Ooh, that was quick!

bretty

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Jul 20, 2007
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The Eagle has landed. In this case, the eagle is a Grado Reference Platinum 1 cartridge. It came a day early. Nice


It's on the Technoarm, right now, running in.

I'll give a little run-down of my first impressions.

Firstly, Grado have done a great job of making you know you've got a quality cartridge when you open the cardboard box. The Denon 103 came in a little plastic box, the Grado comes in a beautiful wooden box, with 'Grado, Brooklyn, New York etched into it and with a nice metal clasp keeping it closed.



When you open the box, you're met by the cart, which is seated in a really nice green foam bed. The top of the box is lined in green felt. What you are looking at in the photo below is the bottom of the stylus, and you can see the stylus guard, which is made from the same wood as the cartridge and simply pulls off. It's another nice touch by Grado. It makes a nice change from the normal plastic guards.



So far so good, then. Things carry on in a good vein once I took the cart out of the box. It has captive nuts, which I made attaching the cart a doddle. Yet another nice touch, especially for a mid-range cart.

I'll talk a little about set-up. Firstly, I've got to say that I got lucky. Grado recommend a level tonearm, if not then maybe even a little backward slope. Because the Grado is a few mm deeper than the Shure cart that it's replaced, it gave me the right angle for the arm, without having to muck around with VTA.

The actual set up was very easy. As I mentioned before, the captive nuts meant that there was no fiddling around with little nuts. Just line the screws up with the holes that have been drilled into the cart and screw em in.

Alignment was a breeze, too, which surprised me because the cart body has angular sides. However, I used the front of the cart, which is straight, and it worked just fine.

Seriously, I had the cart attached to the headshell and aligned in five minutes.

I set the tracking to the recommended 1.5g and spun my first record.

I wasn't expecting miracles with this cart, straight off the bat, as I realise it's new and will take time to run in. That said, it's blummin brilliant. Better than I expected.

It's better than the Shure with vocals, it's very realistic. I'm listening to Terence Trent D'arby's first album and the way the Grado is making him sound has given me goosebumps twice. It's really impressive.

The trable is beautiful. I tell you the best way I can think of describing it: it's similar to the treble that I was getting off the MC Denon 103, in that it's really light and twinkles, but without the hardness that the Denon had. it's silky and, well, just cushty


It's lower frequencies don't have the absolute slam of the Shure, but they are strong and really well defined.

It tracks very well. Much better than the Denon and equally as good as the Shure. There's not a hint of Inner Groove Distortion.

It's a very revealing cart, and shows up knackered records flaws. For example, my copy of Terence Trent darby isn't great. it has lot of crackles on certain tracks. The acapella track on side two 'As Yet untitled' is the worst offender. With the Shure, it was just crackly, but the Grado shows up the true extent of the damage: there's a slight echo, but in reverse, if that makes sense. Just before he sings something properly, you can hear it a second before, very faintly. I've never heard anything like it before. Very weird. I need a new copy of Terence!

After the real disappointment of the Denon, I was a little anxious about this cart buying lark, but i'm so happy with this. I genuinely can't fault anything about it, and that's straight out of the box. It's gonna get better too, over the next couple of weeks


I'll update the review once I listen to some other genres.

Soz, boys (and Clare), this has turned into a loooong post. For those that read to the end: good on ya!


Here she is, in action:

 

chebby

Well-known member
Jun 2, 2008
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bretty said:
... there's a slight echo, but in reverse, if that makes sense. Just before he sings something properly, you can hear it a second before, very faintly. I've never heard anything like it before. Very weird. I need a new copy of Terence!
Sounds like 'print through' on the master tape.

If the master tape is left too long without re-spooling, the magnetic signal prints through adjacent layers and give a feint 'pre-echo'. (Only noticable on quiet bits between tracks usually.)

I am guessing your LP is a re-issue made some time after the master tape was made.
 

Jason36

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Jul 23, 2008
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That is one heck of a nice looking cartridge Matey.......

Can't wait to hear more about it as you get to listen :)
 

bretty

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Jul 20, 2007
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chebby said:
bretty said:
... there's a slight echo, but in reverse, if that makes sense. Just before he sings something properly, you can hear it a second before, very faintly. I've never heard anything like it before. Very weird. I need a new copy of Terence!
Sounds like 'print through' on the master tape.

If the master tape is left too long without re-spooling, the magnetic signal prints through adjacent layers and give a feint 'pre-echo'. (Only noticable on quiet bits between tracks usually.)

I am guessing your LP is a re-issue made some time after the master tape was made.
Ah, really? That makes sense. 'Pre echo' sounds much better than how I put it: 'echo but in reverse'. For a clever bloke, i'm a proper dullard sometimes


Thanks for the explanation, Chebby.
 

bretty

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Jul 20, 2007
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mitch65 said:
What a beauty! :bigsmile:
Isn't it just!

After all the flip-flopping, stressing and sweating i've been doing over choosing a cart, i'm so glad it's turned out well!

You'll have to get yourself round for a listen (and beers) matey.
 

bretty

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Jason36 said:
That is one heck of a nice looking cartridge Matey.......

Can't wait to hear more about it as you get to listen :)
Cheers, Jase, i'm well happy
 

mitch65

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Dec 16, 2003
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bretty said:
mitch65 said:
What a beauty! :bigsmile:
Isn't it just!

After all the flip-flopping, stressing and sweating i've been doing over choosing a cart, i'm so glad it's turned out well!

You'll have to get yourself round for a listen (and beers) matey.
I'm off work next week looking after a little darlings so I'll pop up one evening fo some well deserved R&R or will be one temptation too much! ;)
 

bretty

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Jul 20, 2007
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mitch65 said:
bretty said:
mitch65 said:
What a beauty! :bigsmile:
Isn't it just!

After all the flip-flopping, stressing and sweating i've been doing over choosing a cart, i'm so glad it's turned out well!

You'll have to get yourself round for a listen (and beers) matey.
I'm off work next week looking after a little darlings so I'll pop up one evening fo some well deserved R&R or will be one temptation too much! ;)


I'm back from Essexland on Tuesday, so any night from then on is cool, buddy. You're gonna like this cart, methinks!
 

mitch65

Well-known member
Dec 16, 2003
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bretty said:
mitch65 said:
bretty said:
mitch65 said:
What a beauty! :bigsmile:
Isn't it just!

After all the flip-flopping, stressing and sweating i've been doing over choosing a cart, i'm so glad it's turned out well!

You'll have to get yourself round for a listen (and beers) matey.
I'm off work next week looking after a little darlings so I'll pop up one evening fo some well deserved R&R or will be one temptation too much! ;)
You're gonna like this cart, methinks!
That's what I'm afraid of :)
 

bretty

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Jul 20, 2007
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mitch65 said:
That's what I'm afraid of :)
It's only money, mate! And as some esteemed gentleman from Pebsham said to me the other day: You can't take it with you.
 

bretty

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Jul 20, 2007
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A very quick update.

I've now listened to Lisa Hannigan - Sea Sew, which a few of you are familiar with. I can now say that the Grado is better than the Shure with strings. They have a bundle of texture. You can really hear the bow being drawn across the strings.

This is a seriously light and airy cart. The reviews that I read claimed that this was better than a lot of MC carts, and I can believe it. I say that because it has that twinkly treble, and spacious sound, that I heard with the Denon, but it marries those qualities with a warm mid range and full bottom end, that the MC lacked.

Also, it's forgiving of sibilant recordings. My Simply Vinyl version of Don Mclean's American pie sounded pucker with the Shure, but the sibilant recording was sometimes distracting. Although it's impossible for a cart to completely get rid of that sibilance, it's noticably reduced with the Grado in place.

EDIT: I've got Jeff Buckley - Sketches for my sweetheart the drunk on now. I'm listening to 'Everybody here wants you' as I type. The bass definitely needs to let itself go a bit. It hasn't quite got the depth of the Shure. It's very tight, though. I'm Shure it'll improve once run in.

Sorry to keep banging on about it, but the treble is so good. The hihat on this track sounds just amazing. Light and zingy and exactly as a real hi hat sounds.

You all know what a big fan I was of the Shure, but the Grado is better. A lot better.

Right, i'll finish Jeff and then it's time to get heavy.
 

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