Both tonearms and cartridges you mention are excellent on their own and excellent matches for each other. All were considered "budget" state of the art in their time. The Grace is perhaps "warm" and the Talisman "exact" but I could live with either on the Delphi. I don't think you need to replace either one. What is the condition of the cartridges? What is in the rest of your system? You may want to contact Sumiko to see if they can examine/service the Talisman, I believe that was their cartridge, and if memory serves, perhaps the Grace was their import also. If you have a good analog dealer they can also help out.
I have a Delphi MkII/III with a Sumiko FT-4 Arm. The MMT was their entry level arm (about $300) and they sold tons of them, The FT-4 was $550. At the time Sumiko also sold the SME 309 for $950 and the SME IV for $1500. (To give you a frame of reference on the arm.) The MMT was the respected entry level arm of the day (When Rega wasn't available). The FT-4 is from the same family as the MMT with upgraded bearings, wire, & etc. Though it does a nice job, I intend to replace it one of these days, but feel that I would need to spend close to a thousand to make a difference.
If I were you, I would put the Grace on your table. I think it is the better of the two arms and put your $400 toward better cartridge. I run a Grado Sonata ($500 retail) and am very happy with it. If you want to start out on a tighter budget; the Ortofon OM-30 was recently favorable reviewed by TAS. I used to run Ortofon OM series MM's on lesser turntables and they sounded very good. Good Luck.
Your cartridges, if not worn out, are too old now to expect them to be at their best. Assuming proper care, the arms should be fine.
The Grace is a low mass design, which also lacks rigidity, due to the slim arm tube. It should be paired with a medium to high compliance cartridge for best results. I think a Goldring 1042 Gyger II would sound good in that arm.
The MMT arm is a medium mass, maybe even leaning towards the higher mass end if it is the "S" shape one. I like a Dynavector 10x4 MkII for that price range in this arm.
Use the Grace. Get a new cartridge that matches the arm. Nothing much can happen to the arm over the years, unless it is damaged by some incident/accident. The cartridge is more delicate and a number of parts can be affected by environmental conditions. The stylus of a used cartridge should be assumed as requiring replacement, until proven otherwise. The problem is that very few people are equipped to properly ascertain the condition of a stylus. Even in the heyday of vinyl, shops had a microscope to look like the real deal but never had any competent personnel to use it. When in doubt, change the stylus. Since MCs usually have non-user replaceable styli, the safest course is a new cartridge. Once a record has been subjected to a bad stylus, it will never be the same again...
I have just replaced a customers Mission tonearm on an early Delphi AC with a Rega RB250. This is a very inexpensive tonearm that can be upgraded when needed with the Origin Live Structural mod and wiring.
The Rega line of arms are the most popular starting point for upgrading the old Delphi's along with the Oracle Maint. kit. With a new arm you may need new springs to properly balance the table along with a new armboard. Let me know if I can be of any help. I could come close to the $400 price point with the arm , armboard and kit.- Jody
I like the MMT and a new cartridge route.
Grab a MM like the Sonata and be satisfied until more dough allows an upgraded Table/Arm/Cartridge if that is your direction. The Oracle is a very good table but IMHO is as flawed as the Rega when you consider the options further upstream
Lived with Planar III's w/old Silver S arm and RB300's, Oracle Delphi's with MMT's and Grace F9E and Grado Sonata and the improvement in each case was better vibration isolation providing overall improved soundstage, image, definition ETC...
Good luck in your decision, I think what ever you decide will be better and enjoyable!
Thank you everyone for your input. It looks like most people agree that the Grace has a slight edge over the Sumiko, and on a gut level I have to agree. I also agree that probably I should not bother with the cartridges I have because they are too old and not likely worth re-tipping.
I've heard many good things about the RB250 tonearms with the Origin Live upgrades. I know nothing of these upgrades however - could someone provide a link to more information?
I have an opportunity to pick up a used RB300 - would this be OL upgradable also? And can anyone suggest a good cartridge match for it? Would the RB300 on it's own (without the upgrades) be a significant improvement over the Grace?
I've never really heard anyone knock the Grado line of cartridges and they are readily available to me here, but I HAVE heard that they are highly sensitive to VTA adjustments. Issue or not?
Some of the lesser known brands will be difficult for me to get because I live in a one-horse town when it comes to analog audio. They only guy here in town who knows anything about the analog world (and he IS very knowledgable) is also a bit of an arrogant ass and I dislike dealing with him. Asking him to bring in something other than what he recommends will bring me into a world of hurt... Mind you, he'll be the one setting it up too.
Thank you all for your input. I agree that my cartridges are both old and probably just need to be replaced as opposed to replacing stylii or having them serviced.
Just on a gut level I think the Grace is the better of the two arms. I wasn't clear in my first post - I actually have two Delphi mk II's and I plan to sell one of them. If I decide get a better arm for the one I keep,
Fzxguy - thanks for the background on the Sumiko line, it did put the arm into persepective.
Twl - Yes, the Sumiko is the S shaped one. Also, I've seen a few Grace arms that were "707" models, but the headshell was non-removable, whereas this one is removable. There must have been some variation in the models, but you're right - it is very low mass with a very thin tube and delicate headshell.
Brooklynaudio - thanks for the offer, but I'm in Canada and the border extortionists really gouge us heavily on items coming from the US. I do have the Oracle maintenance kit with the new springs and will be installing it once I've decided what to do about the arm/cartridge.
Excuse the repeated parts of my last post - I seem to have gotten jiggy with my cut and paste fingers...
The OL Silver Tonearm is the best price/performance tonearm in audio today. If you get that at around $750, you won't be sorry. Look at www.originlive.com for all the dope on the Silver and their mods for the Rega arms. They also have some even higher end arms that I haven't heard that look really good too.
Brooklyn Audio is in Dartmouth Nova Scotia. They be one of us Phydeaux, so no border problems. And no, I have no connection to that concern, like you I did a double take on the name vs. the location. For a low mass arm such as the Grace I would go for a Shure V-15xMR. Not the flavour of the day, but a great cart at a great price, unfortunately no snob appeal. Oh well, what with prices up here in Canada, snob appeal is a very low priority to me. Good day.
I have an ET2 tonearm on my oracle mark 2 with a carnegie one with an interchangeable mounted sumiko blue oyster nude mc cartridge.
I have found the sound very satisfying with the blue oyster.
the carnegie one is also good, but a different sound difficult for me to describe.
how do I upgrade to the new suspension springs?
I purchased mine in Toronto in the mid 80's and I live in the midwest far from any turntable experts