In the world of high-end audio, choosing the right pickup system plays a crucial role in the sound experience of a turntable. Pickup systems are responsible for scanning the record and contribute significantly to the sound quality. Each pickup system has its own characteristics and can significantly influence the sound character of a turntable. In this article we delve deeper into the fascinating world of pickup systems and explore in detail what influence they can have on the sound.
Moving Magnet (MM) pickups: MM pickups are known for their high output voltage and clear, balanced sound reproduction. They offer powerful bass, precise mids and detailed highs. The sound of an MM cartridge is typically dynamic and lively, with a wide soundstage and good transient fidelity. MM cartridges are popular with HiFi enthusiasts because of their robustness, easy handling and good compatibility with most preamps.
Moving Coil (MC) pickup: MC pickups are characterized by their fine definition, richness of detail and excellent impulse fidelity. They offer precise and nuanced sound reproduction that is often perceived as particularly musical. MC pickups are known for their exceptional high-frequency detail, finely-tuned mids, and deep, controlled bass response. Due to their delicate construction, however, they require careful handling and a suitable preamplifier with specific impedance matching.
Moving Iron (MI) cartridges: MI cartridges are a combination of the characteristics of MM and MC cartridges. They offer a good balance between richness of detail, dynamics and a wide soundstage. MI pickups are characterized by natural sound reproduction and good musical representation. They are known for their warm, pleasant sound characteristics that harmonize well with a wide range of music genres.
High Output (HO) and Low Output (LO) Pickups: Pickups can also be classified as High Output (HO) or Low Output (LO) in terms of their output voltage. HO pickups deliver a higher output voltage that is compatible with most preamps, allowing for a wider range of amp choices. They offer good dynamics and wide compatibility with various audio devices. LO cartridges, on the other hand, have a lower output voltage and require a special preamp for optimal operation. They can offer finer resolution and lower noise, but require precise tuning of the amplifier chain.
Choosing the right pickup system is of crucial importance for the sound experience of a turntable. Every pickup system has its own sound character and can significantly influence the sound. The choice between MM, MC or MI comes down to personal preference, music preferences and the desired sound signature. It is advisable to listen and compare different pickup systems to find the system that best suits your individual listening habits.
Please note that the sound character of pickup systems also depends on the quality of the turntable, tonearm, stylus and other factors. Careful tuning and combination of these components can result in an optimized sound. It is best to consult a professional or dealer to help you select and fine-tune the pickup system and achieve the best possible sound experience.
By Sebastian Hofmann, hi-fi fanatic and sound perfectionist