Everything you need to know

Find the
right tonearm

An essential component of the turntable

How important
is a tonearm?

Tonearms are essential components of a turntable as they directly influence sound reproduction quality. A well-designed tonearm significantly enhances overall turntable performance. The tonearm is the cartridge's primary partner, providing optimal groove tracking conditions.

The partner of the cartridge

What makes a good turntable tonearm?

A tonearm's task is to keep the cartridge perfectly aligned in the groove, providing the best possible working conditions. It must maintain the ideal position over the record, following the stylus's movement without resistance. Additionally, it must avoid adding unwanted vibrations to the cartridge. The tonearm must be steady yet flexible to keep the needle centered and ensure accurate tracking.

A quality turntable tonearm should possess attributes such as suitable mass, high rigidity, precise bearings, and effective anti-resonance measures. These features are crucial for accurate tracking and superior sound reproduction.

What are
the factors?

When choosing a tonearm for your turntable, two key factors must be taken into account: the connector type and the tonearm length. The connector type is crucial for establishing an optimal mechanical connection between the stylus, tonearm, and turntable.

  • Universal Connector

    The universal connector, or SME connector, is a versatile choice that allows for easy interchangeability between cartridges from different manufacturers. It provides greater flexibility in cartridge selection and is favored by those who prefer the option to experiment with various cartridge options.

  • Integrated Headshell

    This design integrates the headshell and tonearm into a single unit, which doesn’t require another connector; hence, no extra loss can accrue. Integrated headshell tonearms offer advantages such as improved rigidity and reduced resonance, contributing to enhanced audio performance and fidelity.

9-inch vs. 12-inch Tonearms

What is the best length for a tonearm?

Tonearms are available in different lengths, primarily 9 inches and 12 inches. Understanding the benefits of each length and matching it to your turntable's specifications is essential. A 9-inch tonearm is the standard length and is suitable for most turntables. It offers excellent tracking ability and is commonly found on a wide range of turntable models. If you have a smaller- or medium-sized turntable, a 9-inch tonearm is likely to be the ideal choice.

The 12-inch tonearm is commonly used with larger, high-end turntables. This longer length provides increased tracking accuracy and reduced distortion. If you have a larger turntable with a spacious plinth, a 12-inch tonearm may be the perfect option for you.

How does
a tonearm work?

A tonearm holds the cartridge and stylus, allowing them to move across the record surface while maintaining proper tracking force and alignment. The cartridge converts mechanical energy from the grooves into electrical signals. The tonearm must uphold a stable position above the record, ensuring effective tracing of the grooves by the cartridge. This involves maintaining consistent height and angle and applying the appropriate stylus weight. Most tonearms also allow adjustment of anti-skating force to counteract inward stylus pull.

What are the
different tonearms?

Tonearms come in various types, including pivoted tonearms such as uni pivot and gimbal tonearms, and linear/tangential tracking tonearms. Pivoted tonearms can be both S-shaped and J-shaped. Each offers different advantages and may be suitable for specific turntable setups.

What is the difference?

Curved vs. straight tonearms?

The choice depends on personal preference and system setup. Straight tonearms may offer better tracking performance, while curved tonearms can reduce tracking error.

Straight tonearms with pivots are primarily used by DJs for better tracking performance.

Achieve perfect sound

Tonearm setup series

Learn how to set up your tonearm with our step-by-step video series. Our experts guide you through alignment, tracking force, and resonance control to enhance your turntable's performance.

Explore the Ortofon Reference Tonearms

Since 1953, Ortofon has been designing tonearms with the philosophy of combining craftsmanship and technology. The Reference tonearms are the culmination of decades of experience and expertise in the field of audio engineering, combining exquisite design, precision manufacturing, and attention to detail. The result - beautifully designed tonearms that deliver outstanding performance.