"Doorway" phono cartridges --musings re: hyper-cheap cartridges, old and new

mhardy6647

Señor Member
I figure that in terms of SQ for the dollar the latest version of the Grado Black comes out on top. I've not owned one (yet), but I heard one and was quite impressed, especially for the cost.
I think/believe/assume/imagine/hallucinate/hope that the "Black 2" is the modern incarnation of the aforementioned FTE+

:)
 

fiddlefye

Senior Member
You are likely not far from the truth, although Grado has always used about the most opaque naming system in the industry.
No kidding! The system might (*might*) make sense within itself at any given moment, but taken over time it sure is baffling.

I've used the previous Grado Black on many tables, both for a table that will be handled by other people and as setup for someone getting into records for the first time. It never disappointed at all and gave a full and musical response. The new Black is very similar, but vastly better in every sense.
 

mhardy6647

Señor Member
You are likely not far from the truth, although Grado has always used about the most opaque naming system in the industry.
Well, in the old days, they were (fairly) explicit in the sense that, for most of their line, all of the cartridges (and maybe even styli?!) were of the same production, differing in only the level of selection applied. I.e., the top x-percent of the base-level were selected and labeled as the next model up, and then the top y-percent of those were selected to be the next-next model up, etc. :)

It is funny that they use colors in their current "low-level" model names, but there aren't (correct me if I am wrong) actual colors associated with those models. I remember at some point that they had colored dots on the stylus grippers to denote which stylus was which, but I don't think (again, correct me if I am wrong) that those colors had any thing to do with the names of any of the models. :)

But, hey, they were, and AFAIK still are, great values in the market when it comes to musical phono cartridges, and that's OK with me.
It is (was) also OK with me that Joe Grado was an operatic singer and that he invented the MC phono cartridge* but rather quickly moved on from it (them) to MI designs -- and stayed in Brooklyn** for the duration.
____________________
* Well, got a patent for an MC design, at any rate.
** Before audio products from Brooklyn were hip.
 
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I'm currently listening to a Shure SC35C/M35X combination. There's a lot that's right about the sound and I would recommend it, but they're getting to the point where you might say the doorway is closing. Still, it's my daily driver, and I am working to collect replacement styli while they're still available. No wonder prices are going up.

My brother spent part of his teenage years scratching records (for musical purposes). He turned me onto the M44-7. I have an older one (60's or 70's) that I use with thrift store records because it is forgiving of their scars.

I've ordered one of the Diabolic E's. I'm hopeful for that one.

One name I haven't seen come up in this discussion: Audio Technica AT-95E. I have a friend who listens, almost exlcusively, to this cart fitted with a Shibata stylus - not the cheapest upgrade path, but there is one.
 

Rog50

Junior Member
Read about these on Audiokarma.
Magnetic Cartridge Stylus with LP Vinyl Needle for Turntable Record Player LL | eBay
Ordered two of them, they will be accompanying a couple of tables I am going to be letting go. I have a Lenco L70 on my bench right now, currently trying it with an At 1005 Mkll arm. Plopped one of these on it to see how it sounded. Tried it with workbench grade recordings. The conical tip, riding at 2.2 grams vtf manages to plow through pops and crackles just fine.

I won't be trying them out on any newer recordings, but maybe I will get around to swapping in one of the very modest Technics SL D202 decks that are cluttering my shelves into my main system and give them a listen.
 

TubeHiFiNut

Administrator
Read about these on Audiokarma.
Magnetic Cartridge Stylus with LP Vinyl Needle for Turntable Record Player LL | eBay
Ordered two of them, they will be accompanying a couple of tables I am going to be letting go. I have a Lenco L70 on my bench right now, currently trying it with an At 1005 Mkll arm. Plopped one of these on it to see how it sounded. Tried it with workbench grade recordings. The conical tip, riding at 2.2 grams vtf manages to plow through pops and crackles just fine.

I won't be trying them out on any newer recordings, but maybe I will get around to swapping in one of the very modest Technics SL D202 decks that are cluttering my shelves into my main system and give them a listen.
Are those the Audio Technica AT3600?
 

mhardy6647

Señor Member
Yeah, I -- ahem -- bought one of those, too, a while back. :p
I'm not necessarily proud of that.

I have, to date, lacked the chutzpah to actually stuff it into a head shell & take it on a test spin.
 

Rog50

Junior Member
Are those the Audio Technica AT3600?
Apparently some folks are claiming so. They go on to say you can upgrade the stylus, but really. I was pleasantly suprpised to see it even worked, the cart comes in a nice little plastic box, locked down with included bolts and nuts. I will be including mine on tables I no longer use, for resale.

Yeah, I -- ahem -- bought one of those, too, a while back. :p
I'm not necessarily proud of that.

I have, to date, lacked the chutzpah to actually stuff it into a head shell & take it on a test spin.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained :eek:
 

mhardy6647

Señor Member
I bought one in its "Gemini CN-15" morph. PE had 'em for like 15 bucks on special at one point, so I figured what the fug?

1549326755470.png

Gotta love that plastic I mean, high-tech carbon fiber cantilever. :smoke
I mean -- maybe -- it actually is carbon fiber... guess they don't need much to make a cantilever.

My new car has - this is absolutely true - simulated carbon fiber trim elements in the interior and some on the outside, too.
My son (whose carbon fiber collection consists of tripods that are not inexpensive) found this extremely amusing.

:)
 

TubeHiFiNut

Administrator
Yeah, I -- ahem -- bought one of those, too, a while back. :p
I'm not necessarily proud of that.

I have, to date, lacked the chutzpah to actually stuff it into a head shell & take it on a test spin.
Apparently some folks are claiming so. They go on to say you can upgrade the stylus, but really. I was pleasantly suprpised to see it even worked, the cart comes in a nice little plastic box, locked down with included bolts and nuts. I will be including mine on tables I no longer use, for resale.



Nothing ventured, nothing gained :eek:
I bought one in its "Gemini CN-15" morph. PE had 'em for like 15 bucks on special at one point, so I figured what the fug?

View attachment 10587

Gotta love that plastic I mean, high-tech carbon fiber cantilever. :smoke
I mean -- maybe -- it actually is carbon fiber... guess they don't need much to make a cantilever.

My new car has - this is absolutely true - simulated carbon fiber trim elements in the interior and some on the outside, too.
My son (whose carbon fiber collection consists of tripods that are not inexpensive) found this extremely amusing.

:)
I have a few of these with conical styli to put in the tables I occasionally sell or gift.

Mounted one in the L70 and.......they are not bad. Not a giant killer, but not bad.

For someone who needs an inexpensive cartridge for their vintage table and can't afford to step up to the $100 range, it's worth considering.

YMMV..... :)
 

mhardy6647

Señor Member
I have a few of these with conical styli to put in the tables I occasionally sell or gift.

Mounted one in the L70 and.......they are not bad. Not a giant killer, but not bad.

For someone who needs an inexpensive cartridge for their vintage table and can't afford to step up to the $100 range, it's worth considering.

YMMV..... :)
Truth be told -- that's exactly what I'd expect. :)
 
Thought I'd try to revive this thread by asking a question related to the initial premise: what's the 'doorway' product for MC cartridges? I came across some input transformers and would love to find a reason to use them. The Denon 103 has gone up enough in price that I'm wondering what worthwhile things exist on either end of its current price range? Are the lower priced AT options any good? Should I just try to jump up to a Hana or Ortofon SPU at this point? Thoughts?
 

mred

Senior Member
Thought I'd try to revive this thread by asking a question related to the initial premise: what's the 'doorway' product for MC cartridges? I came across some input transformers and would love to find a reason to use them. The Denon 103 has gone up enough in price that I'm wondering what worthwhile things exist on either end of its current price range? Are the lower priced AT options any good? Should I just try to jump up to a Hana or Ortofon SPU at this point? Thoughts?
What transformers do you have ?
 

mred

Senior Member
Harmon Kardon XT-2's and XT-3's, so 1:10 and 1:14 options. I traded Redboy some XT-2's and cash for one of his wired bases.
I have used them with 103 and they are very good.
If you can afford to go the Haha route I think you will be pleased, you pretty much get equivalent of the 103 after modding it.
 
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