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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.


 
 
 
 
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 Alignment

Cartridges need to be aligned extremely accurately in order to achieve the performance intended by the manufacturer. A conventional pivoted tonearm prescribes an arc as it traverses the record surface. There are only two points at which the cartridge stylus is actually tangential to the groove, these are called the Null Points. At all other points there will be some tracking error and all the information cannot be retrieved from the groove. Linear tracking tonearms address this problem by traveling in a straight line across the record in the same way that the cutting head did when the recording was made and eliminate tracking error altogether. In order to minimize the tracking error of a pivoted tonearm you need to make sure that all parameters are set very accurately. These include the spindle to pivot distance, cartridge overhang, offset angle, vertical tracking angle (also known as stylus rake angle) and azimuth. These terms may be foreign to the newbie but they are actually simple concepts and are very well described in the link below. Once you understand what it is you are trying to achieve the process of cartridge adjustment is very simple. To make life a lot simpler we offer alignment protractors from Dr. Feickert Analogue which allow you to set these parameters quickly and easily. When you purchase a cartridge from us we will will do the installation for free when you bring your turntable and tonearm to us. If you would like us to come to you there will be an additional charge for this service.
 
 
 
 
 
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
 
Puremusicgroup 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.
 


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