I am using the Grado Reference Series (Reference), but I have also used their Reference Series Sonata, and I find that they were both very musical and shine with female vocals, one of the strong points of this manufacture's cartridges. I have also been told that their cartridges are fairly easy to mount, but I must admit that I've always let an experienced profession set up my tables. I have also been told that Reference Series are much more forgiving of slight set-up errors vs. moving coil cartridges, which must be really "zeroed in".
That being said, I plan on sticking with my Reference for quite some time, preferring a higher output cartridge requiring less gain for my specific audio needs. However, I have always been interested in the audible differences between the Reference and Statement Series. Here is excerpt from their website concerning the construction and performance between their two series:
"Grado is introducing four new models of phono cartridges. These new models will be an expansion of the Statement Series. They will duplicate the Reference Series in model names, i.e., Reference Platinum, Statement Platinum; Reference Sonata (Signature), Statement Sonata (Signature); Reference Master, Statement Master and Reference Reference, Statement Reference. Price points will be the same for both corresponding models. We will not be discontinuing the Reference series, but will offer both series of cartridges.
The Reference series will be the high output cartridges (5.0 mV) while the Statement series will be the low output versions (0.5 mV).
There are physical differences between the Reference cartridges and the new Statement cartridges. Each Grado cartridge has four coils. The Reference series cartridges have a total of 6,000 turns of wire on the coils. The Statement series has a total of 380 turns. Since we have considerably fewer turns in the Statement series, we can use a much larger size wire. This new wire has over 16 times more area for carrying the signal; it also lowers the resistance from 470 ohms in the Reference series to 2 ohms in the Statement series. Fewer turns of wire on the coils shortens the distance the signal must travel from 125 feet to a little more than 7 feet. In the Statement series we have also shortened the magnetic generating gap in the stylus, increasing the flux density.
What will be heard from these differences? The new Statement series will have a sound that is wide open, uncolored, with better definition and transparency and increased dynamics. The Statement series offers enhanced tracking with improved imaging and more musical information. All of this, along with Grado's usual warm, smooth, full bodied, non-fatiguing and rich sound qualities."
Colitas, That Grado Statements has an output of 0.5 mv. It would require a preamp gain higher than the 36.5 db that you are providing. 56db would be optimum gain for your Grado.
I also don't know what Rega pre you are using. The Brio, Mira and Cursa all offer phono input plug in cards, but I'm not sure if they can provide you with different gain settings by "custom tailoring".
There are a couple of options. The first one you had mentioned by getting another preamp, or purchasing a phono pre and using it in conjunctionn with the "AUX IN" input on your existing preamp.
Ultimately, if you look for a phono pre gain value of 56 db, you will make that Grado come alive.
Happy Listening, Ed.
Grado's phono pre has a choice of either 40 or 56 db of gain. I use a reference series master w/ this pre, they are a good match.
You can use a 20db phono step-up transformer, if you want to. You just have to make sure that you have the load set for the MM-type load that the Grado wants(47k).
Twl, I find it interesting that you would recommend a step up. I have always found step ups' to be somewhat problematic. It seems that any "transformer type" step up would introduce hum problems (to varying degrees), and offered little or no adjustability or versatility.
I am aware of the "transformerless" designs, but we are now beginning to approach the costs of good quality phono preamps with significantly more versatility. I think that if we were to evaluate step ups' in terms of cost/adjustability/effectiveness, would we not find them somewhat lacking?
Also, another topic that neither of us has mentioned is interconnection. We are introducing another set of cables. What's happening to our loading factors? Once again, it very much surprises and confuses me, the choice used by Rega in terms of gain factors. Unless there are varying gain settings available in their individual phono cards, you are restricted to a high output cartridge (required approx.5.0mv) w/36.5db of gain being provided). But, that has always been an issue with me, as I really don't know how some of these designers arrive at their provided gain factors.
Of course, we could also not put the cart before the horse, invert the equation, and initially purchase a cartridge that works well with the provided preamp sensitivity/gain settings such as I did with my YBA Passion/phono. But that's another thread. I have always put a lot of value in that approach. One less box, one less interconnect, one less power supply (ac or dc), one less power cord, one less "link" in a chain. But, less diversity in cartridge choices.
Oh well, life is filled with compromises.
Just my opinion, for what it's worth. Ed.
Ed, you wrote:
"It seems that any "transformer type" step up would introduce hum problems (to varying degrees), and offered little or no adjustability or versatility."
My BentAudio Mu's have no hum problems that I can detect. (If you meant a tranny might induce hum in the Grado, I can't speak to that possibility except to repeat what we all know about Grado's susceptibility to stray EM fields, and to mention that the Mu's are pretty heavily shielded.)
The Mu's offer infinite adjustability of cartridge loading by means of externally mounted resistor terminals. I can swap in any value resistor I want in about 3 seconds. (I'll admit they offer no gain adjustability without major surgery, so if that's what you meant I agree. OTOH with Colitas' existing phono stage a 20db stepup would let him use any cartridge with .5mv output, which is a lot of cartridge choices.)
The "adding another component and cable" argument is only partly valid. If you need additional gain you're going to have to add *some* additional componentry and wire. Whether those components and wires are internal or external to the phono stage chassis is not hugely relevant (IMO of course).
What is relevant is what kind of additional component you use to achieve the additional gain. IMO, a tranny can be the ideal solution, because it can actually help a cartridge work better. A phono stage is a voltage driven device. Unfortunately, a cartridge is not particularly good at providing voltage, as we all know. It can however, provide a respectable amount of current. Why not insert a device that transforms this readily available current, which a gain stage cannot use, into the higher voltage that it CAN use? With readily available load adjustment, the cartridge can be optimized to run at its precise sweet spot.
I quite agree about the cart and horse thing. Don't buy a component until you're prepared to provide whatever it needs to integrate into your system. It appears Colitas is ready to do that, and in his case I think a 20db stepup could be a viable solution.
Doug, you and I are in 90% agreement. And before we discuss the fine points any further, I would like to ask one question. Which, based on my previous response to this thread, I consider highly relevant.
With all do respect, How much do those beautiful Mu's sell for in non-kit form?
I paid $745 last year for the copper wire version, assembled and burned in. AFAIK the price is still the same.
Whether that's reasonable for Colitas' system and budget I don't know. I'm not that familiar with his equipment and he didn't mention a budget.
No problem with step-up transformers. They work great. You just need good quality, which is not cheap. Bent Audio is really nice.
Doug & Twl, You're right. It is me reading cost into the equation and maybe I shouldn't be. I assume it's the way I read the original post. I was basing my opinion on the equipment presently being used.
Although, I was NOT thinking about step ups' in the $700-$1500 range. I have had experience with both the EAR and GSP units with great results. Both also being fairly significant investments for this application.
I have always felt that once entering into that level of investment, full blown adjustable phono preamps had the advantage. In this particular scenario, it would allow Colitas to experiment with loading AND gain settings for MM OR MC cartridges eliminating the need for any step up. I was also figuring something like a Monolithic or equiv. on the used market in the $350-400 price point plugged into the aux inputs on his existing amp.
PERSONALLY? If it was me? I would be either buying a cartridge with a higher output OR contacting Rega to inquire about a 56db gain phono card, to avoid the introduction of cabling, power supplies, etc. NOT to even mention the $$$.
But, the original poster wanted options.
A question for Doug and Twl.
If you use a MU stepup set at 20db gain (10x turn ratio) into a 47K loaded phono amp, according to info on Bent Audio web site, the effective load at the cart will be only 235 Ohm? Will that cause any mismatch with Grado Statement?
My setup: low-output MC cart *into* step-up *into* phono amp *into* main amp. Arrived here first b/c I wanted to try a low-MC cart, and second b/c I bought an amp sans phono section. Love my results, and think it would be a shame to cross low-MCs or a Grado Sig. series off one's list. As for step-up transformer cost, I'm using an "Audio Interface" model CST-80H bought on the 'goN for about $240 incl. shipping...at the time a less clean CST-80 (no "H" - earlier edition) was available for something like $170. I sought an Audio Interface after seeing the name on Art Salvatore's (infamous) Recommended Components list, and couldn't be happier. No hum, great sound. Perhaps worth considering!
Your approach certainly makes sense too, and either approach could be done for less than the cost of the Mu's. Lots of ways to skin this cat, or pull this cart if you prefer.
A 1:10 stepup shows a cartridge a load of 470 ohms, not 235, assuming normal MM phono stage resistance of 47K. I think you mis-read BentAudio's chart. Regardless, your question still remains valid: will this be appropriate for a Statement Sonata?
The load needed by a cartridge if feeding a transformer is quite different than if feeding a gain stage. The goal now is not to maximize voltage output but to maximize current output without over-impeding the cartridge. This requires a much lower load. For MC cartridges feeding a tranny s typical "ideal" load is about 3x the internal resistance of the cartridge. The Statement Sonata is listed as having a very low resistance, just 2 ohms. If it were an MC you'd start by loading it down to about 6 ohms and experiment by ear from there.
Whether this applies to a MI or MM Grado I don't know, and Grado doesn't specify a load for the cartridge if using a tranny. One should probably ask Grado before deciding to go the tranny route. Good point.
Well to clarify Busics2 my system is listed above;)-~, why else do we spend the time listing them? I do have a Denon receiver with MM Phono input. I do want some flexibility Dougdeacon with carts. I would like to eventually try the ZYX and other MC'c also. I saw the Statement on the auction boards and could not pass it up. Having used the Reference Platinum before, I thought this was the next step for me. I wanted to hear the difference b/w the two series of carts. Thanks Busics2 for the output info, I just looked at the Music Direct catalog today(for the millionith time) and found that same paragraph that Fatparrot wrote. I was not understanding about the "physics" of cartridge building (less wound cable=less load). I thought the load was the same, D'oh. I found the thread about transformers in the archives AFTER I posted. It seems it's b/w BentAudio or K&Kaudio for step ups. I do understand they are different internally. I was thinking of a DIY project, since both are offered in Kit form. Sheeeeeeet, I just bypassed the fuse in my Maggies I can handle a full blown project;)?! My budget is an issue, especially on 7.50/hr. Do they offer audio scholarships? Does anyone know how much the MU KIT (copper) is? If it's comparable to the price of the K&K I would go with the BentAudio. Sorry, 4yanx. I followed every thing up untill the last post from Dougdeacon about loading down the cart. I guess I do need to call Grado and just ask? I have thought of selling the Rega Fono and just using the phono stage in the Denon receiver with a step-up. I did a shoot out b/w the two and I couldn't hear a difference. Granted I can't play the cart right away but it will give me the incentive to save and upgrade a little at a time. Well until then I have a Goldring(that fits my current system Busics2;) to keep me spinning until the early morn'!
Well, Sid, the load on most transformers is set with resistors. This is also the case with active phono inputs. All that is required is the proper resistor. Probably some experimentation would be necessary for best sound.
Well i beleive I have changed my mind again. I will order a K&K audio step-up, considering budget constraints and the fact that the MU has shot leads. I will use the K&K with IC's straight to my Denon Receiver(for now). Whilst chaecking the Bentaudio site, I came across a record cleaner on the side bar. "Ultra sonic record cleaning system. Sounds cool but probably out of my income bracket. I will contact for more info.
John Chapman will make the Mu with longer than 7" leads at no extra charge. Mine are 18". Of course if it's beyond budget then that's academic. You might consider the kit, which saves about $100 and just requires a spot of soldering. Still alot more than the K&K of course. Don't forget to check with Grado on loading before ordering any tranny.
BentAudio's ultrasonic RCM is still in the prototype stage. I'm in the queue for a beta copy for testing, but no word yet on when it will arrive. John's been very busy in the last few months. You can be sure I'll post a review when it shows up. We're very hopeful it will be better than scrubbing with brushes. The price isn't set yet but it should be under $1K, possibly well under.
Thanks Dougdeacon, my turntable is wall mounted about 4ft. away from my receiver. I did find the price of the kits, but still too much for my budget. Keep in mind doug that I still need to CLEAN my lps. I am going to make a custom attachment for my vacuum cleaner. I will check with Grado here in the next couple of days, too.
Check out this VA thread for a mod to any home vacuum cleaner. It was apparently recommended by Brian Weitzel, head of Records Research Labs. I doubt it would rival a RCM, certainly not for speed, but if the budget is tight it could be a cheap and viable stopgap while you stash away the pennies. http://db.audioasylum.com/cgi/m.mpl?forum=vinyl&n=300556&highlight=vacuum+weitzel&r=&session=
I did something similar while we were deciding which RCM to buy and saving up to pay for it. My jury rig worked okay but Brian's idea looks better (duh!).
Actually, dougdeacon I was giong to try the DIY machine on the Teres Audio site. I found it doing a Google search. It's just a modified crevice tool, thatwould cover the entire side of an LP at once. I tried looking up the NYL ultra-sonic cleaner on the Audiocircle site, to see some pictures, but could not find them. Gotta go hear the boss coming, bye.
Is anybody out there? How about the YS solo mc pre-pre amp? At $325, it's in the same price as the K&K piece, and you don't have to put it together. What do ya'll think. It's listed under cartridges.