The phono cartridge is an important component of any Hi-Fi system with a turntable as the musical source. It is a ‘transducer’ that converts energy in the form of mechanical vibrations into electrical signals. How well it does this crucial job has a significant effect on the sound from the system. A poor signal from the turntable cannot be compensated for by other system components, no matter how good they are, so the quality of the turntable/cartridge combination is critical.
Cartridges are not normally demonstrated in shops and are now often bought online, so the purchaser of a new cartridge must usually base their decision on reviews and recommendations. The aim of this website is to provide informative reviews of cartridges from my personal collection, in the hope of giving some useful guidance. I will add reviews as I use my cartridges (and also reserve the right to amend existing cartridge reviews).
It is important to understand that the appreciation of a cartridge’s character and performance is highly subjective and a matter of personal taste, in a similar way to the transducers at the other end of the chain, the speakers. How a cartridge sounds also depends on the rest of the system and care should be taken to match the cartridge with the other system components. The cartridge must be well-matched to the host turntable, notably to its tonearm. The cartridge must also work well with the rest of the system – a warm-sounding cartridge in a warm system may result in a dull, unexciting sound, while a bright-sounding cartridge in a bright system may result in a harsh, tiring sound. Finally, we don’t all have the same listening environment, ears and expectations. Therefore, my impressions of these cartridges will not necessarily correspond to yours, although they are usually in broad agreement with other reviews.
If you need help with any of the turntable and phono-cartridge terminology used in the reviews, please visit the Terminology & Concepts page.
I hope you find my site informative and useful.