Moving Magnet Cartridges
Moving Magnet (MM) cartridges are generally less expensive than moving coil (MC) models and will work with the standard "Turntable" or "Phono" input on your amplifier, although we always recommend using a separate phono stage between turntable and amplifier for the best sound quality. These moving magnet models also have the benefit that you can replace the stylus on the end when it wears out without needing to change the whole cartridge (we also sell a range of replacement styli). If you need help with turntable and cartridge matching, please call or e-mail us for advice.
Unlike Moving Coil (MC) cartridges, Moving Magnet (MM) models typically feature a replaceable stylus, allowing you to change a worn, damaged or broken stylus rather than needing to replace the entire cartridge. The stylus is the diamond tip of the cartridge rather than the entire shell, and is often known as the “needle”. This possibility makes Moving Magnet cartridges a much more cost-effective proposition, and while the lifespan of a Moving Coil cartridge can be substantial, a Magnet-based cartridge is much more suitable for the occasional listener or entry-level vinyl enthusiast.
While Moving Coil cartridges are regarded as the optimum and best quality phono cartridges available, Moving Magnet cartridges can be competitive, and even more suitable at lower price points. Some higher end models are particularly capable, and can truly unlock the potential and get the best out of your vinyl collection. One advantage of Moving Magnet cartridges is that the output they deliver is typically quite high, particularly when compared to Moving Coil models. This makes them suitable for use with a much wider range of components, phono stages and amplifiers, while a Moving Coil design may require much more careful pairing.
A key aspect of turntable performance and longevity is maintenance. As well as looking after your records, it is important to take care of the stylus of a Moving Magnet (MM) cartridge, as this can greatly improve sound, performance and the lifespan of your cartridge. An accessory such as a stylus brush is ideal for removing any dust or particles from the record, and ensuring a clean connection between the stylus and record – offering a perfect track and also preventing any damage to your record and/or stylus.
The type of stylus used on Moving Magnet cartridges varies from cartridge to cartridge, but can have a profound effect on the sound and tone achieved. The two main types of stylus are nude diamond and tipped diamond. The majority of cartridges, particularly budget and lower end models, use a tipped diamond, which is a stylus tip made of diamond mounted on a metal shank. A nude diamond stylus, where the stylus is a whole diamond, is a preferable design, as tipped diamonds tend to increase tip mass and can negatively effect the cartridge’s reproduction.
There are then various sub-types of stylus shape, which have different characteristics and can be found on different cartridges. Spherical styli are the most simple and cost-effective design and also the most common. A spherical stylus is considered the most robust design, and is also the most economical to maintain due to the cost-effective nature of replacement styli. The other main type of stylus is the elliptical stylus, which bears much more resemblance in shape to the cutting stylus used in the manufacturing process to insert the grooves into the master record. Elliptical styli are able to follow the groove’s oscillations more accurately than spherical styli, meaning that both distortion and phase error will be lessened. Most high-end Moving Magnet cartridges use a naked elliptical stylus, and this is considered the optimum stylus type for audio.