phono cartridge

(redirected from MC cartridge)

phono cartridge

The component in a phonograph turntable that holds the stylus, which is a needle attached to a cantilever arm. The vibrations of the stylus are transferred into electrical energy by a magnet inducing current into coils; one coil for the left side and one for the right. "Moving magnet" cartridges have the magnet attached to the end of the cantilever, while "moving coil" cartridges place two tiny coils on the end. In either case, the arm acts like a vibrating magnet.

Earlier phono cartridges were ceramic and used the piezoelectric effect to create the electrical signal. The cantilever end of the stylus arm actually contacted the ceramic base, which picked up the vibrations (see piezoelectric). See stylus.

MM Vs. MC Cartridges
Moving magnet (MM) cartridges employ a tiny magnet on the stylus armature that induces a current into two coils as the stylus moves in the groove. In a moving coil (MC) cartridge, the reverse occurs. The coils are attached to the moving armature and induce a current in the magnetic field. Hotly debated as to which method sounds better, high-end phono cartridges tend to use the moving coil (MC).

The Phono Cartridge
The cartridge is attached to the end of the tone arm on a phonograph turntable. A legacy system for sure, but there are thousands of people with huge vinyl record collections, and turntables and cartridges are still made.
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The one thing I will not get into is the audiophile silliness of seeing who can shout louder about "my MC cartridge is better than your Van Den Hul MM cartridge" and other assorted silly comparison statements.
Beneath these phono/line level jacks is a two-position pushbutton switch -- it's out if a MM cartridge is used and in if a MC cartridge is used.
I have owned some of the finest MC cartridges, an unbelievably fine head amp (a Sony HA-55 with its fantastic paralleled-matched-pair-FET front end, modified and dialed in by electonics whiz Mark McKenzie) and so on and so forth.