Ortofon or Grado on a low mass arm?

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speedmadness
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Ortofon or Grado on a low mass arm?

Post by speedmadness » 08 Feb 2019 04:58

I recently revived my vintage audio gear that I purchased back in 1984. Denon DP30Lii with the lightweight straight tonearm and an Ortofon OM10, playing through a Denon DRA350 Tuner/Amp, and B&W DM110 speakers. The stylus on the Ortofon was shot so I put a new 10 on it. Just found some good prices on a 10 hour used Super OM30 and even better deals on Grado Prestige Silver2 and Gold2 cartridges. With a mid level, at best, Turntable that is direct drive, are there gains to be had by spending the extra money on the Super OM30 or Grado Prestige? Will the Grado Hum bite me with a direct drive turntable? With the lightweight arm, is an OM or Super OM my best bet?

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Re: Ortofon or Grado on a low mass arm?

Post by raphaelmabo » 08 Feb 2019 11:56

If a turntable works with Grado or not, is not about belt drive vs direct drive, it's not about the motor in itself - it is about the transformer. The transformer in a turntable can produce elctro magnetic interference and this will cause the unshielded Grado to go hummmmm.... So, I don't really know about the Denon if it works or not with a Grado. The closer the transformer in a turntable is to the pickup/tonearm, then the more likely it is to cause trouble for a Grado. So, it all depends. Maybe the transformer in the Denon is shielded, or not - I don't know, or placed in a position that does not cause trouble for an unshielded cartridge.

I've seen users with inexpensive Audio-Technica direct drives complaining about hummm with a Grado, but users with Technics direct drives seems to be more happy. So it's really about the turntable. Don't know about Denon here.

Now, having said that - the Grado has a different sonical signature than Ortofon. Grado having a more expressive midband and a fatter bass and more rolled off treble (The v2 models is said to have a more sparkling treble, more energy in the treble, but I haven't listened to them so I can't say how they differ to previous Grado).

If you want a warmer tone than the neutral Ortofon, and with dynamics and musicality... May I suggest another option? The Sumiko Olympia. This one doesn't have the EMF problem as the Grado's, so it's more compatible with a wider range of turntables. It has a dynamic compliance of 12 cu @ 100 Hz which roughly translates into 21-22 cu @ 10 Hz which makes it equal to a Grado with 20 cu. So they will work on the same tonearms.

And yes, I would say that your Denon is worth a good cartridge!
The Grado Silver and Gold competes with the OM20, the OM30 is a clear step above in terms of resolution (mostly because of a finer stylus).
Sumiko Olympia is above the Grado Silver and Gold, but does not have the high resolution of the OM30 (but offers more dynamics).

I liked my OM20 for it's great and expansive soundstage, and it had a fine tone and a relaxing character. But I find it a bit lacking in dynamics and rhythm. A matter of taste...

And, as a final note - cartridges needs to break-in, a new cartridge needs 15-20 hours or so, Sumiko's often needs 30 hours, then they starts coming together in the sound (the cantilever and suspension needs to be excercised for the sound to loosen up and becoming more open and well balanced). If you have a 10 hour OM30, then this will be partly played in. Indeed an interesting option if the price is low.

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Re: Ortofon or Grado on a low mass arm?

Post by cafe latte » 08 Feb 2019 13:30

The Grado gold 2 is stunning for the money, a MC that is not a MC and costs a fraction (I have a lot of decent MC's too). The gold 1 is not the same go the gold 2, just make sure your turntable is not one that hums with carts that are unshielded like the grado. THe Grado loves low mass so if turntable is right you have a winner,
Chris

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Re: Ortofon or Grado on a low mass arm?

Post by speedmadness » 08 Feb 2019 16:30

Thanks for the responses. I only have about 10 hours on my new OM10 stylus, but a local stereo shop is unfortunately closing their doors again. I happened by there and I can buy a Grado Prestige Silver2 for $75, or a Gold2 for $140. The Silver2 and Gold2 are the same cartridge/stylus, but the Gold2 are the 5% that test the best post assembly. That Silver is so inexpensive it seems like a simple decision, but the Ortofon Super OM30 has a nude fine line stylus rather than an elliptical. I can pick that up for less than $200, which is getting me up to a bunch of highly regarded cartridges, Nagaoka MP110, Sumiko Olympia, Shure 97xE, etc ... So many choices.

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Re: Ortofon or Grado on a low mass arm?

Post by patient_ot » 08 Feb 2019 23:28

speedmadness wrote:
08 Feb 2019 16:30
Thanks for the responses. I only have about 10 hours on my new OM10 stylus, but a local stereo shop is unfortunately closing their doors again. I happened by there and I can buy a Grado Prestige Silver2 for $75, or a Gold2 for $140. The Silver2 and Gold2 are the same cartridge/stylus, but the Gold2 are the 5% that test the best post assembly. That Silver is so inexpensive it seems like a simple decision, but the Ortofon Super OM30 has a nude fine line stylus rather than an elliptical. I can pick that up for less than $200, which is getting me up to a bunch of highly regarded cartridges, Nagaoka MP110, Sumiko Olympia, Shure 97xE, etc ... So many choices.
Hmm. Maybe you should tell the board where the shop is and if they take mail/phone order so members can clean out their inventory????

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Re: Ortofon or Grado on a low mass arm?

Post by cafe latte » 08 Feb 2019 23:53

patient_ot wrote:
08 Feb 2019 23:28
speedmadness wrote:
08 Feb 2019 16:30
Thanks for the responses. I only have about 10 hours on my new OM10 stylus, but a local stereo shop is unfortunately closing their doors again. I happened by there and I can buy a Grado Prestige Silver2 for $75, or a Gold2 for $140. The Silver2 and Gold2 are the same cartridge/stylus, but the Gold2 are the 5% that test the best post assembly. That Silver is so inexpensive it seems like a simple decision, but the Ortofon Super OM30 has a nude fine line stylus rather than an elliptical. I can pick that up for less than $200, which is getting me up to a bunch of highly regarded cartridges, Nagaoka MP110, Sumiko Olympia, Shure 97xE, etc ... So many choices.
Hmm. Maybe you should tell the board where the shop is and if they take mail/phone order so members can clean out their inventory????
I agree.
Chris

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Re: Ortofon or Grado on a low mass arm?

Post by cafe latte » 09 Feb 2019 00:03

speedmadness wrote:
08 Feb 2019 16:30
Thanks for the responses. I only have about 10 hours on my new OM10 stylus, but a local stereo shop is unfortunately closing their doors again. I happened by there and I can buy a Grado Prestige Silver2 for $75, or a Gold2 for $140. The Silver2 and Gold2 are the same cartridge/stylus, but the Gold2 are the 5% that test the best post assembly. That Silver is so inexpensive it seems like a simple decision, but the Ortofon Super OM30 has a nude fine line stylus rather than an elliptical. I can pick that up for less than $200, which is getting me up to a bunch of highly regarded cartridges, Nagaoka MP110, Sumiko Olympia, Shure 97xE, etc ... So many choices.
People get too wrapped up in stylus profiles, I have some very expensive carts, some over 1.5k (quite a few actually), but I am recently enjoying a cheap conical, actually loving it the AT3600l, You can but an elliptical stylus 0.3x0.7 for it which I also have, it improves things a tiny amount but the conical still sounds great which is my point here. The M97xe I also own it is nothing special as the mids are recessed and it rolls off at 8k. I have a Nagaoka MP500 which is quite a bit up the food chain with a very nice stylus indeed, but I prefer the Grado gold 2 it is just more open and fluid. I also have a Grado statement reference which is a long way up the Grado food chain with a better stylus than the Gold 2. The Statement reference consts many times the price of a Gold 2, but the difference is small as the gold 2 is that good.
Send me a PM if you dont want to post the shop as I would love to buy myself a cheap Gold 2 to put in reserve.
Chris

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Re: Ortofon or Grado on a low mass arm?

Post by speedmadness » 09 Feb 2019 19:15

So I ended up getting a brand new, not the demo, Grado Prestige Silver2 for $79 from our local store. I'll get that mounted and start breaking it in soon. Thanks again for the advice. Sad to see the shop closing. They were a fixture in the area but didn't survive the 2008 crash, closing their doors in 2010. Came back with a new ownership group in 2015, but they only make money on home theater installations. Like many brick and mortars, they show people equipment and then it gets bought at the lowest price that can be found on the internet. No money there, so they are shutting down.

https://classicstereo.us/

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Re: Ortofon or Grado on a low mass arm?

Post by speedmadness » 12 Feb 2019 17:05

Needed a Denon PCL-30 headshell in order to have both cartridges mounted up. Those things are hard to find, and quite pricey even when you find a used one. TurntableNeedles.com, makes a replacement for $23, https://www.turntableneedles.com/Straig ... p_785.html , so I have that coming. The Denon headshells of that era are interchangeable with the ADC ones used by many turntables, but are physically longer. An ADC one might work, depending on your cartridge, but it might be impossible to set your overhang correctly without the longer headshell.

I set up my new Grado yesterday and have a couple hours on it now. To me, it is a much better sounding cartridge than the Ortofon it replaced. Cafe latte hit it perfectly, it is more open and fluid, and I have no hint of the Grado Hum. It seems a bit warmer and just more musical to my ears. Very happy with the money spent. It should just keep getting better as I break it in. Thanks for the input to my original query, you guys are an awesome resource.

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Re: Ortofon or Grado on a low mass arm?

Post by kalaur » 12 Feb 2019 22:39

raphaelmabo wrote:
08 Feb 2019 11:56
If a turntable works with Grado or not, is not about belt drive vs direct drive, it's not about the motor in itself - it is about the transformer. The transformer in a turntable can produce elctro magnetic interference and this will cause the unshielded Grado to go hummmmm.... So, I don't really know about the Denon if it works or not with a Grado. The closer the transformer in a turntable is to the pickup/tonearm, then the more likely it is to cause trouble for a Grado. So, it all depends. Maybe the transformer in the Denon is shielded, or not - I don't know, or placed in a position that does not cause trouble for an unshielded cartridge.
Most turntables don't have transformers in them. The 'grado hum' is usually from the motor itself (which induces a magnetic field due to windings or magnets within it). Direct drive vs belt drive isn't a guarantee of if you will or won't cause hum in a cartridge, its more about how well the motor is shielded, if the magnetic field is low enough intensity, or how far away the magnetic field is from the cartridge.

To the OP, great price on the grado silver. Some really enjoy the grado sound, some hate it. I think they are a pretty good value, and if you like the sound signature they can be a great cartridge compared to much more expensive carts.

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Re: Ortofon or Grado on a low mass arm?

Post by cafe latte » 12 Feb 2019 23:37

kalaur wrote:
12 Feb 2019 22:39
raphaelmabo wrote:
08 Feb 2019 11:56
If a turntable works with Grado or not, is not about belt drive vs direct drive, it's not about the motor in itself - it is about the transformer. The transformer in a turntable can produce elctro magnetic interference and this will cause the unshielded Grado to go hummmmm.... So, I don't really know about the Denon if it works or not with a Grado. The closer the transformer in a turntable is to the pickup/tonearm, then the more likely it is to cause trouble for a Grado. So, it all depends. Maybe the transformer in the Denon is shielded, or not - I don't know, or placed in a position that does not cause trouble for an unshielded cartridge.
Most turntables don't have transformers in them. The 'grado hum' is usually from the motor itself (which induces a magnetic field due to windings or magnets within it). Direct drive vs belt drive isn't a guarantee of if you will or won't cause hum in a cartridge, its more about how well the motor is shielded, if the magnetic field is low enough intensity, or how far away the magnetic field is from the cartridge.

To the OP, great price on the grado silver. Some really enjoy the grado sound, some hate it. I think they are a pretty good value, and if you like the sound signature they can be a great cartridge compared to much more expensive carts.
The old ones did have a soft top end and that gave haters something to hate I suppose, but the new are still sweet but now have great extended top end too which IMO has them knocking on the door of some quite expensive carts.
Chris

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Re: Ortofon or Grado on a low mass arm?

Post by ChrisfromRI » 13 Feb 2019 04:20

My turntable with the lowest effective mass tonearm (Grace 707 - 6 grams effective mass) has an Ortofon M20E Super cartridge on it, which is a very high compliance cartridge, and it's an excellent match. I recently replaced that cartridge's stylus with a Fine Line replacement stylus from LP Gear and that worked out very well too.

The turntable happens to be a Denon direct drive - the type with a magnetic tape head under the platter to control the platter speed by an encoded magnetic coating on the underside of the platter. It's my very high compliance rig.

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Re: Ortofon or Grado on a low mass arm?

Post by raphaelmabo » 13 Feb 2019 09:32

kalaur wrote:
12 Feb 2019 22:39
Most turntables don't have transformers in them. The 'grado hum' is usually from the motor itself (which induces a magnetic field due to windings or magnets within it). Direct drive vs belt drive isn't a guarantee of if you will or won't cause hum in a cartridge, its more about how well the motor is shielded, if the magnetic field is low enough intensity, or how far away the magnetic field is from the cartridge.
Most direct drive motors does not emit EMF, but their transformers may. Depending of the placement of the transformer (the closer to the cartridge the transformer is, the more likely it is to cause trouble) and if it's shielded or not. There are many Japanese designs of turntables with built-in transformers, many direct drives. But European makers like Thorens for example, often has external transformer in a wall-mart type of thing. So, it depends.

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Re: Ortofon or Grado on a low mass arm?

Post by raphaelmabo » 13 Feb 2019 09:37

cafe latte wrote:
12 Feb 2019 23:37
The old ones did have a soft top end and that gave haters something to hate I suppose, but the new are still sweet but now have great extended top end too which IMO has them knocking on the door of some quite expensive carts.
I am more concerned about build quality and quality control re: Grado cartridges, than a soft top end. I've seen too many reports of "bended cantilevers" and inconsistent quality etc. Now, I love their headhones I have a pair of SR60's :). But I haven't been brave enough to spend money on their cartridges. :) I have more faith in Sumiko. :)

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Re: Ortofon or Grado on a low mass arm?

Post by cafe latte » 13 Feb 2019 11:03

raphaelmabo wrote:
13 Feb 2019 09:37
cafe latte wrote:
12 Feb 2019 23:37
The old ones did have a soft top end and that gave haters something to hate I suppose, but the new are still sweet but now have great extended top end too which IMO has them knocking on the door of some quite expensive carts.
I am more concerned about build quality and quality control re: Grado cartridges, than a soft top end. I've seen too many reports of "bended cantilevers" and inconsistent quality etc. Now, I love their headhones I have a pair of SR60's :). But I haven't been brave enough to spend money on their cartridges. :) I have more faith in Sumiko. :)
I have three all are perfect..
Chris

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