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Which cartridge to get for good SQ (general listening, archival)
post Oct 25 2010, 19:02
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At work we have a turntable (Numark TTX, with the integrated USB ADC) which we use for slowly going through some of our back catalogue and digitising (the company's been around a LONG time, before the advent of the CD!) However the turntable we were using before has a distinctly sub-par cartridge, hence why we've not done much archival in the past few years.

The deck's been left to fester and we've finally decided to fix it up - give it a service and buy a new cartridge for it. However the boss has VERY little technical knowledge of turntables, and he defaults to the cheapest option wink.gif (as do all bosses? wink.gif) but I'm determined that we get a decent cartridge.

Sadly I'm a bit deficient myself in turntable knowledge, especially with the slightly higher end stuff. We're talking "prosumer" level here - Ortofon M2 Red etc. In fact, that's one of the cartridges I've been looking at recommending, but given some of our vinyl is old and quite worn I'm wondering if it'd be more advantageous to get a cart with an elliptical stylus.

We're looking to spend 40-70 on a cartridge and then if I can convince the boss (through A/B comparisons!) that buying a more expensive cart has its rewards hopefully I'll be able to upsell to a three figure cart in the long run. For the interim though, we need a decent, balanced cart which has good tracking and reading abilities on vinyl which isn't pristine. A slightly robust construction would also help given it won't always be me handling it with kid gloves... rolleyes.gif

I use Shure Whitelabels at home but the boss has already pooh-poohed even considering them (they're elliptical but have a good tracking response, if a little groove noise for noisy records - but my needs are quite different; I have a pair of 1210s so they're well suited for what I mostly play on them but they do sound great on my funk, soul and old 45s)...

Aside from the Ortofon M2 Red I'm open to suggestions - anybody got any?

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post Nov 2 2010, 11:01
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Maybe it's a radio station that doesn't play the old vinyl much any more, but wants to load some of it into the playout system?

Unless you're doing it for free, the major cost isn't the turntable or cartridge, it's the time of the person doing the transfers.

Many companies have a strange attitude to their employee's time - seeing it somehow as free, even though it's their most expensive outgoing - so they won't spend much money at all to save time. Strange. (but it means the most economic source of action is to buy the content on CD if available).

Anyway, cliveb is right, this isn't "archiving" - it's making a casual copy. Which may be fine for your intended purpose - you haven't said what this is!

When considering the overall sound quality (e.g. how forgiving the chosen cartridge is to worn records), it's probably worth checking the whole signal chain in the intended application - automatic declicker, optimod, lossy encoding, whatever. The most forgiving cartridge when auditioned on its own might just stop the rest of the chain from working very well.

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