with the turntable mount. Check this a number of times before you buy it.
These reviews are typed out by the customers who have already used the particular cartridge. These reviews usually have honest details and problems on the products. Reading this can give you a proper idea about the product and can help you decide on whether you can buy the product or not.
Moving magnet and moving coil cartridge
The MM and MC cartridges are a little different from each other. They have different properties and design. They differ in cost and also the weight. It is very important to know which of these two types to buy. It is important to know all the differences properly to make a perfect choice and to know what suits your turntable.
Best Moving Coil Cartridge in 2019
There are a number of moving coil cartridges available in the market. It is found on all the online shopping websites. It is very important to know the pros and cons of the products and know its specifications in detail.
Audio-Technica AT-OC9/III MicroCoil Special Line Contact Turntable Cartridge
The mount of this turntable cartridge is about half an inch. The output of this is about 0.4 mV and has a frequency response of 15-50,000 Hz. This also has a special line contact stylus. The best feature of this is the dual moving coil. It has perfect separation which leads to a wider response. It has very good rigidity.
It contains perfect components to make sure there is a significant increase in magnetic energy. It has an excellent stereo separation and is very long-lasting. The design is perfect and is very advanced. It has very good customer reviews and is hence brought by a lot of people.
- The bass of this MC phono cartridge is perfect and deep. This is the main reason for customers to love this.
- For the features it has, it is priced very reasonably. It is not very expensive.
- It is good even for the old recordings. The vinyl recordings sound really good in this cartridge.
- The sound coming out from this is very crisp and good to listen to.
- The problem here is that it does not work on all the turntables. It is important to check the details of the turntable and check if it works.
- Takes some time to start working at its best.
Denon DL 103 Moving Coil Cartridge
This has been a standard cartridge in the industry for a really long time. It has a very impressive design and it is also very cool. It delivers very good sound and is perfect. It works perfectly well in many different turntables. This is also a very well known brand.
The customer reviews on this product are also really good. The weight of the cartridge is only about 0.32 ounces. This is one of the best Hi-5 cartridges available in the market. They also provide you with a warranty.
- The design of the DL 103 is made perfect and is very cool.
- The sound coming out if this is of very high quality and it is very clear and perfect.
- This can work well with all the turntables. This makes it a very good option.
- It can play all kinds of old recordings without any problems. This makes it perfect to give life to old recordings.
- It is quite expensive.
- The stylus is a little fragile and can break easily. It has to be handled carefully.
Denon DL-110 High Output Moving Coil Cartridge
This is another very good Moving coil cartridge. This is perfect and gives an output of 1.6 mV. The frequency range of this cartridge is 10-45000 Hz. The cartridge weighs nearly 4.8g. it has a very interesting and technical design. This makes it look better.
It is red in colour. The turntables are usually black and so the red and black can make the entire system look very good. It is perfect for stereo systems and the cantilever is made of aluminium. Each raw material used is of very high quality. The needle is elliptical. As the name says, it delivers very high output.
- This is one of the most affordable cartridges available. It costs very less for the performance levels.
- The blood red colour makes it look much cooler and colourful.
- This is compatible with most turntables. It is hence one of the best choices you can make.
- It is very easy to install this particular cartridge. It needs lesser time and all you need to do is follow the instructions given.
- The stylus on this is made of diamond.
- There are chances that you may not like the red colour. It may not look great in the place you position it.
- The sound on this is not that good. There are many cartridges that can give better sound quality.
Best Moving Magnet Cartridges
There are also a lot of brands that manufacture the moving magnet cartridge and it is very important to get the best of them. It is very important to make sure it works on your turntable. Here is a list of few of those.
Ortofon 2m red moving magnet cartridge
The 2m here stands for MM (moving magnet). The frequency range of this cartridge is 20-22000 Hz. The weight of this cartridge is nearly 7.2g. This also has split pole pins with a copper wire. It is also said that it has a very high level of sonic accuracy.
The output voltage here is 5.5 mV. The stylus in this cartridge is very easily replaceable. The customer reviews of this product are very good and it has got a really good rating. The system looks vintage but the sound is amazing.
- The output level is very good and can be calibrated very fast. The screws are mounted into the cartridge, without the use of bolts.
- It is not very good at high volumes. There is a reduction in sound quality at this point.
- There is a very high coil inductance and this worsens the phono preamp’s hiss.
Ortofon- 2M Blue MM Phono Cartridge
As the name suggests, this is blue in colour. This is an upgraded version of the 2M red cartridge. It has a very good design and is made by the best designer. This makes it look cooler and trendy. The weight of the cartridge is nearly .32 ounces.
The frequency range here is 20-25000 Hz. The body is black and the stylus is blue. It is compatible with almost all the turntables. This is a very good choice and it works well on stereos. It has got excellent customer reviews.
- It is very easy to mount or install. It comes with a user manual which can be used for the easy installation.
- It easily tracks the inner grooves with very little IGD.
- It is a diamond from the tip to the end of the cantilever.
- The bass is not as solid as other cartridges.
- The background noise levels are not very quiet in this cartridge.
Audio- Technica AT 440 MLa Dual Moving Magnet Cartridge
The best part here is the coil design. It is Paratoroidal. The mount of this is about half an inch. This has a lifespan of 1000 hours. This has a diamond stylus. The cantilever is gold-plated beryllium. The weight of this is about 1.6 ounces. the frequency response is 20-20000 Hz. The output here is 4 mV.
This has also got very good customer review and rating. This has an excellent design and looks very cool.
- This product has a 60-day money back guarantee. In case the customer doesn’t like it, the money will be returned back to it.
- They provide you with a warranty for 1 year from the day you receive it.
- It has a dual moving magnet design which makes it more Hi-5
- This cartridge is really expensive.
- It fits only on very few turntables. It is important to check the details and the compatibility before buying it.
There are a lot of phono cartridges available. It is important to look into the details and research it properly.
The design, the weight
If you are able to list out your needs and the specs of your turntables, it is easy to choose the best phono cartridge for