Headshell Wiring

Headshell Wiring

How do you wire a turntable headshell? This particular headshell is a standard SME type with a H-4 bayonet mount. In this example, I am using the Numark HS-1 headshell with the Altai HL-HM160 cartridge to show it is wired. This cartridge, also known as Groovetool, uses the widely accepted pinout standard.

Wiring Pin View

If you flip it over you will see four pins on this standard cartridge. The Altai HL-HM160 cartridge uses a standard pinout scheme found on many other cartridges as well.

Standard wiring diagram.

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 is 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 because electrons do not care which colour wire they travel through, as long as your pins connect correctly.

Wiring Pinout

Non-Standard Cartridges: If you have a cartridge that follows a different pinout and colour code, then the best way to identify the channel pairs is to use a digital meter 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.

ColourChannel Pin
GreenRight Ground
RedRight Signal
BlueLeft Ground
WhiteLeft Signal

Here are some colour coded wires / leads for wiring the headshell to the cartridge. It is 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. Frequently changing cartridges makes the end-clips loose and they wear out. It is a good idea to replace these wires when the clips get loose.

Wiring Pliers

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

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

Wiring Colour Code

Here is the headshell properly connected with all the wires. I have deliberately spread out the wires so that you can see how it is done.

Left Channel Connection

Here is the left channel connection with white and blue wires. As you can see, the wires connect straight to the pins on the opposite side.

Wiring Plan View

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...

Numark HS-1 Headshell

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 many other manufacturers use as well.