Replace the stylus on the Grado!
I have a fully modded/upgraded/updated Rega P25 that has every aftermarket mod/upgrade that I know of. It’s a fantastic table and I use it quite a bit, (I have several to choose from).
I have tried numerous carts on this rig:
Audio Technica AT-150MLX
Grace F9E & F9E Ruby
Ortofon 2M Bronze & 2M Black
Denon DL-110 & DL160
Grado Reference Sonata
plus a few more.
The one that I liked the best and is still on the arm is the Audio Technica AT-150MLX. What a GREAT combo with the table and arm. Most of the carts listed above were terrific, but overall, I had to pick the AT, just a personal preference of course...
I have a Grace F8C, new old stock one that I got from a Grace collector. Either never played them or he only demo-ed them. He was weird guy that just liked to look at the cartridges but I liked the guy for that. I think it would be better than the 2M Black, if you are interested.
Especially if you will buy the original Grace RS8 Ruby stylus from me :)
Another great cartridge would be Pickering XSV-3000 Stereohedron, honestly i think this is the best contender without breaking the bank @thomlocke
So what is special about that Rega cartridges, the Exact is $400-550 cartridge with more than 6mV output and Vital Diamond. I think all Rega cartridges made by Audio-Technica, because Rega is not a cartridge manufacturer at all. The price is crazy compared to some killer vintage MM in $200-400 range, with better cantilevers, better diamonds, more conventional output for phono preamps. Why anyone need a 3 hole mounting if 2 holes are OK for decades ?
So what is special about that Rega cartridges
+1 I agree. I was a Rega dealer for many years, (I've set up hundreds of Rega tables and arms) and really like all their gear...except the cartridges. I gave up on those over 30 years ago. I find that they are nothing special and seem overpriced compared to what else is out there.
Sorry, HUGE Rega fan here, but not the carts...
Hi Thom, I can tell you with the utmost certainty that if your looking for a big upgrade in sound from a cartridge, look no further than the Dynavector 10X5. This is a high output MC cartridge that will work fine with a MM phono input/stage. All I can say is get ready to jump!
I own a J.A. Michell Gyro SE (third gen Techno arm) with a Dynavector 20x2L. I progressively arrived here after using a REGA P3/24 (RB301 tonearm) with a 10X5 and it is one of the best combos i can remember hearing. Also, i used the 10X5 on a Pro-Ject Xtension 10, and sold this table to my brother which he still uses to this day.
P.S. Also, Ill mention I use a Manley Labs Chinook phono pre amp, my brother uses a Musical Surroundings Nova II.
@mofimadness As a former P3-24/Exact 2 owner, I do agree there are better cartridges available. But with no VTA I just didn't want to experiment with other cartridges and deal with shims. It seemed to be a big PIA. My thought was that with the OP's modest system the simplicity of a Rega cartridge was the way to go.
Thanks for the suggestions.
Does anyone have experience with the Goldring?
@ericsch good point re the simplicity of using a Rega cartridge. Presumably the TT currently has a shim with the Grado? How much of a faff is it likely to be setting up a non Rega cartridge? Any recommended reading on how to do this? I'm keen to commit time to it if it opens up options of better cartridges than the Rega.
@thomlocke Seriously look at the Stanton/Pickering line, it will be inpossible to find anything better at $300-400 range. Those vintage cartridges are extremely popular. Expert Stylus in UK still servicing them and easily can re-tip them with Paratrace stylus (very close to the original Stereohedron). Since the GBP exchange rate is low their service is not so expensive anymore. My friend @nandric is a big fan of Paratrace diamonds and Expert Stylus sevice even for his crazy expensive and rare LOMC cartridges.
You can't go wrong with Stanton/Pickering line if you will ignore any models lower than 881 for Stanton and 3000 for Pickering. If you go with a higher number you will get simply amazing MM cartridges!
To support my point of view (my favorite is Stanton SC-100 WOS) i always add this old TAS article, very interestign read HERE>
@thomlockeI If you are willing to commit the time a non Rega cartridge is a good option. You are getting a lot of recommendations here, but you may want to start a separate thread requesting feedback from actual Rega owners who have used non Rega cartridges. These shims are the easiest to use because you don't have to take the tonearm off the turntable. You just loosen the tonearm and slide the shims under it. Make sure the shims actually fit your tonearm as I think there is more than one hole pattern. Good Luck in your search.