Grado Prestige Gold1 phono cartridge Associated Equipment

Sidebar 2: Associated Equipment

Analog Sources: Rega Planar 3 turntable & RB300 tonearm; Linn LP12 turntable, Naim Aro tonearm; Thorens TD-124 Mk.II turntable, EMT 997 tonearm; Denon DL-103, EMT OFD 25 & OFD 65, Ortofon SPU 90th Anniversary, Rega Exact, Shindo SPU cartridges.
Digital Sources: Sony SCD-777ES SACD/CD player, Wavelength Cosecant v3 USB DAC (with Apple iMac).
Preamplification: Auditorium 23 Hommage T1 step-up transformer, Shindo Masseto preamplifier.
Power Amplifiers: Shindo Corton-Charlemagne & Haut-Brion.
Loudspeakers: Audio Note AN-E/SPe HE.
Cables: USB: Kimber B Bus. Interconnect: Audio Note AN-vx, Shindo Silver. Speaker: Auditorium 23. AC: JPS Labs The Digital (Sony SACD/CD player).
Accessories: Box Furniture Company rack (source & amplification components), Keith Monks record-cleaning machines.—Art Dudley

Grado Labs
4614 Seventh Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11220
(718) 435-5340

Et Quelle's picture

Well you gotta like the "G" on the front? cheeky

stereophilement's picture

Hey Art why'd you go all the way into the city, was'nt there a Harvey Sound in White Plains? There used to be anyway. Thanks for the review. For myself I am impressed with Grado Gold 1 sound with Rega. I think the Grado cartridge and the Rega arm is a special combination to play and enjoy records. Grados are among the more divisive cartridges around. There seems to be a camp that really like them a lot, and others that adamantly hate them...the hum due to lack of shield, the less than superior tracking etc. From an objective measurement standpoint, they are a little compromised. Technically and sonically they have some weaknesses along with some class beating strengths. For those reasons I myself confess to having a somewhat rocky relationship with Grados, but yet I've long held one in my stable. Why? There are a few things Grados do exceedingly well...they do this better than other cartrdiges in the class, and even on into higher sectors. Acoustic instruments and voices can be captivating with a Grado (play Michael Hedges solo acoustic guitar on title track "Aerial Boudaries" Lp or listen to Joni mitchells voice on "people's parties" from "Court and spark" Lp. Incredlbly natural tone and harmonics on Hedge's guitar, and Joni's voice sounds more real than any cartridge I've used). Grado also work wonders with old prestige and blue note jazz recordings. With classical music they have a nice "woody" tone, but lack the uber resolve a coil might bring. I have a Rega, I also have a Denon DL 103. And this listener finds the Grado gold 1 to work  better than the the Denon 103 with Rega arm/table. The quick and slightly lean Rega sound being almost perfectly tempered by the Grado cartridge. While there are some upper range details that both cartridges don't get (at least in part to their diamond profiles). The denon is more clear and "delineated" on top, while  the Grado has a beautiful and "lifelike" midrange. The Grado bottom is slightly loose, but full and punchy. Transients will seem slow compared to "fast" cartridges, but not really any slower than live music sounds to me. In short I think the Grado sounds more like live music than the Denon. Grados moving iron design does some things that are to use a stereophile qualifier "musically satisfying", stuff that other budget coils and magnets don't manage to quite match. While there is "information" Grados leave out, the music is still presented with plenty of heart. This is why Grados are known to "move" listeners (either by the music being played or onto another cartridge lol). Grado's are sometimes called "music lovers" cartridges, and I'd say that's true, you are'nt going to get razor transients, detail and stage out of a Grado. At the same time I find Grado's to have that undefinable "it" factor, they can bring some moments of bliss. But as you said the tracking and hum are  yellow flags. Apart from those caveats, musically I give the Grado/Rega combo the green light.

As an aside I was a little puzzled by your statement that the newer Grado Gold 1 is much more warm and thick than older Grados. I have'nt heard a great departure in tonality- Grados always sound like Grados. Grado actually claims to have made steps in the other direction with less mass and wire in the "1" incarnations.

cement_head's picture

I think you hit the nail on the head. I have a Grado Gold1 on my Thorens TD150 MkII AB and it sounds beyond good. Right table, right amp, right speakers - Grado will really shine.

Audiolad's picture

I also have the Denon 103, and it does very well with higher frequencies, but I don't think the bass is as good as it should be. Do I like it? Of course I do. On my Denon DP300F, I use the Grado Red, and even though its not the gold, it has similar sound. Sometimes the the only TT I use is the 300F because music on the Grado simply pleases my soul without the attack the 103 gives on violins. I like both of them, but like tires, each has its own use.

UPDATE: I finally bit the bullet and bought Gold1 stylus, and to my surprise, the detail was improved over the red. I will give it a good 50 hours to ensure the movement is fluid before making my final judgement, but already the sound is better than the red.

Audiolad's picture

I have Audio Technica AT440MLa & AT7V, Rega Bias2 for my Rega turntable, and the AT7V is the best all around sound. The Grado Prestige Gold1 is on my DP300F turntable (just replaced by the Audio Techica AT-LP3 turntable because its better). I listen to the Gold1 probably 2 to 1 because music simply sounds better most of the time. There are some Classical records such as the Four Season where I want the detail bordering on the bright, but not quite. I guess you can say when I want special I turn on the Rega, but when I want soothing listenable music it is always the Grado. One man's trash is another man's treasure which it is with cartridges. I highly recommend the Grado as well as the AT-7V (LP Gear import from Japan only). They are not microline, moving coil, nor do they cost $1000s, but they allow me to enjoy any music I own or will own.