Audio Note Turntable Cartridges are renowned for quality, simplicity and purity. Together, simplicity and purity create perfection.

Our turntable cartridges and designs do not lend themselves to mass production and as a result are not in-expensive. They require a tonearm of very substantial rigidity, and must be combined with a matching transformer, in order to achieve the best possible linearity and dynamic signal transfer.

Looking for a matching Tonearm? View our range of Precision Tonearms.

turntable cartridges by audio note

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BROWSE CARTRIDGES

IQ I

The IQ I moving magnet turntable cartridge features a rigid yet lightweight body made from Pocon, which is equipped with integral threaded inserts for easy installation in the tonearm head-shell.

This mounting system greatly improves mechanical coupling between the cartridge body and head-shell in comparison to the traditional nut & bolt fixing.

IQ I cartridge

Product details

The internal coils are made from extremely fine copper wire, and the cantilever is formed from a specific grade of aluminium tube. You may also notice that the suspension is more stiff than usually seen in Moving Magnet cartridges of this type.

The stylus is a Gyger Type I, and the complete assembly is removable, making replacement or upgrade a very simple and cost effective process. In fact, all of the IQ stylus assemblies are interchangeable, meaning that you could start with an IQ-I, and eventually replace the stylus assembly with the vastly superior version used in the IQ-III.

It has been designed to be used with a Moving Magnet compatible phono stage, with an input impedance of 47K Ohms. Total capacitance in parallel (including arm lead and amplifier capacitance) should not exceed 200pF. If other values of load resistance and capacitance are used, the frequency response of the cartridge may depart from the specified values.

Technical Specifications

LOAD RESISTANCE 47K Ohms
LOAD CAPACITANCE 150 – 200 pF
INTERNAL INDUCTANCE 570mH
INTERNAL RESISTANCE 660 Ohms
FREQUENCY RESPONSE 20Hz to 20KHz, +/- 2dB
WEIGHT 6.3g
FIXING CENTRES 12.7mm / 0.5″
TRACKING FORCE / WEIGHT 1.5g – 2.5g (1.75g nominal)
CHANNEL BALANCE 2dB @ 1KHz
CHANNEL SEPARATION 25dB @ 1KHz
SENSITIVITY 6.5mV +/- 1.5dB (1KHz @ 5cm/sec)
STATIC COMPLIANCE (N lateral) 24mm / (N vertical) 16mm
EQUIVALENT TIP MASS 0.45mg
VERTICAL TRACKING ANGLE 24 degrees
NOTE Due to Audio Note (UK)’s ongoing research and development program, specifications are subject to change without notice.

IQ II

The IQ II moving magnet turntable cartridge features a rigid yet lightweight body made from Pocon, which is equipped with integral threaded inserts for easy installation in the tonearm head-shell.

This mounting system greatly improves mechanical coupling between the cartridge body and head-shell in comparison to the traditional nut & bolt fixing.

Turntable Cartridges

Product details

The internal coils are made from extremely fine copper wire, and the cantilever is formed from a specific grade of hardened aluminium tube. You may also notice that the suspension is more stiff than usually seen in Moving Magnet turntable cartridges of this type.

The stylus is an Audio Note Type II, and the complete assembly is removable, making replacement or upgrade a very simple and cost effective process. In fact, all of the IQ stylus assemblies are interchangeable, meaning that you could start with an IQ-I, and eventually replace the stylus assembly with the vastly superior version used in the IQ-III.

It has been designed to be used with a Moving Magnet compatible phono stage, with an input impedance of 47K Ohms. Total capacitance in parallel (including arm lead and amplifier capacitance) should not exceed 200pF. If other values of load resistance and capacitance are used, the frequency response of the turntable cartridge may depart from the specified values.

Technical Specifications

LOAD RESISTANCE 47K Ohms
LOAD CAPACITANCE 150 – 200 pF
INTERNAL INDUCTANCE 570mH
INTERNAL RESISTANCE 660 Ohms
FREQUENCY RESPONSE 20Hz to 20KHz, +/- 2dB
WEIGHT 6.3g
FIXING CENTRES 12.7mm / 0.5″
TRACKING FORCE / WEIGHT 1.5g – 2.5g (1.75g nominal)
CHANNEL BALANCE 2dB @ 1KHz
CHANNEL SEPARATION 25dB @ 1KHz
SENSITIVITY 6.5mV +/- 1.5dB (1KHz @ 5cm/sec)
STATIC COMPLIANCE (N lateral) 24mm / (N vertical) 16mm
EQUIVALENT TIP MASS 0.45mg
VERTICAL TRACKING ANGLE 24 degrees
NOTE Due to Audio Note (UK)’s ongoing research and development program, specifications are subject to change without notice.

IQ III

The IQ III moving magnet turntable cartridge features a rigid yet lightweight body made from Pocon, which is equipped with integral threaded inserts for easy installation in the tonearm head-shell.

This mounting system greatly improves mechanical coupling between the cartridge body and head-shell in comparison to the traditional nut & bolt fixing.

IQ3

Product details

The internal coils are made from extremely fine copper wire, and the IQ III uses the same cantilever material and diamond found in the legendary Audio Note IO I moving coil turntable cartridge. Made from titanium tube rather than aluminium, the cantilever is unique, and in combination with the Audio Note Type 1 stylus, offers a level of performance that was often though impossible to achieve with a Moving Magnet design.

The complete stylus assembly is removable, making replacement or upgrade a very simple and cost effective process. In fact, all of the IQ stylus assemblies are interchangeable, meaning that you could start with an IQ-I, and eventually replace the stylus assembly with the vastly superior version used in the IQ-III.

It has been designed to be used with a Moving Magnet compatible phono stage, with an input impedance of 47K Ohms. Total capacitance in parallel (including arm lead and amplifier capacitance) should not exceed 200pF. If other values of load resistance and capacitance are used, the frequency response of the cartridge may depart from the specified values.

Technical Specifications

LOAD RESISTANCE 47K Ohms
LOAD CAPACITANCE 150 – 200 pF
INTERNAL INDUCTANCE 570mH
INTERNAL RESISTANCE 660 Ohms
FREQUENCY RESPONSE 20Hz to 20KHz, +/- 2dB
WEIGHT 6.3g
FIXING CENTERS 12.7mm / 0.5″
TRACKING FORCE / WEIGHT 1.5g – 2.5g (1.75g nominal)
CHANNEL BALANCE 2dB @ 1KHz
CHANNEL SEPARATION 25dB @ 1KHz
SENSITIVITY 6.5mV +/- 1.5dB (1KHz @ 5cm/sec)
STATIC COMPLIANCE (N lateral) 24mm / (N vertical) 16mm
EQUIVALENT TIP MASS 0.45mg
VERTICAL TRACKING ANGLE 24 degrees
NOTE Due to Audio Note (UK)’s ongoing research and development program, specifications are subject to change without notice.

IO I Moving Coil Cartridge

Product details

Generator Principle

The moving coil principle was chosen as the basis for the design of the IO range of turntable cartridges, as it offers greater linearity in terms of electrical output from the mechanical movements of the stylus than any other system.

We investigated moving iron, moving magnet, strain gauge, electret and electrostatic generators, and even took the unusual step of acquiring a Toshiba cartridge that employed light emitting diodes to generate the signal from the groove, but in the end it was felt that the quality of the moving coil system as described by P. G. A. H. Voigt would yield the best overall results.

Mechanical Construction

To ensure that the stored information on the disc is precisely recovered, it is essential that the mechanical movement of the stylus is accurately translated into an electrical signal. Any extraneous excitation arising as a result of vibrations in the cartridge housing must be eliminated.

Therefore in the design of the Audio Note (UK) turntable cartridges considerable attention has been paid to the rigidity and structural integrity of the body, and to ensuring that the adopted mechanical construction stores the absolute minimum of resonant energy, which will degrade the signal derived from the disc being played.

Mechanical integrity of the cartridge body is an aspect of design that has never been adequately dealt with before, and as a result all other cartridges suffer greatly from colourations derived from internal resonances and/or energy stored in their body assemblies.

To achieve the incredible level of mechanical integrity required for the IO turntable cartridges, all aspects of body design were reexamined, to minimise standing waves and eliminate any resonating air pockets within the assembly.

The benefits of getting the mechanical assembly right would be lost if the complete assembly could not be rigidly mounted in the tonearm, hence the incorporation of the largest possible surface mounting area and the provision of up to six (6!) bolts to secure the cartridge to the head shell.

Magnetic circuit

Once the mechanical assembly had been perfected the next area to which particular attention was paid was the magnetic circuit.

From numerous tests carried out on a variety of materials and configurations, it was established that different types of magnetic materials exert a subtle influence on the perceived quality of the final sound.

After further extensive research the optimal magnetic circuit was found to be electromagnetically generated. This, however, requires a separate DC power supply and is very costly to implement.

This is exactly the system we implemented in our flagship Moving Coil cartridge – the IO Limited – which offers an unparalleled level of performance. However, we chose the next best magnetic material, Alnico, for the IO I, IO II, and Alnico and Permadure for the IO Gold.

Wire Material

Because of the low impedance and very low output of the IO I, it is essential that the minimum number of electrical connections occur along the wire and that the wire itself is of the highest possible quality.

Not surprisingly we chose our custom made Audio Note (UK) 99.99% pure silver wire, and the coil wire extends all the way to the output terminals, avoiding all unnecessary connections.

Cantilever, Material and Design

It is on the design and construction of the cantilever that much of the quality of a cartridge depends. Many materials were investigated, Boron, Beryllium, Sapphire, Diamond and Titanium and all except Titanium were disregarded in the final analysis, due to deficiencies in one or more areas.

It is vitally important for the cantilever and stylus assembly to be as rigid as possible in order to accurately transfer the stylus motion to the coil assembly, without adding any unwanted vibration as a result of flexing or bending.

The optimum cantilever material here was found to be an extra thick walled, slightly tapered Titanium tube, the taper being both outside AND inside, since this affords by far the greatest rigidity.

Another advantage provided by this type of material was the possibility of employing a longer cantilever, which greatly reduces cantilever excursions. This has three main benefits: –

1) It is easier for the stylus to track complex, highly modulated grooves.

2) The resultant smaller coil movement reduces the non-linearity of the magnetic field, so the field will ‘bend’ less.

3) Damping can be reduced, as it becomes easier to control stylus movement.

Damping

As mentioned above, damping of the cantilever is extremely critical. Too much and the turntable cartridge will sound dull, as a large amount of the critical energy from the record will be absorbed in the damper instead of reaching the coils, reducing the efficiency of the energy transfer from the record (as vibration energy) to the cartridge (as electrical energy).

Conversely, too little damping will make the cantilever prone to uncontrolled excursions, resulting in unwanted distortions and poor tracking.

Much experimentation led to a precision Butyl rubber damper, offering a wide operating temperature range and minimal hysteresis effects. The tension on the damper is furthermore adjustable, allowing very accurate set-up of each cartridge’s individual suspension.

Stylus Choice

Finally the assembly is completed with the use of a solid diamond stylus. A heroic degree of effort has been expended finding the best possible solution to this, the most critical interface with the “plastic”.

Having been ultimately unsatisfied with the offerings from the various stylus manufacturers around the globe, in 1995 we contracted a company to develop a process which would allow them to cut and polish a perfect, natural octagon to a level of the best surgical instruments used for eye and other fine surgery, on a diamond less than half the size of the closest, readily available option at that time. This remains to the best of our knowledge the finest diamond in use on any cartridge available today.

The improvements over any standard diamonds use in other turntable cartridges can be briefly described as better tracking of high frequencies, lower surface noise, lower record wear, longer stylus life, smaller tip mass and lower tracking force.

The stylus is first ‘pinched’ into place by the cantilever and then glued, using a single component epoxy resin, which needs ‘baking’ for about three hours to harden.

Test Procedure

After assembly, each turntable cartridge is subjected to a series of tests, one of which involves a fast dynamic frequency sweep, at high amplitude; this method shows up any undesirable problems in the turntable cartridge. Special test equipment and test records had to be developed for this process, which is exclusive to Audio Note (UK).

Technical Specifications

OUTPUT VOLTAGE 0.04mV / 5cm / sec
INTERNAL IMPEDANCE 1 Ohm
MATCHING IMPEDANCE​ 3-4 Ohms
FREQUENCY RANGE 10 – 50KHz, +/-2dB (dynamic test)
SEPARATION Greater than 30dB at 1KHz
COMPLIANCE (TYPICAL) (horizontal) 5 – 10 Nm / (vertical) 5 – 10Nm
WEIGHT 11g
STYLUS PRESSURE 2-3g (2.5g optimal)
CANTILEVER Titanum
STYLUS AN Type 2 Diamond
NOTE Due to Audio Note (UK)’s ongoing research and development program, specifications are subject to change without notice.

IO II Moving Coil Cartridge

Product details

Generator Principle

The moving coil principle was chosen as the basis for the design of the IO range of turntable cartridges, as it offers greater linearity in terms of electrical output from the mechanical movements of the stylus than any other system.

We investigated moving iron, moving magnet, strain gauge, electret and electrostatic generators, and even took the unusual step of acquiring a Toshiba cartridge that employed light emitting diodes to generate the signal from the groove, but in the end it was felt that the quality of the moving coil system as described by P. G. A. H. Voigt would yield the best overall results.

Mechanical Construction

To ensure that the stored information on the disc is precisely recovered, it is essential that the mechanical movement of the stylus is accurately translated into an electrical signal. Any extraneous excitation arising as a result of vibrations in the cartridge housing must be eliminated.

Therefore in the design of the Audio Note (UK) turntable cartridges considerable attention has been paid to the rigidity and structural integrity of the body, and to ensuring that the adopted mechanical construction stores the absolute minimum of resonant energy, which will degrade the signal derived from the disc being played.

Mechanical integrity of the cartridge body is an aspect of design that has never been adequately dealt with before, and as a result all other cartridges suffer greatly from colourations derived from internal resonances and/or energy stored in their body assemblies.

To achieve the incredible level of mechanical integrity required for the IO cartridges, all aspects of body design were reexamined, to minimise standing waves and eliminate any resonating air pockets within the assembly.

The benefits of getting the mechanical assembly right would be lost if the complete assembly could not be rigidly mounted in the tonearm, hence the incorporation of the largest possible surface mounting area and the provision of up to six (6!) bolts to secure the cartridge to the head shell.

Magnetic circuit

Once the mechanical assembly had been perfected the next area to which particular attention was paid was the magnetic circuit.

From numerous tests carried out on a variety of materials and configurations, it was established that different types of magnetic materials exert a subtle influence on the perceived quality of the final sound.

After further extensive research the optimal magnetic circuit was found to be electromagnetically generated. This, however, requires a separate DC power supply and is very costly to implement.

This is exactly the system we implemented in our flagship Moving Coil cartridge – the IO Limited – which offers an unparalleled level of performance. However, we chose the next best magnetic material, Alnico, for the IO I, IO II, and Alnico and Permadure for the IO Gold.

Wire Material

Because of the low impedance and very low output of the IO II, it is essential that the minimum number of electrical connections occur along the wire and that the wire itself is of the highest possible quality. Not surprisingly we chose our custom made Audio Note (UK) 99.99% pure silver wire, and the coil wire extends all the way to the output terminals, avoiding all unnecessary connections.

Cantilever, Material and Design

It is on the design and construction of the cantilever that much of the quality of a cartridge depends. Many materials were investigated, Boron, Beryllium, Sapphire, Diamond and Titanium and all except Titanium were disregarded in the final analysis, due to deficiencies in one or more areas.

It is vitally important for the cantilever and stylus assembly to be as rigid as possible in order to accurately transfer the stylus motion to the coil assembly, without adding any unwanted vibration as a result of flexing or bending.

The optimum cantilever material here was found to be an extra thick walled, slightly tapered Titanium tube, the taper being both outside AND inside, since this affords by far the greatest rigidity.

Another advantage provided by this type of material was the possibility of employing a longer cantilever, which greatly reduces cantilever excursions. This has three main benefits: –

1) It is easier for the stylus to track complex, highly modulated grooves.

2) The resultant smaller coil movement reduces the non-linearity of the magnetic field, so the field will ‘bend’ less.

3) Damping can be reduced, as it becomes easier to control stylus movement.

Damping

As mentioned above, damping of the cantilever is extremely critical. Too much and the cartridge will sound dull, as a large amount of the critical energy from the record will be absorbed in the damper instead of reaching the coils, reducing the efficiency of the energy transfer from the record (as vibration energy) to the turntable cartridge (as electrical energy).

Conversely, too little damping will make the cantilever prone to uncontrolled excursions, resulting in unwanted distortions and poor tracking.

Much experimentation led to a precision Butyl rubber damper, offering a wide operating temperature range and minimal hysteresis effects. The tension on the damper is furthermore adjustable, allowing very accurate set-up of each cartridge’s individual suspension.

Stylus Choice

Finally the assembly is completed with the use of a solid diamond stylus. A heroic degree of effort has been expended finding the best possible solution to this, the most critical interface with the “plastic”.

Having been ultimately unsatisfied with the offerings from the various stylus manufacturers around the globe, in 1995 we contracted a company to develop a process which would allow them to cut and polish a perfect, natural octagon to a level of the best surgical instruments used for eye and other fine surgery, on a diamond less than half the size of the closest, readily available option at that time. This remains to the best of our knowledge the finest diamond in use on any turntable cartridge available today.

The improvements over any standard diamonds use in other cartridges can be briefly described as better tracking of high frequencies, lower surface noise, lower record wear, longer stylus life, smaller tip mass and lower tracking force.

The stylus is first ‘pinched’ into place by the cantilever and then glued, using a single component epoxy resin, which needs ‘baking’ for about three hours to harden.

Test Procedure

After assembly, each turntable cartridge is subjected to a series of tests, one of which involves a fast dynamic frequency sweep, at high amplitude; this method shows up any undesirable problems in the cartridge. Special test equipment and test records had to be developed for this process, which is exclusive to Audio Note (UK).

Technical Specifications

OUTPUT VOLTAGE 0.04mV / 5cm / sec
INTERNAL IMPEDANCE 1 Ohm
MATCHING IMPEDANCE​ 3-4 Ohms
FREQUENCY RANGE 10 – 50KHz, +/-2dB (dynamic test)
SEPARATION Greater than 30dB at 1KHz
COMPLIANCE (TYPICAL) (horizontal) 5 – 10 Nm / (vertical) 5 – 10Nm
WEIGHT 18g
STYLUS PRESSURE 2-3g (2.5g optimal)
CANTILEVER Titanum
STYLUS AN Type 1 Diamond
NOTE Due to Audio Note (UK)’s ongoing research and development program, specifications are subject to change without notice.

IO GOLD Moving Coil Cartridge

Product details

Generator Principle

The moving coil principle was chosen as the basis for the design of the IO range of turntable cartridges, as it offers greater linearity in terms of electrical output from the mechanical movements of the stylus than any other system.

We investigated moving iron, moving magnet, strain gauge, electret and electrostatic generators, and even took the unusual step of acquiring a Toshiba cartridge that employed light emitting diodes to generate the signal from the groove, but in the end it was felt that the quality of the moving coil system as described by P. G. A. H. Voigt would yield the best overall results.

Mechanical Construction

To ensure that the stored information on the disc is precisely recovered, it is essential that the mechanical movement of the stylus is accurately translated into an electrical signal. Any extraneous excitation arising as a result of vibrations in the turntable cartridge housing must be eliminated.

Therefore in the design of the Audio Note (UK) turntable cartridges considerable attention has been paid to the rigidity and structural integrity of the body, and to ensuring that the adopted mechanical construction stores the absolute minimum of resonant energy, which will degrade the signal derived from the disc being played.

Mechanical integrity of the turntable cartridge body is an aspect of design that has never been adequately dealt with before, and as a result all other turntable cartridges suffer greatly from colourations derived from internal resonances and/or energy stored in their body assemblies.

To achieve the incredible level of mechanical integrity required for the IO turntable cartridges, all aspects of body design were reexamined, to minimise standing waves and eliminate any resonating air pockets within the assembly.

The benefits of getting the mechanical assembly right would be lost if the complete assembly could not be rigidly mounted in the tonearm, hence the incorporation of the largest possible surface mounting area and the provision of up to six (6!) bolts to secure the turntable cartridge to the head shell.

Magnetic circuit

Once the mechanical assembly had been perfected the next area to which particular attention was paid was the magnetic circuit.

From numerous tests carried out on a variety of materials and configurations, it was established that different types of magnetic materials exert a subtle influence on the perceived quality of the final sound.

After further extensive research the optimal magnetic circuit was found to be electromagnetically generated. This, however, requires a separate DC power supply and is very costly to implement. This is exactly the system we implemented in our flagship Moving Coil turntable cartridge – the IO Limited – which offers an unparalleled level of performance. However, for the IO Gold we chose the next best materials; AlNiCo magnets and Permadure.

Wire Material

Because of the low impedance and very low output of the IO Gold, it is essential that the minimum number of electrical connections occur along the wire and that the wire itself is of the highest possible quality. Not surprisingly we chose our custom made Audio Note (UK) 99.99% pure silver wire, and the coil wire extends all the way to the output terminals, avoiding all unnecessary connections.

Cantilever, Material and Design

It is on the design and construction of the cantilever that much of the quality of a cartridge depends. Many materials were investigated, Boron, Beryllium, Sapphire, Diamond and Titanium and all except Titanium were disregarded in the final analysis, due to deficiencies in one or more areas.

It is vitally important for the cantilever and stylus assembly to be as rigid as possible in order to accurately transfer the stylus motion to the coil assembly, without adding any unwanted vibration as a result of flexing or bending.

The optimum cantilever material here was found to be an extra thick walled, slightly tapered Titanium tube, the taper being both outside AND inside, since this affords by far the greatest rigidity.

Another advantage provided by this type of material was the possibility of employing a longer cantilever, which greatly reduces cantilever excursions. This has three main benefits: –

1) It is easier for the stylus to track complex, highly modulated grooves.

2) The resultant smaller coil movement reduces the non-linearity of the magnetic field, so the field will ‘bend’ less.

3) Damping can be reduced, as it becomes easier to control stylus movement.

Damping

As mentioned above, damping of the cantilever is extremely critical. Too much and the turntable cartridge will sound dull, as a large amount of the critical energy from the record will be absorbed in the damper instead of reaching the coils, reducing the efficiency of the energy transfer from the record (as vibration energy) to the cartridge (as electrical energy).

Conversely, too little damping will make the cantilever prone to uncontrolled excursions, resulting in unwanted distortions and poor tracking.

Much experimentation led to a precision Butyl rubber damper, offering a wide operating temperature range and minimal hysteresis effects. The tension on the damper is furthermore adjustable, allowing very accurate set-up of each cartridge’s individual suspension.

Stylus Choice

Finally the assembly is completed with the use of a solid diamond stylus. A heroic degree of effort has been expended finding the best possible solution to this, the most critical interface with the “plastic”. Having been ultimately unsatisfied with the offerings from the various stylus manufacturers around the globe, in 1995 we contracted a company to develop a process which would allow them to cut and polish a perfect, natural octagon to a level of the best surgical instruments used for eye and other fine surgery, on a diamond less than half the size of the closest, readily available option at that time. This remains to the best of our knowledge the finest diamond in use on any cartridge available today.

The improvements over any standard diamonds use in other turntable cartridges can be briefly described as better tracking of high frequencies, lower surface noise, lower record wear, longer stylus life, smaller tip mass and lower tracking force.

The stylus is first ‘pinched’ into place by the cantilever and then glued, using a single component epoxy resin, which needs ‘baking’ for about three hours to harden.

Test Procedure

After assembly, each turntable cartridge is subjected to a series of tests, one of which involves a fast dynamic frequency sweep, at high amplitude; this method shows up any undesirable problems in the cartridge. Special test equipment and test records had to be developed for this process, which is exclusive to Audio Note (UK).

Technical Specifications

OUTPUT VOLTAGE 0.04mV / 5cm / sec
INTERNAL IMPEDANCE 1 Ohm
MATCHING IMPEDANCE​ 3-4 Ohms
FREQUENCY RANGE 10 – 50KHz, +/-2dB (dynamic test)
SEPARATION Greater than 30dB at 1KHz
COMPLIANCE (TYPICAL) (horizontal) 5 – 10 Nm / (vertical) 5 – 10Nm
WEIGHT 20g
STYLUS PRESSURE 2-3g (2.5g optimal)
CANTILEVER Titanium
STYLUS AN Type 1 Diamond
NOTE Due to Audio Note (UK)’s ongoing research and development program, specifications are subject to change without notice.

IO Ltd Moving Coil Cartridge, with power supply

Product details

Generator Principle

The moving coil principle was chosen as the basis for the design of the IO range of turntable cartridges, as it offers greater linearity in terms of electrical output from the mechanical movements of the stylus than any other system.

We investigated moving iron, moving magnet, strain gauge, electret and electrostatic generators, and even took the unusual step of acquiring a Toshiba cartridge that employed light emitting diodes to generate the signal from the groove, but in the end it was felt that the quality of the moving coil system as described by P. G. A. H. Voigt would yield the best overall results.

Mechanical Construction

To ensure that the stored information on the disc is precisely recovered, it is essential that the mechanical movement of the stylus is accurately translated into an electrical signal. Any extraneous excitation arising as a result of vibrations in the cartridge housing must be eliminated.

Therefore in the design of the Audio Note (UK) turntable cartridges considerable attention has been paid to the rigidity and structural integrity of the body, and to ensuring that the adopted mechanical construction stores the absolute minimum of resonant energy, which will degrade the signal derived from the disc being played.

Mechanical integrity of the cartridge body is an aspect of design that has never been adequately dealt with before, and as a result all other cartridges suffer greatly from colourations derived from internal resonances and/or energy stored in their body assemblies.

To achieve the incredible level of mechanical integrity required for the IO cartridges, all aspects of body design were reexamined, to minimise standing waves and eliminate any resonating air pockets within the assembly.

The benefits of getting the mechanical assembly right would be lost if the complete assembly could not be rigidly mounted in the tonearm, hence the incorporation of the largest possible surface mounting area and the provision of up to six (6!) bolts to secure the cartridge to the head shell.

Magnetic circuit

Once the mechanical assembly had been perfected the next area to which particular attention was paid was the magnetic circuit.

From numerous tests carried out on a variety of materials and configurations, it was established that different types of magnetic materials exert a subtle influence on the perceived quality of the final sound.

After further extensive research the optimal magnetic circuit was found to be electro magnetically generated. This, however, requires a separate DC power supply and is very costly to implement. Therefore, only a cartridge producing the absolute ultimate in performance could employ such a system… and the IO Limited was born.

Wire Material

Because of the low impedance and very low output of the IO Limited, it is essential that the minimum number of electrical connections occur along the wire and that the wire itself is of the highest possible quality. Not surprisingly we chose our custom made Audio Note (UK) 99.99% pure silver wire, and the coil wire extends all the way to the output terminals, avoiding all unnecessary connections.

Cantilever, Material and Design

It is on the design and construction of the cantilever that much of the quality of a cartridge depends. Many materials were investigated, Boron, Beryllium, Sapphire, Diamond and Titanium and all except Titanium were disregarded in the final analysis, due to deficiencies in one or more areas.

It is vitally important for the cantilever and stylus assembly to be as rigid as possible in order to accurately transfer the stylus motion to the coil assembly, without adding any unwanted vibration as a result of flexing or bending.

The optimum cantilever material here was found to be an extra thick walled, slightly tapered Titanium tube, the taper being both outside AND inside, since this affords by far the greatest rigidity.

Another advantage provided by this type of material was the possibility of employing a longer cantilever, which greatly reduces cantilever excursions. This has three main benefits: –

1) It is easier for the stylus to track complex, highly modulated grooves.

2) The resultant smaller coil movement reduces the non-linearity of the magnetic field, so the field will ‘bend’ less.

3) Damping can be reduced, as it becomes easier to control stylus movement.

Damping

As mentioned above, damping of the cantilever is extremely critical. Too much and the cartridge will sound dull, as a large amount of the critical energy from the record will be absorbed in the damper instead of reaching the coils, reducing the efficiency of the energy transfer from the record (as vibration energy) to the turntable cartridge (as electrical energy).

Conversely, too little damping will make the cantilever prone to uncontrolled excursions, resulting in unwanted distortions and poor tracking.

Much experimentation led to a precision Butyl rubber damper, offering a wide operating temperature range and minimal hysteresis effects. The tension on the damper is furthermore adjustable, allowing very accurate set-up of each cartridge’s individual suspension.

Stylus Choice

Finally the assembly is completed with the use of a solid diamond stylus. A heroic degree of effort has been expended finding the best possible solution to this, the most critical interface with the “plastic”. Having been ultimately unsatisfied with the offerings from the various stylus manufacturers around the globe, in 1995 we contracted a company to develop a process which would allow them to cut and polish a perfect, natural octagon to a level of the best surgical instruments used for eye and other fine surgery, on a diamond less than half the size of the closest, readily available option at that time. This remains to the best of our knowledge the finest diamond in use on any cartridge available today.

The improvements over any standard diamonds use in other cartridges can be briefly described as better tracking of high frequencies, lower surface noise, lower record wear, longer stylus life, smaller tip mass and lower tracking force.

The stylus is first ‘pinched’ into place by the cantilever and then glued, using a single component epoxy resin, which needs ‘baking’ for about three hours to harden.

Test Procedure

After assembly, each cartridge is subjected to a series of tests, one of which involves a fast dynamic frequency sweep, at high amplitude; this method shows up any undesirable problems in the cartridge. Special test equipment and test records had to be developed for this process, which is exclusive to Audio Note (UK).

Technical Specifications

OUTPUT VOLTAGE 0.04mV / 5cm / sec
INTERNAL IMPEDANCE 1 Ohm
MATCHING IMPEDANCE​ 3-4 Ohms
FREQUENCY RANGE 10 – 50KHz, +/-2dB (dynamic test)
SEPARATION Greater than 30dB at 1KHz
MAGNETIC FIELD STRENGTH
Electromagnetic 1,200 Gauss
WEIGHT 19g
STYLUS PRESSURE 1.5-4g (2.5g optimal)
POWER SUPPLY OUTPUT VOLTAGE 0.4A, 1.2V DC
POWER SUPPLY WEIGHT & 5kg
DIMENSIONS 100mm (h) x 300mm (w) x 250mm (d)
NOTE Due to Audio Note (UK)’s ongoing research and development program, specifications are subject to change without notice.

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