IPS Case Study: Korf Audio’s Unrivalled Ceramic Headshell
Posted by Tom Evans on November 15, 2021
IPS Ceramics and Korf Audio have worked together to make the HS-A02 Ceramic Headshell, a unique fully ceramic headshell for record players.
A high-end analogue audio set-up depends on having high-quality components which provide a sturdy platform, allowing for the accurate reproduction of a LP record’s tiny grooves without any distortion or loss. Take, for example, the headshell of a record player, the component that holds the pick-up cartridge and its stylus as it touches the record. Without a good quality headshell providing a sturdy platform, the sound you get from your records would be immediately compromised – if you’re losing fidelity at the point where the needle touches the record, you can’t recover it at any other point of the system.
Given how important this component is, the question becomes: how can you improve on the headshell and make one which surpasses all those which have come before? These are the ambitious questions that Korf Audio sought to answer and, with the help of IPS Ceramics, they are now bringing their solution to the world. How do you improve on the traditional headshell? You make it out of a ceramic.
To perfect the ceramic headshell, Korf Audio undertook a long period of research, experimentation, and development. One of their major discoveries, as recorded on their blog, was the importance of the headshell having high levels of stiffness and rigidity. To capture as many of the vibrations emanating from the stylus as possible, you need to provide the most stable platform for it. Rigid materials allow you to do this – the more rigid they are, the better they perform.
Most modern headshells are made of metal. If you’re after rigidity though, ceramics easily beat out metals. For example, if you were to compare the Young’s Modulus of aluminium (a metal) and alumina (a ceramic), you’d find that alumina is almost four times as rigid. That said, the historic issue with using ceramics for a headshell has been that headshells are complicated pieces which need to fit in exactly with several other components, meaning that they need to be made to tight tolerances that some ceramics would struggle to meet. Even previous ceramic headshells, rare as they are, attached metal pieces to a basic ceramic shape, the connections between the two compromising the piece’s rigidity and stopping the material from reaching its full potential.
This is why Korf Audio approached us at IPS Ceramics, looking to see if advances in the manufacturing of technical ceramics meant that we could now make a completely ceramic headshell. After two years of working together, adjusting Korf Audio’s original design and testing multiple types of ceramic material, we managed to do it – the world’s first entirely ceramic headshell. Of course, we’re keeping the secrets of exactly how we managed it to ourselves – it is a brand-new product after all.
We’re very proud of what we and Korf Audio have produced. Thanks to its alumina material, the HS-A02 Ceramic Headshell has twice the rigidity of the next best product in the market. Thanks to the advances in ceramic production which we have developed, it is comprised of one single piece without any connectors or components to compromise its design. It also has a reinforcing rib which allowed us to decrease its effective length, moving its resonance frequency up and deflection down. The result is a unique product which stands head-and-shoulders above its competitors – the best headshell in the world.
If you’re interested in the HS-A02 Ceramic Headshell and want to buy one for yourself, you can do so at Korf Audio’s website. If you’re interested in the science behind it and want to know more about how its design was developed, we also highly recommend you read Korf Audio’s comprehensive and fascinating blog which covers the development of the headshell in close detail.
IPS Ceramics are a worldwide manufacturer of ceramics to a wide range of industries. As well as working on the headshell, we have worked with customers to develop products for the investment casting, laboratory research, and electric vehicle industries. Alongside this, we also have an extensive range of traditional kiln furniture products for industries such as tableware, sanitaryware and powder metallurgy.