Are you new to the world of vinyl and wondering what an MM turntable is?
Look no further!
In this article, we’ll break down the basics of moving magnet (MM) turntables, including how they work, their benefits and drawbacks, and whether they’re the right choice for you.
Whether you’re a seasoned audiophile or just starting out, understanding the differences between MM and other types of turntables can help you make an informed decision when it comes to purchasing your own.
So sit back, relax, and let’s dive into the world of MM turntables.
What Is An MM Turntable
An MM turntable, also known as a moving magnet turntable, is a type of turntable that uses a tiny, powerful magnet attached to a diamond-tipped cantilever to regenerate the music signal from the record grooves. This type of cartridge is the most common and affordable option found in turntables.
The needle of an MM cartridge can be replaced in the event of breakage or wear, which is substantially less expensive than replacing the entire cartridge. Additionally, MM cartridges can produce consistent and robust output, making them compatible with a variety of phono stages and allowing them to be used in a wide range of stereos.
However, there are some drawbacks to using an MM cartridge. They tend to be heavier, which means that the needle can’t move very quickly over the record. As a result, they may not be as accurate with high frequencies and may not provide the same level of detail as other types of cartridges.
What Is A Moving Magnet Turntable?
A moving magnet turntable cartridge is a device that contains a small magnet inside the stylus. There are two sets of fixed coils hugging the magnet on both sides. As the stylus reads the grooves of the record, the magnet moves between the coils to create a small electrical current. This magnetic field is what gets plugged into the phono stage so we can eventually listen through our speakers.
The moving magnet design achieves the energy conversion by connecting the vibrating cantilever to a set of magnets that vibrate in close proximity to a pair of coiled wires. The tiny magnets positioned between the two coils vibrate and, in doing so, produce a small electrical current. This current is then sent through the tonearm wires, out of the turntable, and to the phono preamp for proper amplification and equalization.
One of the advantages of an MM turntable is that it is simpler to execute in production, making it more affordable and allowing for user-replaceable styli. Additionally, MM cartridges can produce consistent and robust output, making them compatible with a variety of phono stages and allowing them to be used in a wide range of stereos.
However, MM cartridges do have some drawbacks. They tend to be heavier, which means that the needle can’t move very quickly over the record. As a result, they may not be as accurate with high frequencies and may not provide the same level of detail as other types of cartridges.
How Does An MM Turntable Work?
An MM turntable works by using a metal cantilever with a tiny magnetic element on its end, which works with the magnets within your phono preamp to create an electrical signal that’s then converted into sound through your speakers or headphones. The needle of the cartridge rides on the grooves of the record and ‘reads’ the information, transmitting it to the cartridge, which turns it into a tiny electrical signal. This signal is then translated into sound when it hits your speakers.
The output of an MM cartridge is generally around 5mV and is known for its durability. The stylus of an MM cartridge is user-friendly in terms of replacing it once it wears out, making it a popular choice for radio broadcasting companies, archives, and live DJ performances.
Although MM cartridges have some limitations, such as being heavier and less accurate with high frequencies, they are still a great option for most vinyl enthusiasts. They are more budget-friendly and don’t require a high-end turntable or delicate electronics to work well. Overall, an MM turntable is a great choice for those looking to enjoy their vinyl collection without breaking the bank.
Benefits Of Using An MM Turntable
There are several benefits to using an MM turntable. Firstly, MM cartridges give you relatively high output levels and will work with most systems. This means that they are compatible with a wide range of phono inputs on stereo components, making them a practical choice for most households.
Secondly, MM cartridges feature a removable and replaceable stylus, which can be important in the event of breakage or normal wear. This means that you don’t have to invest in another cartridge if your stylus gets dull or damaged. Replacing the stylus is substantially less expensive than replacing the entire cartridge, making it a more affordable option.
Thirdly, fans of MM cartridges point out that they can make badly recorded records sound better. This is because of the natural compression behavior and the tendency they have to smooth out the rough edges of a recording. So, if you have a collection of old records that are not in great condition, an MM turntable may be able to improve their sound quality.
Finally, MM cartridges are more budget-friendly and don’t require a high-end turntable or delicate electronics to work well. This makes them a great option for those who are just starting their vinyl journey or for those who want a simple and practical option for their home stereo system.
Drawbacks Of Using An MM Turntable
While MM turntables have their benefits, there are some drawbacks to consider before making a purchase. One of the main drawbacks is that the needle on an MM cartridge can wear out quickly, especially if it is not replaced regularly. This can lead to a decrease in sound quality and potentially damage the record grooves over time.
Another disadvantage of using an MM turntable is that they tend to produce more noise and distortion than other types of cartridges. This is because the magnets used in MM cartridges are larger and heavier, which can cause more vibration and interference with the sound signal.
Additionally, because MM cartridges have a higher moving mass, they may require more amplification gain to achieve the same volume level as other types of cartridges. This can lead to increased distortion and a loss of detail in the music.
Finally, while MM cartridges are generally more affordable than other types of cartridges, they may not provide the same level of sound quality as higher-end options. If you are an audiophile looking for the best possible sound from your turntable, you may want to consider investing in a more expensive cartridge type.
Is An MM Turntable Right For You?
If you are new to the world of vinyl, an MM turntable may be the perfect choice for you. They are budget-friendly and do not require high-end turntables or delicate electronics to work well. MM cartridges are known for their durability and are popularly used in radio broadcasting companies, archives, and live DJ performances.
If you are looking for a turntable that is user-friendly in terms of replacing the stylus, then an MM turntable is a great option. Additionally, if you are looking for a consistent and robust output that can be used with a variety of phono stages and stereos, then an MM turntable is a great choice.
However, if you are looking for the ultimate high-fidelity sound experience and have a very good turntable and electronics, then MC cartridges may be the better choice. MC cartridges have the ability to reach audiophile heights and are considered the better choice by most vinyl enthusiasts.
How To Choose The Best MM Turntable For Your Needs.
When choosing an MM turntable, there are a few factors to consider to ensure that you get the best possible sound quality for your needs. Here are some things to keep in mind:
1. Compatibility: The first thing to check is whether the MM cartridge is compatible with your turntable. Most turntables are compatible with MM cartridges, but it’s always a good idea to double-check before making a purchase.
2. Stylus shape: The shape of the stylus can affect how accurately it tracks the record grooves, especially when it comes to high frequencies. Elliptical shaped styli are generally considered to be more accurate than conical styli.
3. Cantilever: The material and construction of the cantilever can also affect the sound quality. A stiff and light cantilever is ideal for effective transfer of vibrational energy from the stylus tip to the magnet.
4. Trackability: This spec describes how well the stylus can track a modulated record groove. A higher trackability spec generally means better performance.
5. Price: MM cartridges come in a wide range of prices, so it’s important to consider your budget when making a decision.
6. Brand reputation: It’s always a good idea to research the brand and read reviews from other users before making a purchase. Look for brands with a good reputation for producing high-quality cartridges.
By considering these factors, you can choose an MM turntable that will provide excellent sound quality and meet your specific needs and budget.