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The cartridge body should be strong and nonresonant. In its own miniature way, the body is like a speaker cabinet and any resonances it transmits will color the sound.
Whether plastic, metal, or wood, the housing must be strong enough to permit a good mechanical coupling with the headshell and not distort when cranked down. A solid connection between headshell and cartridge body is essential to prevent microrattling, which, albeit on a microsonic level, is still sufficient to veil and color the music. If the housing is flat on top, it can then be mounted absolutely flush with the headshell and so effectively become a single, solid unit with the tonearm. This helps to damp the vibrations of the cartridge body and maintains the mechanical grounding loop. As a visual aid in setup, a square housing also helps greatly.