I have owned a Koetsu Urushi for four years so that's my reference. Early this year I purchased a Music Hall MM7 for a second all tube based system and just upgraded the stock Goldring with the Shelter 501 mkll. In many ways it approaches the airiness and bass extension of the Koetsu and is a major improvement over the Goldring. It tracks much better too. Grado makes a fine cartridge and I used to own a Platinum (the moving iron $300 version). But the Shelter is major step up from either this or the Goldring. I notice that this cartridge is also popular among fellow Audiogoners, which is how my interest was first piqued. Perhaps someone else can compare your current cart and this one directly. All I can say is that you won't go wrong if you choose the Shelter. And on the RB250 there is compatibility. I run mine at 1.8 grams.
7 responses Add your response
I'm inclined to agree with Stevecham's comment that you won't go wrong with the Shelter 501 Mk2. It's a fine cartridge, particularly for the money, and I strongly suggest you audition it before you make a decision.
That said, I own a Grado Reference (the 4.5 mV output version), and I love it. It is very musical, has great bass, smooth frequency response, very good detail (but not clinical, like some MC cartridges), and -- to my ear -- really excels at accurately reproducing the tonality and timbre of instruments. It also has excellent transient response (tho' not as quick as the best MC's) and fine sound-staging. To get better performance, you will have to spend around $2k.
The only "deterrents" to the Grado Reference are its susceptibility to hum (from proximity to the drive motor), and the need for a dead-level platter (otherwise, you may experience the "Grado bounce"). Mine tracks very well at the recommended 1.5 grams.
Agree with the others. A Shelter would give you the more extended highs you're after while retaining the bass and midrange heft you have now. The stylus profile alone compared to the Grado will do that.
Benz is another possibility in a mid-compliance cartridge.
If you do go with a Shelter or other low compliance cartridge on an RB-250, Twl's HIFI mod is a cheap, easy and utterly mandatory mod. You won't believe your ears. Check it out here:
Thanks for your replies. So, is the Shelter not a candidate on my RB-250 arm due to the low cartridge compliance, unless I do the modification? My RB-250 has the Michell Tecnoweight and VTA adjuster installed, as well as an Incognito cable upgrade. The Tecnoweight has two available sizes (weights) to accomodate different cartridge masses. Is this sufficient to accomodate the Shelter cartridge, or would I really need to do the "Twl's HIFI mod"? Thanks again and please forgive my ignorance when it comes to matching cartridge compliance with my RB-250 arm...