It’s no secret that the headshell is a crucial piece of equipment for turntables, and if you’re reading this, you’re probably looking to replace your turntable headshell. Or maybe you bought a used device with no headshell and wondering what type of headshell to get.
Looking at the most popular headshells on the market, the Ortofon SH-4 Headshell pops up.
In our Ortofon SH-4 review, we’ll cover everything from its design to its functionality, and we’ll give you our honest opinion on whether or not we think it’s worth the investment.
We’ll also mention how the Ortofon SH-4 headshell compares to other popular headshells on the market. So, without further ado, let’s get started!
Ortofon SH-4 Review
The SH-4 is an all-in-one headshell from Ortofon, a world-leading Danish company in audio technology. The Ortofon SH-4 Headshell is a great choice for those looking for an upgrade to their turntable setup. It holds your needle, stylus, and cartridge altogether.
It’s made of high-quality materials and is designed to provide excellent sound reproduction.
It’s also very easy to install, which makes it a great option for those who are new to the world of turntables.
Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of the Ortofon SH-4 Headshell.
- Easy to use and install
- Good value for money
- Comes with screws and nuts
- Gold-plated wire terminals for better connection signal
- Excellent sound quality
- High durability
- Big finger lift to easily control the stylus
- Has slots for ½ inch mount only.
- Not the cheapest option as a backup headshell
- The big finger lift might not fit under the dust cover
The Ortofon SH-4 headshell has many key features that make it a great addition to your setup. Let’s take a look at them.
The Ortofon SH-4 headshell is made from anodized aluminum, making it thick and durable, yet, lightweight. The printed Ortofon logo in the middle of the headshell adds to its overall look and appeal. It also comes in different colors including black, pink, silver, and blue.
On the plus side, there’s no paint on the headshell that might wear or flake off in the long run. That means the shiny look of your headshell will last for a long time.
Moreover, the packaging is well done, the headshell comes in a plastic case with a nice frame holding it all together. The Ortofon SH-4 also comes with two nuts and a set of screws for installation.
The finger lift is 27 mm long, which is suitable for most cartridges. Besides, the extra length makes it much easier to control, especially for big fingers.
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The wire terminals for the tonearm, stylus, and cartridge are all gold-plated, which provides a snug fit and a better connection signal. The terminals are also color-coded, making it easy to identify the pins and wires.
In addition, the SH-4 comes with a rubber washer for smooth connection to the tonearm and also minimizes vibration.
There are also two adjustable weights at the back of the shell that helps counterbalance the tonearm, making sure that you get an even response across all frequencies and enabling better tracking of your records.
Finally, the improved dampening of unwanted vibration results in greater sound clarity and better bass response overall.
In this section, we’ll provide ratings for the Ortofon SH-4 headshell in terms of ease of use, features, value for money, and customer service.
The Ortofon SH-4 is incredibly easy to use. The pre-drilled mounting holes mean that no extra tools are required to attach them to your turntable.
The signal wires are pre-attached and all the screws and nuts come with the headshell. The installation should be straightforward, even for beginners.
Furthermore, the Ortofon SH-4 headshell is compatible with a wide range of turntables.
The Ortofon SH-4 provides pretty much everything you expect from a high-end headshell. Plus, it’s built to last.
Ortofon offers many customer service options. You can reach them via email or phone. Besides, they have tutorials and FAQs section about their products on their website in case you have an inquiry or a technical issue.
However, they reply to E-mails within 24 hours, which might not be optimal for everyone.
The Ortofon SH-4 headshell stands well regarding the value for money. There are many cheaper and more expensive options in the market, but still, the SH-4 has good durability, sound quality, ease of use, and multiple colors; all you’re looking for in this price range!
That makes it a perfect option for audiophiles and starters. However, if you’re going for the Ortofon SH-4 as a backup option to your current headshell, you might better go for cheaper alternatives.
Best Ortofon SH-4 Headshell Alternatives
There’s a debate among audiophiles about how far the headshells affect the sound quality. Some believe it’s insignificant, while others don’t agree.
That’s why some people prefer going for the cheapest headshell that can easily fit their device. In the meantime, we’ll provide some alternatives for the Ortofon SH-4 in case it’s not your favorite.
The Audio-Technica AT-HS1 Universal Headshell is a great replacement or addition to any turntable. It is solidly built and easy to use, with many features that make it a great choice for any DJ or vinyl enthusiast.
The AT-HS1 has a die-cast aluminum body, giving it a solid feel and resistance to vibration. In addition, it has an adjustable cartridge alignment so that you can fine-tune your sound.
The biggest benefit of the AT-HS1 is that it’s universal, meaning it can be used with any Audio-Technica cartridge.
This makes it a great option if you’re looking to upgrade or change your cartridge, as you won’t need to purchase a new headshell. It’s also worth noting that the AT-HS1 is compatible with most turntables on the market.
- Color-coded wire terminals and cartridge mounting hardware are included for easier installation.
- Rubber washer included for a snug fit to the tonearm.
- Great compatibility with all Audio-Technica turntables and most turntables on the market.
- Supplied screws are quite short, which might not be suitable for all cartridges
- Only slots for a ½-inch mount (no P- mount)
The Audio-Technica AT-HS6 is a very versatile headshell that can be used with a wide range of turntables. It’s made of a die-cast aluminum body with a black or silver finish. The lightweight body helps minimize vibration producing crisp and clear sound quality.
Furthermore, the AT-HS7 has an integral finger lift that’s easy to adjust and fits a wide range of turntables. The headshell also comes with mounting screws so you can assemble everything effortlessly. Besides, the wires are gold-plated and provide flawless signal transmission.
- High durability.
- Fits any turntable with an S-shaped tonearm.
- Easy to install and align with the cartridge.
- Some complained that the wires aren’t gold-plated as stated by Audio-Technica
- Mounting screws can be long for some turntables.
So is the Ortofon SH-4 worth it? All in all, the Ortofon SH-4 Headshell is an excellent product that offers great sound and a high level of reliability. It’s designed to fit most standard turntables and its lightweight design makes it easy to use. Plus, the gold-plated contacts ensure excellent connectivity and durability.
The only real downside of this headshell is its price tag. It’s not the cheapest headshell on the market. But if you’re looking for a quality product that will last for years, the Ortofon SH-4 Headshell is worth considering.
The Audio-Technica AT-HS1 is another great universal headshell compatible with a wide range of turntables. It’s well-built, has a solid feel, and it comes with a detachable finger lift for easy control.
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The main downside is that it’s not the easiest to install on every cartridge, as the supplied screws are pretty short. That’s why it’s not the best option if you’re just starting and want a hassle-free installation.
The Audio-Technica AT-HS6 is an excellent headshell in terms of sound quality, compatibility, and durability. It’s a good option if you’re short on budget or need a headshell for your backup cartridge. Even though it should be easy to assemble with most cartridges, some complained that the mounting screws don’t fit all turntables.
How To Choose The Right Headshell For My Turntable?
You need to consider the weight of your tonearm and stock headshell. You can check your turntable manual to find out the weight of your tonearm and headshell and compare it to the weight of the headshell you’re considering.
In general, a suitable lightweight headshell should be between 5.5 and 7 grams.
Do Headshells Affect Sound Quality?
The cartridge, tonearm, and stylus are the main factors that affect the sound quality of turntables. However, headshells still have an impact on audio quality.
The weight and material of the headshell are crucial for smooth and vibration-free audio playback. That’s why we recommend going for aluminum headshells as they’re durable and lightweight.
What’s The Difference Between ½ Inch Mount And P-Mount?
The main difference is in the mounting screws. For example, in ½ inch cartridges, the screw holes at the top of the cartridge are ½ inch apart. Meanwhile, P-mount cartridges have no screw holes and it connects directly to the tonearm.
That’s why P-mount is a popular choice among people who want to avoid the hassle of the tiny wires in the ½ inch cartridges. However, the ½ inch cartridges are more common in the market.