Understanding vinyl cartridges

In the world of vinyl record players, cartridges
are the unsung heroes, often referred to as the "needles" or
"diamonds" of the setup. But what exactly are these crucial
components, and how do they work their magic in bringing music to life?

What’s a phono cartridge?

Vinyl cartridges are small devices that house the
stylus, which is the part that makes contact with the grooves of a vinyl
record. This stylus, often tipped with a diamond or other hard material, reads
the grooves as the record spins, translating the physical movements into
electrical signals. These signals are then amplified and converted back into
sound by your audio system, allowing you to enjoy your favourite tunes with
that warm, nostalgic vinyl sound.

For more information, you can read our “What makes a cartridge good?”

Why is a cartridge called a diamond?

Historically, diamonds have been the preferred material due to their exceptional hardness and durability. Diamonds are able to maintain their sharpness and shape over prolonged use, which is essential for accurately tracking the delicate grooves of vinyl records without causing excessive wear. Within the realm of diamonds used in phono cartridges, there can indeed be differences. These differences may include the quality of the diamond material itself, the shape of the diamond tip (e.g., conical, elliptical, Shibata), and the precision of the manufacturing process.

Higher-end cartridges often feature diamonds with more refined shapes, such as
elliptical or Shibata, which are designed to better trace the intricate details of the record grooves, resulting in improved fidelity and reduced distortion. The quality of the diamond and the precision of its assembly can impact overall performance, including tracking ability, frequency response and longevity.

Differences between DJ and Hifi cartridges

While all cartridges serve the same basic function, there
are notable differences between DJ and HiFi cartridges.

DJ cartridges are designed for durability and performance under rigorous
conditions. They typically feature a more robust construction to withstand the
demands of scratching, back-cueing, and other techniques employed by DJs.
Additionally, DJ cartridges often have higher tracking forces to maintain
stability during intense mixing sessions.

HiFi cartridges prioritize accuracy and fidelity. They are engineered to
extract the finest details from the record grooves, delivering a pristine audio
experience with minimal distortion. HiFi cartridges typically utilize lighter
tracking forces to prevent excessive wear on the vinyl and stylus, preserving
the integrity of your precious record collection. Choosing the right cartridge, adapted to your application and turntable is key.

Ready to elevate your vinyl listening experience?

Explore Ortofon's range of premium cartridges designed to meet the diverse needs of audiophiles and DJs. Visit Ortofon.com and unlock the full potential of your records with Ortofon cartridges today.