In my experience, I suspect your cartridge is not the problem. I had both of the cartridges you use and a VPI Scout. Lack of bass slam was the last thing I'd complain about. If anything, bass slam and general low end fullness overshadowed the rather reticent high end of the Grados. Your description of the Grado sound is pretty much the inverse of what most people hear when using their cartridges.The first thing I'd do is get that VPI off of the shelf you're using (if your pictures reflect your current setup accurately) and site the turntable on an isolated maple plinth. The coupling of additional mass to the VPI made for much better low frequency response in my system. The VPI's sound is very dependent on what it is sitting on. I'd also see about upgrading the phono stage as well, that could well be a factor in what you are hearing. Maybe other owners of Mac gear could chime in on the relative strength of Mac built in phono stages.
I would try a wall mount shelf first.
I guess you've got some room for Clearaudio Virtuoso Wood or Maestro
I would suggest you consider an Audiotechnica OC9MLII. This cartridge is somewhat of a sleeper and few people use it on the Scout, preferring instead the Dynas. However, in my view this combo is superb and the OC9 can be gotten relatively cheap. It is a great compliance match for the original JMW9 arm and the sound is spectacular--superior, in my view, to the 20XL and 20XM I owned and rivaling the XX2MKII I also used for a time. Find a used one and give it a try--I doubt you will want to let it go.
Photon is right....VPI tables need a solid connection to the center of the Earth...the better the connection, the better the sound....however....I agree with your evaluation of the Grado .
I had a Dynavector DV 20X cartridge on my Scout and loved it both for Rock and Jazz. It worked very well with the JMW arm. I had bought mine used and the suspension started to collapse so I only had it in my system for a couple of months. I used it a lot in those couple of months and really enjoyed the sound. Due to cost constraints, I bought a ZU/Denon DL103 cartridge and although I like the sound, it wasn't anywhere as engaging as the Dynavector. I do not play very many records now.
You will love the Dynavector on both rock and jazz, your music will really come alive.
Thanks everyone. I'll look into some mass or a shelf to isolate the TT first, and then have another listen. Any specific recommendations would be much appreciated. I actually had a Graham Slee Era Gold phono stage, but opted for the tube stage in the McIntosh as it has a much blacker background and is much more laid back.
One of the reasons I chose the Grado Master was the high 5Mv output. Looking at the Dynavector MC and the Soundsmith MI cartridges I worry about 2.5mv output requiring too much gain. To be honest I rarely turn the thing up past 4 but I like a lot of reserve power so I came keep the gain down low. Does the difference in output - 2.5mv vs 5mv - really impact the gain?
Just to be clear, it is more than isolation that impacts the sound of the Scout. The mass and the resonant quality or resonant frequency of whatever the Scout is sitting on impacts the sound greatly. Wall mount shelves I've seen use thin MDF which is not going to help your problem. Now if you integrate a thick wood plinth into the wall mount shelf, you're on the right track. Although I've not heard one myself, another option that some Scout owners have reported good results with is the Ginko Audio Cloud 9 isolation base.
I'm using a Target PS-1 wall mount shelf and replaced the MDF support platform with a Symposium Svelt Shelf. They make one that is an exact fit so it drops right in. I never A-B'd the Svelt shelf against the MDF but I'm thinking it provides better isolation. In my experience, the main thing is getting the table attached to the wall studs rather than connected to the floor, regardless of what kind of support you use.
Regarding your query on cart. output: I use the Master now and have had a lower output HOMC Dynavector in the past. Never noticed any difference at all in the perceived volume, presentation, or noise levels. You would think cutting the output in half would make a big difference, but that doesn't seem to happen. Of course, YMMV depending on preamp. I am usine either the George Wright 200C or the Cary SLP 90.
Hifiharv, I noticed your remarks about gain differences between the Dynavector and the Master not seeming to translate into noticeable differnces. I found the stated gain of .5mv for the Grado Master to be very optimistic, at least when compared to the gain of similar rated outputs from Ortofon cartridges. The .5mv Ortofons seem to put out twice the voltage of the Grado even though they're rated the same.
Photon, maybe that's why I hear no difference! Wouldn't surprise me that a manufacturer would exagerate the output specs. Wonder if LOMC makers do it as well? Did you actually measure this yourself? What does one play to do so? So there is no confusion to others reading this, I would like to point out that the Master is claimed to be 5.0mv rather than .5mv. .5 would be half a millivolt. To elaborate, I don't remember the claimed output of all of these carts. but I recall some being 2 or 2.5 mv. I have used them all in the same (tube pre)systems and heard no perceived problems related to their output: Shure V15 type V mrle, Sumiko Bluepoint Special, Shure Ultra 500, Grado Master, Grado Reference, Dynavector 10X4 Gold (rare, factory hot rod of the 10X4), Audio technica AT150MLX. These may not vary that much in output now since I was assuming the Grado's were the 5.0 they claim to be.
Oops, my bad. I forgot the fact that Lemoco was discussing the 5.0mv HO Grado. My Statement Master1 is the .5mv. model. My previous Sonata was a HO 5.0mv. model and I don't remember there being such a disparity between its output and other 5.0 mv cartridges I own. As to how I measured or determined the output of cartridges in my system, it's just a matter of familiarity with a given lp and where I set my volume control. When I'd switch from the Grado to an Ortofon rated the same output, I'd have to always lower the gain setting on my RCM Sensor phono preamp to maintain the same volume settings on my line stage preamp. I tried experimenting with resistance as well to see if that was a factor, but the Grado is relatively insensitive to loading in my experience. Even the Grado factory says not to worry too much if you have use a lower resistance than the 47k. specified.
I was looking at this DIY sandbox platform. I have a pretty small house and I can't deal with anymore wires so I'm looking at passive solutions. Perhaps a wall shelf with the sandbox would help.
Eight years?That stylus must be worn to the bone!The life span is about 2000 hours on a stylus,so try to estimate how many hours you have on it.You can damage your records with a worn stylus.