Analog Gurus - What cartridge after Grado Ref 1???


I have the Grado Ref 1 wood body ($350) at the moment after giving away my Koetsu Rosewood.I need a cartridge that will blow me away when the needle hits the grove for $1k or under compared to what I have.

Tried this and some other fancy cartridges so far that was well over $1k and could not justify the $$$$ relative to my current Grado:

Clearaudio Aurum Beta 2
Audio-Technica OC9ML/III Phono Cartridge

I have tried the Sumiko $700 range as well.

Turntable is: Michell Orbe Ref
Tonearm - SME mk4
Tube System
Phono Preamp: Nelson Pass X-Ono

Appreciate the suggestions

Ravi, if you pull my old OPs, you will see I went through cartridge Hell to find something that worked with my TT/arm combo. During my carty travels, I tried a number of cartridges that were within your price range and that have been well received by reviewers and members alike.

I suggest you put the following carties on your short list for consideration: (1) Clear Audio Maestro Wood (new retail $1250); (2) Clear Audio Virtuoso Wood (new retail $950); and (3) Ortofon 2M Black (new retail $650?). You can also pick these carties up used for much less.

I listened to all of the carties above and found them very good to superb. The top performers, IMO, being the Virtuoso and Maestro. The 2M Black was very good too -- and one reviewer (can't recall who) said it was "rediculously good."

I ultimately wound up with the Sound Smith VPI Zephyr -- also very very good, mainly because of TT/arm compatibility problems with my other suggested carties. The Zephyr also belongs on your short list. However, but for compatibility problems, the Maestro is at the top of my personal list.

One last suggestion. I also own a Dynavector (DV) 20X2 HO MC cartridge as a back-up. It's really a very nice cartridge. I have read terrific reviews about other DV carties as well. Give some thought to DV carties too.

Let us know what you choose.
A post-script to my last post. I'm sure there are many folks who justifiably maintain very positive opinions about Grado carties. Having said that, it has been my personal experience and that of others as well that many Grados carties have hum problems. Don't know what your experience has been, but I'll put that out there for you to think about and other to chime in on.
That hum problem might just be with older Rega's. Since I changed the motor in my Rega I haven't noticed any hum.

Grado is the poor man's Koetsu, it's best for jazz and female vocals; not as good for Rock.
Try a nice used Lyra helikon.VandenHul Frog also.
I started with a Grado Prestige Gold, then jumped to a Koetsu Black, tried a Reference Sonata and a Benz Ruby when the Black required a retip but eventually tried a Statement Statement and haven't looked back. No hum from any of the Grados I have tried and I find that Grados maintain the PRaT and warmth of the Koetsus without the sometimes glassy etchings of MCs.

Your setup is similar to my own: Gorbe to full Orbe these days with a SME V. I am constantly charmed my the music I hear. The higher you go in the line, the more detail retrieved, particularly among the Statement series. These approximate a MC sound without what some consider drawbacks. After having listened to various multi-thousand dollar carts in various astounding setups, I don't think I would ever buy anything other than a Grado or Koetsu, given my preferences.
You have what I call the "Grado Problem." That company makes lovely, musical cartridges that make it very difficult to find something significantly netter at a sane price point. I didn't even try. I love my Reference Sonata/PH-1 combo.

I would say if you're happy with your music, stop. Your exit point has been reached.
I have a Grado Reference Sonata 1 (5.0mv output) and a Grado Statement Sonata 1 (0.5mv output). The Statement is by far the superior cartridge in my opinion. Clear and nuanced. Almost as much of an improvement over the Reference as the Reference was from my Grado Signature 8, which blew away my Prestige Gold. No hum problem at all, the motor in my TT is shielded, Grado cartridges are not.
The only problem worth mentioning regarding the Statement is it's low output. You're going to need a preamp with a lot of gain (close to 60db) and with that will come hiss.
A friend has an Ortofon MC, don't know what model but it's output is even lower, around 0.25mv. His solution to the high gain hiss problem was to run it through a DBX processor. The sound is pleasant, but I prefer mine. Otherwise, our systems are very similar.
I listen to the Statement but keep the Reference on a spare headshell as backup for quick swaps, they both weigh the same. I use the backup for 45's and to evaluate used vinyl.