The highly appreciated and sometimes controversial Grado Prestige series phono cartridges are known for their color names: they are labeled Black, Red, Green, Blue, Gold, etc., according to a selection process based on measured parameters and listening tests. I have always loved Grado products, the way they sound, the way they are made. I am impressed by how at Grado Labs they keep producing headphones and cartridges by hand in today’s world. But now I am undecided on what cartridge to choose for my turntable. Whenever I am undecided on what to do with some of my Hifi equipment, I find it useful to write down my ideas. Hopefully, this could be also useful to other Hifi enthusiast like me, still playing vinyl records today.
A few months ago, I wrote a post about how I was no longer sure I still liked the Grado cartridges’ sound: I had found a Shure cartridge for free and with a cheap stylus mounted on, it sounded pretty good to me. Better than my old Grado 8MX? Well, a newly acquired friend sold me an Audiotechnica AT95e cartridge for an incredible price – I was blown away (yet there’s more to be said).
I’ve always been fond of Grado cartridges, because I simply like their sound and also the fact they’re hand made in Brooklyn in a way that seems quite anachronistic today. I will probably keep loving and admiring the Grado way of doing business, but after I stumbled upon a humble Shure cartridge someone was about to throw away, I am not “shure” I will be listening to my records only through Grados anymore…
I have been thinking a lot about this. When I got myself back into analog audio, I recovered a Thorens TD-165 abandoned in a friend’s closet and equipped it with a Goldring Elan. When I first upgraded the cartridge I was advised to look in Grado’s catalogue.
I choose the top of the Prestige series, which in 2005 was the Gold. I developed a love for the brand, for how the Grado family works and feels about the business. I tried even something different but, for the love of Gold, I’m not “shure” I can go away from them…
I’ve been always advising to get rid of the rubber mat on old Thorens turntables.
Lately, I’ve been reconsidering some of my well established views. The otherwise excellent Funk Firm Achromat I’ve been using for years looks a rather warped today. So I tried a felt mat I had spared and…. differences? Well…. really tough to tell.
It is debated whether the stock Thorens rubber mats of the 70s are still usable or not. Basically, the function of a turntable mat is to avoid placing our precious records directly on a rough metal plate. Modern turntables that use acrylic plates do not need a mat. The use of rubber in the past was due to its isolating properties and of course to their soft protection for the records.