Just like anything else, there are a wide variety of cartridges on the market. Some of these are simple, some are exotic. Some are muddy and dull, and there are others that put out floor thumping bass.20
Regardless of these attributes that they might possess, there are two main types of cartridges on the market, and they are the moving magnet and the moving coil cartridges.
Let us talk about these.
- Moving Magnet: This is also referred to as MM. Moving Magnet cartridges have a stylus cantilever that is connected to a fixed magnet that the moves back and forth inside a fixed coil, they tend to be warmer and lush sounding, and they usually give a higher, more robust output, but they are also prone to be distorted. Moving magnet cartridges are thought to be more beginner and user-friendly because of their ease of stylus placement. But you should not make this mistake, though, some of these needles are quite great. Especially the high-end ones.
- Moving Coil: Also known as MC. The Moving coil cartridges, to contrary belief, use a light coil of wire in conjunction with a relatively larger magnet in the cartridge body so that it can generate an electrical signal. They usually track better, and they give a more accurate reproduction of music and distort the signal less. But they are way less user-friendly with respect to their stylus placement and they are not recommended for use by beginners.
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With all that aside, the most preferred type of phono cartridges are usually the moving coil cartridges with a spherical stylus.
Moving coil cartridges gives a less colored sound and many claims that it helps them maintain sonic consistency whether on stage, in the club, or in the studio. The spherical style will give you peace of mind knowing that, short of any blunt force, the needles will almost invariably stay locked in the groove.