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With the huge resurgence in vinyl record sales and a cultural move back towards more tangible forms of music ownership, more and more music lovers are buying turntables for the first time, or digging out dusty old players from the attic and reviving them. Unfortunately, unless you're spending many hundreds of pounds, one of the most over-looked aspects of a pre-packaged turntable system (from any era) is the quality of the included cartridge. Even when a good cartridge is installed, the turntable is often capable of delivering a higher standard of sound, so a simple cartridge or stylus change can still benefit the system no-end.
Ortofon are one of the world's leading manufacturers of phono pick-up cartridges, and have been pioneering in their development since the middle of the 20th century. They offer a wide range of solutions, suitable for almost any home hi-fi system, so are a must-visit brand when considering how to improve your vinyl record listening experience.
Ortofon OM5E Cartridge
Ortofon Quintet Red Cartridge
Ortofon MC Anna Cartridge
It's a well-recognised rule-of-thumb among industry experts that a sound system is only as strong as its weakest component. So if you have a marvellous turntable, a magnificent amplifier and jaw-dropping loudspeakers, but a poor-quality cartridge; the sound can only be as good as the cartridge. Now you don't have to own a super-high-end audio system to see the benefit of this, because when we're talking about cartridges there is another key factor to take into account:
The phono cartridge makes the first and only contact with the record.
Pick-up cartridges are meticulously engineered in order to read the intricate grooves of a vinyl record and extract the detail. By definition, only well-made cartridges can do this to a satisfactory level, and Ortofon cartridges are among the best in the world. So as good as your turntable and existing hi-fi system may be, it can only work with the original information it is given from a cartridge - it cannot improve what was never provided.
Ortofon are one of the few remaining hi-fi manufacturers who focus 100% of their resources on phono pick-up cartridges. This focus has allowed them to focus R&D funds on vinyl playback like no other manufacturer in the world. Based in Denmark, all Ortofon cartridges are made by hand and with specialised, custom-engineered machinery to exacting standards. The result is a product you can trust, which also sounds amazing.
Upgrading to an Ortofon cartridge also guarantees three things:
You don't have to spend the earth to improve your listening experience. If restoring an old turntable, it may only be the stylus tip that you need to replace for as little as £42.50, depending on the cartridge you already own. But even the process of replacing a well-worn stylus with the same model in a new condition will re-introduce aspects of the sound performance that you had forgotten about.
Equally, replacing a whole Moving Coil cartridge like-for-like or taking a step-up will re-awaken all the intricacies your precious music collection has to offer.
Ortofon cartridges are sold in the UK through a specially-developed network of leading hi-fi retailers. As part of our commitment to support them, we at Henley Audio also employ experienced technical staff in-house that can help you with every aspect of your cartridge purchase.
Ortofon also implement a very strict Quality Policy, to ensure their product leaves the factory in perfect condition and gets to you in a timely and reliable fashion.
The condition of your cartridge is a crucial factor when considering the life of your precious vinyl records. It is only one factor, but when used alongside good vinyl care principles, a new cartridge stylus will apply minimal wear to your record grooves.
Other great vinyl care principles include:
- Keep your records clean, using a brush or cleaning system
- Maintain your stylus with a carbon fibre stylus brush
- Avoid playing scratched or damaged records
- Keep track of how many hours use your cartridge has had
Good maintenance of your equipment, vinyl records and existing cartridge will ensure you don't have to change your cartridge regularly. But generally speaking, most cartridges are designed to work optimally for around 1,000 hours. In perfect conditions the cartridge will last much longer, but this is a general indicator of when you should look to upgrade. Other key indicators include:
When the time is right to upgrade, there are two options available (depending on what you already own)...
Moving Magnet cartridges are not only typically cheaper to buy, but they also have the added convenience of removable stylus tips. So when looking to replace a Moving Magnet cartridge, depending on the model you own you may be able to save money by replacing or upgrading to a compatible alternative. Click the images below to be taken through to the relevant product listings for this type of upgrade.
Whether you're looking for a high-end Moving Coil design or a more sophisticated Moving Magnet offering, replacing the whole cartridge requires a little more work, but the end-benefits are entirely worth it. Also, if you have an Ortofon Moving Coil cartridge already, you may be eligible to take advantage of the Ortofon Cartridge Exchange Scheme, and save some money. Click the images below to be taken through to the relevant product listings for this type of upgrade.
Buying and installing a new cartridge doesn't have to be a daunting task. We offer a variety of resources online, have a skilled team in-house capable of dealing with any telephone query, and maintain a respected retailer network across the country for local assistance.
Click the relevant links below to find out more...