Audio Talk from audio-technica (phono cartridges)

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As you look at the business end of a phono cartridge, you’ll see the stylus mounted on a small tubular or rod-shaped arm. This arm, called a cantilever, transmits the motion of the stylus — as it traces the groove — to the rest of the cartridge..

.... Audio Talk from audio-technica (phono cartridges)


Popular Aluminum: To accurately transmit stylus motion, the cantilever must be very stiff. And since it makes up most of the effective moving mass of a cartridge, it must also be very light. Finding the ideal cantilever material has engaged the interest of engineers for years. Easily the most popular material is aluminum. It is readily available, easily formed, stable, light, and potentially quite rigid.

Tapered is Better: An aluminum cantilever is normally made from a small tube, flattened at the end to accept the stylus. Audio-Technica has taken this concept a step further, creating tapered tube aluminum cantilevers whose strength and rigidity are improved. The design also permits thinner walls so that effective moving mass is reduced.


New Materials: In recent years, other metals have been tried, including beryllium and titanium. Non- metals like carbon fiber and boron have also been utilized. Most recently, even diamond and ruby cantilevers have been created for cost-no-object cartridges. In every case, the goal is to control resonances which can color overall response while also reducing effective moving mass.

Pluses and Minuses: Our experience with all these materials in production cartridges suggests there is no single material ideal for every application. For instance, the lightest, most rigid cantilevers are often quite fragile, demanding great care in use. Also, some “exotic” cantilevers offer increased stiffness at the expense of greater moving mass. Details of cartridge construction can also affect the ultimate value of some materials. Yet the performance benefits from careful design can be significant.


Make Your Choice: Within the Audio-Technica line, aluminum cantilevers predominate in both tapered and cylindrical configurations. Beryllium is used in our most sophisticated models. In sum, you should balance the needs for ruggedness and low cost with your desire for the ultimate in record reproduction when selecting your cartridge. And the tiny cantilever will play an important part in your selection.

Good listening,

Jon R. Kelly, President

Audio-Technica U.S., Inc.

1221 Commerce Dr., Stow, OH 44224


The World’s Favorite Phono Cartridge


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Updated: Thursday, 2020-02-20 8:08 PST