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How To Replace Turntable Cartridge

How To Replace Turntable Cartridge


The turntable cartridge is a critical component that significantly influences the sound quality of a vinyl record. Whether the magnet vibrates and the coil remains fixed, or the magnet is stationary and the coil vibrates, the interaction cuts magnetic lines to generate a current. This current, proportional to the music signal's vibration, is converted into voltage, input to the preamp, equalized, amplified, and finally projected as music from the speakers. Replacing the phono cartridge is a straightforward process that can be accomplished at home with a few simple steps

1. Removing the Old Phono Cartridge

  • Preparing for Removal:

Before beginning the removal process, ensure your turntable is turned off and unplugged to prevent any accidental damage. Position your turntable on a stable surface to avoid any movement while working. It’s crucial to handle the turntable and cartridge components delicately to avoid damaging sensitive parts.

  • Detaching the Phono Cartridge:

Start by placing your hand in the middle of the needle for stability. Use a small screwdriver to carefully force down and dislodge the old needle. Be mindful of the four phono arm wires connected to the cartridge. These wires are delicate and should be handled with care. Use a plastic sleeve to keep the wires in place while you gently remove the phono head by hand.

Detaching the Phono Cartridge

2. Installing the New Phono Cartridge

  • Connecting the Phono Arm Wires

Grab the front of the new needle and the middle of the head with your hands. Each phono arm wire is color-coded and corresponds to a specific terminal on the new cartridge. Carefully connect each wire to its matching terminal. Push the phono head in gently to avoid damaging the connections.

  • Securing the New Cartridge

Insert the hood screw into the slot on the hood and then through the slot on the phono housing. Use your fingers to hold the hood nut in place, and turn the screw until the threads snap into place. Ensure the cartridge is firmly secured but avoid over-tightening, which can damage the cartridge or the turntable.

  • Aligning and Testing the New Cartridge: Using a Protractor or Alignment Tool

Proper alignment of the cartridge is essential for optimal sound quality. Use a protractor or alignment tool to ensure that the cartridge is positioned correctly. Misalignment can lead to uneven wear on your records and suboptimal sound quality.

Aligning and Testing the New Cartridge: Using a Protractor or Alignment Tool

3. Checking Vertical Tracking Force

After aligning the cartridge, check the vertical tracking force using a stylus force gauge. This measurement ensures that the stylus exerts the correct pressure on the record, which is crucial for both sound quality and record preservation. Adjust the counterweight on the tonearm as needed to achieve the recommended tracking force for your specific cartridge.


Checking Vertical Tracking Force

Here is a reference video to help you understand how to replace the phono cartridge more clearly and intuitively.


Replacing a turntable cartridge involves a series of precise steps, but with careful attention, it is a manageable task that can significantly enhance your listening experience. By following these instructions—removing the old cartridge, installing the new one, and ensuring proper alignment and tracking force—you can maintain your turntable in peak condition. Regular maintenance and careful handling will ensure the longevity and performance of your phono cartridge, delivering superior sound quality for your vinyl collection.

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