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Grado Reference Series Reference 1 Moving Iron Cartridge

code: GR0310
£1,199.00 (FREE UK Delivery)
Item in Stock  |  Usually dispatched within 24 hours
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  • High end model in the Reference wood bodied range from Grado

Grado Reference Series Reference 1

Higher output version - beware of websites getting this mixed up with its sister Statement Series low output product! This one plugs straight into an MM stage. No step up required...

The newly redesigned Master1 and Reference1 cartridges have had their coil design reconfigured, and the effective moving mass of their generating system has been reduced by 17%. All this is hand-assembled within a machined, new processed, Australian Jarrah wood housing. The Master1 and Reference1 models use a five piece OTL cantilever technology achieving an additional 5% tip mass reduction over the Platinum1 and Sonata1 models. The coils are wound with ultra-high purity long crystal (UHPLC) oxygen free copper wire. The Master1 model is mounted with Grado's specially designed nude elliptical diamond, and the Reference1 model uses Grado's true ellipsoid design diamond.

Frequency Response

10-60
Principal MI
Channel Separation at 1KHz 40
Imput Load 47K
Output at 1KHz 5CM/sec. 5mV
Recommended Tracking Force 1.5
Stylus Type E
Inductance 45mH
Resistance 475
Compliance CUs 20
Stylus Replacement F=Factory F
Mounting S
Weight 6.5
AUDIOPHILE AUDITION


Grado Reference 1 Moving
Magnet Phono Cartridge


You shouldn't count out MM cartridges; this one is superb and has a number of advantages.

Intro

Ever since I graduated from an earlier Shure VR-15 many, many years ago I have been one of those typical analog audiophiles only into moving coil cartridges. I had thought they were the only truly high fidelity choice for a quality tone arm in a good turntable system, and feared problems of hum with moving magnet cartridges. Well, recently my longtime MC cartridge gave up the ghost after many years by suddenly reducing its right channel to less than half the level of the left. Research proved it not repairable and so a similar price-range cartridge to the Grado being reviewed went painfully to the trash heap.

Listening Tests

The very first thing I noted after the much higher volume level compared to my previous MC cartridge was the reduction of LP surface noise. Even though I use a VPI LP cleaning machine and different liquid treatments, plus zapping with a MapleShade Ionoclast ion generator and treating the stylus with Last’s Stylast, and even though my high-end hearing is somewhat rolled off from what it was years ago, the surface noise on certain of my older LPs has still been annoying. In setting up the VTA of the Grado cartridge I used my old standby vinyl, the original Proprius Jazz at the Pawnshop, and in particular the track Lady Be Good. There is a section near the end where when VTA is perfect the sax jumps right out at you and a “ding” that is either a cymbal or cash register rings rather than sounding damped. I’ve used that track a lot and it has become scratchy. With the Reference 1 it didn’t sound any different from the rest of the LP - yet there was no noticeable rolling off of the extreme high end.

The third attribute of the Grado I noticed was more weight and color in the sound than I was getting with my old MC cartridge. I tried a couple A/B disc comparisons again in which I had found the audiophile CD or SACD had somewhat superior bass end support than the identical recording on vinyl. Now they matched almost perfectly with the Grado, once I adjusted levels to match. This sort of improvement makes jazz recordings sound more rhythmic and exciting. One of the comparisons I made again was the recent F.I.M. K2HD mastered directly from the Toshiba direct disc of pianist Jun Fukamachi “at Steinway.” Before the two sources had sounded amazingly identical, now my actual direct disc, playing on my SOTA turntable with the Grado, pulled slightly ahead sonically, which seems to be more logical all around.

Some of the “deep mono” audiophile reissues on vinyl from Pure Pleasure sounded more realistic and involving than they ever had before, especially when I made use of the handy mono option on my Sunfire preamp - a useful feature that was missing on the previous preamp. I also really dug an old LP with Slam Stewart and Major Holley playing their double basses along with their vocalizations - one one each of the front channels. These basses were walkin’ AND talkin’! (One of them sang in unison with his bass and the other one octave higher - I forget which is which - but there’s absolutely no doubt listening to them.)

Other attributes I felt to be part of the Reference 1’s sound were its highly detailed resolution and its outstandingly low distortion. In other comparisons I had made with identical recordings on CD or SACD there was often a high degree of similarity with the vinyl on the turntable, with perhaps a touch more “air” around the instruments in the vinyl reproduction vs. the optical disc. Now that air was still there, but in addition I was often hearing tiny details in the sound that were either not audible on the digital copy or reduced in clarity.

Summary

I have heard that some audiophiles are simply turned off by the so-called signature sound of moving magnet cartridges. After my experience with the Grado MM I don’t know what they are talking about. The Reference 1 has a highly detailed, hi-res sound that is never metallic or annoying, even with poorer recordings. Neither is there the unnaturally rising high end slope of many MC cartridges. I can’t imagine anyone being displeased with the sweet sound of this lovely cartridge. If you are looking for a quality cartridge, don’t count out MM designs, especially this one. If your turntable system isn’t quite at the level of my vacuum SOTA/SME/MapleShade-supported system, check out some of the other Reference Series models, at prices down to around $300, or the Prestige Series, running from about $60 to $220.

- John Sunier

We endeavour to despatch same day (for orders placed up to 2pm) on available stock items to the vast majority of UK mainland addresses. Please remember to check with us first for a physical stock check if next day delivery is important to you.

UK ORDERS:  We despatch the bulk of our UK mainland items on a 24 hour service – Free of Charge.  Free delivery also applies to the Isle of Man, Isle of Wight, the Scilly Isles, the Scottish highlands and Islands, the Channel Islands and Northern Ireland but may take a day or so longer. Smaller items are delivered using Royal Mail recorded delivery or special delivery. Larger items are delivered using a courier service such as Interlink Express, DPD, UPS or DHL. 

INTERNATIONAL ORDERS: We offer competitive rates which can be confirmed by email. Please just ask – we will need a full delivery address and telephone number. Smaller items are delivered using Royal Mail Small Packets Airmail with International Tracked and/or Signed depending on value of item and availability of the service. Larger International shipments are sent by insured and tracked services using DPD, DHL or UPS. If there are any delays due to specific customs regulations, etc, you will be contacted by Hifisound or by the courier with a request for any further information required. Customs duties do not apply for shipments into any EU country (for a full list please refer to the EU Country List). Customs duties can apply for countries outside of the EU. Customers in these countries are responsible for all taxes and duties incurred when the items enter their country.

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