I think they are quite nice if you have a arm that can handle them
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In the old days, Joe Grado was in charge....he was a singer at the met and knew what music should sound like. They are still very nice, and worth the money they command, but they aren't world leaders. Unless you use the right arms, they sometimes are poor trackers....and have hum issues in some arms as well.
Love the Grados. I had a few including the Promethean which was a modded inexpensive Grado. I had a Grado on my Special Edition Maplenoll air bearing everything TT that was isolated on a sub Hertz platform. That was 20 years ago. How time flies. I am currently using Grado SR 80 headphones with my portable cassette player. Very musical, yeah!
I had an older Reference Sonata that needledoctor let me do a trade in for a Reference1 which made it 1k. I listened to a Dynavector 17d3 and a Benz Glider(not sure now what output) prior as all three were within my budget and for me Grado was the obvious choice no question even at full retail. I think a retip of an older woody is a fabulous way to go. I have not heard the newer 2 series, would love to though. I have had my Ref1 on an 8 gram effective mass project 9ccEvo arm and now a Nottingham 12" arm with a 15.5 gram mass and both sound(ed) great.
Not exactly a Grado, but my Cartridge Man Music Maker 3 (with Soundsmith ruby/contact line retip) is incredible in my OL Encounter mk3C / Townshend Rock 3 setup. It beat a Dynavector xx2 Mk2 in this setup. Not claiming the MM is a "better" cart overall, just a better match with the OL arm. Len Gregory (the Cartridge Man) starts with a cheap plastic Grado, guts and completely rebuilds it. Doesn’t look like much, but the sonics far exceed any Grado I’ve ever heard! Also great in my Hadcock 242 arm. Highly recommended in the right (light to medium mass) arm.
More than a year ago I got a collection of cartridges from a friend who had a home dealership. Due to his age he'd given up vinyl. That included both Grado 8MX and XTZ models. I've had a couple of other Grados but am not familiar with either of those.
I've not auditioned them yet due to rebuilding a 'table. If the XTZ is as good as you suggest I'm sure I'll be pleased. Were they all Signatures? All this one shows on the stylus fitting and cylindrical container is XTZ.
I liked the Grado. I had a 15 year old version of the Statement Reference 2. I enjoyed it for all those years. When I decided it was time to retire my cartridge I immediately thought I would trade it back to Grado for the new Statement Reference 2. Upon first listening it sounded fine. However, the more records I played the more I started noticing distortions and over modulation that I had never noticed before with the older cartridge. After discussing this problem with my dealer, Grado support and EAR support (my phono stage is an EAR 834P) we arrived at the conclusion that the newer Grado was not a good match with my phono preamp. The new Grado, though still considered low output, has an output of 1mv whereas the older version had an output of .5. Apparently this was an awkward output level for my EAR. It was too high for the MC setting on my EAR and too low for the MM setting. I don't blame the cartridge for this but the 1 mv output may be difficult to accommodate by phono stages that have a limited range of settings.
Love my Sonata Ref2 in a older Denon
Speakers are Apogee Stage so i would say somewhat revealing in the midrange which I believe is the hyper strong point of the Grado.
Over the years Grado has had very musical to cost ratio cartridges
Maybe not glamourous or faddish but always solid musical sound
As noted may not work in every arm/table
Yes I know. This was suggested already (maybe you). When I talked to EAR about that they doubted it would make enough difference to fix my issue. Grado support suggested I get another phono stage. That might have worked also. But in the end I sent the cartridge back to Grado and ended up getting a Dynavector XX2 mk2 which EAR assured me would work well with the 834P...and it does....and it sounds even better than the Grado, albeit at a cost of an additional $500.
the Grado family has been very smart through the years with their cartridges.... We used to mod them at Marcof, our end product was better than any of the Grado's of the day....
We hand measured the coils and picked the tightest tolerances, we inspected and selected the best stylus.... We opened them and added epoxy which killed all resonances, we made our own mix of dampening and painted the cantilever dampening that also.... A dealer in New York called once and said Joe Jr is here trying to buy your cartridge... He was refusing to sell the cartridge to Joe... We told him to sell it to him.... About a year later, we found our changes in their very best cartridges.... Grado put out a good product and learned and made changes at every turn. From what I can tell, the Grado's continued to improve over time.