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How to install an AT-VM95 series phono cartridge

The following steps show you how to install an AT-VM95 Series phono cartridge.

Become familiar with each part before using the product.

1 - Protector, 2 - Cartridge body, 3 - Output terminals, 4 - Stylus (Replacement stylus),

5 - Cantilever, 6 - Stylus tip, 7 - Magnets


To avoid damaging the delicate stylus assembly (4), remove the assembly from the cartridge body (2) before installing the cartridge onto your turntable’s detachable headshell or tonearm with integrated headshell.

Remove the stylus assembly by grasping the sides of the cartridge body with one hand, then the sides of the assembly with the other.

Slowly pull the assembly off the body using a slight rocking motion. Leave the stylus protector (1) in place while removing the stylus assembly.


Mounting the Cartridge

Two 11 mm slotted screws, two 8 mm slotted screws, and two nylon washers are provided for mounting the cartridge to the headshell. Choose the screw length that is appropriate for your particular headshell.

Insert the screws through the nylon washers, through the headshell, and thread the screws into the M2.6 size threaded inserts found in the cartridge body. Only hand-tighten the screws at this time, the provided screwdriver will be used to snug the screws after final adjustments are made.


Wiring the Cartridge

Connect the four color-coded lead wires extending from the headshell to the cartridge, noting output polarity for the left (L) and right (R) channels. If the clips on the ends of the wires are too tight to push onto the output terminal pins (3) by hand, use a small tool – such as small needle-nose pliers or hemostat – to push the clips on instead.

Carefully push from the backside of the clip until the clip seats firmly on the pin. Do not grasp the round barrel part of the clip which goes over the pin with the tool, as the round shape can become distorted from the pressure of the tool, making the clip more difficult to install.


Aligning the Cartridge

Reinstall the stylus assembly which was removed earlier. Align the tab on the inside of the assembly to the rectangular opening in the cartridge body and carefully press the assembly onto the body. It should seat firmly, making a slight “click” sound.

Determine the correct position for the cartridge (set stylus overhang). Adjust overhang following the instructions in the tonearm’s, turntable’s, or headshell’s user manual. If you are unsure what the overhang distance should be, align the stylus tip to the cartridge originally attached to the tonearm (as shown in the figure below).

An overhang gauge or cartridge alignment protractor can be used to set overhang. While some gauges or protractors are provided as a separate accessory, included with either the turntable, tonearm or cartridge, others are simply printed (to actual size) in the user manual for these products. If none is provided, they are commercially available.

It is important to obtain an overhang gauge or cartridge alignment protractor that is suitable for your particular turntable or tonearm. Once the cartridge is aligned, snug the slotted mounting screws with the provided screwdriver.


Adjust the Tracking Force

Confirm the tracking force (aka stylus pressure) range by referring to the vertical tracking force section of the product’s specifications. For all AT-VM95 Series cartridges, apart from the AT-VM95SP, this is 1.8 to 2.2 grams. The tracking force range for the AT-VM95SP cartridge is 4.5 to 5.5 grams. Do not apply stylus pressure unnecessarily, too much pressure may not only damage the record and stylus but can also impair audio quality.

Be certain to calibrate (balance and zero) your turntables tonearm according to the turntable’s or tonearm’s user manual prior to setting the tracking force. If you are unable to calibrate the tonearm for some reason, or you are not confident that you have done it correctly, you may set the force with the aid of a separate stylus force gauge.


Adjust the Tonearm Height

The correct vertical tracking angle (VTA) for the stylus assembly is achieved when the tonearm is parallel to the record surface as seen from the side while playing.

Audio Solutions Question of The Week: How Do I Install My AT-VM95 Series Phono Cartridge?

Vertical tracking angle is the angle the stylus cantilever makes with the record surface. When the correct VTA is obtained, the correct Stylus Rake Angle (SRA) is also obtained. Stylus Rake Angle is the angle the stylus tip makes with the record surface. When set correctly, the tip will sit at about a 92° angle to the record surface. This means that it is tilted back slightly against the direction of the record’s rotation.

The tonearm assembly’s height should be such that the bottom surface of the headshell and the record are parallel to one another. If your turntable features a tonearm height adjustment, use this adjustment to raise or lower the rear of the tonearm as needed. If your height adjustment is calibrated, use the setting for a cartridge that is 17 mm tall. See an example of a turntable featuring adjustable tonearm height below (AT-LP140XP turntable tonearm shown).

If your tonearms height is not adjustable and the tonearm is low at the cartridge end of the arm, add a shim of appropriate thickness between the cartridge and headshell to raise the cartridge end of the arm until the arm is parallel to the record surface. Please note that in cases of extreme improper tonearm height, the body of the cartridge may contact the record surface, damaging the record and impairing audio quality.



Preamplifier/Amplifier Connections

All AT-VM95 Series phono cartridges are moving magnet (MM) type magnetic cartridges. The turntable which the cartridge is mounted to should be connected to the PHONO input jacks on the associated equipment (stereo preamplifier, integrated amplifier, receiver, etc.), unless the turntable features a built-in phono preamplifier.

If the turntable features a built-in phono preamplifier it may be used with PHONO inputs, in which case the built-in preamplifier should be turned off, or with any input other than a phono input, such as the AUX or CD input, in which case the built-in preamplifier should be turned on.

On Audio-Technica branded turntables, the preamplifier is off when the preamp selector switch located on the back of the turntable is set to the PHONO position and on when the switch is set to the LINE position. Note that some of our turntables, such as the AT-LP140XP model, do NOT feature a built-in phono preamplifier.



Use a soft brush to remove dirt and dust from the stylus tip. Brush in a back to front direction only (the direction in which the record rotates). A stylus cleaner, such as our AT607a Stylus Cleaner, is recommended for removing stubborn dirt.


Replacing the Stylus


Stylus life expectancy varies according to stylus profile type and the frequency of record and stylus care. Following is the approximate life expectancy by stylus profile type.

Conical – 300 to 500 hours

Elliptical – 300 hours

Micro linear – 1000 hours

Shibata – 800 hours

If you have any issues during the setup or have any follow-up questions, we invite you to contact us so that we can offer you further advice.