MC high output vs MM discussion

MC high output vs MM

Following my recent experiments with getting the best from a high output MC cart, a pre owned Hanna EH, I thought I’d share my thoughts for anyone interested.

I put a pre owned LP12 in my study connected to a nac 62, powered by a hicap, and feeding a nap 140 in to Focal 302 speakers. I had a few carts kicking around from previous use on my P3 so tried the venerable vms20e with cap 210, at vm95e, and a Grado Gold moving iron. The AT gave me the best sound but still not up to the level I expect from an LP12. I was intending to get another Hana MC low output but a pre owned low hours EH (high output for mm phono stage) came up. Worth a try? I thought so having previously enjoyed the sound of a DL110 high output mc cart. I also allowed that if I didn’t get on with the EH I could move it on to my P3 that I still occasionally use with a Nait 2.

So fitted, aligned, weighted and tracked and first play through the nac62 with 322 cards. I was both impressed and disappointed. Impressed with the level of detail but disappointed with the lack of openness or space between frequencies. The sound was compressed, better than the MM carts I have, but not the openness and separation that I enjoy from MC carts generally. I have a number of 5 series phono cards, S,K,E and N, and an 82 sitting unused. Remembering having read that the E card had a different gain as well as loading suited to ‘mid’ output MC’s I decided to try the EH cart with these. First though I needed to check if there was any danger to the cart, the cards, or the pre by doing so. The internet is a great learning tool. I understand enough about basic electrics and physics to grasp basic principles. I have no understanding of electronics. The following is what I think is relevant to changing the loading on a cart. Forgive if obvious and simple to those already experienced in all of this.

The first thing that loading is applied in parallel not series, ie the load across the cart decreases as the applied load increases. A selected 47k ohm load applies less load to the cart than a 100 ohm one.

The major difference between the design of mc and mm carts means that the mc coil mounted on the cantilever utilises finer and fewer windings compared to the more robust arrangement of the coils mounted close to the cantilever in a MM design, thereby affecting electrical output.

The mechanical damping of the stylus and cantilever is vastly different between a relatively heavy magnet or iron lump mounted on the cantilever (mm) vs the lighter coil mount on the mc design.

Physics/ electrical theory tells us that changing the electrical characteristics around the assembly will change the electro mechanical damping that affects the stylus and cantilever. This in theory can affect the tracking and information retrieval possible from the vinyl groove.

Due to the fixed capacitance on MM carts and phono input stages, varying the load would have little effect even if it were available. On the other hand due to massively lower output of an mc design, varying the load should have a noticeable effect on electro mechanical damping and output, as well as useable range of gain, or volume control.

A theoretical loading of x10 is often conventionally quoted as being necessary for loading an mc cart, particularly to avoid high frequency peaks, plenty of graphs showing this on the ‘net, and also theorised as necessary to avoid tracking problems due to either excessive or insufficient electro mechanical damping. Less load increases damping = stiffer cantilever and difficulty in tracking fine detail changes. Ie. A cart designed to be loaded at 47k ohms will potentially lose effectiveness in both areas if loaded at 47 ohms, and the reverse applies. Carrying all this in my head I then looked at discussion around these areas before first taking the low risk of running the EH on the 82 with an E phono card. Happily the sound opened up and gave me what I might have expected from a mc cart as opposed to an mm.

I then came across a pre owned variable load phono stage, the PH-10 and decided this would allow me to re instate the 62 and use this phono stage. Having connected it I then decided to run sq tests on the cart at different loads and gain adjustments via the phono stage.

I have spent six days playing with settings and comparing the sound against two references. The first is against my main room kit of P8/SL/PH-10/552DR/300DR/D9.2. Obviously too many variables for a direct comparison but it was useful to compare openness and space between frequencies, distortion or not etc. The more useful comparison though was using the same nac 62 set up and comparing the Aries/Vega input against the Lp12/EH/PH-10 input. It is useful to bear in mind that the streamer output is up to 4mv rather than the normal cd output of 2mv.

Comparison was made with Coltrane, Miles, Chet, Joni, Cohen, Eels, and finally a very loud original vinyl Tommy.

An almost match of sq came from a remarkably low load setting of 100 ohms ( against the nominal 47k ohms spec of the EH) and -3db gain. Going above 100 ohms to 220 ohms gave an unusable range of gain at low levels and was more of a step than going from 1000 ohms to 47k ohms. At 100 ohms setting, sq and gain (volume setting) more or less equivalent to the streaming input, there was no distortion or high frequency effects noticed by me even at very loud volumes. No compromise was needed using a high output mc designed for input to a 47k phono stage. Why not?

A good starting point may be here if Richard allows the reference

If not look up Jim Hagerman, Hagtech, and Jim Austin Stereophile.

The outcome is that I am now running a high output mc on a variable input mc phono setting rather than the spec’d mm standard input. I shall see how and if the sound changes over time due to any unwanted influences on either tracking sensitivity or electromechanical damping.


So… did you actually try a set of E boards with your Hana High Output MC, then…?

I use E boards in my NAC82 with a DV10X High Output MC. I initially experimented with a set of 323 E’s in my 72 - the 323 E’s were ‘only’ about £40 on The Bay place. As that combo 'worked, I then sought out a set of 523’s for my 82. I bought a set of 523 S’s - and had them converted (*) by @Darran at Class A, to E’s. They simply ‘work’.

(* - any 323 or 523 board can - potentially - be converted to E spec)

Yes, I had the 82 with E cards running for a while. I have a pair of 62 S cards with Darran awaiting E conversion, but the second PH-10 came up at a very good price. If not I would be chasing Darran for those cards. :grinning:

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I use a high output mc cart,
Going into E
Tried MM boards yes they worked but had to crank up volume,
The E Boards made a huge difference
Don’t know the science behind it,
And don’t care
But they are better


I would have been happy with the E solution but like to know as much as I’m able to understand, what is happening. It’s been both a blessing and a curse all my life. :rofl:

Classic audio nerd, nothing wrong with knowing how things work,
And I respect that,
Me I just don’t care, it’s been a blessing and a curse, :rofl:


Really! not again

Just a note for non techie but interested hifi nuts. Read the Herb Reichert referenced article at the beginning of the link. He references mechanical artefacts, motors, big trucks and tractors alongside hifi kit. Liking his work. I think I might be smitten with the idea of seemingly expensive retro gear. A new rabbit hole!

This is incorrect, it’s the other way around. The windings on the cantilever of an MC cart will be heavier than a hollow piece of iron. That’s the reason MI carts were invented in the first place, as the magnets of the time were relatively heavy, but with a magnet that’s no longer an issue either. That will also be lighter than an MC assembly. And that’s for a LOMC, a HOMC will have more windings and hence be even heavier.

According to Wikipedia for example:

And that’s an MM from the 80’s. Are you aware of an MC cart with lower moving mass?

I had a nice article about this from, I’m pretty sure, Peter Lederman, but I can’t find it now. He explained the wire used, the amount of windings and the resulting weight.


I stand corrected.

Edit. Interested in that article if you do find it.
Quick and dirty interweb search still suggests the following

“### Moving mass

The coils that sits on the stylus cantilever on a MC cartridge will have less mass (weight) than the magnet that sits on the stylus cantilever on a MM cartridge.

We often say that an MC cartridge has less moving mass than a MM cartridge.

Less moving mass means that a MC cartridge responds quicker and is better at picking up fine details in the record’s grooves. So a MC cartridge will generally reproduce music with more precise details than a MM cartridge because it has less moving mass.”

I haven’t found any carts with that moving mass figure quoted, to verify that general view, or indeed to refute it. I wonder if it is more about amount of movement vs ouput and then magnification of that output ( via phono stage). I guess the cart manufacturers and designers hold this information close to their chest.

Re moving iron. It is suggested again on the interweb, that MI sits somewhere between mm and mc.

Your post did get me thinking, if there’s HOMC, where the greater weight apparently is offset by other gains. I presume a better signal to noise ratio as less amplification is needed.

But in MM/MI moving mass isn’t affected by the number of windings, so what’s the advantage of low output MI (or MM), like Grado makes?

I had no idea of any of this until my recent experimentations, but this article gives an insight. How correct any internet information is, you will have to decide. There are alternative views, even on here.


I only quickly scanned it, but don’t think that mentions low output MM/MI, does it?

I’ll read it in full later, thanks for sharing.

A whole section with a diagram, You’re welcome. :wink:

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Bruss, please don’t link to dealers. You may praraphrase if required.


I don’t think even the Wikipedia fully supports your statement. The paragraph starts: “However, quality MM cartridges are able to offer as low or lower moving mass than some MC cartridges”. According to the authors some MM cartridges have a lower moving mass than some MC cartridge, not every MM and every MC. The whole thing gets odd with different effective tip masses as examples. Those masses are not the same thing.

Peter Lederman is a very knowledgeable person, clearly more than I am, and I don’t want to dispute his opinion.

It’s just the Wikipedia article I don’t get along with.

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I agree with that and should have clarified it’s not an universal truth. The opening post however did also present it as such.

But I think (I should find that article) that in general a quality MM/MI will be lighter than an MC with the same stylus and cantilever material.

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