Are you having trouble with your turntable’s phono cartridge?
Do you suspect it might be defective or worn out?
If so, testing it with a multimeter can help you determine the problem and decide whether to repair or replace it.
But how do you use a multimeter to test a phono cartridge?
In this article, we’ll guide you through the steps of testing a phono cartridge with a multimeter, including setting up the multimeter, connecting the leads to the cartridge pins, and interpreting the readings.
Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced audiophile, this guide will help you troubleshoot your turntable and enjoy your vinyl collection to the fullest.
So let’s get started!
How To Test A Phono Cartridge With A Multimeter
Step 1: Remove the wires from the phono cartridge. This will ensure that your test is accurate and safe, as you won’t risk electric shock or damage to the cartridge.
Step 2: Set your multimeter to 10,000 ohms. This is the setting you’ll need to check the continuity of the phono cartridge and determine any issues.
Step 3: Connect the multimeter leads to the blue (LG) and white (L) pins of the cartridge. The reading on the multimeter should be between 100 ohms and 10,000 ohms.
Step 4: Connect the multimeter leads to the green (RG) and red (R) pins of the cartridge. Again, the reading should be between 100 ohms and 10,000 ohms.
Step 5: Connect the multimeter leads to the red and white pins of the cartridge. The reading should show “open” or “infinity”.
Step 6: Connect the multimeter leads to the green and blue pins of the cartridge. The reading should also show “open” or “infinity”. If you get a different result in this step, it indicates a defect in the phono cartridge.
Step 7: Compare the readings from steps 3 and 4. They should be similar, indicating that there is no issue with continuity in the phono cartridge.
If you find that your phono cartridge is defective or worn out, there are a few common causes that you should be aware of. One of these is connecting the cartridge to an output that is not designed for it. For example, if you connect it to an input labeled CD, TAPE, VCR, AUX, or DVD, it won’t work effectively because these inputs don’t provide the necessary frequency equalization and amplification that a phono cartridge requires.
Another common cause of problems with phono cartridges is oxidation of the connectors and pins. To avoid this issue, make sure that your connectors and pins are clean at all times.
If you’re new to using a multimeter, make sure to read its manual carefully before use. Familiarize yourself with its parts and functions so that you can use it effectively and safely. Always follow warnings and precautions when using a test meter.
Introduction To Phono Cartridges
A phono cartridge is an electro-mechanical device that translates the information in record grooves into an electrical signal that can be amplified to produce music. There are many different types of cartridges, but for the purpose of this article, we will focus on the operation of a moving magnet or MM-type cartridge (many of the principles remain the same for moving coil cartridges).
The diamond stylus tip is the only part of the cartridge that makes direct contact with the record. As the stylus traces the movements of the grooves, it vibrates the cantilever. The cantilever is a rigid tube with a stylus mounted on one end and a magnet on the other. The rubber suspension allows the cantilever to pivot so that the stylus can accurately track the grooves.
Vibrations from the stylus tip travel along the cantilever to the magnet. As the magnet vibrates, its magnetic field varies. These variations in the magnetic field generate a small voltage in the coils, which corresponds to the movement of the magnet (thanks to Lenz’s Law). This signal is then passed through a phono preamp (for RIAA equalization) before reaching the amp/speakers, which convert the electrical signal into sound.
It’s important to note that to get a stereo signal (left and right channels), this configuration is essentially doubled. Two magnets are attached to the cantilever at a 90 degree angle each with a corresponding set of coils.
Understanding how a phono cartridge works is essential when testing it with a multimeter. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can determine if your phono cartridge is in good working condition or if it needs to be replaced or repaired.
A multimeter is a tool used to measure electrical properties such as voltage, current, and resistance. It consists of two probes and a display screen that shows the measurement readings. Multimeters are essential for testing phono cartridges as they can accurately measure the continuity of the cartridge.
When using a multimeter to test a phono cartridge, it’s important to set it on the correct setting. In this case, the multimeter should be set to 10,000 ohms to check the continuity of the cartridge. It’s also important to note that multimeters typically have high resistance in their circuitry to limit current and prevent damage.
To use a multimeter effectively, it’s important to understand its parts and functions. Most multimeters have various settings for measuring different electrical properties, such as voltage or resistance. Some even have an audible continuity setting for ease of use. It’s important to follow the instructions in the manual and be familiar with the different settings before use.
Setting Up The Multimeter
Before you begin testing your phono cartridge with a multimeter, you need to set up the multimeter correctly. Follow these steps to ensure that your multimeter is ready for use:
Step 1: Connect the multimeter to the power supply and the ground terminal of the cartridge. This will allow you to measure the voltage of the cartridge accurately.
Step 2: Set your multimeter to measure DC voltage. This is the setting you’ll need to measure the voltage of the phono cartridge.
Step 3: Touch one of the leads of the cartridge to one of the multimeter’s leads. The other lead should be connected to the ground.
Step 4: Read the voltage measurement on the multimeter display. If it’s within specs, congratulations! Your cartridge is in good working condition and should produce accurate sound.
By following these steps, you can ensure that your multimeter is set up correctly and ready for use. Remember to always follow safety precautions when handling electronic devices or circuits, and seek expert advice if necessary.
Connecting The Leads To The Cartridge Pins
Before testing the phono cartridge with a multimeter, it’s important to know how to properly connect the leads to the cartridge pins. This will ensure accurate readings and prevent any damage to the cartridge.
First, remove the wires from the phono cartridge to avoid any electric shock or damage. Then, set your multimeter to 10,000 ohms to check the continuity of the cartridge.
Next, connect the multimeter leads to the blue (LG) and white (L) pins of the cartridge. The reading on the multimeter should be between 100 ohms and 10,000 ohms. Repeat this step for the green (RG) and red (R) pins of the cartridge.
For the red and white pins of the cartridge, the multimeter reading should show “open” or “infinity”. Similarly, for the green and blue pins of the cartridge, the reading should also show “open” or “infinity”. If you get a different result in this step, it indicates a defect in the phono cartridge.
It’s important to note that when connecting the wires back to the cartridge after testing, make sure to connect them correctly. Different cartridge types and models might implement various schemes for wire connections between the cartridge and turntable’s tonearm. The wiring procedure is similar for phono cartridges of different construction and mounting methods. Improper connection of wires can wear down the cartridge and affect turntable operation as well.
By following these steps for connecting leads to the cartridge pins, you can ensure accurate readings when testing your phono cartridge with a multimeter.
Interpreting The Readings
Interpreting the readings from your multimeter when testing a phono cartridge is crucial to understanding the health of your cartridge. When performing the test, you should expect to see similar readings between steps 3 and 4, indicating that there is no issue with continuity in the phono cartridge.
If the readings in step 6 differ from steps 3 and 4, this indicates a defect in the phono cartridge. In this case, it is recommended to replace the cartridge or seek professional repair.
It’s important to note that if the pins on the cartridge are dirty or corroded, this may not give accurate readings. Make sure to clean the connectors and pins before performing the test to ensure accurate results.
If you’re experiencing low output from your phono cartridge, it’s possible that it’s not connected to the right output. The input labels CD, TAPE, VCR, AUX, and DVD won’t provide the necessary frequency equalization and amplification that a phono cartridge requires. In this case, you can add a phono preamp between the phono cartridge and hi-fi system output to solve the issue.
Common Phono Cartridge Problems And Solutions
Phono cartridges can encounter a variety of problems that can affect their performance. Here are some common issues and their solutions:
1. Low output: If your phono cartridge is producing a low output, it may be due to connecting it to an output that is not designed for it. Make sure to connect it to an input labeled “PHONO” for optimal performance. Alternatively, you can add a phono preamp between the cartridge and your hi-fi system output.
2. Defective cartridge: If your multimeter test reveals a defect in the phono cartridge, it may be time to replace it. This is especially true if the cartridge is old or has been sitting around unused for a long time.
3. Oxidation of connectors and pins: Over time, the connectors and pins on a phono cartridge can become oxidized, leading to poor performance. To avoid this issue, make sure to keep your connectors and pins clean at all times.
4. Damaged resilient damper: Some cartridges, such as Zenith Cobra cartridges, contain a resilient damper that can become dry over time, leading to distortion and other issues. If this is the case, the damper will need to be replaced.
By understanding these common problems and their solutions, you can keep your phono cartridge working at its best for years to come.