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The Principle of Cartridge and Needle

The Principle of Cartridge and Needle

What is a cartridge and a stylus?

Vinyl records are different from CDs and MP3s. They use a completely analog signal recording method to directly engrave the "wave patterns" of sound waves on the large black film, and then use the needle to vibrate between these wave pattern tracks. The sound on the record is restored, and the thing that reads the sound wave pattern of the vinyl record is called a "cartridge", and its function is like today's optical disc reading laser head. There is a small needle in the cartridge, which is what we call a "stylus", an object that is used to drag across the record track and read the sound wave pattern.

The stylus of the vinyl record player, the whole playback principle is to use the stylus to read (friction) the unevenness on both sides of the sound groove (not the bottom, there is no music signal at the bottom, but there is a lot of dust)

Common cartridges on the market are divided into three categories:

  1. Moving magnet MM cartridge: the most common output of 1.4mv-4.5mv, the most commonly used cartridge type in record players; Almost all record players adopt MM cartridge & stylus at present; 
  2. Dynamic MC air core stereo cartridge: output 0.15mv-0.4mv, need to add pre-amplifier or booster;
  3. Piezoelectric ceramic cartridge: simple process, low price, large needle pressure, more low-end machines are used.

What is the difference between MM and MC?

The cartridge is a transducer that converts the mechanical movement of the stylus into an electrical signal. MM (moving magnet) and MC (moving coil) have their own advantages and disadvantages due to their different working principles and structures. But according to the most mainstream view, MC cartridges are better than MM cartridges.

Among the high-end MC cartridges, it has strong analytical power, good high-frequency response, and can pick up more sound details, but the price is relatively expensive.

The MM cartridge has strong tracking ability and high output frequency. Compared with MC, it is cheaper and can be mass-produced. In addition, the sensitivity of picking up sound is not as high as that of MC cartridge, so it does not need too fine and complicated debugging, so many records The original cartridges of the machine are all MM cartridges.

The stylus also has a lifespan

The stylus is in direct contact with the record, so it is also a consumable. Generally, the manufacturer of the stylus will give a standard for the specific life. For example, the life of the stylus of a Retrolife record player is generally between 400-3000 hours. The specific service life depends on the user. Habit and care. When the life of the stylus is almost reached, the sound quality deteriorates, large distortion occurs, or the stylus is damaged due to improper use, then the stylus needs to be replaced.

However, it should be noted that the stylus can be replaced by MM, but the stylus cannot be replaced by MC. That is to say, if the life of the stylus is over or it is accidentally damaged, MM can directly buy a replacement stylus, but MC will send it back to the original factory for repair (of course, the maintenance cost is very high, and if it is broken, the entire cartridge can be replaced directly. ).

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