Mono/78 Cartridges

Mono/78 Cartridges

How to find our range of Mono and 78 Cartridges

Go to the top menu Mono & 78's and choose from the drop down menu.

78rpm Cartridges and Styli

All 78's are mono and all have a different groove size from 33/45rpm microgroove records. To get the best from 78's they need to be played using a correctly specified mono cartridge with a suitable stylus. 78rpm stylus tip and groove sizes varied over the long span of manufacture and can be anything from 0.002" to 0.004". Most 78rpm styli supplied with modern cartridges are in the range 0.025" to 0.0035" and will play the majority of records well. Larger tips are sometimes available for extra worn grooves and specialist applications. The majority of 78rpm records were manufactured from shellac which is very inflexible, easily broken and wears out quickly. At the very end of 78rpm production there was a move to the much more flexible vinyl material used in all subsequent commercial record production.

Something else to consider when playing 78rpm records is that the equalisation used in modern phono pre-amps is generally set to RIAA standards, which wasn't used for 78rpm recordings. In fact there were many different equalisations applied by different record manufacturers. To really hear the records as originally intended it will be necessary to use the correct equalisation. There are a number of computer programmes available for correcting the equalisation but then they don't offer the benefit of a complete analogue path from cartridge to transducer. There are however some 78rpm phono stages available which offer variable equalisation while still maintaining the analogue path.

16/33/45rpm Mono Cartridges and Styli

All vinyl records started out as mono recordings (the first commercial stereo record was released in 1957, around 9 years after the introduction of the first mono microgroove vinyls into the marketplace). Mono continued to be popular for many years and a lot of very well known popular songs were only ever available as mono pressings. Using a stereo cartridge to play mono recordings will degrade the sound due to the introduction of unwanted components such as phase errors, crosstalk and tracking errors. It is always best to use a mono cartridge for mono records and a stereo cartridge for stereo records.

Earlier mono styli made through the 1950's were significantly larger than their stereo counterpart and could potentially cause a lot of irreparable damage if used to play the narrower grooves of a stereo record. These early mono styli were generally 25µm (0.001") with a conical shape but this was reduced over time to 18µm (0.0007"), mainly due to the gradual introduction of stereo records with smaller 18µm (0.0007") grooves. By the late 1960's to early 1970’s record plants had completed the changeover to stereo and wide groove mono recordings were no longer being manufactured. 

A true mono cartridge's stylus will only move in the horizontal plane whereas a stereo stylus has to move in both horizontal and vertical planes to extract the necessary information to give stereo sound. This lack of vertical movement in mono cartridges can potentially badly damage a stereo record and so some manufacturers offer mono cartridges which have movement in both vertical and horizontal planes to avoid the inevitable damage. When coupled with a 18µm (0.0007") stylus they are safe to use on stereo records and dedicated mono only records.

Mono and stereo cartridges have different internal wiring. The internal wiring of a mono cartridge is unified having only one channel whereas a stereo cartridge necessarily has two separate wired channels.

All these variables significantly alter the way the sound is reproduced. For more information and a discussion of stylus sizes please follow this link: 

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