Cartridge for Graham 1.5

Currently I use a Benz LO4 or Shelter 501 with the Graham on a Orbe TT. I would like to hear what others believe to be the best match for this arm at reasonalbe cost ie less than 2K.

The rest of the system is DIY fet-Loesch preamp with plenty of gain, Berning EA-230 and Quad original ESL's.
I ran a Crown Jewel with a Graham 1.5 with good results. As you may recall, the Crown Jewel was a re-badged Shelter 501 (with a different shaft material?). The cartridge was a little on the lush side, matching well with the arm, which was quite detailed and analytical.
I have the Graham 1.5T (on a VPI TNT) and have been using the Ortofon Jubilee for the last 10 months. Great sounding cartridge and a big step up from the Crown Jewel (aka shelter 501) which I used for a few years.
The Jubilee sounds full bodied, robust and uncolored - ie without ever tipping into warmth. It has great bass definition and natural highs with no brightness. Dynamics are a significant step-up from the CJ - as is soundstaging and image focus. It's also the best tracking cartridge I've owned, almost never loses it's composure, making it very relaxing to listen to.
This doesn't really convey what great music maker the Jubilee is - it's a thoroughly enjoyable and involving cartridge to listen to. In my system it stomps on the CJ in this respect. It does require careful setup to extract the best and is a little fussy about VTA/VTF/azimuth - perhaps due to the stylus shape.
I would suggest the Lyra Helikon or if you can secure a used lyra cart that is not working, you can get the Skala for 2300 or so but that is with a cart in return.

You can probably ask your local lyra dealer to see if they have any old Lyra lying around that thay can trad in for you.

Skala is 3200 new but with trade in you will have it for 2300. If you want a new one you can get the Helikon for about 2000. But Skala is a step higher. I would say its 98% Lyra Titan quality. Again this is my openion, others may be different.
I have a Koetsu Rosewood Signature in my 1.5t. The arm has the 2.2 bearing upgrade. The combination sounds transparent, dynamic and very sweet. The Koetsu was quite cheap because it needed rebuilding. I had that done at Benz in Switzerland. The total cost came in under your budget.
I've got a Graham 2.1 with a Helikon mono cartridge (on a Sota Sapphire tt). Great synergy - - wouidn't expect any less from a 2.1/stereo Helikon match.
Thanks for the imput so far. It helps me and I hope others.

I did a search on the Jubilee and note its compliance is 16 and 10.5 grams. Seems like that would be a good mechanical fit. You believe it to have good synergy with the 1.5?

The Lyra Helikon : 8.0 grams
Compliance: Approx. 12 x 10 x (1/1000000)/dyne at 100 Hz
Seems a bit low on compliance and light from what little I have been able to find here. The Skala$$$ has the same compliance and 1 gram heavier You have had great success with this on the Graham 1.5?

I did not know a Koetsu would be a great match with the Graham. I could not find much on it accept low/med compliance. Lucky you on that find, Benz rebuilt it like OEM? Do you remember the rebuild price? I have plenty of time and if lucky could maybe do the same.

I am also looking at the Dynavector XX2, ZXY R100 and Sumiko Celebration. But seems like everyone suggests use with the SME V and I really don't want to change arms.
I like what I hear currently but I believe a better cart can bring more pleasure. I am not good at all describing sound or what I like but I do like to experiment some and listen to quality pieces in my system. I guess transparent with problems of omission rather that comission it that makes any sense.
Regarding matching of the Jubilee to the 1.5 - I've tested the resonant frequencies with the HFN&RR test record and get a nearly ideal 10-11Hz for vertical and horizontal resonant frequencies. The cartridge is very well behaved in the Graham.
Actually theory would predict that the 16µm/mN compliance would produce a lower resonant frequency around 8.5Hz (assuming an effective mass of 11g for the Graham and 9.5g weight of Jubilee) - maybe the so called "Wide range Damping" used by Ortofon has something to do with the actual result.
I'm sure the higher compliance of the Jubilee contributes to its super tracking performance.

Don't read too much into specified compliance figures, I've had great results with cartridges speced around 12µm/mN. Funnily enough, the Denon 103R (5µm/mN but specified at 100hz not the normal 10hz) also produced resonant frequencies of ~10hz in the Graham - and also tracked superbly (though not up to Jubilee standard).

Don't know if he still has any, but I got my Jubilee from Juki in Hong Kong for about US$1K. Might be hard to beat its sonic and tracking virtues at that price.
Thanks Tobes,
I don't want to "read" to much into specs or Stereophile-etc, just a place to start. That is why I asked about successful matches from users here. I did find your other comments about the Jubilee and did a check on cartridgedb. Just trying to get the best out of a cartridge possible with this arm in combination and this one seems very good. I have read much negative about the Graham, its nice to here who uses what with the Graham with great results!

I dont know about the Graham 1.5 but I do have the graham Phantom, I used the Benz Micro Ruby 3 with it, but have switched to the Lyra Helikon mono and Lyra Skala Stereo.

I am impressed with the difference, I have had these carts for about 2 months now and am not planning to move to any other.

I have heard the Ortofon Kontrapunkt B but on the Rega. So I cannot comment on the differences with the Graham. I have moved form the SME V to the Graham Phantom, this move was primatily due to the MONO and STEREO carts that I use, after changing the carts have to do adjust the cart all the time no fun but with the Graham do it once and change the wands. Love that Feature and now my music is much better as well.
Benz rebuilt it like OEM? Do you remember the rebuild price?

I would love to be able to compare a Koetsu rebuild with a Benz rebuild of a Koetsu, but haven't had the chance. I have no reason to doubt the rebuilder's skill, at least. As far as I can tell the Benz-rebuilt cart has the Koetsu characteristics you read about, including the Rosewood Sig's famous (and just delightful) midrange sweetness.

I'm afraid I don't remember the precise rebuild cost but it was cheaper than sending the cart to Koetsu.
Well I decided to try the Ortofon Jubilee listed here from Audio Revelation. Jay was nice to deal with but he was not fond of the Graham 1.5. Next week I shall here what the Jubilee has to offer loaded at 100 on the Graham. I don't really want to purchase another arm but did find out that Michell makes a board for the Triplanar. I need to keep that idea out of my brain ;-)

Thanks again all!

and Tobes
Where is a good place to start with VTA if I use 2.3 VTF?
I found the Jubilee is very sensitive to small changes of all setup parameters - azimuth, VTA, VTF and antiskate all have to be carefully adjusted. It'll sound very nice with moderate care - but it will take a fair bit of experimentation to optimise things (this is probably true of most fine cartridges).
Start with VTA parallel - you probably won't deviate much but soundstage/focus/coherence will lock in when it's right. Soundstage size, clarity and focus should blitz the 501 if my experience the CJ is anything to go by.
I usally tweak VTA on a per record basis - definitely if there is a change of vinyl weight.
The cartridge will still sound fine if you set and forget VTA (it's difficult to make it sound bad), but you will cheat yourself of the excellence of which it is capable.
Good luck!
The Helikon is a superb design.I have heard it on many occassions,in a wonderful system.The owner is a fanatical collector of vinyl,and it easily satisfied him,as well as myself and others.
He has moved to the Titan but the Helicon is not all that "embarassed" by the superior performance.
Well hopefully I can get it close. I don't usually fool with settings after I'm happy. I don't relish the thought of changing vta for every record although its nice to know changes will mean something. I should get the Jubilee Tuesday and start playing with it.

Thanks ever so much to all!

I have installed the Jubilee on the Graham 1.5. The size and weight of the Jubilee is much different than the Shelter 501 II. I had to add the extra balance weight and raise the arm. I am loading the Jubilee at 100 ohms and have played with the azimuth and VTA. I think I am close and used the Hi Fid test record to check things. Tracking is very good. I think the bass is more dynamic and quicker, very noticable and the VTA really was important here. The mids (vocals) have lost a bit of sugar (less lush) and the treble has a more detail but not at all harsh. For me it’s a better overall balance from top to bottom and the speed gives me goosebumps. I liked the Shelter but I am real happy with the Jubilee and believe it’s a very good match with the Graham.
I actually preferred the Helikon to the Titan i which I replaced after 2 weeks with the ZYX Universe.
This cartridge is in a league of its own!
Don't get hung up on compliance figures etc.
The Graham is a unipivot arm and Lyras (particularly the Helikon) very well in it.
Carl, make sure you experiment with the VTF setting. In my setup the recommended 2.3g doesn't sound best. At 2.3g depth layering, spaciousness and image separation/presence/dimensionality suffer somewhat. The music also sounds less coherent and engaging. It sounds good but not special at this VTF - *in my system*.
Currently I have mine set closer to 2.1g (it's summer down hear in Australia, so this may be a factor).
Of course the rest of your system/balance will influence your preferred cartridge settings - just a suggestion to try.
BTW, I think the Jubilee sounds great on vocals - male and female - much better weight, realism and neutrality than my Crown Jewel (shelter clone).

FWIW, here are my System details
I think its more important for me not to get hung up on the Graham being criticized because it’s a unipivot thus can not handle low compliance cartridges with lots of energy. I have read many posts about this and not found much about what worked. Without another arm like a Triplanar or SME V to test against I have to rely on opinions here. It is very reassuring to see all these different cartridges used on Grahams. I had considered the Sumiko Celebration and Dynavector XX-1 also. Personally I would rather purchase these cartridges over a different arm if I had extra money to spend. Sounds like the Helikon is very popular also. If I save my nickels I might be able to try another next year! If I keep this up I will have a cartridge collection also. I guess if the Graham can keep a Denon 103 in the groove it can handle pretty much anything I would throw at it.

Thanks again for all the help.

Thanks for the suggestion. Since you are using the 1.5 I would think I should also hear the difference. I will try going down from 2.3 grams. I also purchased a digital scale from Mehran which should be much more accurate than my old Shure. I will get back with results.

Hopefully the scale you bought uses a measuring platform that places the stylus at true record level (like the Wally Malewicz version).
If not, you won't get a true reading with the Graham.

I recently bought one of those small electronic VTF scales that Acoustic Sounds is selling (chinese design, labeled cartridge arm load meter) - except I only paid A$70 locally.

I thought a neat little scale, purpose designed for VTF measurements, would be easier to use than my pocket scale with it's Wally platform copy.
Unfortunately the new scale places the measurement point a couple of mm above the actual playing height. This results in an error of about 0.2g in my setup!!

I thought this was crazy and tested both scales with a One Yen coin (nominally 1g) - both scales measured the same (to the nearest 100th gram). If I raised the weighing platform height of my pocket scale when measuring VTF, I could duplicate the readings on the got with the new VTF scale.

Further testing with my pocket scale/weighing platform (which weighs at actual record height) shows there is even a variation of 0.1g when going from 120g vinyl to 200g vinyl.
I'm going to do some followup testing, but it appears I should be adjusting VTF for different record thicknesses!!??
I have a better scale then what I was using, looks like the AcousTech Electronics Stylus Force Gauge. It is close to record thickness but probably higher but better than the old Shure beam scale. I set the VTF to 2.1 from 2.3 and believe its improved overall. I may still back off the VTF a bit just to listen. I will play with the VTA more before I lock it. I am not inclined to adjust things for each record, I would rather spend the time listening. Hopefully I'm not beyond Keep It Simple Stupid.
Carl, does the scale look like this one - new VTF scale
If so, that scale reads about 0.2g higher than my scale that measures exactly at record level. The scale is shown measuring a 1 yen coin (nominally 1g).
With 1g test weights placed directly on the measuring platforms, both of my scales read the same.

Here are a couple of old pics I took of the pocket scale/wally adapter.
Pocket scale weighing 1 yen coin
Wallyscale clone

Yes, we theoretically should adjust VTF for different record thicknesses. And, we have a more difficult issue with warped records.

Please forgive me if this is ground you have already covered, but there is a real reason for what you have observed. For the Graham 1.5 and for many unipivot arms, the center of gravity is designed to be below the pivot point. This results in a small but real force that acts to restore the arm to the correct positioning with the stylus at the record surface -- any deflection of the arm (such as the stylus lifting above the record surface) causes the VTF to vary. It is analogous to a pendulum wanting to be perfectly vertical, experiencing a force pushing it toward the perfectly vertical position when it is deflected. At one stage of the evolution of unipivot arms, this may have been considered a desirable characteristic because it contributed to the arm's dynamic stability.

Bob Graham has eliminated this effect in his new Phantom arm by designing the center of gravity to be at the pivot point. He instead achieves arm stability with the help of a magnet.

When I set up my 1.5, now upgraded to a 2.2, I needed to be careful how high my weigh scale was when setting my VTF. It needed to be as close as possible to the height of the actual record surface, or else I would have suffered a different VTF than what I wanted. You and Carl have both observed this effect. It sounds to me like your scales are close to accurate, but their heights were different.
Thanks for the photos Tobes. I have the first one accurate to 0.002 +-?. I looked at my Orbe and made a block about 1/8 lower than the platter height. My gauge on platter says 2.152. Gauge on my block says 2.105. It seems as though Jameswei is correct in that the Graham is pushing down somewhat. In my poor mind I don't see it but then again its late and the difference here is below my tolerance level. Learned something new again!
I think, you've done your decision, but when you are looking for something special, do a search for a Incognito 'Shibui'.
A very remarkable cartridge for the money.
Yes the scale has .002g precision. Unfortunately this precision is offset by inaccuracy caused by not measuring at record height. Nonetheless, it can still be used as a reference point.
Best to make fine adjustment of VTF by ear anyway (though I like to take a measurement so I can repeat the setup if swapping cartridges etc).
As you said, listening is more fun than obsessing over the actual VTF - as long as it is set for best sound.

The whole thing with the arm height helps explain the anomalies that have been bugging me with VTF measurements on the Graham. I agree it does seem counter-intuitive though.
Thanks for your input James.
Cheers, Paul
As I went to sleep last night the light came on in the brain and I understand the VTF change. It could be positive or negative depending on VTA. It looks like my arm is close to parrallel.
So we have the same scale! I have yet to measure the blocked scale reading height against the record height but I know I'm very close. I will probably not change cartridges for a while, just enjoy listening to what I have.

All of you all are GREAT! Thanks ever so much for all the input.
I have now made a stand for my gauge and am at record height when I measure VTF. I reset the VTF to 2.3 grams and dropped the rear of the arm a bit more. I am pleased with the sound overall and will probably leave well enough alone and listen. I decided some new records where in order and purchased some reissue Decca and RCA listings from Acoustic Sounds. For me the Ortofon Jubilee is a great cartridge.
I'm enjoying life and music.