Steve Jetter, our resident service expert, asked me if I could help him with a tone arm this weekend. I took it home and used my drill press to put in screw holes for a client’s Linn LP12 tonearm board. This reminded me of a funny story (it was not funny when it happened, but I can laugh at it now).

Way back in the early days of Audio Advice, the only source you could buy to listen to music of your own was a turntable. One of our favorite set ups was a Magnepan tonearm, a Dynavector cartridge, and a Vandersteen moving coil head amp. Magnepan had a unique design for a unipivot tonearm. A unipivot is basically like balancing something on a point so it’s free to move in all planes. The way you applied the antiskate on this arm was by inserting tiny little round balls of lead shot into a bucket. You set up a CBS test record, put on a good pair of headphones and played around with adding these tiny little balls until it sounded just right.

The Dynavector cartridges of that era used either a Ruby or Diamond cantilever. If you are into phono cartridges, you know the cantilever is the tiny rod that comes out of the cartridge body with a diamond stylus attached to the end of it. Our best seller was the Ruby at $275 back in the 80s. The crème de la crème was the Diamond, with a true diamond cantilever. This was about as good as it got back then, and at $600 it was pretty expensive for that time. It was also extremely fragile!

The worlds most fragile cartridge, look how small that cantilever was!

The worlds most fragile cartridge, look how small that cantilever was!

Having been in business only a couple of years at this point, $600 was more than a month’s pay for a starving young entrepreneur/stereo junkie. To this day, I clearly remember the moment I broke the cantilever on a brand new Diamond I was installing. I was just finishing up mounting it to the headshell when my screwdriver slipped, and just like that, no more cantilever. Wow – I’d just lost more than a month’s pay! That was pretty devastating back then, but I begged Dynavector to help me out. They did and Audio Advice is still here today. (I did learn a valuable lesson. Leave the stylus guard on at all times when installing a cartridge!)

Interestingly, we still install and set up cartridges every week at Audio Advice. Turntables are enjoying a huge resurgence, and for good reason: vinyl records have a very life-like, appealing sound. Our selection of turntable prices starts at around $400 and goes to about as much you can imagine.  If you’re thinking about bringing some of your old records back to life, we can help you out with great choices in turntables and cartridges.  And I guarantee you one thing, when we set up your cartridge – it will have a stylus guard on it!