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Anyone who wants to start an adventure with analogues should know that the turntable is much more demanding equipment than modern CD or mp3 file players. The quality of the sound in a turntable is influenced by many factors and elements that make up a turntable. If we want to properly configure the equipment, we should focus on a few basic and key elements. Undoubtedly, one of the most important ones is the cartridge, on which the sound quality depends to a great extent.
Half-inch (1/2 inch) handle and T4P – basket and insert
The half-inch basket is one of the most popular holders in which the insert is mounted, referred to as a half-inch or ½ inch insert. Almost every cartridge manufactured today will fit into a half-inch basket. Another type of mount that is much rarer today is the T4P, which was used in turntables from the 80s. Currently, this type of fastening is rare and is used only in the cheapest budget structures. On the other hand, turntables with a basket and a half-inch cartridge definitely dominate among enthusiasts of the black disc. These cartridges are used in most turntables, from the iconic Dual to the well-worn Polish Unitra. Despite the fact that the cartridge belongs to one of the smallest elements of a turntable, often in high-class turntables it is one of the most expensive elements of a turntable. The price range in these elements is really huge and the cost of such an insert starts from several dozen zlotys and can even end up at several dozen thousand zlotys.
Replacing the half-inch insert
The standard European mount is the half-inch mount, which is very user-friendly to replace, although the calibration itself requires patience. First of all, you need to protect the needle with the cover on the body of the cartridge. Then hold the arm and use tweezers or tweezers to slide the connectors on the back of the insert from the pins connecting the insert to the arm. After disconnecting the wires, proceed to unscrew the screws securing the cartridge to the head. Of course, depending on the turntable model and tonearm type, you may have to do some additional work. For example: in some turntables with ULM arm, i.e. With the ultralight arm, you need to move the lever next to the arm so that we can pull out our insert. Remember that after each replacement of the half-inch cartridge, you should calibrate the turntable from the beginning.
However, when installing the cartridge, first of all, we need to identify the connectors using the assigned colors, thanks to which we will know how to connect them to the cartridge. Blue is the left minus channel. White for the left plus channel. Green is the right minus channel and red is the right plus channel. The pins in the insert are also marked with colors, so proper connection should not cause any problems. When installing the cables, do not use too much force so as not to damage the pins. With the cables attached, you can screw the cartridge to the head of the arm. They are fastened with two screws, passing them through the head of the arm and hitting the threaded holes in the insert. We can tighten the caught screws slightly, but not too tightly so that we can still properly calibrate our cartridge.
Replacing the T4P cylinder
Undoubtedly, a big advantage of this type of mounting and insert is that when using it, we do not need to calibrate. We do not set the tangent angle, azimuth, arm height, antiskating or pressure force here, i.e. all those activities that we have to do with turntables with a basket and a half-inch cartridge. Fixing this type of insert usually requires the use of only one screw, the most important thing is that the whole thing can be put together in only one position. Insert the insert into the mount, put the screw and screw on the nut and our turntable is ready for operation. Unfortunately, this seemingly problem-free solution significantly limited the possibility of the development of this technology and therefore it was limited practically only to the cheapest budget constructions.
If we want to seriously enter the world of vinyl records, it is definitely worth investing in high-end equipment, in which mounts and half-inch inserts are used. Calibration requires a bit of effort and some manual skills, but it is a subject to master.