Grado Sonata & Platinum - Reference Series Cartridges

Sonata & Platinum - Reference Series

Moving coil cartridges from the Grado Reference Series (The Sonata is also known as the Signature.)

User Reviews (5)

Showing 1-5 of 5  
Dimitri Turbiner   Audio Enthusiast [Sep 12, 2008]
Strength:

Ease, resolution, crystal clean highs, tight controlled base, size of the soundstage (huge!)
The wood is actually pretty good looking.

Weakness:

Ridiculously narrow margins on the VTA angle, causing unusually high setup times.

(Reference Platinum)

I am blown away.

I was getting very disappointed. II had spent about 7 hours adjusting tracking force and VTA trying to get decent sound. Complete crap, either terribly sibilant highs with zero base, or very muffled highs and lots of dull and fat base.
While experimenting I suddenly hit the right point and finally got it. The previous reviewer was absolutely right, the VTA has to be set EXACTLY at 90 degrees. My tonearm (Grado Signature Lab Series) has a very high resolution VTA adjustment ring, but even with the help of this ring it's extremely hard to find the sweet spot. A minuscule deviation from this angle, and the sound is instantaneously ruined. I couldn't imagine how someone would be able to set up this cartridge properly on a tonearm that doesn't have a dedicated vta adjustment mechanism (Rega's?)

With the right vta and then with a bit of tweaking of the tracking force, the cartridge came alive and started sounding the way all its reviews praise it. Very fast and clear highs, very clean human voice (with a bit of occasional "sssibilance"), and very tight base. What I like most about this cart is the synergy it creates between high frequencies and low ones. It has zero trouble resolving Dark Side of the Moon.


Absolutely love it.

(my setup: Grado Signature Laboratory tonearm, VPI HW19 table, SAE Mark 1B pre-amp, Dyna ST70 amp).

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Ian Fettling   AudioPhile [Jan 01, 2008]
Strength:

Very, very musically involving.

Weakness:

Difficult to align in the Linn Ekos arm.

I am now on my second Grado Sonata and find the cartridge very musical and involving to listen to. I use a Linn Sondek LP 12 with a Linn Ekos arm and actually sold a Linn Arkiv to stick with the the Sonata. I have also used a Denon 110 high output moving coil, a Benz Micro wood reference and an Audio Technica OC7 but nothing seems to compare with the natural, smooth presentation that the Grado offers.

Similar Products Used: Benz Micro wood reference, Denon 110 moving coil, Linn Arkiv, Audio Technica OC7.
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
4
Polhemus   Audio Enthusiast [Aug 20, 2007]
Strength:

Quiet. Little surface noise! Very detailed high end.Neutral midrange (I like a little emphasis). All my complaints may inprove if with a low mass arm tracking at 1.5 or 1.75 grams.

Weakness:

#1, Very sensitive to VTA and other paramaters. Need to tweak this baby! Not the best sounstage width.This may correct with less tracking force! Not the best bass but enough. Need a low mass tonearm.

Grado Reference Platinum, can buy new for $300. Very,very,very sensitive to VTA and then overhang. Tweaking anti-skating recommended. A high mass S arm will require 2 grams of tracking (my situation). Detailed highs. Decent but not great bass. Neutral midrange. Fair sounstage. Mediocre tracking. With shallow VTA very bright and edgy and lame with a lot of surface noise. Get the VTA right and this is a very quiet cartrige. Very detailed at the high end.Get the overhang right and more detailed.This cartridge requires precise alighnment! From horrible to excellent depending on alighnment. If you can't install with the proper VTA, don't waste your money. I don't see how anyone can claim this to be a warm cartridge! It's neutral to bright depending on the room. Not recommended for a bright room. Fine with a warm one. Can do better for less money. Maybe the sounstage would open up tracking at 1.5 grams. My Denon 160 and my BenzMicro M20E more "musical" with a better sounstage and cheaper. However, they weren't as quiet with surface noise nor as detailed at the high end.

Similar Products Used: Denon 160. BenzMicro M20E (preferred).
OVERALL
RATING
3
VALUE
RATING
2
Tino   Audio Enthusiast [Feb 14, 2003]
Strength:

sooooooo smoooooooth and warm

Weakness:

not noticed for that price

Hey Guys! I bought this catridge GRADO PLATINIUM WOOD in February 2003 in Germany and paid 350 Euro/350$. I put it on a REGA RB 300 tonearm and on a ACOUSTIC SIGNATURE SAMBA (1600$) turntable. I have it now only a few days but I can say that the sound is excellent so far. Warm and soooo smoooooth. I do not listen to techno or heavy metal music but to avantgarde and independent music and to many italian music, as I'm a italian freak. I'm no expert but I have not noticed until now the weaknesses on the inner circle that Marc has in his review below. I do not think that it depends on the GRADO but on the wrong settings of the tonearm. I have to admit that if I would have the money, I have bought a VAN DEN HUL catridge, which is 700$ the cheapest one, but I do not have the money. So for that price I can really recommend it to you!

Similar Products Used: Ortofon
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Marc Bratton   Audio Enthusiast [Jan 05, 2000]
Strength:

Muscicality with a capital M! Neutral in the sense of good tonal balance. Unlike Paul's review below, I find it to be a very good tracker-not quite as good as a Shure V15VMR, but close.

Weakness:

None-other than the fact it doesn't quite sound like a high end (read: "expensive")moving coil cartridge.

As you can see from the list of similar products I've used, I'm familiar with a lot of what's out there in this price range.If you're familiar with the Grado "house sound" (warm, rich, a little sweet) this one still has it. Add to that a great sense of dynamics, more air, and somehow, a much greater sense of ease, and you'll have a sonic picture of how this cartridge sounds. It's limitations are those of seemingly all moving magnets-you're just not going to get those little microdynamic bursts that whisper "live music"..you'll probably need one of those foo-foo expensive moving coils for that. You know the kind-the ones that cost $500.00 to retip, and will bust a cantilever if you look at em wrong. That's fine if that's your gig...I'll put my money elsewhere-like more records. Still, you do get some of that expensive moving coil cachet with this cartridge. It comes in a nice mahagony box, lined with green velvet. You keep this cartridge permanently, and send it in for retipping-just like a moving coil. Retipping cost $200.00-a bit high, but not really out of line. It costs as much to retip a Sumiko BPS, or to get a replacement stylus for the Shure V15VMR. Since I brought it up, how does it compare to those two cartridges, both highly recommended? Very well, thankyou...more musical than either-the Shure is a little clinical by comparison, and the Sumiko...it's hard for me to remember, as it's been awhile. Let's just say the Grado has that certain musicality-like Conrad Johnson's gear-that makes it a keeper. Do make sure your preamp has a high overload margin, as this thing has a high enough output(4.5mv)to overload some. With my Bryston BP1 phono preamp(review forthcoming), that's no prob. After reading Paul's comments below on this cartridge's trackability (or lack thereof!), I have to say this sounds more like a tonearm/cartridge mismatch. This thing tracks like a champ with my Well Tempered Record Player's tonearm. Using Shure's long discontinued trackability test record(which is biased towards...you guessed it-the Shure!), this thing did about as well as the Shure. Real world, I hear no problems with tracking, but I am running it at 1.8grams. Unless you're a no-holds-barred analog idiot (more power to 'em), this is probably as good a cartridge as you'll ever need. I'm giving a 4 overall (there's always a lot better out there), but a 5 for value.

Similar Products Used: Grado Signature Jr, Shure V15 VMR, VandenHul MM,Sumiko BPS.
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
floyd   an Audio Enthusiast [Jun 04, 1999]

Just picked up my Sota Star with a brand new Grado Platinum professionally mounted. When I hooked up the table and played the first record my ears were immediately treated to pure sonic bliss. I am sure their are better cartridges out there...for under $300 i don't know how one can spend big money on a cartridge. after an extended listening session i found that there was little to no cartridge fatigue and absolutely no ear fatigue on my part. this cartridge mates well with bright speakers... the highs are spatial with dynamic seperation and a beautiful soundstage. the bass is plentiful and solid...the mids could be a little more clear and i mean a small little...the treble is perfect. vocals come out tender and pure...i feel confident that i am set for a while....it's the firts grado i have ever listened to and i love it.
anyone looking for a new cartridge should definitely try this one before spending more than $300 on a cart...

it's moving magnet with a none replaceable stylus...

my ears love it...though nothing is ever a five.

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
Paul Guy   an Audiophile [Apr 21, 1999]

For the money this is a very good cartridge. It tracks high velocities reasonably well, although many albums will give it trouble on highly
modulated passages on the inner grooves. The high frequencies are a bit
'zingy', I was able to tame that by adding an extra load of about 6-10
kilohms (with a little inline adapter). That modification uses the
inductance of the cartridge to reduce (and maybe damp) the higher frequencies.
The modification brought the tonal balance of LP's much closer to
transcriptions of the record on CD, so I knew I was getting closer
to the 'right sound'. By no means does this cartridge give a CD sound,
just the same balance of bass, mid and treble. It works very well
with violin music, traditionally a very difficult thing for pickups
to reproduce.
You may have trouble with hum, this cartridge is more susceptible
than most. Move your power amps, motors, fluorescent fixtures around
for minimum hum pickup.
On the outside record grooves, or albums with moderate to low lateral
and vertical velocities, this cartridge sounds fantastic. On the inner
grooves, especially with loud music, you'll hear some break-up. Still,
it's better than most of the other similarily priced competition.
Oh, watch out for the high output - some preamps will overload with
the 4-5 mv. output signals. If you preamp won't take that, it's very easy
design a little circuit that will reduce the output. Any decent preamp
should be fine.

My setup: Linn LP12 (Valhalla). Shure SME type III arm, stylus
pressure: 1.75 grams, anti-skate set to 2.0. Home-brew preamp, Linn
LK100 amp, PSB stratus Gold speakers.

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
Showing 1-5 of 5  

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