Headshell Wiring

How do you wire a turntable Headshell? This particular Headshell is a standard SME type with a standard H-4 Bayonet mount. In this example I am using the Numark HS-1 Headshell with the Altai HL-HM160 cartridge to show it's done. This cartridge is also sometimes called the Groovetool and uses a widely accepted pinout standard which is used by a large variety of manufacturers.

If you turn it round you will see four pins on the standard cartridge. The Altai HL-HM160 cartridge uses a bog-standard pinout scheme that will be found on many other manufacturer's cartridges as well.

On the opposite side there are four pins coming out of the H-4 Bayonet Mount. These four pins align with the opposite four pins on the cartridge. All you need is a small length of wire to connect each pin to the opposing counterpart pin on the cartridge.  It's that simple! There is no need to cross over the pins or any complex mapping. Each pin from the bayonet coupling connects straight to the opposite pin on the cartridge.

If you know that each pin connects straight to the opposing pin then you can pretty much forget the wiring colour code - electrons don't care which colour wire they travel through, as long as your pins are connected correctly...

If you want to get the colour code correct as well then the diagram above shows the pinout of the cartridge and the colours used.

Colour Channel Pin
Green Right Ground
Red Right Signal
Blue Left Ground
White Left Signal

Non-Standard Cartridges:
If you've got a cartridge that follows a different pinout then the best way to identify the channel pairs is to use a digital multimeter and measure the resistance or continuity across the pins. In this case you are looking for a pair of pins with a small resistance or continuity across them. This will indicate that there is a pick-up coil connected across them.

Here are some colour coded wires / leads for wiring the headshell to the cartridge.  It's always a good practice to use coloured wires and adhere to the correct convention. These wires are readily available from record and hi-fi  specialists as well as electronics shops. If you are frequently changing cartridges then the end-clips can get loose or worn-out and your wires may need replacing.

When inserting the clips never use your fingers. The oil from your skin will cause poor electrical contact. Normally it's not a problem, but since these wires connect to a high-gain amplifier it'll make a big difference.

If you are using pliers you don't want to use too much force as that might damage the metal end-clips as well as the insulation on the wires.

The top image shows the right channel wires, red and green pair. The bottom image shows the left channel wires white and blue pair. I've deliberately spread out the wires so that it's easy to see how they connect.

Here is a view from the underside of the headshell. I've spread the wires out so you can see clearly.

Here is a view showing all the wires connected to the headshell. You could swap over the red-green pair with the white-blue pair, in which case your left and right channels will swap over. There is no real advantage in swapping over your channels though, and you can always do that at the amplifier end anyway...

The Numark HS-1 is a standard sized headshell that is compatible with other Numark Turntables. It uses a standard H-4 Bayonet mount that is used by many other manufacturers as well.

Record Players & Turntables

Author: Peter J. Vis