Thanks for the review and commentary. Based on the thread Raul started, I recently purchased a Garrott P77 which looks un-played. I need to take it out and run it in a bit.
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What a great contribution here. So much valuable content and a history to put it all into perspective. Thanks much.
I too am looking to once again try a MM cartridge and remove that additional MC gain stage in the system. It's nice to have a 2-arm system to enjoy the strengths of the two cartridges/phono stages.
Thanks for the review and sharing your experiences. Your review was well written. As I'd mentioned in another thread, Garrott (under new ownership) has released a new sapphire cantilever Optim for $1350 U.S. dollars that can be ordered from Australia. My experience with the Garrott Optim FGS has been very positive and my listening impressions are similar to yours regarding the pros and cons of a good MM. If the Optim with a sapphire cantilever improves further on the FGS' virtues, it should be a MM reference.
Thanks for the kind words Photon46, I have no experience with the so-called Garrott Company as John and Brian Garrott used to do ALL the modifications to the A&R P77 themselves. After the Garrott Bros suicide in the early 1990s there was a sort of sell-off of their inventory (where I picked up my 2nd P77), and then a hiatus of a few years before a new company calling themselves Garrott took over.
It would be interesting to hear from this company exactly how their role developed after the death of the Garrott Brothers?
Hmmm.....I too bought a P77 from John Garrott somewhere around the late 80's early 90's.
I'd moved on to other moving coils and so I mounted the p77 into my fathers plasti-deck rack system turntable....where I believe it still resides. Don't think it was used much, his turntable got used as a support for photo frames once CD grabbed hold.
After reading your review Halcro, I'm prompted to go and 'rescue' the p77 and see how it sounds. Could be fun.
oh yes, to your suggestion for Tobes... we will keep our eyes and ears peeled :-)
Halcro, I have a VTA question that I also spun out in a separate thread: http://forum.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/fr.pl?eanlg&1244713018
There seems to be a dichotomy about the VTA preference of parabolic styli such as is also the "Micro Tracer" in the P77. The Garrott manual suggests 4-5 mm higher than level, the Townshend EEI 500 manual, also a parabolic stylus cart, says lower than level! That makes for quite a difference in where to start, never mind where to go.
Have you any comment from your P77 experience to share please?
I’m glad you found this ‘inspiring’…….
I realise how long ago I wrote it (more than 4 years)…..and it really was the beginning of journey ‘backwards’ in time for me.
A journey which, to this day, has not ended?
At the time I was inspired to write that review……I had only the two original Garrott P77 cartridges as my MM references.
Four years later…… and I have bought over thirty others (mainly vintage) and currently own about 25 (plus 5 LOMCs).
The experience gained from these four years of ‘discovery’……has allowed a greater perspective into the ‘merits’ of the Garrott P77 cartridge amongst the pantheon of the really fine cartridges I have heard (and own).
Compared to my original P77s with styli supplied and fixed by John and Brian Garrott themselves…….there are many finer MM cartridges available IMHO.
Some Signets, ATs, Shures, Glanzs, FRs and Empires to name a few.
The problem (in retrospect) with the original P77…..was essentially the stylus/cantilever assembly (although paradoxically that is precisely what the Garrotts brought to the original Cambridge A&R P77…..a tweaked, hand-selected stylus).
With the Garrott stylus….there was limited frequency extension at both extremes.
There was a lack of ‘shimmer’ and ‘sparkle’ in the ‘highs’….coupled with a somewhat muted performance in the ‘lows’.
Its ‘raison d’etre’ was its liquid, mellifluous midrange and the ‘air’…about which I wrote in the original review.
On the advice of a valued contributor to these Forums, I bought a Jico SAS stylus assembly from Japan and substituted it for the Garrott in the P77 body.
The change was revelatory…….
All that was good about the original P77 was retained……the midrange and air…..and magically…..all that was previously weak became stoic.
The highs became detailed, transparent and extended whilst the lower frequencies developed an authority and depth combined with a detailed differentiation.
The P77/SAS has now been elevated (in my rankings) to the Top Ten Tier of cartridges I have heard……and even perhaps, nudging the top five?
As for obtaining one Vangstr….the Garrott P77 is rather scarce but I gather that the original A&R P77 sometimes appears on Ebay (especially the UK Ebay) and I imagine would also respond to the SAS transplant.
Thank you for your update on the interesting and helpful insights you have provided in the past on MM cartridges some time ago. As I am interested in buying a couple of MM cartridges (I have a few MC ones) it would be helpful to know your top ten tier of cartridges particularly MMs.
Thank you for the kind words….
The problem with any individual’s preferences in cartridges is that they are totally personal and subjective and depend to a large extent on the total system in which they are heard?
I also hesitate to ‘rank’ my cartridges as the ‘ranking’ tends to vary with the records (and even the tracks), which may be played at any listening session?
There are also cartridges (with metal bodies) which tend to sound better in my system with wood headshells (like the Yamamoto or Ortofon) whilst cartridges with plastic bodies tend to sound better with metal headshells…..and a cartridge with a wood body (like the Clearaudio Virtuoso) blossoms with the ceramic headshell of the SAEC WE8000/ST….:-)
Then there are cartridges I own, which have been re-tipped with perhaps different cantilevers and/or stylii to the originals and sound better than the originals…..but what point is there in recomending these as they may indeed be ‘one-offs’?
And then we arrive at a phenomenon I have recently discovered…..
With MM cartridges and their dependence on Loading and Capacitance to attain a neutral ‘flat’ frequency response…with the infinitely variable Resistance and Capacitance controls built into the Halcro DM10 phonostage/preamp….it is possible for me to contour many of my preferred cartridges to sound almost identical to each other?!
But that’s not all……
The recording, engineering, mastering and mixing of various records are never equal and rarely ‘flat’ in frequency response themselves…so having a cartridge which IS truly ‘flat’ merely reveals the inadequacies of most of our collections?
That’s why many ‘audiophiles’ are reduced to a handful of discs when trying to ‘impress’ others with their systems IMHO? ☹
But why should our listening pleasure be governed by the vagaries of the recording process and the individuals whose talents vary so greatly?
If I can use the ‘contouring’ of the Resistance and Capacitance controls to ‘tame’ a rising top end and ‘flesh-out’ a ‘thin’ midrange….why not?
I now find that I am adjusting the loading for my MM cartridge’s almost on a ‘per record’ basis…and sometimes on a ‘track by track’ basis….
And that for me….is another clear advantage of MMs over MCs….. whereby with MC cartridges which are not so susceptible to Resistance loadings and are mostly unaffected by Capacitance…what you get is what you get?!
Notwithstanding all of the above……and not in any order…
With LOMC cartridges I like
• ZYX Universe
• Dynavector XV-1s
• Fidelity Research FR-7f (although with Line Contact in lieu of Spherical stylus)
With MM cartridges I like
• Garrott P77 with SAS stylus
• Signet TK-7LCa
• Signet TK-7SU
• Signet MR5.0Lc
• Shure ML-140HE
• Shure V15/Type III with SAS stylus
As you can see……..I don’t rank any ‘modern’ MM cartridges with the crème-de-la-crème of the vintage stuff….but two that are quite enjoyable
• Clearaudio Virtuoso
• Audio Technica AT150ANV
Thank you for going to the trouble of writing such a detailed and helpful response. I found it particularly interesting with regard to the variables involved in reproducing good sound - it certainly makes for an interesting and challenging hobby!
Once again many thanks for sharing your knowledge on cartridges.