Grado (Insert Color here)2 Prestige Series - Any Reviews Yet?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Soundgarden, Jan 3, 2018.

  1. Soundgarden

    Soundgarden Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Bend, Oregon
    Has anyone spent time listening to these new carts? I haven't seen any reviews yet, just promotional pieces.
     
  2. sunspot42

    sunspot42 Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Francisco
    Someone picked up the Black Prestige 2 in the P-Mount variant. He's liking it:

    P-Mount Cartridges
     
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  3. Soundgarden

    Soundgarden Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Bend, Oregon
    Ahh, so that's one good data point...
     
  4. Soundgarden

    Soundgarden Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Bend, Oregon
    Found a few interesting links as I continued to scan the internet on this topic:

    1) Long-winded discussion about Black2 that includes both reports of QC issues and positive initial impressions of SQ: New Grado Black2 | Audiokarma Home Audio Stereo Discussion Forums.

    2) Very positive review here: Grado Labs Prestige Black2 Phono Cartridge

    3) Emerging Grado Black2 vs. Gold2 thread here, although the actual comparison has yet to materialize(!): Grado Prestige Black2 vs Gold2 | Audiokarma Home Audio Stereo Discussion Forums

    1) and 3) are both from Needlestein, who is the same user in the link that sunspot42 included above. So really it's all on him at this point :)

    (Yes, I realize I'm really the only one commenting on my post here, but perhaps others will chime in. Maybe just too early to get any real reviews here.)
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2018
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  5. Johnny Wong

    Johnny Wong Forum Resident

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    I’m interested in what I’ve read. I currently have the Ortofon 2m Blue. What from this series would be comparable or better?
     
  6. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    One thing to keep in mind is that the fundamental way these cartridges are put together is very much the same, e.g. unshielded and undamped stylus assembly. If Grado carts were a bad match for your turntable to system before, I can't imagine these are going to be better.

    I did read the reviews and comments and most seem to center around the tonality of the new series being more similar to older models rather than the last iteration of these cartridges. Grados aren't a good match for my turntables, so I won't be trying them. Not to mention they don't offer anything better than a bonded elliptical even if you buy the Gold model - again, not for me.
     
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  7. Soundgarden

    Soundgarden Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Bend, Oregon
    I like my Grado Green1. It's a very good match for my current system. I'm inclined to try a Green2 just for fun given what I'm hearing. I wonder about going to a "higher" color but the scientist in wants to compare color to color first.
     
  8. Stan94

    Stan94 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Paris, France
    I love my MF3. I might try the Gold2 in the future.
     
  9. Soundgarden

    Soundgarden Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Bend, Oregon
    Also, although needlestein likes the Gold2 better than the Black2 - he just posted the review this morning - sounds like there's not enough improvement for the increase in price for him to recommend paying extra for the Gold2. But he loves the Black2 over the Black1. I think I'll shell out the $100 for Green2 and see what I think for myself.
     
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  10. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    @needlestein posted a review of the Black2 and Gold2 on AK recently. Note that he is using a tonearm with silicone damping well.
     
  11. Soundgarden

    Soundgarden Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Bend, Oregon
    Yup. Just read that. It's what I was referring to above. Seems he thinks that the improvement between Black1 and Black2 would be there irrespective of that...?
     
  12. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    He said it worked okay on his p-mount table which doesn't have the damping well. Maybe he will chime in with more specifics. Personally I would not touch Grado without some type of damped arm since the suspension on the stylus is completely undamped (unlike almost every other cart brand under the sun - Grado is in the dark ages on this one!).
     
  13. Soundgarden

    Soundgarden Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Bend, Oregon
    How about carbon fiber arm?
     
  14. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    No idea. My advice would be to watch the cartridge carefully as it plays your records. If you have a record that is difficult to track, or better yet a test record, try that. If you notice the cartridge "dancing" a bit then you have your answer. If no dancing and everything seems to track okay then you are probably fine.
     
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  15. Soundgarden

    Soundgarden Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Bend, Oregon
    Okay, this is an educational moment for me... I had figured you mentioned damping for resonance purposes. But now I'm thinking you meant damping to avoid physical arm movement and mis-tracking. Is it the latter?
     
  16. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    Yes, though I'm sure there are instances where the two are related.
     
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  17. needlestein

    needlestein Forum Resident

    Location:
    New England
    Hi,

    Yes, I really like it. The links above are my comments and threads. Unfortunately, some people are receiving cartridges with QC issues. I've bought four so far: two from Grado directly which is 4ourears.com, and two from Galen Audio's website. I have no QC problems to report. I love the Gold2 as it does offer better high end resolution and tighter bass, but so does the Gold2 stylus in the Black2 body. I'm really not sure that there is much difference between the coils in these two bodies although the Gold2 gets a really detailed when describing how pure the copper is in the Gold2's coils. I haven't tried the Black2 in the Gold2 body to see if the Black2 stylus will make a Gold2 sound like a Black2.

    I also haven't taken my fluid damper out of my SL-1200 to see if it sounds different without damping. But these definitely sound better to me than the Prestige and Prestige1 line. The high end has been restored to a certain point. I mean, it's still not going to compete with a $500 LOMC--maybe not even an awesome $750 moving magnet. But to me that's forgivable because Grado is very different--relaxed, tonal, painterly, moody even, sometimes lazy but always choosing musicality rather than to relentless pursuit of vivid detail capture. The problem is that the old Prestige and Prestige1 line in my system just sounded kind of dead and lifeless--too lazy, I guess even the P Mount versions in my P Mount deck. I used to complain that you could remove your tweeters or install a Grado.

    The Prestige2 line has solved this issue while retaining the Grado house sound--it just makes it sound like an old Signature 8MR that I LOVE. So now I don't need to go hunting for a backup. Again, I'm not sure if the new Prestige2 line would sound dead and lifeless if I removed my fluid damper from my otherwise stock SL-1200 (besides tonarm rewire), and, sorry, but it's too much of a pain to remove the paddle to find out. But based on how the P Mount behaves, I don't think it would be as dead and lifeless.

    If someone's trying to pick between buying the $75 MSRP Black2 and the $260 MSRP Gold2, I'm afraid that the guidance I give will reflect placing a higher value on bargain hunting than ultimate sound, but bearing in mind, always, that I did go ahead and buy the Gold2 indicating that I would contradict my own advice. The Gold2 doesn't really give you a lot more for three times the money. Yes, it sounds clearer on the high end and more disciplined on the low end. It's also gold tone. Having bought it, I like it enough that I'm not going to return it. But I love how the Black2 sounds as it is, and just because the Gold2 sounds a margin clearer and tighter, that doesn't mean that the Black2 suffers in the comparison, particularly if you like fat bass.

    I love the Impressionistic painterly aspect of Grado cartridges especially when listening to classic jazz (really adds the atmosphere, kind of a morphine-soaked touch), and the Black2 actually delivers more of the Impressionistic painterly aspect than the Gold2 does. For $75, it's a screaming deal if you like that kind of thing.

    Is it going to render the delicate ethereal contact tone of a brushes against a paper thin cymbal in such a perfect way that you might cry at the sheer artistry of such a delicate touch? I had that experience last night with an Ortofon MC 25 FL that I had just retipped with a Shibata stylus. I might have been crying because I was packing it up for its new owner (actually, its same old owner). But will the Grado do this? In short--Nope. Not in my system, anyway. Cymbals and the high end are definitely present, but more on the average side of resolution, which is a welcome improvement over the old Prestige and Prestige1 line. I'll say average plus. Not magnificent.

    But if you're a midrange junky, you could get something similar in the midrange area, particularly with cello and double bass. If you're a bass nut, this is the cartridge to get, but it doesn't leave you totally in the dark like the old Prestige and Prestige1 line did. In other words, the drummer shows up with her/his cymbals, too.

    The other significant thing to note is that these Grados are about the quietest cartridges in the groove I've ever heard. Makes sense to me given how they are voiced. But it is kind of amazing. Plenty of times I start a record and think that I left the cue up or something because I hear NOTHING. Just as I go to check, the music starts. Also, tics and pops are nonexistent. Truly. Maybe if you have a really bad crackly record in poor condition, of course, that statement goes out the window. But if your records are in decent condition and well kept, there isn't even the occasional pop or click anymore.

    Hope that helps.
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2018
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  18. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    I have to admit I'm a little curious about the Silver2 or Gold2 after reading @needlestein's reviews. That said, I just can't bring myself to spend over $200 on a cart with a bonded stylus, not to mention the turntable I have with the lighter tonearm (11g) does not have a damping well. Last thing I want to deal with is mistracking or bad sound, not to mention the dreaded Grado hum. For the same money I can upgrade my Vessel A3SE cart to a nude hyperellictal stylus. That cart has a warm, midrangey sound too. I also already know that it works pretty well on both of turntables.

    Seems like these new carts are great choices for those that already know and love Grado and have the right tonearm.
     
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  19. Soundgarden

    Soundgarden Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Bend, Oregon
    Awesome review. Thank you! Can't wait to get my Green2 and compare it with the Green1. Any day now in the mail...
     
  20. Soundgarden

    Soundgarden Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Bend, Oregon
    Question: The Grado has a compliance of 20. Your arm has an effective mass of 11. If I'm doing my math right that's a resonant frequency of 10.8 which is right in the sweet spot. @patient_ot you know I'm new at this - albeit studying hard - but I'm clearly missing something! Care to enlighten?
     
  21. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    You're right in this case, but I'm not worried about compliance. I'm worried about the fact that Grado cartridges have undamped stylus suspensions. Pretty much every other brand uses some type of damped suspension. When the stylus suspension isn't being damped, a damped arm can help overcome that. My 11g arm is a regular arm, no fancy damping well nor do I believe there is any available. People experienced in using these cartridges say they perform best on damped tonearms - something with a damping trough or a damping well inside the tonearm assembly. Examples of damped arms would be a 1200 with a aftermarket KAB damping well, a Well-Tempered Tonearm, or some of the Jelco models. Make sense?
     
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  22. sunspot42

    sunspot42 Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Francisco
    How would this sound compared to contemporary Audio Technica P-Mount cartridges? Worth the $75 to upgrade?
     
  23. needlestein

    needlestein Forum Resident

    Location:
    New England
    It’s an altogether different sound. The Black2 wouldn’t really make for any technological upgrade over anything in AT’s current P Mount lineup with an elliptical tip, since they’re all bonded and the Grado Black2 costs twice as much as the best AT.

    You’d probably be disappointed looking for an upgrade. You’d be better off spending your upgrade dollars on a better stylus for your current AT.
     
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  24. Johnny Wong

    Johnny Wong Forum Resident

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    I’m so curious about this... how would this compare to my Ortofon 2M Blue? Also would this be appropriate for my Project debut carbon arm?
     
  25. Soundgarden

    Soundgarden Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Bend, Oregon
    Yup. Makes sense. Thanks for the explanation.
     
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