Grado Sonata, Signature 8MZ, Shure V15VXMR


I read the MM threads with much interest. I took out the Reference Sonata from my Audiomeca Septum arm a while back and I am now using a VanDenHul The FROG HO. My preamplifier gives about 60dB of gain, things are really sweet, but then, I Have To Start Messing With a Good Thing.

I think the VanDenHul is really, really good. But then, I also thought the Sonata was good too. There was the psychological effect of having paid a lot of money for a fancy MC cart (albeit a HO version), but I did find the Sonata had really good qualities and I will play with it again now that I have come back to earth. If memory serves well, the VDH has stuff the Grado does not have (accuracy, finesse, minimizing surface noise), and the Grado had other things, like an ease of listening, ease of setup, really groovy sound.

I had the Grado in a RB300 with Pete Riggle counterweight. I never tried the Grado in the Audiomeca Septum. I am burning to do it, but then it took me so long to fine tune the VanDenHul and it is singing now.

I am debating putting a second arm on my rig to play with MM cartridges.

One thing I fail to grasp from the myriad of MM posts is the comparative quality of new vs old MM types. One example: Raul recommends the Nagaoka MP50. Is the current production MP500 as good -or better- as the MP50, or is it a case of "they don't make them as good as they used to"?

Same with the Grado: Should I bother shelling out 100$ to get a new stylus for my Signature 8MZ, or am I wasting my time since it will never approach the sound of the Reference Sonata?

As for the Shure V15VXMR, I am told the replacement stylus from SAS is as good if not better as the original Beryllium asssembly. Now, outside of cult following, is there a point in retipping this cartridge if I have the Sonata? I am thinking not, that I should just sell the bodies and use the money to get one of the Cool Old School MM recommended in Raul's seminal tread.

My question to you gentlemen:

1- Do I retip the Shure V15VXMR and the Grado Signature 8 since they can compare favorably against the Reference Sonata?
2- Do I sell the bodies, use the money to buy another challenger to the Sonata, since these two carts will never come close to the Reference Sonata?

Cheers, and thanks for the tips!
No ladies invited? Not sure I like this club...
Replace the stylus on the Grado! Forget about the Shure,they are great trackers but they are a real bore. The 8MZ is real close to the Sonata,I have both!
Dear Jkalplus1: I never heard the Sonata but I own/owned the Shure and the 8MZ.

IMHO that Shure cartridge is not worth to invest more on it, it has a false fame that came I don't know where.

I like the Grado sound and here, other than Yogiboy post, we can read that the Sonata is a winner. I agree with Yogiboy on the Sonata re-tip if it's need it:

Regards and enjoy the music,
I have all owned all three (sold the Shure), and I prefer the 8MZ with some source material. Otherwise, the Sonata is the winner for me, too.
I owned a number of Shures, including the V15, and have no idea how they got their fame. There's no doubt about the Sonata, I'm not sure I'll ever want to upgrade again.
I found the Sonata (low output) to be grainy and dark....didn't track that well either.
Evidently I'm not an "audiophile", I just listen to music and my Sonata is the most musical cartridge I've ever owned; but since I'm not an "audiophile" I've never owned a "bazillion" cartridges.
Dear Stringreen: I know I'm not the best person to ask because I'm not a Sonata owner but even that I would like that you can share with us those " grainy and dark " characteristics compared against " what " or " which ". Thank you in advance.

Regards and enjoy the music,
To a degree I'd tend to agree with Stringreen . To get Sonata (low output ) to sound half decent you need a heavy arm (Rega is a bad match. You can use it adding 15-20g of weight to the headshell and combination of counterweights) and a nice step up transformer like Hashimoto and load it down way below recommended 47K.
Regrds, L
Limono,where do you get that incorrect information from? Grado's do not match well with heavy arms and load is not a factor with Grado's. Why would you add a step up transformer to a mm cartridge? I use my Grado's with a SME 309 medium mass arm and it resonates at 12hz (perfect).
A SET on a high output mm? Whats that all about?
Try the SAS in the Shure, it has a more neutral presentation than the Grado and will handle those records that are in less than stellar condition a lot better than the Grado from my experience. However, only you can make the final determination as to what sounds best and fits the needs in your system. FYI, I've own Grado's since the 80's and currently have a number of them in boxes here. I also own the Shure's V15V - V15XMRX with Jico SAS stylus's for each. I currently use a M97XE/JIco SAS which I will probably have to spend ~$800.00+ to better in my system and for my needs.
Just some thoughts.

Raul...I don't really understand your question. I had the Grado in a Rega table with its own arm that was rewired and with dropped counterweight, and adjustable VTA (a pain to work from underneath the turntable, but it worked). The cartridge went into my Ayre preamp which has a phono board, but I adjusted that to 47000 ohms. The Grado as I remember was musical, but for ME it was a revelation when I got a Benz LP (not LPS) into the arm. I knew Joe Grado personally -- he sang at the Met... and had many of his cartridges. When he worked at his home in Westfield, NJ, his state of the art speakers were Jensen elecrostats for the highs and mids, and acoustical suspension (AR or KLH) speakers for the lows. I remember that setup sounded great.
Grados match very well with heavy arms , usually sound uninspiring to say the least on Rega arms and low output Sonata (Sonata Statement) with it's 0.5mV output and 2 Ohm of internal impedance needs either step up transformer or MC
capable SS phonostage despite being MM cart. I was replaying to Stingreen post and I had ,green , gold , Sonata Reference , Sonata Statement and Music Maker III based on Grado.
Have a nice day Sir. Regards, L