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Drop the needle and keep the tunes spinning with these Turntable Cartridges
Just because your record collection dates back to the 1970’s doesn’t mean your record player’s cartridge should as well! Whether you are a serious audiophile, a DJ, or even just a casual appreciator of vinyl, you’ll always want to get the most out of your favourite turntable. Keep your sound authentic and pristine with a selection of new Turntable Cartridges.
What is a turntable cartridge?
A turntable cartridge (also referred to as a “magnetic cartridge” or “phonograph cartridge”) is an electromagnetic device that converts energy as required for records to play on a turntable. It holds a stylus, the tip of which is made of a material such as diamond or sapphire, which makes contact with the grooves of a record. The slang term for the stylus—or occasionally the entire cartridge—is the “needle”.
As the stylus tracks in a record’s grooves it vibrates, causing a shift in magnetic fields which in turn generates an electric current in sets of magnetic coils that make up the rest of the cartridge. This signal can them be amplified and converted to sound via a speaker.
When should I replace my turntable cartridge?
Unlike classic rock, turntable cartridges do not stand epic and unchanged in the face of time. The bands that grace your vinyl may remain titans of rock and roll, but your turntable cartridge needs to exit stage left once it starts to show its wear. Even a vintage turntable can still belt out amazing tunes just so long as its cartridge is replaced at regular intervals.
Most manufacturers recommend replacing the cartridge based on its age or number of hours used. Roughly 1000 hours seems or every 2-3 years to be the benchmark for the average lifespan of a turntable cartridge. Even when not in use, rubber components in many turntable cartridges can harden and therefore become unusable. Of course this is just a general estimate—if at any point you start to notice a decline in the quality of your turntable’s sound, its likely time for a new cartridge.
Replacing your turntable cartridge isn’t just important for sound quality, it’s essential to protect your vinyl collection as well. A worn or damaged stylus has the potential to cause irreparable damage to a record over time
Choosing the right type of cartridge/stylus
There are actually multiple styles of turntable cartridges. The shape and construction of a cartridge’s stylus will affect both sound quality and wear and tear, with cost generally increasing alongside performance.
Spherical (or conical) is the most common type of stylus, and also the most economical. It has a large radius which means it is less accurate at picking up more subtle groove modulations, and some contend that the larger are of contact contributes to a greater degree of wear. Nevertheless most casual listeners are still often satisfied with the quality a spherical stylus provides at a lower cost.
Elliptical styli are the fairly common as well, and feature dual radii which contact a larger area of the groove wall. This formation allows for improved frequency response, but they also tend to wear out faster for it. An elliptical stylus also takes a bit more know-how to ensure proper alignment.
The hyperelliptical stylus is, as the name suggests, closely related to the elliptical stylus. It features an even more advanced, precise design to improve performance and longevity and reduce wear. Naturally the premium design of the hyperelliptical stylus makes them a more pricy option.
Finally, the Micro-ridge stylus is the most modern and advanced of all. It benefits from the digital age with a computer-crafted tip for the best performance possible in all areas. Of course this level of precision comes with a price tag to match, but some audiophiles are willing to shell out for its unmatched quality.