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Porgy and Bess
Your Desert Island Discs Lp Cleaning & DIY Cleaning Formula Elisabeth Lugt Soprano Active Loudspeaker System
Garrard 4 & 5 HF
Turntable & Cartridge Adjustment Marie-Claire Alain, Organist Phono Cartridge Optimizing
The Universal Stabilizing Ring SACD: Upsampling & Noiseshaping Decca London Ribbon HF Loudspeaker Gold for Bernard Haitink
URSR: Review in PFO 20
DIY: Turntable Weight/Clamp The Joy of Well Positioned Speakers Rabco SL-8E Tangential Tonearm
URSR: Review in HiFi World VINYL RECORDS for Sale Vintage Equipment VINYL LP RECORDS FOR SALE
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The Long Playing Record Guide HiFi Tunes: DAS KLASSIKERBUCH
URSR: Positive Feedback Award
The TD124 page The SP10 Page DIY:Tonearm Building
Joachim Bung: Swiss Precision Stefano Pasini: German Perfection The Bullet Plug
Mengelberg's St. Matthew Passion Plinth for Technics SP-10 mk2 Record Shops in Amsterdam Violinist/Violist Paul Godwin
Paris Jazz The Sound of The Turntable Mat Acoustic Revive R77 Generator The Remington Site
CLASSIQUE 777 Lp Record Covers The Treasure Trove How to Correct WARPED Records Mercury Recordings on Fontana
Klaas A. Posthuma - Remembered Ernst Lumpe: Allegro-Royale Pseudonyms Nostalgia: Violinists on 7" 45 rpm Contemporary Records - Lester Koenig-
Steinway-Lyngdorf Model D Infinity KAPPA 7 A Loudspeaker Systems DIY - Draaitafelconstructie - in Dutch Concert Hall - Musical Masterpiece Society
The Turntable Mat - Page in Russian Ajuste de un giradiscos NOTES: The Belt Drive Turntable CINERAMA and Trinaural microphone Placement
Phono Cartridge-Headshell-Plinth
Alfred Wu: Collector's Illustrated Vinyl Bible
Mercury Living Presence Records Cook Livingston Binaural Recording System

hobbyists's views for hobbyists
Cartridge, Headshell, Pivot and Arm Base


Mounting the Phono Cartridge and the Tonearm Base

Ever since the long playing record exists one standard question has been "How should the cartridge screws be tightened?" Another question was "How rigidly should the tonearm base be mounted on the armboard or on the plinth?" This was a burning question ever since SME introduced its newly developped arm in the nineteen sixties with the four rubber grommets to de-couple the baseplate of the arm. They will have their reasons for that.

When Denon (Nippon Columbia) introduced their Denon DPA-307 and DPA-309 tonearms, the makers of Denon provided a rubber isolation piece to de-couple the cartridges from the DL-103 Series from mechanical resonances originated by motor, plinth and arm.

Akin to this idea The Cartridge Man developped an isolation piece called the Isolator consisting of two thin metal sheets (stainless steel) with a sturdy foam in between, more or less the sort of foam akin to the foam in maquette board.

Yes, cartridge, arm and turntable should be considered as one entity. And in priciple the connections should be rigid enough.

There are a few mechanical connections that infuence the reproduction. This drawing shows a few possibilities:

1. armbase-plinth
2. ball bearing / pivot / knife bearing (arm tube-arm base)
3. headshell-arm
4. cartridge-headshell

In case you buy a readily assembled turntable like a Technics, Akai, Numark or a more sophisticated direct drive or belt drive, or whatever make you choose, you only have to review the connection of headshell and arm and the way the cartridge is mounted in the headshell.

And if you are a fan of 12-inches and play them on the platter of a popular direct drive, you can omit the critical mounting of the cartridge in the headshell alltogether if you buy a ready combination like the Ortofon Concorde, a Technics EPC-100, Technics 205C. And a collector of vintage gear may want to have a Fidelity Research cartridge mounted in the arm (if the mass of the arm is compatible, that is of the mass is high enough).

Whatever cartridge you choose, see to it that the combination of headshell and cartridge is firmly secured to the arm by turning the nut completely for a tight fit. This will minimize a possible "bending mode" which influences the frequency characteristic in a negative way. There should be no play between cartridge and headshell. A bending mode may occur at 250 Hz. and will be repeated at 500, 1000, 2000, etc. Hz. And is that you do not want.

If your turntable has a modern arm without detachable headshell you do not have to worry about that connection. Just mount the cartridge in a way that there will be no shifting possible.

Check the result of a tight and less tight connection. The best fit is the one that provides transparent and firm, detailed bass, a good transient, an extended audio band, and no distortion, coloration and stress.




lively, speed, slam, transient may lack harmonics
> <
controlled, natural sound, engaging
risk for colouration
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may increase distortion if not critically adjusted
> <
sound may show stress and hardness of fit is too tight
plucked bass strings will easily get boomy
> <
bass will become hard, looses airiness
empirical search for best sound can take time
> <
tight is tight and gives practically no variation
contact between base and plinth does have critical effect on tonearm
> <
tonearm and arm board become part of the construction

The possible influence of the bearing of the arm should not be a concern as the bearing should be well adjusted by the manufacturer who has the least friction in mind and the less play. Only in case of an ill treated second hand arm the bearing needs to be looked at and maybe needs some adjustment, but only than if the transient is smeared out..

Experiments have shown that if the cartridge has a tight fit, the combination cartridge-arm makes it possible that long waves (low frequencies) can develop in the arm and die out and are not obstructed at the beginning in the headshell. By fine-tuning the connection between arm base and plinth, the best sound reproduction can be found. So the SME-option from the 1960s was not bad at all.

But it is all up to you as not only individual tastes and ears differ, but mechanical aspects of turntables differ also greatly.


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Audio&Music Bulletin - Rudolf A. Bruil, Editor - Copyright 1998-2012 by Rudolf A. Bruil and co-authors