The turntable cartridge is one of the most crucial parts of your turntable. It’s often underappreciated but with this simple upgrade you’ll be able to enjoy your records even more than you thought possible! Here are four reasons why upgrading your turntable is worth it.
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Why Change Your Turntable Cartridge?
Many people don’t realize that their record player’s cartridge plays a critical role in the sound quality of their records. Moving from a low-quality needle to a higher quality needle also has its benefits for those who have been listening to vinyl for any period of time, as well as provides a noticeable difference in sound quality.
1. Improve the overall sound quality:
The biggest benefit of upgrading the cartridge is that it will improve the overall sound quality of your records. Replacing a worn needle or a damaged stylus will typically increase the clarity and dynamic range of your records, which extends the lifespan of your records and makes them sound so much better than they did before.
2. Change the characteristics of the sound:
This is especially true if you’re switching from a spherical stylus to a conical stylus. This simple upgrade can change the overall sound of your records, allowing you to hear things that you never heard before. If your turntable has an adjustable needle pressure, this setting will also allow for further customization of the sound.
3. Improve tracking:
A worn stylus results in poor tracking. This leads to groove fluctuations, which cause the record’s signal to be distorted. Replacing a worn needle or a damaged stylus will often improve the tracking of your records, resulting in a clear and accurate sound.
4. Increase performance:
Replacing a worn stylus or a damaged needle will increase the performance of your turntable’s cartridge and lead to longer service life from it. The needle also acts as an anti-skating device that reduces static, which extends the lifespan of your record player remote control.
Benefits of Upgrading Your Turntable Cartridge:
Here are the 4 important benefits of upgrading your turntable cartridge.
1. Increase your performance:
The needle acts as an anti-skating device that reduces static which extends the lifespan of your record player’s remote control. The needle also acts as a stylus, which improves tracking and improves sound quality by removing groove fluctuations.
Prior to upgrading, you may hear record jitter which is caused by record wear or damaged styli, replacing this item will greatly reduce jitter and improve the sound of your records. A worn stylus results in poor tracking, this results in groove fluctuations which causes the records signal to be distorted by high frequencies associated with high distortion speakers or high quality headphones.
Replacing a worn needle or a damaged stylus will often improve the tracking of your records, resulting in a clear and accurate sound.
2. Lower record wear:
A used record has a low fidelity sound and many people would consider it unlistenable due to the damage done from years of playback. Worn out vinyl will have visible signs of wear such as significant groove wear, scratches, scuffs, warps and cracks in the vinyl. By changing the needle you can often increase the fidelity of your records by several factors resulting in greater enjoyment from your records.
3. Increase the lifespan of your turntable:
Replacing a worn needle or a damaged stylus will often improve the performance of your turntable’s cartridge and lead to longer service life from it. The needle also acts as an anti-skating device that reduces static, which extends the lifespan of your record player’s remote control.
4. Make your records last longer:
Most modern cartridge cartridges are built with a Kevlar type material for increased durability and longevity, some designs include Carbon fiber as well for even greater durability and longevity. What this means is that you will get longer listening sessions from your records by replacing the cartridge.
By doing a cartridge upgrade on your vinyl record player, you can enjoy your records with greater fidelity and lower play-wear.
Many people do not realize that the cartridge is such a critical part of your turntable, and although anyone can replace the needle, it may require some soldering skill to replace the stylus as well. By replacing these parts yourself, you’ll be able to replace them with industry standard parts and improve the overall sound quality of your record player.
If you’re not sure how to replace a turntable cartridge, feel free to ask a professional to assist you with it.
Please remember that if you buy a replacement cartridge from a local store that it will be designed for your specific record player and may be a proprietary design that may only work on your exact model. It’s often difficult to find replacement cartridges for vintage turntables.
Q: Is it worth upgrading my turntable cartridge?
A: In this article, we’ll look at some of the most popular, best sounding and most loved phono cartridges that are perfect to upgrade affordable and midrange turntables. If you are looking to make your turntable sound better, a cartridge upgrade is a very good place to start.
Q: Should I upgrade my turntable or AMP?
A: If your turntable is producing sub-standard sound quality then your amp and speakers might change the tone here and there but that quality will not improve. So, yes, the turntable is the first port of call when looking to upgrade.
Q: How can I improve the sound quality of my cartridge?
A: Upgrading your cartridge will deliver the fastest and most obvious upgrade in sound quality. Many upgrade guides start with isolation, record clamps, and other bolt-on upgrades, but in my experience, these amount to nothing if the first point of contact with your records isn’t what it should be. Get the input source right and you’re half way there.
Q: What makes a good quality turntable?
A: By this I mean your turntable is of a certain quality standard with a proper tone arm and counter weight, and the ability to upgrade your cartridge. It doesn’t have to be the most expensive turntable, but it should at least fall under the good quality budget turntables (and above) category.