Mono & 78's

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.

Another thing to consider when playing 78rpm records is that the equalisation used in all modern phono pre-amps is 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 speaker. There are 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 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 used 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 around 25µm (0.001") with a conical shape but this was reduced over time to 18µm (0.0007"), mainly due to the increasing use of stereo cutting lathes to make mono pressings. By the mid/late 1960's record plants had completed the changeover and wide groove mono recordings were no longer being manufactured. Because of these differences, later mono records - like their stereo counterpart - can be damaged if an earlier type mono stylus is used.

Later recordings will also often benefit from using more modern stylus profiles, such as elliptical or line contact fitted to a mono cartridge. These styli tend to sit in a different part of the groove from their conical forebears, so that even if a record has had a hard time in the past it can still sound good today.

Other important variations between mono and stereo cartridges are the method of stylus mounting and differences with the cartridge's internal wiring. A true mono 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 a stereo sound. The internal wiring of a mono cartridge is unified  whereas a stereo cartridge necessarily has two separate wired channels.

All these variables significantly alter the way the sound is reproduced. If top quality and minimal damage is the aim, then the type of mono recording you have needs to be carefully assessed before choosing the right cartridge/stylus to suit your needs. If you only choose one stylus size then it is probably best to go for 18µm (0.0007"), unless all your recordings are early ones.

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