A Phono Cartridge commonly called a Phonograph or Magnetic cartridge is typically a small electromechanical component attached at the front of the tonearm on the turntable in order to produce good and groovy sounds.
It is designed for the cantilever and stylus tip which vibrate as it traces the record grooves in the vinyl records. The stylus tip is a needle-shaped material situated at the front end of the cantilever. This phono cartridge usually converts the vibration into audio signals which are further amplified up the electronic chain to convert into sound by a loudspeaker.
Most of these phono cartridges are designed with a stylus that is end-user replaceable and universal headshell tonearms. The active performance potential of a vinyl record playing is outlined by the abilities of the phono cartridge. The tonal balance, clarity on musical peaks, response range, stereo separation and imaging, and freedom from noise and distortion are generally influenced at the beginning.
The phono cartridges that are fitted to common turntables from the 60s and 70s are basically the models that are capable of giving great sound quality by installing a good cartridge. Before purchasing a good and affordable phono cartridge, you should get yourself familiar with phono cartridges and different parts of the phonographs.
TYPES OF PHONO CARTRIDGES
There are thousands of different types and styles of phono cartridges, but all these different types must be in accordance with the three major types which are the Moving Magnet Cartridge, Moving Iron Cartridge, and the Moving Coil Cartridge.
The Moving Magnet Cartridges
They can also be called MMC and are designed to contain a small magnet that creates an electrical current between the coils each time the stylus moves. Basically, the MMC is very simple in design than the other types of phono cartridges.
The Moving Iron Cartridges
These types are designed with a small piece of iron that is lighter than the cartridge’s magnet and it reduces the overall force exerted by the stylus when it comes in contact with the disk. Also, the MICs are utilized to push up the overall accuracy of the sound production and quality.
The Moving Coil Cartridges
These types are different from the other two cartridges because they consist of electricity-conducting coils within the stylus’s arm through a magnetic force. The Moving Coil Cartridge is designed in a way that it is smaller and finer than the other cartridges and can achieve low voltage outputs, catching noises and vibrations.
Each of these phono cartridges has its own merits and demerits that vary from one to another. Therefore when making a choice, it is advisable to pick the quality ones which is conducive to the sound listening needs and the most affordable ones.
PARTS OF PHONO CARTRIDGES
The Cartridge Mount
Generally, a phono cartridge is typically designed to be mounted or placed on the turntable’s tonearm. The majority of these tonearms make use of universal or standard headshells while others use a P-mount.
The P Mount
The P Mount is the simplest and easiest choice because it performs well with the turntable and is easy to assess in a way that you just plug it in and start using. This cartridge is plugged into the tonearm and then secured to the tonearm by just a single screw.
Universal or standard Mount
The universal mount is the most common choice of vinyl records lovers and the most popular ones you will ever come across. Although it is a bit difficult to tinker or can be experimental in most cases to properly make sure it is well-aligned or set up.
It is designed in a way that two screws located at half of each part are threaded through the cartridge body and secured to the headshell. Also, four wires in which each of a different color are attached to the male plugs at the rear of the cartridge body, and the other end of the wires are then attached to the headshell plugs with a standard adapter.
The headshell is plugged into a record player’s tonearm at the front of the cartridge. Some of them have weights and are also removable in order to make the installation easier. Generally, they do not come with cartridges so they are bought differently.
The cartridge is a rectangular instrument that connects to the record’s player through the color-coated screws and wires. The record player’s stylus or needle is attached to this cartridge in order to perform well, bringing a good record groove. The turntable purchased might not also include the turntable cartridges, whereas they can be bought differently.
The stylus is a record player’s most important part that is used to tune a vinyl piece’s grooves to exact suitable music. It is a diamond tip part, sometimes called a needle and it should be replaced constantly because a stylus can wear down with many years of use which is not good for the cartridge and the turntable.
Basically, a record player’s stylus is a very important part of any phono cartridge especially the diamond tip stylus. The diamond stylus’s material contributes greatly to the stylus’s durability and impacts the record player playback. So, therefore, there are different types of stylus also called the needle which are:
TYPES OF STYLUS
This type is also commonly called a conical stylus. It is one of the most produced styli which is designed to produce a low-quality sound than other styluses. It is cheap and affordable thereby making it the most sort for and requested choice.
Though this spherical stylus may not conceal as much surface area as other styluses will but it is also durable and does not cause any damage to the record for a long period of time. This type of stylus is most commonly used on all ceramic and most magnetic styli. They are typically about 0.7mil in diameter for microgroove records such as normal LPS and 45s.
This type of stylus is triangular which enables it to follow the record’s grooves accurately. It can also produce a quality sound to the conical stylus and is useful for dissecting musical quality. It is quite able to cover a lot of surface area of the record that is why it is often called a bi radial stylus.
This type has a range of different shapes and has a high contact area vertically than elliptical and spherical styluses. Shibata-style styluses can be designed to be bi elliptical, quadrupedal, hyperbolic, or a fine stylus. This stylus is responsible for the issuance of precise sounds, causing less or moderated wear and tear on the vinyl disks while coming in contact with lots of surface area.
BEST PHONO CARTRIDGES UNDER 500
|Ortofon 2M Black Moving Magnet Cartridge||Buy Now|
|Audio-Technica AT-LP120BK-USB Direct-Drive Professional Turntable (USB & Analog), Black||Buy Now|
|Denon AVR-S540BT Receiver, 5.2 channel, 4K Ultra HD Audio and Video, Home Theater System, built-in Bluetooth and USB port, Compatible with HEOS Link for Wireless Music Streaming||Buy Now|
|Ortofon 2M Red Moving Magnet Cartridge||Buy Now|
|Shure M97xE High-Performance Magnetic Phono Cartridge||Buy Now|
Here are the lists of affordable Best Phono Cartridges under 500
ORTOFON 2M BLUE MM
- Cartridge Type: Moving Magnet
- Cartridge Price: US $239
- Cartridge weight: 7.2 grams
- Nominal Tracking weight: 1.8 grams
- Tracking weight: 1.6 – 2.2 grams
- Stylus Type: Nude elliptical diamond
- Output Voltage: 5.5mV at 1000kHz
- Frequency Response: 20kHz to 20,000kHz
Ortofon 2M Blue is designed by a famous designer called Moller Jensen who is popular in the music world. The cartridge is beautifully designed in a way that it inhabits the same angular body with a removable, replaceable stylus that makes the turntable setup looks good.
Its outputs which are higher than an average 5.5mV and downforce a typical 1.8 grams make the 2M Blue a much quality and good choice universal cartridge that is compatible with most turntables and phono stages.
The cartridge is stable in tracking the groove with more resolution and dynamics to an open vinyl sound. It delves completely into the record groove and quickly picks all the signals that come its way for a well-detailed sound. With all these qualities and abilities, the 2M cartridge costs only $239 which makes it an affordable and reasonable choice to buy.
It is an excellent and capable cartridge that delivers a real sense of the essence of music recording and also brings a good sense of timing to proceedings.
AUDIO TECHNICA AT440MLB
- Cartridge type: Moving magnet
- Stylus type: micro linear stylus
- Frequency response range: 20kHz to 25000 kHz
- Cantilever material: an aluminum tube
- Weight: 6.5 grams
- Per toroidal coil
- 2 pieces of mounting screws and washers.
- Vertical tracking force range: 1.0 gram to 1.8 grams
- Channel balance: 1dB at 1000kHz
- Channel separation: 28dB at 1000kHz
Audio Technica AT440MLB is a moving magnet cartridge that is one of Audio Tecnica’s first VM series MMC. It is typically cheap and affordable to buy, with a response to the well-detailed sound demand of audiophiles that is it usually penetrates into the inner groove of every sound.
This dual magnetic cartridge is able to track the two channels of the vinyl record grooves thereby producing a fuller range of frequency responses. Also, the toroidal material choice of the inbuilt static coil is very sensitive thereby generating more signal power to produce quality sounds.
Audio technica is designed with qualities such as VM type dual magnet system, adopted PCOCC for the coil, a micro linear stylus mounted VM cartridge, and so much more. It is easy to set up and install, you just have to plug and play it and it will surely produce a quality sound.
Audio technica has a great low frequency and incredible sound articulation soundstage accurately tracking the inner groove of the record. The stylus is solid on the low end and sensitive on the mids and highs, it also tracks better than the 2M Red because its treble is well refined and the vocals and bass are a little lighter in balance but tight and quite extended
DENON DL-103R MCC
- Cartridge Type: Moving Coil
- Stylus type: 6 n copper coil
- Tracking force: 25mN
- Output voltage: 0.25mV
- Stylus: 0.2mm square solid diamond
- Frequency response: 20kHz to 45,000kHz
- Load impedance: 100 Ohms at 1000kHz
- Electrical impedance: 140 Ohms
- Channel balance: 1dB at 1000kHz
- Weight: 8.5 grams
Denon DL-103 Moving Coil cartridge are affordable higher end phono cartridges that cost over $400. It is a uniquely and beautifully designed cartridge that its coils are wound properly to allow proper gliding of the record.
It is a classic MC for pure vinyl record lovers that has been updated to 6N coil replacement in the cantilever shaft. It gives a soothing and quality sound with excellent details of bass and low-end frequencies. These Moving Coil cartridges are also compatible and can be used for any older and newer vinyl records and turntable to produce a great sound.
SHURE M97XE MMC
- Cartridge type: Moving magnet
- Stylus type: polished elliptical diamond
- Stylus mileage: 1000hrs
- Channel separation: 25dB at 1000kHz
- Channel balance: 2dB
- DC resistance: 1550 Ohms
- Stereo output: 4.0mv
- Frequency response range: 20kHz to 20, 000kHz
- Weight: 6.6 grams
Shure M97XE are MM cartridges which are one of the affordable cartridges that are under $500. It is a high-performing phonograph that is designed perfectly to reduce the difficulty of signal passage from the record groove.
Its elliptical diamond stylus is finely polished for good tracking accuracy to complement the viscously damped stabilizer that keeps the distance between the record and the cartridge.
It is also sturdily built with an overall body design that is ground solid with the side guard system integrated into the unit. Shure M97XE is typically durable and can withstand stylus damages for some time before replacing it.