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About Cartridge Loading

General Principles

  • Cartridge loading is the tailoring of a moving coil cartridge’s output impedance to the input impedance of the phono stage.
  • Resistive loading forms a low-pass filter to shift the resonant frequency peak of the cartridge.
  • Your subjective evaluation of load requirement will change with every equipment combination you put into service – whether it be a phono stage or a step-up transformer.  For example, depending on the phono stage in use, we have loaded the Dynavector XV1-s cartridge anywhere from 35 ohms to over 500 ohms.
  • When people say “increase the load”, they mean reduce the impedance the cartridge “sees”.  A lower number (500 ohms as opposed to 47K ohms) is more difficult for the cartridge to drive.

Setting the Loading

Always start high and work your way down over time.  Begin with no loading resistor (i.e. a 47K load for a phono stage not using a step-up transformer) and work your way down in binary steps: 22K, 11K, 5K, etc.

The “just enough, but not too much” principle applies to loading as well.

Further Reading

Jim Hagerman of Hagerman Technology has an excellent treatise on cartridge loading, along with several calculators.  Even if the technical information escapes you, the graphs and calculators will help you visualize the solution.  Click this link (opens in new window).

Interaction With Other Settings

VTA/SRA:  Since this parameter can affect the the upper frequency response, you may mistake a “wrong” VTA/SRA for too little cartridge load.