I tried a cheap cartridge and I LIKE IT


Ive had the Grado Master, Ortofon Kon B, AT OC9, Audioquest 404i and lastly Benz L2. This is my setup. AS final tool TT, Graham 2.2 with ceramic arm and Acoustech PH1P phono preamp. The Benz always had a little hum but got terrible last year. Used since first of 06. I did 30-40 hrs of TS. Did notice if I moved cables around with hands the hum would lessen but not go away. Anyway my analog system was not hifi any more the hum was so bad. So I wondered if a different cartridge would hum. Went down to the local music store and got an el cheapo $30 cartridge. Pessimisticly set it up and was preparing for the worst. Holy cow!!! It sounded good!!!!!!. No hum. Heard good stereo seperation. I put on the Archer by Heart and it conveyed the mandolin very well. Ann Wilsons vocals were not as detailed warm and dynamic but not harsh either like it is on many cheap systems. I put on Ambosia's Nice Nice and the deep bass was good. Was very revealing. Maybe a little to much. It did impart a slight etching in the highs but on a lot of records it was not necessarily a bad thing. The Benz was a little mellow for my system I think. What CARTRIDGE should I try????? Im writing this with having used it for 3 hrs. I think it should mellow out a little after getting broke in. The hum in my system must have really degraded the Benz. I know your wondering what cartridge. Its a Shure 92E. $30 going up to $40 next shipment store said. Im going to get a Shure 97E and maybe the SAS needle upgrade. Ive been told its better to have a good TT and a cheap cartrige than a mediocre TT and an expensive cartridge. I believe it. I do have the DB protractor and a set of digital scales. The Benz was set correctly. Now heres the challenge. For the members who have a good TT, put on a well set up cheap cartridge. Surprised I think you will be. My Benz is not 30 times better if you take cost/performance into account. At what point cost wise does the laws of diminishing returns really kick in? You know if you were to put on a graph. Maybe at $300(just an example) the graph would start dropping fast. Just got back after hearing Robert Plants Little by Little. Sounds great, bass and everything. Lets here your comments.
blueranger
Sometimes it all comes down to synergy. Sounds like you have found a way to "aline your planets" so to speak. Thanks for sharing.
$30 not broken-in cartridge sounds better than 1k Benz? Why was it humming anyway? You do have very good table/arm/phonostage set-up. Why don't you try some other MMs and see what happens?
The Shure 97 still gives great sound and is a great value.
"Ive been told its better to have a good TT and a cheap cartrige than a mediocre TT and an expensive cartridge."

That's the part that interests me. The first thing I noticed with my latest turntable is that some of the cartridges I liked previously aren't really so good after all. Then, some of the ones I ignored suddenly came to life. However, the truly great cartridges are still great. Anyway, whoever told you is pretty much right; turntables matter a lot.

Win
I would agree that TT is key to dynamics, bass and noise floor. However the cartridge is basically akin to the lens of a telescope, it colors and affects resolution of reproduction. My suspicion is that your light weight arm is why the other cartridges sounded bad...you need high compliance cartridges which Grado definitely is not and more than likely the others are not also. Shures have always been high compliance, hence their tracking fame. You may want to look to Ortofon MM if you want to stay at low price, or look for comparable stylus high compliance to the Shure in any other cartridge you buy for an indicator of success with your tonearm.
03-16-12: Davide256
............ My suspicion is that your light weight arm is why the other cartridges sounded bad...you need high compliance cartridges which Grado definitely is not and more than likely the others are not also.......
.

Despite it's looks, the Graham 2.2 is a medium mass arm.
I believe it's effective mass is 11g, which is similar to the Rega and SME V etc. It was designed for use with low to medium compliance cartridges.
I'm not sure I would go as low as $30, but I would certainly recommend a good $400 cartridge in a quality vinyl rig. I have an Audio Technica AT33EV in my Triplanar right now, and I have to tell you it sounds very good. Not quite as good as my Benz LP, but still amazingly good considering the price difference. I had a Benz L2 before the LP, and I am sure I would choose the AT over the L2.

This reinforces my opinion that the priority should be: Turntable is #1; Tonearm is #2; and the cartridge is #3.
tobes... that arm tube looks very much like the Grace 707 design I used to own.... which sucked with Grado. I have a modified Rega 301 now and its ok with a Grado Reference but its still not an optimal arm match. The easy way to tell if you have a cartridge compliance matching issue is play an irregular record and watch to see if the head quivers in the plane of travel. a good compliance match follows the record, a bad match quivers.
03-20-12: Davide256
tobes... that arm tube looks very much like the Grace 707 design I used to own.... which sucked with Grado.

Off topic of the OP, but I also owned the 707 long ago and fail to see the resemblance. Totally different headshell, very different armtubes and the Grace was a gimbal design?? Not to mention that the Grahams armtube uses concentric tubes with constrained layer and ceramic outer tube. The Grace had an effective mass of 7g vs 11-12g for the Graham.
I never used a Grado with my Graham 1.5T when I owned it, but i'm sure it was far better damped and had much superior resonance control to the 707 (the bearings of which weren't that great IMO).
I have used a Grado master on a rega 600 and had sibilence and went to Graham 2.2 and it was much better. Goona put on a Shure 97XE tonight
Whow how great!!