Grace F9 F8 F-9 F-8 Andante F9 F-9 H S Sumiko Pearl Supex Phono Stylus GAS Sleeping Beauty

According to most reports, Sumiko made both the F-8 and F-9. A good friend, who was a Supex, Audire, B&W and Theta rep back then, told me the F-9 was actually made by Supex, which would make sense, since Supex made all Grace moving coils. Also, I would imagine that Sumiko would have a stylus or two available if they made it. 

Sumiko imported these into the US, as well as Andante as a part of their line, and as a separate line for non-Sumiko dealers. FYI, The GAS Sleeping Beauty M/C was Supex 9E+, simply pressed into an an outer mounting shell. I use the Supex Mark IV (Timeline: E, E+, E+ Super, Mark IV are all the same, as far as my ears can tell. They just renamed it every few years.), which eventually morphed into Koetsu, and all of these are really great.

The Grace F9 came with different styli, the green E is elliptical with an alloy cantilever, and the the S is spherical. The red, top of the line is the Ruby, an elliptical with a ruby cantilever. There were both elliptical and line contact tips with a boron cantilever. There are even more F-9's, and all the same cartridge body and internals. 

For nearly complete info, check here, but some of the photos are wrong, i.e. a green cantilever holder on a non- F-9:

The original F-9 has a round shank, but a square one fits perfectly, because the inside has offset, rectangular shank, locating springs. I know, because I Have an E and sell an aftermarket S with the square shank. It sounds at least as good as the original S. Many of my customers say it sounds better, but I realize that this is simply because their 9 is worn out and this allows it to drag the bottom of the groove, giving both noise and poor contact pressure. 

All F-9 styli are interchangeable between either company's F-9. 

The Sumiko Pearl was also marketed by Grace as the F-8, and by Andante as the H or S with spherical styli. The Pearl and Black Pearl styli from Sumiko are a complete match and work very nicely.

The Sumiko styli do not work in the F-9 nor vice versa. I state this in my eBay ad, but some people are hard to convince. My stylus can be forced into the F-8 (According to the one customer who kept it, but had to order a second one after destroying the first, then he put this monstrosity up for sale on eBay.) I had a second one returned because he said it only put out on one channel. I am surprised it did that. The cantilever itself is a different length and the magnet does not align with the pickup in the cartridge body. I could modify it, but why bother, when Sumiko has good ones available.

I hope this helps. Dan Vignau 

I made a confusing grammatical error above. "Many of my customers say it (my stylus) sounds better, but I know it (their F-9) is worn"  refers to the F9. "My spherical sounds better than their worn F-9" is what I was trying to say.
Thanks for informative post Dan. I've been looking for Grace to try. You may noticed that SoundSmith offering new ruby replacement styli that can be purchased separately (not his retipping service on old onces). Have you tried those?

Also if you ever tried SoundSmith retipped or/end re-cantilevered original Grace ruby please let me know what do you think about quality (compared to originals)? 
Dear Dan: IMHO an according my experience through my audio years Sumiko was and is not a manufacturer but a company that only has audio productos on sale.

Grace was a totally independent company and a real manufacturer/designer of carrtridges/tonearms and other audio products in Japan: Shinawaga Musen. Sumiko only marketed some Grace models and nothing more in relation with Grace.

Supex was a different company than Grace with no relationship in between other that both were japanese. Where there is a relationship is between Supex and Koetsu. In 1985 Grace has for sale in Japan 22 different cartridge models.
I own some Grace/tonearms from Grace.

The GAS ( Great American Sound. ) Sleeping Beauty was manufactured by CORAL Corporation Japan:

"" GAS cartridge was made by "Coral" a popular speaker manufacturer in Asia and Europe during the 60's and 70's that went out of Business in 1985. Their products (primarily Speakers) were never imported into the USA but were popular with soldiers returning from Vietnam. GAS imported the Cartridge during the first moving coil craze of the 70's to compete with the Supex SD900, Fidelity Research FR1mkII and such obscure (in North America) companies as Satin and Entre. """

I own too de Andante and Pearl you name it and GAS and Coral MC cartridges.

That's what I can report about. Way different information from yours but obviously I can be wrong.

Btw, Lewm and Dgarreston ( look for the them. ) own the F9 Ruby by Soundsmith, you can contact them here:

Regards and enjoy tyhe music,

I was a Sumiko, (and Grace) dealer for many years back in the day. Sumiko was NEVER a manufacturer, they were and still are a distributor/rep company.

Raul is correct that Grace was made by Shinawaga Musen in Japan.

I also own several Grace cartridges and tonearms.
I own a Grace tonearm and two Grace Ruby cartridges.  I was surprised to read that Grace and Sumiko could be associated, because I have never particularly liked the sound of any Sumiko label cartridge, whereas I count the Ruby as one of my all time favorites. Raul mentioned that I had one of my Ruby's re-tipped by Sound Smith.  I opted for the OCL top of the line stylus on a ruby cantilever (of course).  After a pretty thorough trial, listening to it not only on my system but on Dave Pogue's system as well, I (and Dave Pogue) concluded it sounded "bad".  (Details elsewhere, but all the faults I heard on my system were immediately evident on DP's system.)  The cartridge then sat in a drawer for over a year, after Peter Ledermann invited me to return it, and I just now sent it back to him for their evaluation.  (My bad; I just hadn't felt the need.) This is not meant to reflect badly on SS; obviously they are capable of great results, and they are beyond reproach when it comes to ethics. Either my particular mounting was defective, or the OCL does not work well on the Ruby.  Recently, I connected with someone who told me that he knows of two other persons who were not pleased with the OCL/Ruby comparison and one person who is ecstatic with his SS "level 2" line contact rebuild of his Ruby, claiming it outperforms the original elliptical.  So, the less expensive option may be the way to go with the Ruby. On the other hand, maybe Dave Garretson had a different experience with the OCL. Dave?
I had my F-9E Ruby re-tipped by Mr. Ledermann a few years ago, with what I believe Lew is referring to as the "level 2" option (what was then the $250 option, non-specific to the F-9, which is now the option that is "$299 minimum").

While various other changes were occurring in my system around the same time, I feel confident in saying that the re-tipped cartridge outperformed the original F-9E Ruby. The improvement was especially evident on classical piano music, especially in the treble region.

I have been using it on a 1980’s Magnepan Unitrac tonearm.

In the coming weeks, btw, I’m planning on purchasing a Dynavector 17D3 LOMC, which member Rodman99999 had mentioned to me in a thread some time ago is "magic" in that particular arm. Should make for an interesting comparison.

-- Al
Thanks for that input, Al.  I am more and more thinking I should ask Peter to simply replace the OCL with their less exotic line contact ("level 2") stylus, assuming he will find no other problem unique to the original re-tipping of my cartridge. I examined it with a microscope, and the only thing I could wonder about was a fairly large gob of glue that fixes the stylus to the cantilever.  Not having examined many such mountings in the past, I don't know whether the amount of glue is "normal" or excessive.  I will have to rely on Peter to tell me that. Funny you should mention the DV 17D3 here; I have a virtually NOS one sitting around, inherited from the estate of a good friend.
Limited time offer from SoundSmith:

Peter's own made F9 replacement stylus design options: 

Soundsmith OCL Nude stylus-Ruby Cantilever RUBY-OCL (RED) $499
Soundsmith CL Nude stylus-Ruby Cantilever RUBY-CL (RED) $399
Soundsmith Nude CL Stylus-Aluminum Cantilever RS-9U (BLUE) $299
Soundsmith Nude Elliptical stylus-Aluminum Cantilever RS-9E (BLUE) $199
Prices on the OCL w/Ruby and the CL w/Ruby have risen considerably since I had the work done on mine, each by $150. 

Whoops! Those prices are for the complete head units, not for re-tipping.

Right, Lewm
and interesting point is direct comparison of SS vs. Original. Anyone?

P.S. this unit looks a bit ugly 
As mentioned above, I recently (less than 2 weeks ago) sent my Grace Ruby, previously OCL re-tipped by Sound Smith, back to SS for re-evaluation, more than 2 years after the original work had been done.  As also previously mentioned, it never sounded good, and I had stuck it in a drawer once I'd convinced myself it was a dud, even though Peter L invited me to send it back a whole year ago.  The new news is that PL contacted me to say that he found the problem, fixed the problem under warranty (way long after the warranty has actually expired), and it's on the way back to me.  What a class act!  I am very pleased, excited, and grateful to SS.

Bottom line: I will be able to compare the OCL-retipped version to my other Grace Ruby, which is still on its OEM elliptical stylus, per Chakster's query.
Lewm, it had been a long time since listening to my Grace F9 with $500 Soundsmith turnkey Ruby OCL stylus and red anodized aluminum stylus holder.  This morning  I mounted it to an SME 3012R at 47K and was once again treated to its superb performance: smooth, resolving, extended treble, controlled but warmly inviting LF, excellent dynamics, big spatial soundstage.  Super low noise floor. Very refined and relaxing with no trace of stridency.  No shortcomings at all.  The stylus has about 100 hours break-in on it from prior use. Unfortunately I never had an original Grace stylus to compare it to.  
Thanks, Dave.  I look forward to the same excellent performance from my newly repaired Ruby/OCL as you describe for yours.  If that's the case, it will probably turn out to be the primary cartridge on my Beveridge system for quite a while, given my propensity to stick with one cartridge for long periods of time.
I've now got about 5-6 hours on the Ruby/OCL.  It is producing a "big" and very highly detailed sound.  During the first 2 hours, it sounded tipped up in the treble with not much bass. This is in a Dynavector DV505 tonearm with an aftermarket headshell of "medium" mass, not super low mass such as one might use with a high compliance cartridge such as this.  Load R is 47K into a 12AX7 input stage with no added capacitance.  I mention the tube because the 12AX7 has more Miller capacitance than most. For the second long session, I noticed that the rear of the DV505 vertical portion was a bit high. So I lowered the vertical pivot until the cartridge was parallel to the LP surface or maybe a little tiny bit down at the rear. VTF was 1.6.  Now the cartridge sounds much less treble heavy, still with the same incredible amount of detail, which can sometimes be a sign of treble emphasis, too.  But the sound is not at all irritating, could listen for hours.  Since I am listening on a Beveridge 2SW system with a separate woofer system that crosses over to the Bev at 100Hz, I just cranked up the woofers by a tiny amount to make up for any perceived bass deficiency.  This worked well, and the prior perceived bass deficiency could have been due to the fact that the Ruby has a higher output voltage than did the preceding cartridge in this system.  The woofer level was set for that other lower output cartridge, so it stands to reason that listening at lower volume settings would alter the relationship of mids and treble to bass.  Anyway, the trend is very favorable, as this thing breaks in.  If anyone knows the Grace recommended load capacitance for the Ruby, please enlighten me. 
Hi Lew,

I've never seen a load capacitance recommendation for the Ruby, but FWIW the datasheet for the original F-9E lists "operating conditions," upon which the various specs are based, of loads of 80 pf and 100Kohms.  Presumably, though, those values were needed to support the specified bandwidth of 45 kHz, that was needed for quadraphonic reproduction, and would be less critical with regular LP's.

Happy holidays!  Best regards,
-- Al
Thanks, Al.  I am surprised to learn of the 100K recommended load resistance. Perhaps this is part of the reason why my OEM Ruby sounded so great with my Silvaweld phono stage, where I installed 100K load resistors.  However, it sounds less great with other cartridges, which has me thinking of either installing a switch to select load R (= work) or fixing a 47K load (= less work).

Back in the day, I had a Sansui Quad system.  A QXR 7001.  That 100K load was to be use when playing those 4 channel records.  The 100K load setting was not needed nor used if you were using it to listen to 2 channel recordings. When playing these 4 channel records, you would switch in what was call a 4 channel demodulater which would load the cartridge with a 100K load.  The pre-amp was pre-set at the normal 47K so when listening to normal stereo 2 channel records, you would just not switch in the demodulater.  The 4 channel Shibata stylus would improve anything heard or recorded under the standard recording format of the day.  No requirement was ever stated that it had to be only used at 100K. To have done so would have only limited their sales and that is the last thing someone trying to sell something would want to do.
Let’s get back to the Grace subject:
Any thoughts about GRACE F9 F (Descrete 4) cartridge ?
Is that the rarest of grace f9 series ?

According to the database Grace F9-F has the best specs and it’s top of the line Grace (with frequency response 10 - 60 000). Better than F9E and F9L (and all others, except maybe ruby).

The only missing info in this paper sheet is F9 RUBY for comparison.

So the F9F is one step behind Rury?

Seems like Grace F9-F rarely turns up for sale compared to any other grace 9' models. 

     I should have known to suspect the history of Grace as told to me by a factory sales rep for Supex. Oh Well, I have looked dumb before and it will certainly happen again. 
     I do stand by my assertion that there is exactly one Grace F-9. Only the stylus differs between models.
     Thanks for the corrections. I'll stay out of this until I learn more, except for this: My friend had a Black Widow arm with a GAS cartridge. It really looked like my Supex 900 in a "sheath" (As in OPPO and the Home Theater company that rewraps and renames when multiplying the price by 5 times), but I never actually saw them side by side.  
Above, I was referring to Lexicon, which put a $500 OPPO CD?DVD player in an aluminum box and charged $2500.
Dan, I too often make mistakes, but it does seem to me from memory that the Ruby, which also carries the categorical designation "F9", is alone in having the ruby/sapphire cantilever.  I always thought that this is what differentiates it from the "F9E".  Ruby has a red stylus carrier whereas F9E is green. (Of course, the choice of color would have no effect on sound.)

Follow-up on the break-in of my Ruby with SS OCL stylus.  Fantastic. It's a bit "in your face" with detail, but it still has very low hours and that quality has tamed itself markedly already, plus bass response has come up to proper level and detail.  Dave Garretson pointed the following out to me, and I agree: The Stanton 980LZS is king of bass among vintage MMs.  Was just appreciating that the other day.
All F9 family specs listed HERE (just download the catalog). 
Please look at F9-F top of the line model with the best specs.
Grace F9-F comes with Dark Blue sylus replacement.

Are you familiar with F9-F model ?

Chakster, No, I am not familiar with F9F.  What cantilever does it use?
At the bottom-feeder end of things, I'm curious about the $329 Shelter 201 vs. the $99 Sumiko Pearl. A lot of people out there think the Shelter 201 MM is just a rebadged Sumiko Pearl. The thing is, if Sumiko doesn’t make them (which I suspected), who does?

The Shelter has to be something more than a rebadge because at the least the stylus has different dimensions. Also, if both carts are built to different specifications and outsourced to an OEM, the two carts could be different internally as well--i.e., the suspension, internal wiring, tolerances, magnet material and flux density.

Any insight on this?
Chakster, Japanese Yahoo, ending today. You may need help from some of the others who have negotiated the waters.


I would tend to pay more attention to what we think(those that actually listen to these Grace cartridges), than what you ’see’ in spec. sheets. It has been determined (by those that listen), that the two preferred Grace’s are the F-9R and the F-9E. I own both. I prefer the ’E’ for enjoyment. The ’R’ for detail retrieval. Can not go wrong with either one.
It wouldn’t be the first time better specs. ’’did not’ equate better performance!

@griffithds no surprised about R and E versions, i believe they are good but overpriced nowadays.

I'm curious about rare F-9F version. Have you tried it? 
I did not really mean the tip, but the assembly. Yes, the R has the Ruby cantilever. 

Not interested.  They have been around a long time.  Had plenty of time to develop a reputation.. Hasn't happened.  End of story!

@lewm F-9F comes with aluminum cantilever

but hey, look at the stylus profile called "F/Descrete 4 design based on careful study of record materials and cutter stylus shape". 

Find more about it in their catalog HERE

They are at Shinagava Musen Co. LTD simply call it: "The finest cartridge in F9 series!" 

Does that mean something? 

They are at Shinagava Musen Co. LTD simply call it: "The finest cartridge in F9 series!"
FWIW, that isn't how I read it. It says, in part:
The F-9F ... is the finest cartridge in the F9 series suitable for reproduction of compatible discrete 4-channel records as well as 2-channel and matrix 4-channel records....

The F-9E has, in addition to the excellent features of the F-9F, the ability to provide the finest reproduction of stereo records.
While as you indicated the F-9F has the widest bandwidth (which is presumably advantageous when it comes to reproducing some of the quadraphonic formats), I would interpret the combination of the two statements above as being ambiguous with respect to which cartridge is better **for the reproduction of stereo records.**

-- Al

Ever hear of something called a PR department? Their a group of people hired by companies to write up catchy phrases like ’’based on case studies’’, or ’’top of the line’’. How about ’’perfect sound forever’’ or ’’ World Class’’.
But I can tell you have already convinced yourself that you must have it so go ahead and buy it. I’m sure you will convince yourself that it is ’’the best thing since sliced bread". (grin)
@griffithds then you are the one from JVC/Victor PR department and i’ve bought Victor X1-II because of you, i tried to resist myself but it was impossible, later i will report back about my experience with this X1-II.

The PR thing is evil only when you have to pay more because it’s "top of the line latest version and perfect sound forever". But when the price for rarest stuff is much cheaper than for common stuff i think there is nothing to lose. Personally i don't buy overpriced stuff. But we must pay for our own experience, this is how it works.

I’d like to hear something about F-9F from someone who experienced, who tried both F9F and F9E (or Ruby) to compare.

I was not ’hired’ by JVC/Victor. My statements were based on ’my’ opinions of what I was hearing. Not based on how much money you can pay me to come up with flashy catch phrases to make sales.
Your thoughts about getting feedback from who has experienced a F-9F is the best way to approach this. Not by reading PR spec. sheets. I have run across a thread in which the guy stated to love his F-9F. It also stated that it was the only Grace that he had ever owned. Not much of a comparison.
I think he was more proud that he owned a Grace than he was in the owning of the -9F.
Now it might be a great cartridge. It doesn’t seem like there is anyone who follows this thread who actually has owned one so perhaps it will be up to you to enlighten us to it values. You might be the one who discovers the next undiscovered hidden gem!
Keep up posted.
@almarg there was a hype about quad records for a short time, but styli desidged for them classified today as the best for normal stereo 2 channel reproduction. Remember Shibata (line contact) stylus profile? 

Grace F9-E is just elliptical, but F-9F is not. I wonder why it should be disadvantage? You tell me. 

"In pure sonic terms on pristine vinyl a top notch eliptical can do as well as all but the very best Line Contact / Shibata styli, but will ultimately be surpassed by the better MicroLine styli.

However in terms of reduced wear on both stylus and records - the entry point is the Line contact / Shibata category.

In terms of playing back worn vinyl line contact stylus types also have an advantage in that they can contact "virgin" unworn vinyl.

Narrower side radius = improved tracking and reduced high frequency distortion."

OK, I'll bite.

     I have listened to the Grace F9E on my system, with Audire powered, B&W 803's with B&W DM 16 woofers for subs (recently replacing, for now, Peerless 850146 aka NHT SW2Si) subs powered by a second Audire amp and preamp with a physical, rather than electronic sub filter, for now... again. 
     I have owned a Supex 900 since new in about 1979-80, and it has been "retipped" from a 900 E+ through 900 E+Super, to it's current 900 Mark IV.  Since I used to play a lot of vinyl, I bought a Yamaha MC-9 to use while the Supex was being replaced, and I use it more than the Supex now to save what is left of the MK IV stylus for special records, especially Direct to Discs. I also still have my V15 Shure, which does not compare on my system, but it really SuperTracks! TeeHee. In fairness, the V-15 does give out a mellow, non-threatening sound and doesn't seem to add anything unwanted. It just doesn't move me. Tone arms are a Formula IV for MM, and Signet with removable wands for MC, all stuff of the Grace vintage. I also have a Grace 707 arm which works quite well.
     How do these others compare? Supex first, by far, especially in the bass and extreme high end, such as the triangle in the D to D recording of Sandman on the Dixie Direct "Rosie O'Grady's...." album and also in the shimmering of cymbals when compared to all but the Grace, which is close here.
     The Yamaha beats the Grace everywhere but in  the extreme high end, where it seems muffled. In fact, turning up the sound reveals why it was design. It isn't that good up there and has a brittleness that is annoying. Otherwise, it is a bit cleaner and has a much better separation of instruments in space than the Grace, but not as good as the Supex. Ther Yamaha is a boron cantilevered Fine Line stylus, if I remember correctly.
     A buddy brought what was then the top of the line Audio Technica MM to show off. Frank Zappa's compelling piano intro to Uncle Remus all but disappeared into the background. The Grace does very well here, with the Shure in between. The Yamaha is still a bit more forceful on this in-your-face piano. solo, but not up to the brilliance of the Supex, at least ON MY SYSTEM!
     Still, The Grace is the best MM I have ever heard, certainly superior to Grado I have heard, but I am an MC guy and probably have missed a lot.  
     That does not mean I think it is worth anywhere near the money people are asking for them. I considered keeping the F-9, but I sold it to send my Supex to SoundSmith.       
Thanks for the follow-up, Chakster.  I don't disagree with any of the comments in your most recent post, and in fact I had mentioned earlier in the thread that my F-9E Ruby when re-tipped by Soundsmith with one of his ruby-cantilevered line-contact offerings outperformed my original F-9E Ruby.  And I'll add to that comment that my original F-9E Ruby outperformed the original F-9E I had used for a few years back in the early 1980's.

My previous post simply addressed interpretation of the wording in the Grace datasheet that you had cited.

-- Al
I think one of the more interesting aspects of the Grace F8/F9 series is that not only were there a vast array of cantilever and tip configurations available (including some not in the catalogues), but that some stylus were sold as sets. This indicates to me that Grace envisaged that they expected users would use the different stylus profiles included in the sets to optimise the performance for each record eg conical,line contact etc. The F was the most expensive, but only a couple of thousand yen ( $US20 ) more than the F9E.

@danvignau are you aware of Supex MM design such as Supex SM-100 mk III or mk II ? 
@dover no one can compete with stanton/pickering in this aspect (so many different styli also available as sets along with cartridge).

p.s. I must find one ruby replacement stylus for f9
Chakster, I am aware of Supex MM cartridges, but I have never heard anything but that they exist.