by The Listening Suite

Welcome to Hifiology at The Listening Suite

When I was younger my main reason for purchasing a hifi was to listen to my music collection at an improved level of performance compared to at the time my inexpensive record player with built in speaker.

I always remember the excitement of listening to my Uncles stereo hifi system, recordings that I’d listened to for years through that tiny built in mono speaker now revealed an increased clarity and detail that I’d never thought possible.

A door had opened to a world of musicality and emotion that eventually led to a career in professional audio recording and live performance.

Choosing Hifi components can be bewildering and confusing, there’s just so much to choose from.

I remember the bewilderment and confusion trying to choose the Hifi components that would eventually become my first hifi system.

The technical specifications and terminology where overwhelming and at times difficult to understand.

The most important thing I learned is that the components are all interrelated and based upon their individual performance either add or subtract to the overall musical performance of a system.

These articles are to help provide a clearer understanding and appreciation of the various Hifi components, which when combined, create a Hifi system.

I hope you enjoy.

David Browne

The Listening Suite


Denoting a subject of study; a branch of knowledge


To describe, educate and clarify, using diagrams and text, the technical specifications and terminology relating to the subject of Hifi.

Music Players + Hifi System Components


Hifiology Articles - "It's All About Vinyl"

Record Player, Record Deck, Turntable


The Platter (Main Platter or Sub Platter)

Heavy or Light Platter on Heavy or Light Chassis

Suspended or Rigid Chassis Design

Platter Bearing, Platter Mats, Record Clamp or Weight, Outer Ring Clamps

Belt, Belt Drive / Direct Drive, Plinth Mounted Motor / Outboard Motor, The Plinth

Where to Place Your Turntable

The Stylus - Shapes, Types


Why are some Styli & Cartridges more expensive than others ?

Shapes & Types, Conical / Spherical, Elliptical / Hyperelliptical Bi or Dual Radial

Advanced Stylus Shapes, Line Contact, Fine Line, Micro-Line, Micro-Ridge, Shibata, Stereohedron

Reasons for Investing and Upgrading your Cartridge and Stylus

The Vinyl Groove, The Cutting Engineer, RIAA Equalisation Curve

The Stylus - Needle in the Groove


Stylus alignment settings Zenith, Azimuth, SRA / VTA, VTF, Antiskating / Bias

The Cartridge - Moving Magnet or Coil


How a cartridge operates

The Moving Magnet & Moving Coil Cartridge

Moving Magnet & Moving Coil Designs

There are three types of Moving Coil Cartridges, Low, Medium, High output

The Cartridge - The Assembly


An electromagnetic generator otherwise known as a cartridge, can be divided into 4 separate sections.

(1) Physical - Cartridge Body, Cartridge Weight, Cartridge Size

(2) Mechanical - Stylus Type, Stylus Radius, Cantilever Material, Tracking Force, Tracking Ability, Compliance,

Resonant Frequency, Desired Resonant Frequency

(3) Electrical - Cartridge Type, Cartridge Output Voltage, Cartridge Output Impedance,

Phono Stage Load Impedance / Resistance and Capacitance

(4) Audio - Frequency Response, Channel Balance, Channel Separation

The Tonearm - Shapes & Sizes


Tonearm Sections

(1) The cartridge mounting point or head shell position.

(2) The arm or wand.

(3) Tonearm Bearing or Unipivot point.

(4) Counter weight.

Tonearm Designs: 9” 10” 12” I, J or S type

Tonearm Bearing Designs, Parallel, Gimbal - Ball, Knife and Jewelled, UniPivot, Magnetic

The Tonearm - Geometry & terms


Cartridge & Stylus Alignment, Tangential or Zero Tracking Error, Geometrical Arcs

Löfgren A/B - Baerwald - Stevenson Inner & Outer Null Points

Pivot to Spindle Distance, Effective Length, Overhang

Zenith Offset Angle, Linear Offset, Inner & Outer Groove Radius

The Phonostage


The Vinyl Groove, The Cutting Engineer and the RIAA Pre-Emphasis Equalisation Curve

The Equaliser Section and the RIAA De-Emphasis Playback Equalisation Curve

Line Amplifier Section and Electrical Specifications

Input Settings for a Moving Magnet & Moving Coil Cartridge,

Impedance / Resistance, Capacitance & Gain Settings, Adjusting The Settings

Room Acoustics and how they effect your choice of settings

Low and Medium Output Moving Coil Cartridges & Step-Up Transformers

Why use a Step-Up Transformer

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