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deckeda's picture
Last seen: 1 year 4 months ago
Joined: Feb 1 2006 - 7:41pm
Suggest a new cartridge (or don't) for my SOTA Comet?

It's an older version (early/mid '90s) so it has an AudioQuest-sourced tonearm. I bought a Grado 8MZ at the same time but both have had relatively little play over the years. Fairly moderate use the first few years and then virtually no use for the last 10 years for both. Hoping to get back to vinyl in a bigger way soon however.

I sometimes wonder if I should just replace the Grado's stylus, but doesn't list one for it. The Needle Doctor lists one still, but then confusingly shows the Grado replacement chart, with the 8MZ missing unless I'm just not seeing it. And I've read a few things online where folks have mixed and matched some of the other, newer styli.

1) Do cart bodies age or wear out? Any glues or suspensions that alter the sound over time? Wasting my time with this?

2) How can I determine if my stylus is worn? I don't have a microscope or a dealer nearby that I know of who could determine this. Jim T. if you're listening, you might know of some place in the ATL area.

3) I don't want to buy a replacement cartridge (less than $500 is the rough budget here) that's merely a different sound but overall "about as good" as what I've already got, which ain't too bad. And I can't step up into any higher price brackets for any of this; I've got the rest of the system to re-do as well. (See below.)

I can't say that I'm necessarily looking for something better that the 8MZ lacks, but don't know what I may be missing for little/similar money spent. This is, I believe, the fundamental conundrum we all face when decent auditions don't seem easy or practical.

All I can remember years ago when doing this was that the first cart I had on the SOTA was Grado's entry-level (or close to it) model and thinking "meh" and that the $200 8MZ was an eye-opener and clearly better.

A key difference back then in determining a cart purchase was that downstream was a Luxman LE-109 phono stage, MOD SQUAD passive, Onkyo M-508 modified with bypassed caps and Snell C IV. But for the last few years all I've had is a NAD 3020 and original Paradigm Atoms

JohnMichael's picture
Last seen: 4 years 10 months ago
Joined: Jan 30 2007 - 2:09pm
Re: Suggest a new cartridge (or don't) for my SOTA Comet?

Replacement Stylus History
FTE+1 = GTE+1 = MTE+1 = XTE+1 = ZTE+1 = BLACK
FCE+1 = GCE+1 = MCE+1 = XCE+1 = ZCE+1 = GREEN
F3E+ = GF3E+ = MF3E+ = XF3E+ = ZF3E+ = BLUE
F2+ = GF2+ = MF2+ = XF2+ = ZF2+ = RED
F1+ = GF1+ = MF1+ = XF1+ = ZF1+ = SILVER
N/A = G+ = M+ = X+ = Z+ = SILVER
N/A = G1+ = M1+ = X1+ = Z1+ = GOLD
N/A = G2+ = M2+ = X2+ = Z2+ = GOLD

This chart is Grado's stylus history for replacement stylus. Since your cartridge is not listed and it was a signature model I would try either the Silver or Gold replacement. The new stylus assembly will give you a new suspension system which is a part along with the stylus that does wear over time. The only other concern is if the magnet has lost strength which I doubt. As far as I know with my experience with Grado cartridges the stylus all fit the same way and you may benefit from their new cantilever design.

deckeda's picture
Last seen: 1 year 4 months ago
Joined: Feb 1 2006 - 7:41pm
Re: Suggest a new cartridge (or don't) for my SOTA Comet?

Needle Doctor still shows it though. Is the Silver or Gold a better solution however, you're saying? They're all priced similarly.

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