London Decca Reference
London Decca Reference
How and why is this cartridge different from, and possibly superior to all the others? Is it a “moving coil” or a “moving magnet” design? Neither! Only a lighter, thinner, shorter, magnetically active metal foil bearing the stylus comprises the entire moving system. This results in lower moving mass than either moving coil or moving magnet models.
The London Decca cartridges may be the only ones which have no cantilever, at least in the conventional sense. This appears to be the underpinning of their stunning success.
Other cartridges (both moving coil and moving magnet) have styli mounted on the long end of a thin tube which works like a lopsided see-saw. The short end of the cantilever attaches to either a coil of wire or a magnet. At the fulcrum point, a flexible rubbery sleeve functions as a pivot, allowing the stylus/cantilever assembly to respond to the wiggles in the LP groove.
Because the front section of the cantilever, which holds the stylus, is much longer than the rear section that is attached to the coil or magnet, a large movement of the stylus is transformed to a smaller movement at the coil or magnet, possibly causing cantilever-design cartridges to sound dynamically compressed and lacking in transient attack. London Decca’s engineers advise that this problem with dynamics and transients is compounded by the cantilever’s rubbery fulcrum point which tends to absorb a significant amount of the stylus-generated motion before it can reach the coil/magnet electrical generator assembly. Also, a smearing of the sound is said to occur, which many folks refer to as cantilever haze.
The Reference has no long cantilever and no rubbery fulcrum point to absorb, dissipate and smear the vital musical energy. Instead, the stylus is attached directly to a magnetically active armature just a few microns thick which passes through the centre of the main generating coil positioned about 1 millimetre above the stylus. The stylus motion is not inverted or transformed to a smaller value, as in long cantilever designs. Flowing from this immediate positive-direct scanning of the groove is a breathtaking, lifelike quality. The listener tends to feel that the performing artists are actually in the same room, with a startling, palpable presence.
Eventually every cartridge will become unusable, be it the tip has worn out, a component breaks internally or the arm snaps. In these situations a cartridge would need to be replaced or overhauled.