Advice on choosing the best cartridge for high end turntables

SELECTING CARTRIDGES

Resonance Frequency

When selecting a cartridge for your tonearm it is important to ensure that the two are compatible with each other. This involves calculating the Resonance Frequency of the combination. To do this you need to know the Compliance of the cartridge and Effective Mass of the tonearm. This can be likened to the suspension of a car where Compliance is the stiffness of the spring/shock absorber combination and the Effective Mass is the weight of the car. Large cars need stronger springs than small cars to support the weight. The shock absorber valving is then tuned by the manufacturer to control the movement of the spring over bumps to keep the tyre in intimate contact with the road. Cartridges also have a suspension that is tuned by the manufacturer to a particular stiffness or Compliance value. This allows the cartridge to ride the bumps in the groove and remain in contact with the groove at all times. When it is not doing this properly it is called miss-tracking and you will hear distortions in the sound. Once you know the Compliance value and the Effective Mass of the tonearm you can calculate the Resonance Frequency. Optimal tracking of most LP records occurs when the Resonance Frequency lies in the range of 8Hz to 12Hz. Below are some handy links to help you find the information you need to make an informed cartridge selection.

Resonance Frequency Calculator

Vinyl Engine Audiophile Calculators

 

Cartridge Break-In

When a cartridge is new the suspension is stiffer than when it has been used for a period of time. Most cartridges take between 50 and 100 hours of playing time to settle in and sound as the manufacturer intended. Due to this fact, and the wide range of variables involved in cartridge set-up and adjustment, comparative auditions of one cartridge versus another can be very misleading. In one circumstance a cartridge can sound unbelievably good and in another, the same cartridge can sound terrible. The cartridge may not be inherently good or bad but just one variable that is not right can put the whole sound out of tune.

 

Cartridge Upgrade Program

We can trade in your used cartridge when you upgrade to a new cartridge from our range. Call us for a changeover price.

 

Our Advice

Sonic Purity has over 30 cartridges available from our suppliers and we have heard many of them over extended periods of time. We have gained impressions about the sound characteristics of many of them and we certainly have our favorites. When selecting a cartridge we recommend that you read as many reviews as you can find on line or in magazines. Then give us a call and discuss your requirements. We will try to steer you in the right direction and provide you with a solution that is right for you.