Ortofon FAQ: What is the optimum tracking weight setting for the Ortofon cartridge which I have purchased? This information can be found in the pamphlet included with your cartridge (or in the Products section of Ortofon.com). There are two specifications that you should pay attention to – Tracking Force Range and Tracking Force Recommended. Tracking Force Range refers to the scope of weight that can be applied to the cartridge while still maintaining proper playback. Tracking Force Recommended refers to the optimal weight which will result in the best combination of groove holding and sound. Deviating outside of the Tracking Force Range may result in undesired operation, and therefore should be avoided. How exactly do I set the tracking weight adjustment? On the rear of the tonearm is a counterweight which consists of two parts – the adjustment dial and the weight itself. First, remove the plastic stylus guard from the cartridge. Next, turn the weight in the appropriate direction so that the cartridge floats directly above the platter – it should not make contact with the platter, nor should it point up in the air. When you have achieved this point, immediately lock the tonearm in its rest, and then move only the adjustment dial (not the weight itself) to ‘0’. Finally, turn the entire assembly (both the dial and the weight itself) until you achieve the desired weight. Take care not to deviate outside of the Tracking Force Range as specified by the included documentation, as it may result in skipping, poor sound quality, or unnecessary wear on your vinyl. What is anti-skating, and how should it be set? Anti-skating is an adjustment designed to counteract the force generated as the stylus is drawn towards the spindle. For DJ use, anti-skating should be set to ‘0’, due to the necessity of backcueing. Setting anti-skating at ‘0’ allows the stylus to follow the groove adequately, regardless of what direction the record is moving. For playback and/or transcription use (as with the Ortofon Arkiv cartridge), the anti-skating value should approximately match the tracking weight applied to the cartridge. Note: Some DJs, despite doing backcueing and/or scratching, prefer to set the antiskating at ½ the value of the tracking weight. This is a personal preference, and should be experimented to your particular liking. What should the tonearm height be set at for my cartridge? Depending on the type of cartridge, the type of headshell, the turntable, and the mounting hardware used, there is no definitive answer. Adjust the height ring found at the base of the tonearm until the bottom of the plastic body, surrounding the cantilever of the stylus itself is parallel to the record during playback. This will ensure best sound quality and tracking. I have an OM series DJ cartridge. What is the best way to align and mount it to the headshell itself?
First of all, you may want to use the headshell weight included in the package, which should be sandwiched between the headshell and the top of the cartridge. This will provide more weight to the cartridge body, which can come in handy depending on your turntable and tonearm. Secondly, it is quite important to achieve the proper overhang by means of the gauge that should be supplied with your turntable (it is the white plastic piece included with all Technics 1200 turntables). With the cartridge mounted loosely in the headshell, attach the overhang gauge to the back of the headshell, with the protruding plastic shaft sitting below the cartridge. Align the diamond tip with the arrow found on the end of the plastic shaft – that will provide the appropriate overhang. Tighten the screws carefully, as not to upset the alignment just performed. Then follow the above directions for Tracking Weight, Anti-Skating, and Tonearm Height. I notice that all of Ortofon’s cartridges have similar shaped styli – are they interchangeable? Physically, each series of stylus will fit on alternate cartridge bodies. However, these combinations are not supported by Ortofon, as they have not been tested. Each cartridge series is designed with a synergistic combination in mind – that is, each stylus is made to compliment the magnet and coil configuration of each cartridge body. For instance, using a DigiTrack stylus with a Scratch body will not provide the full benefit of either product, and might even provide undesired results, including (but not limited to) differences in output, unbalanced sound reproduction, etc. Note: In the case of the NightClub (mk1) and DJ series cartridges, it is perfectly alright to use the respective S (spherical) or E (elliptical) version stylus. The cartridge bodies are designed to accommodate either of the respective series’ stylus types. Is there a difference between the OM and Concorde series of cartridge? The sole difference between OM and Concorde cartridges is the housing and contacts found on the cartridge. Whereas the OM range requires mounting onto an appropriate headshell, the Concorde range conveniently attaches directly to the tonearm. There is no difference in sound between the two ranges, within the respective series of cartridge (ie OM Elektro versus Concorde Elektro, etc). Can I use a Concorde cartridge on my straight-arm turntable? First of all, straight arm DJ turntables are designed strictly for sheer groove-holding capability, and not for fidelity. Harmonic distortion on a short, straight tonearm will increase by double, which can limit the effectiveness of any great sounding cartridge, regardless of manufacturer. Using a Concorde cartridge will work fine, granted that is a spherical stylus. It should be noted that an elliptical stylus will likely not sit properly within the groove, and may result in unbalanced sound reproduction on this type of tonearm. I’ve heard a lot of varying statements on the differences between spherical and elliptical styli. What are the real differences, and the reasoning behind them? As you may know, the physical difference between a spherical and elliptical stylus is the shape of the diamond. An elliptical diamond allows for more detailed sound quality, as it
fits better within the groove and therefore has more contact area with the groove itself. Elliptical diamonds penetrate the groove walls further, extracting more intricate detail, especially in the high end, than is possible with a spherical diamond. It is commonly misrepresented that elliptical styli cause more wear than spherical styli. In fact, spherical styli, since they have a smaller contact area, cause more immediate wear than elliptical styli, but in a smaller area of the groove itself. Elliptical styli, since they have more weight distribution amongst a larger contact area, will wear the groove slower, but will wear more of the groove over repeated backcueing. So to answer the question, an elliptical stylus will cause more wear, but for a different reason than is commonly assumed. I’m a scratch DJ (or conversely: I’m a mix DJ) – what stylus should I choose? Traditionally, scratch DJs prefer spherical styli, as they preserve more of the groove over repeated backcueing and scratching. In theory, there is little difference between the tracking capabilities of an elliptical stylus versus a spherical stylus. Mix DJs will benefit from either stylus type, and many choose elliptical based strictly on fidelity reasons. However, there is no absolute rule on choosing a stylus – many mix DJs still use sphericals, and some scratch DJs are actually using ellipticals (including Ortofon endorsee DJ Netik, DMC World Champion). One thing is for sure – if you choose to use an elliptical stylus, you should take care to not apply too much tracking weight, as it will prematurely cause unnecessary wear. I’m interested in transferring my vinyl collection to a digital medium – which needle will give me the best sound reproduction for this task? The Arkiv provides accurate sound reproduction, with remarkably pristine highs and stereo imaging, to provide optimal quality when transferring vinyl to PC, CD, or other digital storage media. With the overwhelming popularity of time coded vinyl solutions, PC-based music production/sampling, and personal digital music players, the Arkiv was created to conquer the task of extracting every last detail from vinyl records before they are finally transcribed into the digital domain. The Arkiv cartridge features an elliptical stylus. I am having problems with skipping – what steps should I take to correct this? First, verify that all of your adjustments are set optimally – this includes Tracking Weight, Tonearm Height, Anti-Skating, and Overhang (OM models only). Remember that each one of these factors directly influences the performance of the cartridge, both in sound and in tracking. Please see the suggestions above for information on each of these adjustments. Secondly, if your cartridge has just recently been purchased, it is necessary to allow a “break-in” period of up to 20 hours, in order to get the best performance. An easy way to do this is to set the needle on the lock-groove at the end of a record, and allow it to spin for a day. Can I use the DigiTrack for conventional vinyl? How does it sound? What is the theory behind the DigiTrack that makes it so different? The DigiTrack can be used for both timecoded and conventional vinyl, and maintains excellent sound quality for the playback of conventional vinyl. The DigiTrack has been
specially engineered to make the most of timecoded vinyl playback, providing optimal output voltage for use with timecoded vinyl applications. This optimized output voltage maximizes the signal-to-noise ratio of the audio being fed to the software, which results in better interpretation of the timecode signal. Furthermore, a decrease in the reproduction of frequencies where vinyl wear & crackle occur helps to minimize errors in the interpretation of the timecode signal and helps timecoded vinyl discs last longer. What is the absolute best sounding Ortofon cartridge for DJ purposes? Currently, the Nightclub II boasts the best specifications and best sound from any DJ cartridge product, making it an ideal choice for mix DJs in any environment – studio, broadcast, or club. The Nightclub II builds upon the success of the original Nightclub Cartridge, boasting numerous improvements. The Nightclub II’s improvements are twofold: First, the re-engineered stylus and cartridge body are tuned to make the most of modern dance music. Secondly, the increased output voltage requires less gain from the preamps found on a conventional DJ mixer, providing cleaner sound reproduction and less susceptibility to feedback in live environments. The Nightclub II is available only with an elliptical stylus. I have noticed that the cantilever on my Q.Bert stylus is very flexible. Is this normal? Yes, the Q.Bert stylus has a much higher compliance rating, which equates to having more flexibility when scratching or backcueing. In contrast to more rigid products, this adds extra tracking ability in demanding conditions. For some reason, the sound is clipping with my Q.Bert needle. Why is this? With some equipment with inadequate headroom, the output voltage of the Q.Bert is too much. This is a rare circumstance, but is known to happen occasionally. This is not a flaw on the part of Ortofon, but instead a problem with the equipment being used in conjunction with the cartridge. If your turntable has a built-in phono preamp (offers a line-level output), try disengaging it and using your DJ mixer for preamplificaton. Conversely, if you turntable has a built in phono-preamp, you can also try the opposite – engaging the built-in preamp and using the line input on your DJ mixer. Which cartridge is best for my style of music? Please see our cartridge descriptions, which give an explanation of each product in our DJ line. I am only getting one channel out of my cartridge – is there a way to fix this? Firstly, it may be worth investigating if there is any buildup on the contacts on the cartridge or inside of the tonearm. A common eraser on top of a pencil is usually able to remove light oxidation from the terminals. It is also possible to use rubbing alcohol to clean the contacts inside of the tonearm, but never lick the contacts on the back of the cartridge, as it will corrode both the contacts of the cartridge and the tonearm. Secondly, there is a seating procedure which usually remedies this issue: 1. Place the cartridge into the tonearm and apply firm, steady pressure.
2. Turn the locking nut in the opposite direction, as if you were loosening the cartridge to remove it. 3. Continue to turn the locking nut until you feel the cartridge being forced out of the tonearm. After the cartridge is nearly forced out of the tonearm, continuing to turn the locking nut will result in the cartridge forcefully popping back into the tonearm with a clicking sound. 4. At this moment, tighten the locking nut in the appropriate direction, and the cartridge should be seated optimally. I believe my cartridge is defective â€“ what should I do? If you have purchased your cartridge within the past year, you must return it to your dealer or Ortofon distributor along with proof of purchase, in order to be considered for repair or replacement. It is always advisable to contact your local dealer or distributor by telephone, to find out if there are any other conditions which may apply.