Best P-Mount Cartridges Review

This post was updated on: December 4th 2021

Do you know what factors can provide you with a premium level of music listening?

We believe they are a Vinyl record, a turntable, and last but not least, the best P-Mount cartridge.

So if you are looking for a suitable cartridge to go with your Vinyl records, keep reading our detailed review and buying advice down below for more information.

Top 5 Best P-Mount Cartridges Review

Audio-Technica AT81CP

The AT81CP is the replacement cartridge for the following models: AT3482P, AT3482, AT90CD, and AT300P.

It is one of the most common substitutions for many P-mount turntables with such a wide range of models.

This model's stylus has a conical shape and a rather rounded structure. The cantilever is made from carbon-fiber-reinforced ABS.

They help to bring about a sleek look and increase the durability.

Audio-Technica has equipped the AT81CP with its dual-moving magnet construction.

The system combines with the coil structure to ensure excellent sound stability and distinct channel isolation, which separates music on the left and right sides.

Audio-Technica AT81CP Replacement Phonograph Cartridge with Conical Stylus for P Mount Turntables
  • Replacement model for the following cartridges: AT300P, AT3482, AT3482H/U, AT3482P, and AT90CD
  • Fits P-mount Turntables

Last update on 2021-12-04 at 04:00 UTC - 4/ Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Pros

  • Affordable
  • One of the most popular replacement cartridges
  • Bonded stylus and ABS carbon fiber cantilever for improved longevity

Cons

  • No screw is included

Audio-Technica AT85EP

Just like the AT81CP model, the AT85EP integrates the exclusive dual moving magnet system from Audio Technica.

The channel separation is a little higher, and the channel balance is lower than the AT81CP.

These are just slight differences, so at the end of the day, it also delivers great sound performance similarly to the AT81CP.

This means that the AT85EP still creates wider channel separation than other P-mount cartridges on the market.

To make it clearer, the wider the channel spacing is, the better the reception and audio realism get.

Besides, the cantilever is made from aluminum pipe, making the stylus and the entire cartridge durable.

Audio-Technica AT85EP Turntable Cartridge with Elliptical Stylus P Mount, 0.3 x 0.7 mil elliptical cartridge
  • 0. 3 x 0. 7 mil elliptical cartridge designed specifically to fit linear format P-mount turntables
  • Features Audio-Technica’s unique dual moving magnet construction

Last update on 2021-12-04 at 04:00 UTC - 4/ Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Pros

  • Durable
  • Wider channel separation

Cons

  • Does not come with mounting screws

Audio Technica AT3482P

The AT3482P model does not have the cream white color like other models from Audio Technica.

It looks attractive and modern with the glossy black finish and white letters printed on top. Its cantilever is also made of a dark-colored, rigid type of carbon fiber.

This material provides the AT3482P cartridge with solid built quality and premium look. Your record player could get a more aesthetic feel thanks to this feature.

This model is quite compact when compared to competitions in the same price range.

Its dimensions are 1.8 x 0.9 x 2.1 inches, and its weight is 0.64 ounces, accounting for ⅔ of the others.

The compatibility helps you tuck it inside a small drawer when not in use or even put it in your pocket to bring it with you.

Moreover, AT3482P's higher channel separation and channel balance point out that this model has better sound stabilization.

It ensures more accurate and detailed audio reproduction than the AT81CP and ATN85EP.

However, some customers said that they experienced base reverb at louder levels when using this cartridge.

Last update on 2021-12-04 at 04:00 UTC - 4/ Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Small dimensions
  • All-black shiny color tone
  • More accurate sound quality than other models from Audio Technica

Cons

  • More reverb at louder levels

LP GEAR CARBON FIDELITY CFT4PSE

The LP GEAR carbon fidelity CFNT4PSE is a replacement for  Audio-Technica AT3472 cartridges.

LP GEAR and Audio-Technica have cooperated to develop this product, so it's like the two brands combined the best of them to create the CFNT4PSE model.

This model benefits from the quality material that can improve the turntable's performance.

Its super carbon fiber technology creates fresh, crystal clear music and protects the grooves from dust for longer use.

The carbon fiber can do more than you imagine. It produces tonal diversity to bring out the music's subtle nuances and panache.

You will feel it through the exquisite harmonic and the large multi-dimensional sound field.

LP GEAR cartridge and stylus for Technics SL-M3, SL-MA1, SL-Q2, SL-Q20, SL-Q200, SL-Q210, SL-10, SL-7,SL-Q30, SL-Q300, SL-Q310
  • Top quality P-mount T4P cartridge
  • Carbon fiber technology for remarkable nuance and tonal complexity

Last update on 2021-12-04 at 11:49 UTC - 4/ Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Pros

  • Co-developed by 2 big brands: LP GEAR and Audio Technica
  • Super Carbon fiber technology

Cons

  • High price

Audio-Technica AT-PMA1

For several decades, Audio-Technica has proved itself a dominant force in the manufacture of innovative audio systems.

That's why we will recommend another product from this reputable longing brand. The AT-PMA1 model is our pick as the best budget P Mount Cartridge in this article.

It comes with many accessories and good compatibility at a reasonable price.

The AT-PMA1 is a universal P-mount to ½" adapter, which allows P-Mount/T4P cartridges to work as half-inch mount cartridges.

Suppose you have a universal system and a P-mount system.

In that case, you should go for this P-mount cartridge instead of the ½" one since you could swap it between the two systems easily.

The AT-PMA1 is AT85EP and AT81CP model compliant.

Therefore, you can mount it to these above models or other T4P-P-mount cartridges to improve your turntable compatibility.

Besides, you can insert the AT-PMA1 into the four holes laid on the adapter's front side.

There is a screw on the side to protect the P-mount cartridge.

The manufacturer has included adapter screws and nuts already, alongside a headshell mounting hardware. 

This cartridge delivers high fidelity and refractive soundstage with a decent channel separation (18-20 dB at 1 kHz) and channel balance (2 dB at 1 kHz).

We believe music lovers prefer Hi-fi sound, and this model can offer that.

The AT-PMA1 also weighs 0.32 ounces (a third of other competitions in this list) and measures only 4 x 1 x 3 inches.

This feature makes it look neat on your Vinyl record.

Audio-Technica AT-PMA1 Universal P-Mount to 1/2" Adapter , Black
  • P-mount to 1/2" adapter
  • Compatible with the AT85EP and AT81CP

Last update on 2021-12-04 at 04:00 UTC - 4/ Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Pros

  • Compact
  • Lightweight
  • Budget-friendly
  • Compatible with AT85EP and AT81CP

Cons

  • Not-so-attractive look (quite rough finish)

What Is a P-mount Cartridge?

P-mount cartridge, or T4P plug-in cartridge, is a phono cartridge mounted on a turntable's P-mount tonearm.

Being a phono cartridge, it works as an electro-mechanical device conveying sound into electrical signals and amplifying them to create a smooth melody to your ears.

A cartridge consists of two major parts: the cartridge's body (coils) and the stylus (with suspension and cantilever).

The stylus is a diamond-shaped needle tracking record, while the coils transfer signal.

You might hear tons of cartridge types, including ½", P-mount, standard mount, T4P, and universal. To be honest, we were also confused in our early days with this device.

In fact, ½" and standard mount are the same, while P-mount and T4P are actually one thing. The universal cartridge is simply a P-mount cartridge with an adapter.

Therefore, there are only two main types of cartridges on the market: standard and P-mount.

The P-mount cartridge has 4 tiny pins at the back used to attach to the end of the tonearm and then secured with one screw.

It normally slides side to side on a linear tonearm tracking or a non-linear tracking gimbal-base tonearm.

Difference between P-mount and Standard Mount Cartridge

Basically, the difference between these two types is the way of approach.

The ½" cartridge, as its name indicates, has mounting holes separated by a half-inch distance.

It is hooked up to the record player's arm through 4 wires and secured by 2 vertical screws.

This type of cartridge is the most common by far; for this reason, it is also known as standard mount cartridge. 

Meanwhile, customers have less daunting selections when it comes to P-mount cartridges because they only go with P-mount tonearms.

However, the special design makes P-mounts easier to connect and increase their flexibility.

what is the best p mount cartridge

To connect them, you only need to plug the 4 terminals directly into the tonearm and secure with one screw.

Most P-mounts come with a standard adapter that allows them to be used in a traditional headshell.

If you plug the adapter into the cartridge, the P-mount becomes a universal mount.

How to Choose a P-Mount Cartridge 

When choosing the best P-mount cartridge, you should pay attention to its design, performance, and brand name.

There are still more factors to consider, but we only name three major ones not to make you confused in this section.

Design

In terms of design, the P-mount cartridge must be compatible with your turntable and easy to install.

Performance

In terms of performance, we suggest you go to the stores to check the sound quality.

Test the device with old and new Vinyl records to see whether the overall music is clear and how highs, mids, and bass tones sound.

Supposed you are a seasoned cartridge user, you can look for some advanced specs such as separation, balance, and output.

The signals transmitted by the cartridge must go out separately, which means you cannot hear the left signals on the right speaker.

Besides, the cartridge needs to balance both sides' loudness and make sure the output level is not too low (causing noise) or too high (resulting in distortion).

Brand

Moreover, the brand name is also a notable feature.

Because playing Vinyl records is an antique hobby, the longstanding manufacturers are always preferred.

Some reputable names are Audio Technica, Ortofon, Grado, Bliss, etc.

Who Should Buy P-Mount Cartridge? 

As we mentioned above, P-mount cartridges are rarer than standard ones and also designed to plug into a particular type of tonearm.

They are the quick options for those who don't want to fine-tune a precision instrument.

P-mount cartridges can also go with a universal mount tonearm, which supports both standard mount cartridges and P-mount cartridges.

Hence, if you have a P-mount or a universal mount system, we recommend buying a P-mount cartridge because of its availability.

Otherwise, you should consider buying standard ones if you have one system.

Standard mount cartridges come in a broader selection of choices, so there's no need to purchase a P-mount cartridge.

FAQs 

Are P-Mount cartridges interchangeable?

Yes, they are. You can swap between a standard tonearm and a P-mount tonearm, and your P-mount cartridge fits all. 

It is not required that the cartridge and the turntable must come from the same brand. Any P-mount cartridge will work well in a T4P tonearm regardless of its brand.

Do turntable cartridges wear out?

They do wear out, but not regularly. In fact, the cartridge itself hardly wears out, but the stylus does.

The dirt inside your player's grooves can corrode the stylus and coils of the cartridge. Besides, the rubber suspension attached to the cantilever can become stiff due to ambient conditions.

How often should I replace the cartridge on my turntable?

Cartridges usually last for a very long time.

Some reviewers said that their cartridges last for 10 years, but we will go with the average number - about 4 to 5 years.

Remember, the more you play records, the faster your stylus needs to be replaced.

If your cartridge is over 10 years old, you should replace it immediately because the components inside a record cartridge definitely deteriorate over such a long time.

If you've just bought your cartridge for a couple of years, check the sound quality while listening to know whether you need to replace the stylus or buy a new cartridge.

Are the high notes/ high frequencies recently not as crisp and clear as they once were? Have you cleaned your cartridge and stylus by soft brush lately?

Or you've already done, but the overall sound from your records does not get any better?

The answers can vary from person to person, so you might take our words below as a piece of advice:

If you play many records, you should replace your stylus every 6 months or even sooner.

If you only play a few records once in a while, you might only need to replace your stylist once a year or even later.

Should I replace the stylus or cartridge?

Basically, replacing the stylus is enough to bring good sound quality back to your turntable. It's simple and affordable.

Therefore, buying a new stylus is a great choice for small problems with your player or entry-level record players.

In certain cases, you might need to replace the whole cartridge.

This situation happens when you buy a second-hand turntable and don't know anything about the condition of the cartridge the ex-owner uses.

Or when you want to make an entire upgrade to your turntable's sonic output, then go for a new cartridge.

However, some tonearms allow you to replace the stylus or cartridge as you like.

Some only enable replacing the stylus, not the cartridge. Look at the mounting between the cartridge and the tonearm to find out.

If there are screws, then you can replace both. Otherwise, you can only replace the stylus.

Bottom Line 

Along with the returning popularity of vintage record players, P-mount cartridges have become a hit innovation on the market nowadays.

They are interchangeable and easy to use.

P-mounts are ideal for both beginners who don't know how to use the ½" mount ones and seasoned players looking for a convenient invention to upgrade their turntables.

There is a range of available choices; you can have affordable options and expensive ones with superior quality.

We hope our buying instruction will help you choose the best P-mount cartridge for your turntable.

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