Having a good turntable and a collection of vinyl records is important, but if you want to experience the true vinyl audio quality, you need to make sure all the components are made properly. Sometimes, people who bought turntables replace certain parts to get the distortion-free audio. Finding the best phono cartridge is challenging since there are many of them available and there are two main types of them.
This part is crucial since it performs the most important function – they convert vibration which is generated when a stylus goes through small grooves into a signal, which then is amplified and processed by a turntable, and then it outputs the signal to speakers and we can hear our favorite music.
Both assemblies are super small generators which have to perform the process of converting as accurate as it is possible. Such solutions produce minimal or none own sound or noise.
These solutions may be manufactured aiming 100% audio transparency – so they produce no additional sound or noise, but there are models which tune the output sound to get the required effect. It is important to clearly understand the moving coil vs moving magnet difference.
A record surface
A vinyl record has many tracks or grooves and to generate the signal, a stylus should stay firm on the surface. These tracks have an uneven surface so a stylus has to rapidly change its position without getting off the surface. The stylus has to be light and stiff so it can adapt quickly to transmit the vibrations. The whole assembly should have no resonance, at the same time it does not have to enhance any unnecessary noise generated by a turntable. Otherwise, it may cause tracking problems and degrade the output sound quality so you will get poor noise.
A moving coil cartridge
An MC cartridge includes two coils which move within the magnet field. These coils are very small and they are made of thin copper wire. This assembly generates a low-impedance signal and the output level is low. It is very light and it can output the wider frequency range and the reproduction is very detailed. This kind of models is small and they are more precise than moving magnets assemblies.
However, such solutions are more expensive, since they are more expensive to produce. The high precision level is preferable by audiophiles. Their output level is low and it requires an extra stage to output the required sound of volume.
A moving magnet cartridge
Moving coil cartridges include small magnets on the cantilever. It also holds a diamond tip, which traces record tracks. It transfers the vibration from the tip to the magnet assembly located on the other end. Two sets of coils of wire are located inside the body and magnets are located between them. It forms the generator that outputs the signal.
The magnets are heavy and they are located near the pivot point so the whole stylus can be moved easily and it allows quick responding to an uneven surface. Moreover, the tip is light and it does not wear or damage records. This kind of models outputs middle and high output levels and it is compatible with standard phono inputs.
What should you get?
Moving magnet cartridges are robust and they have a great voltage output, so it does not need a high-quality pre-amp, so they may be not very expensive. Moving coil models track better since they are lighter, but they can be quite expensive.