What Does High Compliance Cartridge Mean

What Does High Compliance Cartridge Mean

A cartridge can have low compliance, moderate compliance,  or high compliance. Low compliance cartridge ranges from 5 to 10mN while high compliance cartridge ranges from 35mN and above. There is also, of course, moderate compliance which ranges from 10 to 20mN. This can also be put in a different way;

12 x 10-6 = Low

13 x 10-6 = moderate

25 x 10-6 = High 

Moreso, a tonearm with a 10-gram effective mass is considered a low mass, between 11 to 25grams is moderate, and those above 25 are high mass. 

Compliance in cartridges relates to the compactness of the stylus cantilever that acts as a spring. A high compliance stylus means the spring is soft while a low cow compliance stylus means the spring is hard. Compliance is a measure of the hardness of the groove wall to press on the stylus in order to get it to move.

What Does High Compliance Cartridge Mean

Basically, the best way to have these compliances is to use a high compliance stylus with a low mass arm and a low compliance stylus with a high mass arm. However, some users believe the medium mass arms are more efficient and work well with the styli.

It is essential to consider the movement of the springs, shocks, and axles. Typically, they are held fast at the unsprung end. The wheel is sprung absolutely here but the spring may be partially sprung. However, since the tip is connected to the rest of the device, it is necessary for the compliance to match the arm and mounting because of accelerations.

Recommended Read – Difference Between Moving Coil and Moving Magnet Cartridges

Performance of the High Compliance Cartridge

If the tonearm is made of granite with a heavyweight but balanced, when the groove presses the tip sideways, the tip moves but leaves the arm behind. This leads to the tip getting bent to the side and affecting the groove to move inwards towards the center of the record. The arm remains still which results in a mistrack of the tip making the groove hop into the next.

To get an awesome performance from turntables, the cartridge and tonearm should match. Back in the day, high compliance cartridges were not really appreciated, but it had to match with very low mass tonearms. A well-innovated tonearm would dissipate energy rather than send it back to the cartridge. Whenever a high compliance cartridge is matched with a high mass tonearm, it becomes a mismatch which brings forth ill effects.

Each time a high compliance cartridge is matched with a moderate mass tonearm, there may be distortions in the infrasonic range together with some unpleasant high-frequency damping. It is obvious that this is a poor combination and needs to be fixed.

Most present moving coil cartridges and mass tonearms are made to be a perfect match. The math is always done to get an accurate match to avoid poor combinations and distortions. This, actually, is what high compliance means in cartridges.

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