A phono cartridge is a small electro-mechanical component mounted at the front of a tonearm on a turntable. It holds the cantilever (a tubular arm) and stylus tip (or needle) which vibrates as it traces the record grooves. The stylus tip is the needle shaped material at the front end of the cantilever. The cartridge converts the vibrations into audio signals which are then amplified further up the electronic chain. (Note: Typically, a new cartridge when purchased comes with the stylus included. Many cartridges are designed with a stylus that is end-user replaceable.)
The performance potential of a record playing system is defined by the capabilities of the phono cartridge. Tonal balance, response range, clarity on musical peaks, stereo separation and imaging, and freedom from noise and distortion are all affected at the outset. The selection of this first component is critical to the full enjoyment of the rest of your system.
A cartridge is designed to be mounted on a turntable's tonearm. Some tonearms use a universal headshell. Others use a P-mount. A lesser number use a proprietary mount. The latter means you are restricted to their design. A cartridge is designed to be mounted on a turntable's tonearm.
A universal cartridge is designed for use in either a half-inch or P-mount tonearm. A universal cartridge is simply a P-mount cartridge with a separate half-inch mount adaptor included.
If you would like us to assist in identifying your cartridge or stylus - you are welcome to email us a nice clear picture firstname.lastname@example.org (1 or 2 different angles might help)