"William Sommerwerck" <***@nwlink.com> wrote in message news:***@corp.supernews.com...
| One other point, just to be "complete"... Sonotone and Weathers
| high-quality ceramic pickups in which the stylus was loosely
coupled to the
| element, just "tickling" it. The Sonotone used an equalizer
between the pickup
| and the mag-phono input, and the Weathers (IIRC) used an
You remember correctly. There's some confusion as to the real
principle that Weathers stereo pickups worked on. They were sold
as "variable condenser," "strain-gauge," and "ceramic." I believe
that they were all the same, and I've cross-connected them to
prove it. The electronics circuit was called "polarizer" and
"preamp." There was no way to really know because, at least in
the case of my Polarizer, each channel contained one potted
circuit. The futzed diagram for that potted piece appeared to be
a bridge, as I recall.
There was also a low-cost universal-mount version of the
"ceramic." This plugged into your ordinary magnetic phono input
via a simple network in the shape of a tube about 1/4" diameter.
I recall that it contained a resistor and a capacitor. The
cartridges may have differed from one another subtly. The only
differences that I know for sure are that the "better" cartridges
had .5 mil conical styli; the "cheaper" ones came with .7 mil
styli. Unfortunately, none of the Weathers pickups were ever
fitted with high-tech stylus shapes, so we never could evaluate
them head-to-head with later audiophile magnetics.
Weathers definitely had his admirers, and attained a supreme
reputation for musicality. I think that they produced an
"etheric" sound, which probably was due to imprecise rigidity of
the tonearm. A synonym for "etheric" in this case is "pleasantly
muddy." Maybe Bruce can shed more light on this.
In addition, Joe Grado put out low-cost ceramic cartridges as the
"B" series. These were top-rated in Consumer Reports. They
sounded good and gave a lot of bang for the buck. Perhaps this
was the problem. I suspected that he'd boxed himself in with low
pricing, which may be why he gave up on these and returned to
Finally, Micro-Acoustics made cartridges that were probably
ceramics. These were the last high-performance ones ever. I think
that they may have suffered from internal contact failures.
So, that's it. I think that in these four brands, we have the
total of all high-performance ceramic stereo cartridges. I'm not
aware that there were any "greats" in mono. Weathers and Stax
both were making FM pickup systems during the mono LP period; the
principle obviously could not be "ported" to stereo, and both
companies switched to some form of variable capacitance for their