Moving magnet vs. moving coil

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“Magnet versus moving coil cartridges now we re asked a lot about that and i i ve covered this before. But i think it s worth going through again because time we talk give you new information on it you get a slightly different perspective from me since. This is just you know off the cuff rambling as if you and i were just sitting here. Talking so this question comes from robert in toronto.

Canada paul a while back i replaced my sure m97 xe moving magna cartridge with a denon dl 103 moving coil cartridge coupled with arreaga phone om cyprian. The difference was nothing short of stunning as well as better high frequency response. I hear greater detail retrieval and a huge improvement in stereo image and sound with the moving coil. I did a lot of reading online and understand the difference between moving magnet and moving coil cartridges is related to inductance and the resulting magnetic field causing a resonance frequency.

But would appreciate your take and how this improves sound quality. So much i suppose what you read is somehow accurate. When you re looking at the various inductance surely the inductance of one versus. The other is is quite different but quite different but i don t think that has anything to do with what you re hearing.

So let s talk about the actual differences between a moving magnet cartridge and a moving coil cartridge now on our turntable. We ve got this beautiful lyra. I don t know how much this thing cost. But it was a lot of money it s a moving coil.

And i particularly like moving coils rather than moving magnets. There are other kind of cartridges. Too like the decca cartridge. Which is a whole different kind of moving iron cartridge.


I think that s what they call it there s a strain gauge there s variable reluctance. But the two main kinds that we re going to talk about are the moving coil in the moving magnet. So let s start with the basic one the moving magnet cartridge. The cantilever the needle on here is basically this thin lightweight.

Very stiff shaft with a diamond tip or some kind of tip of hard material. Sapphire diamond whatever attached to it and when you place that down it spins around and it vibrates back and forth. According to the the grooves in the record. I mean when we look at a record.

There s a good one from dire straits. You know we see this this this cool pattern. And you can if i shine on the light just right you ll see how it s it reflects off there and you can see all the little wiggles on there well. These wiggles are of course containing the musical information and they move.

There s a spiral groove on here. And they move this cantilever this this needle back and forth attached to the end of the moving magnet cantilever. The the shaft of it is a magnet and around that surrounding that are coils of wire. And we know that when we move a magnet closer and farther away from a coil of wire.

The an electrical voltage is generated right it s how how a generator works so if i if i just take a coil of wire. And i take a magnet and i start going like this and passing it you know and for a closer farther away. Like that i can hook up a meter or an oscilloscope and i can actually see this motion. Because the magnetic field is inducing.


A and into this coil of wire. And that s the basis of this. And there s two coils of wire and depending on how it moves up and down and sideways. And all that we get a stereo channel.

Okay now this is a very traditional standard way of playing a record is with a moving magnet cartridge magnet sits atop the the shaft the needle and there are coils surrounding it a moving coil is kind of the opposite attached to the top of the shaft instead of a magnet. Our coils of wire. Very light coils of wire and surrounding those were formerly the coils set. We now have magnets and so instead of in a moving magnet cartridge.

Where the magnet is where the coils are fixed and the magnet is moving closer and farther away from the coils now the opposite is happening. The magnets are fixed. But the coils are moving closer and farther away from the fixed magnets electrically. They re identical.

We don t really care right. Whether magnets move closer to coils or coils move closer to magnets. It s at that point essentially semantics. But there is a different mass magnets are made out of iron ferrous material and they are heavy.

So. A moving magnet cartridge has a big hunk of something some kind of ferrous metal attached to its top and therefore. It has a lot of mass that s being swung around and so it doesn t delicately trace the grooves of the record. As well as something that had less mass and little tiny little coils of wire weigh a lot less have a lot less mass than a moving that than a hunk of iron.


That s sitting on top of this thing. That makes sense. So that s that s one of the reasons. And probably one of the main reasons while you re moving oil sounds.

So much better than your moving magnet. Now in engineering. Nothing comes for free just doesn t happen so. A moving coil cartridge is a lot less sensitive to that movement than a moving magnet and thus the amount of voltage that comes out of a moving coil cartridge is far lower than what comes out of a moving magnet cartridge.

Generally speaking. There s always you know there s high output moving coils and lying on that but generally speaking. There are about thirty times. Twenty to thirty times lower output levels than a moving magnet.

And so we need to have a moving coil step up device. Which is in the form of another transformer or like when we do it when we and ps audio. We have what s called a head amp. A 30 db.

Additional gain state. A gain stage with an additional 30 db. On there. But and then there s cartridge loading.


You know because of this inductance that that you were talking about and the way that these things are terminated a moving coil cartridge is terminated with a very small resistor because of what you had originally talked about where a moving magnet cartridge has a fairly high resistor. Usually like 47. Thousand ohms and a moving coil. 10.

10. Ohms 100 ohms. Very very different in that. But that isn t why they sound so different you you can you can take a move in coil.

And you can pop that resistance off of there you get an extended the high end. The top end gets a little bright and exaggerated way you certainly can t take a a moving magnet cartridge and lower it down to 10 ohms. But you can do the opposite with the moving coil. Anyway we re getting off kilter.

So that s why they sound different. That s how they work okay. I hope that was good talk to you tomorrow bye laughter. ” .


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