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Ceramic Cartridges and RIAA Equalization, Plus: Sneak preview of Knowzy samples page
post Apr 26 2009, 20:32
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The upcoming page* showcasing the USB turntables samples I've been posting put a renewed focus on ceramic cartridges. This caused me to update the case against ceramic carts in the turntable guide.

I added a new section on RIAA equalization and would appreciate a review for technically accuracy. In particular, I would like you to pick apart this declaration:

QUOTE (USB Turntable Guide)
Ceramic cartridges don't require a pre-amplifier yet still approximate the RIAA curve. You might say that ceramic cartridges equalize the audio signal organically: They rely on their chemical composition to implement the RIAA curve.

Am I over simplifying? Are there capacitors or other components down the line that also affect the equalization of the signal or is it truly all in the cart itself?

As always, I appreciate your insights.


* Sneak preview. This is the only link on the Internet leading to that page.
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post May 2 2009, 03:38
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Thanks everyone helping me make sense of this. I think I have a paragraph that will work without having to get into too much detail.

The link goes back to this thread in case my readers want to learn more.

I also rewrote the next paragraph in the section based on what I've learned here.

Ceramic cartridges do not require a pre-amplifier because they respond to record grooves differently. Ceramic cartridges are less sensitive to higher frequencies and progressively reduce their amplitude. The result is a rather imperfect approximation of the RIAA curve.

The graph of the RIAA curve reveals perhaps the most serious flaw with how ceramic cartridges implement it: A bend in the mid-range. This bend starts roughly in the 5th octave and extends to C in the 7th octave (500hz to 2100hz). Ceramic cartridges can't account for this bend and your music suffers.

QUOTE (2Bdecided @ May 1 2009, 04:27) *
I'd put "Don't use a ceramic cartridge - they're crap in many ways."

It's hard to miss that sentiment in the USB turntable guide. It's everywhere. In particular, any turntable with a ceramic cartridge has a warning label that links to the "Avoid Ceramic Cartridges" section.

The section talks about poor frequency response and high VTF. What was missing was a discussion on how poorly ceramics perform RIAA equalization.

Thanks to everyone who participated in this thread, the guide offers one more reason to stay from these things.
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