Sometimes it all comes down to synergy. Sounds like you have found a way to "aline your planets" so to speak. Thanks for sharing.
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"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.
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.
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.
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).