Vinyl enthusiasts are always on the lookout for ways to improve their listening experience. One topic that often comes up in discussions is whether a phono cartridge should be angled or not.
Some argue that an angled cartridge can improve sound quality, while others believe it’s unnecessary. With so many opinions out there, it can be difficult to know what to believe.
In this article, we’ll explore the pros and cons of using an angled phono cartridge and help you decide if it’s right for you.
So sit back, relax, and let’s dive into the world of phono cartridges!
Should A Phono Cartridge Be Angeled
The angle of a phono cartridge refers to the way it sits in the headshell of a turntable. Traditionally, cartridges were mounted parallel to the record surface, but some audiophiles argue that angling the cartridge can improve sound quality.
Proponents of angled cartridges argue that it can improve tracking ability and reduce distortion. By angling the cartridge, the stylus can better follow the groove of the record, resulting in a more accurate reproduction of the music.
However, others argue that angling a cartridge can introduce new problems. For example, it can make it more difficult to align the cartridge properly, which can lead to tracking errors and other issues.
Ultimately, whether or not to angle your phono cartridge is a matter of personal preference. Some people swear by it, while others find it unnecessary or even detrimental to their listening experience.
If you’re considering angling your cartridge, it’s important to do your research and make sure you understand the potential benefits and drawbacks. You may also want to consult with an expert or experienced vinyl enthusiast to get their opinion.
What Is A Phono Cartridge And How Does It Work?
A phono cartridge is an electro-mechanical component that is mounted at the front of a tonearm on a turntable. It includes a cartridge body and a stylus assembly. The cartridge body houses wire coils that generate electrical signals, which are then transferred via the tonearm wires to the phono stage in the amplifier. The stylus assembly consists of a plastic molding with a cantilever and stylus, which vibrates as it traces the record grooves. The stylus is the needle-shaped tip of diamond at the front end of the cantilever.
When the stylus is lowered onto a vinyl record, it reads the modulations on the groove of the record. This information is then transmitted via an electrical current which is then amplified through your record player set up and out through your speakers as sound. The force exerted by the tonearm keeps the stylus in the groove when the record is spinning.
The performance potential of a record playing system is defined by the capabilities of the phono cartridge. Tonal balance, response range, clarity on musical peaks, stereo separation and imaging, and freedom from noise and distortion are all affected at the outset. The selection of this first component is critical to the full enjoyment of the rest of your system.
When you buy a turntable, it usually comes with a pre-installed cartridge. If you want to upgrade your sound quality, you can replace your cartridge with a higher quality one that comes with a better stylus. However, replacing a cartridge takes planning and a steady hand, but if you have the DIY spirit, there are handy tips and tricks available to help you select a new cartridge.
The Importance Of Alignment In Phono Cartridges
Alignment is a crucial aspect of phono cartridge setup, regardless of whether you choose to angle your cartridge or not. Proper alignment ensures that the stylus tracks the record groove accurately, with minimal distortion or mistracking. This is especially important considering that nearly all tonearms have some tracking error due to the angle at which the grooves are cut.
A meticulous setup will result in the least amount of distortion outside of the null points, which occur about halfway through the second and second to last track on your album. The tools used for alignment will determine how well you can align the cartridge, and it’s important to handle the fragile tonearm wires with care during installation.
One key aspect of alignment is determining the optimal tracking weight for your cartridge. Cartridge manufacturers typically specify a range of recommended values in grams, and it’s important to set it to the highest value within that range to avoid damage to the groove wall.
Most alignment gauges are simply templates onto which are printed or scribed the null point(s) and lines of tangency against which the cartridge should be aligned. Good record playing requires proper contact between the stylus and the walls of the record groove, and a well-aligned cartridge can help achieve this.
The Pros And Cons Of Angled Phono Cartridges
Angling a phono cartridge can have both advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, angling the cartridge can improve tracking ability and reduce distortion. By angling the cartridge, the stylus can better follow the groove of the record, resulting in a more accurate reproduction of the music. This can lead to a more enjoyable listening experience for audiophiles who are looking for the most precise sound possible.
On the other hand, angling a cartridge can introduce new problems. It can make it more difficult to align the cartridge properly, which can lead to tracking errors and other issues. This can cause distortion and other audio problems that may be difficult to correct.
Another potential disadvantage of angled cartridges is that they may not be compatible with all turntables. Some turntables may not be designed to accommodate angled cartridges, which can limit your options if you’re looking to upgrade your setup.
Ultimately, whether or not to angle your phono cartridge is a personal choice that depends on your preferences and listening habits. While some audiophiles swear by angled cartridges, others find them unnecessary or even detrimental to their listening experience. It’s important to weigh the pros and cons carefully before making a decision about whether or not to angle your cartridge.