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"Highly Commended" - Hi-fi News, October 2008
Newly Upgraded for Even Better Performance
A musical sounding cartridge for under $150? Sounds impossible - until you ask The $ensible Sound's James T. Frane, who gushes about the Grado Prestige Red.
"More expensive cartridges may well provide incremental improvements in one or more areas," observes Frane, "but the Grado performs at a level where such improvements will be small."
Newly Redesigned Red1
The newly redesigned Red1 and Blue1 cartridges have had their coil design reconfigured, and the effective moving mass of their generating system has been reduced by 17%. This decrease in stylus mass allows for enhanced tracking with improved imaging, giving a quicker, more accurate reproduction of the music.
The Red1 and Blue1 models use a four piece OTL cantilever technology, oxygen free copper wire in the coils and Grado's specially designed elliptical diamond mounted on a brass bushing.
The Red1 model is selected from the Blue1 production run and meets higher test specifications. Approximately 10% of the production run meet these standards and become Red1 models.
Grado has recently made a number of upgrades to the Prestige series to take cartridge performance to the next level.
In the cartridge body, Grado has cut back on the number of turns of wire in the coils. The resulting shorter signal path increases the speed and lowers signal distortion, thus improving the accuracy of the signal.
Grado has also improved the control of the resonance of the coils. The company's engineers took the lessons they learned from Grado's wooden body cartridges and found a way to incorporate the benefits into the Prestige series. The 'potting' of the coils decreases vibration, lowering noise and distortion within the coils.
All of these enhancements have contributed to the world famous Grado sound: the warm, smooth, full bodied, non-fatiguing, and rich sound qualities.
"Pulls Something Magic Out of the Bag"
The October 2008 issue of England's Hi-fi News magazine awarded the Prestige Red its "Highly Commended" status.
Steve Harris reports in the magazine's cartridge 'group test' review that "the Grado was the cartridge that conveyed the feeling that drummer Les DeMerle was sitting right up there." According to Harris, "The Grado would come back from match point down and pull something magic out of the bag."
Hand-built All the Way
The hand-built Red uses a four-piece OTL cantilever technology, standard oxygen-free wire in the coils, and Grado's specially designed elliptical diamond mounting on a brass bushing.
A proprietary "flux-bridger" generator system requires fewer coil turns for lower cartridge mass and electrical inductance. This contributes to a frequency response to 50 kHz and beyond, plus tracking forces from one to two grams.
The $ensible Sound's James T. Frane, who gushes about the Grado Prestige Red writes, "There may be some recordable response difference between this cartridge and its more expensive brethren, but it's difficult to imagine a more pleasing and musical performance. The Grado Prestige Red is proof that one does not have to spend large amounts of money for good sound from a phono cartridge."
Frane continues. "More expensive cartridges may well provide incremental improvements in one or more areas, but the Grado performs at a level where such improvements will be small."
|Write Your Own Review|
|Best bang for your buck|
While moving, I broke the pin on my Dynavector 10x5, and much to my dismay I found out that to re-pin the cartridge ret. $650 it would cost me $480, i.e. a new cartridge. While I like the Dynavecor, I wasnt going to pay the unreasonable re-pinning cost which would bring my investment to over $1,000. I remember really liking the Grado I had on my System IIX previously, so I decided to go the other way: instead of blowing the budget on a high-end cartridge, I would go below the $200 level. I went straight to the reviews on Grado product and found the Prestige Red 1, and I liked what I read. Expecting, in reality, that the Red 1 would not stand up against the Dynavector, instead I was pleasantly surprised. The first thing I noted was the bass sustain; beautiful. The cartridge is also very percussion friendly, meaning I heard toms clearly whereas the Dynavector couldnt even reproduce sounds like tom-toms adequately. Of course there is a tradeoff involved: the Red1 doesnt match the highs provided by the Dynavector. This is really only a concern when youre listening to high-quality classical recordings. As one gets older the high notes can actually sound unpleasant. Theres a bit of a compromise in the mid-range, but its not a $450 difference, thats for damn sure. Overall, the Red 1 is well worth the $200, AND you can change the needle yourself at a reasonable cost. So there, the secrets out: the Grado Red 1 gives you the biggest bang for your buck.
|Warm & Smooth|
Just got this cartridge set up, and have a couple hours on it. Its replacing a $500 Factory cartridge that I never cared for. It sounded just like a CD. After careful setup I must say Im impressed with the red. Not the last word on detail, but it holds its own. And what a warm, warm sweet sounding cartridge. Played a couple long sides and didnt notice any sibilance, likely due to getting the setup Dead on. For the money, Im very happy with the Grado Red...
|- Dave G, WV|