Originally Posted by Skylab
Well we all do hear differently that's for sure! I've never really liked the Grado "house sound" for phono. And their cartridges have very well documented stability problems on quite a few table/arm combos (the "Grado Dance").
Oddly enough, I'm more of a European cartridge guy
Benz, Ortofon, Clearaudio. Although I also have liked a lot of the Denon carts, and currently have a DLS1 in the rotation.
Oddly enough, I used to evaluate pre-production samples of Benz cartridges in the late 80s, culminating with my "extended tourist stay" at the factory in 1990 - obtaining Swiss permit to work is next to Mission Impossible. I was responsible mainly for the QC and was considered general PITA - as I would accept nothing but perfection. I maintain good relationship with them to this very day. You must give me credit for restraining myself from showing any bias towards Benz, despite my firm conviction they build one of the best cartridge lines in the world. Mr. Albert Lukaschek, who suceeded Mr. Ernst Benz both as owner and main designer, PERSONALLY LISTENS TO EACH AND EVERY CARTRIDGE PRIOR ALLOWING IT TO BE SHIPPED. If anything not to his liking, he will immediately instruct the gal or guy ( gals outstrip guys when it comes to hand precision work ) what to attend to - and listens again if his instructions resulted in the desired sound, repeating the process until he is satisfied..
Only then carts go packaging etc - the SAME goes for refurbished/retiped carts.
I like Ortofon, particularly things dating about 20 years back, current are not so much to my liking ( but did not hear A90 or Anna ) - and steer clear of Clearaudio carts, although their arms and TTs are another story. I have the baby brother to your DL-S1, the DL-304, along with tons of other cartridges from around the globe, including Soviet Union>Russia ( Korvet GZM-128, an extremely well accomplished MM ). The only significant cart I did not yet work with is Ikeda cantileverless pneumatic suspension MC.
Grado is "enfant terrible" of analog audio for the reasons you stated - yet not only they CAN be ameliorated, but it is perfectly possible to make Grado behave in absolutely exemplary manner. A Grado in a wrong arm not only performs "Grado dance", it more likely resembles a drunkard barely menaging to stay on his/hers feet. The culprit is THE CULPRIT of poor performance of phono playback, the infamous resonance resulting from compliance of the stylus suspension reacting with the effective mass of the cartridge and arm combined. Even most manufacturers do not seem to be conscious enough about the havoc it wrecks with every other aspect of performance. This is usually something that better sooner than later is swept under the rug, hopefully passing as unnoticed, and if and when noticed, hopefully dealt with by other people. An analogy every one will understand : consider your record player is a car. Your cart is an engine, your turntable is a chassis and your arm suspension system. They will happily sell you all three separately, resulting in a car that can do 400 km/h, provided the road is perfectly flat without a bump exceeding 1 mm . Because they either did not install any shock absorbers at all - or they are hopelesly mismatched for the actual resulting vehicle. The outcome of such a car in real world and its impact on the well being of its occupants and "innocent by-drivers" is unfortunatelly perfectly predictable and there is a reason why any DIY car has to past stringent atests in order to be allowed to be driven in normal traffic. You can and are allowed to do with your "phono car" whatever you please - including performing "Grado dance" - because you will be doing it on your records, not those belonging to those who sold you the equipment.. Which can and sometimes in extreme cases does culminate in yet more extreme phono sport - groove jumping. By the time any of the two appear, there is no longer anything like sound quality as we know and strive for left.
I am perfectly aware this is the boldest statement one can make in analog audio - because it WILL step on sore thumb of many. There is no better literature dealing with this than seminal paper http://www.theanalogdept.com/images/spp6_pics/TT_Design/MechanicalResonances.pdf There were a couple of very good designs that emerged as direct result after this paper was published - but they unfortunately represent(ed) a scant fraction of a percent of all record player devices. It is more than most manufacturers are capable of or willing to provide, it is more than most dealers are capable of or willing to provide to their customers ( despite margins in phono equipment is perhaps the highest of any commodity known to man that is not illegal, second only to parfumes ), and it is proven more than even avid enthusiasts are generally capable of achieving at home by themselves.
"A Grado" can be made rock solid in the groove - and it CAN have REFERENCE BASS SOLIDITY, something 101 % of you will perhaps claim as impossible. There is a fly in this ointment - do not expect generally someone else to do it for you.- you will have to read AND understand what above paper is saying; and then take some action in this direction. It is not only about Grado ( it is only the most known as likely to be problematic in this regard - and it is precisely this lack of internal damping that gives Grados such phenomenal definition IF properly utilized ) - EVERY cart/arm combo is affected and there is a cure for each and every one of them.
Trouble is, as usual, it looks expensive. Even if it originally was not, it is now - because of rarity; laws of supply and demand are still very much in power.
There are many ways to Rome; the same can be said about the main record player resonance measures in order to make it at least less bothersome.