The Grado Prestige Gold 1 is a moving-magnet cartridge, complete with replaceable stylus and high output typical of the breed, but there are some notable differences to the generator.

Most moving-magnet designs end up with a very high inductance in the generator windings, which in turn can lead to compatibility issues with cable and amplifier-input capacitance.

Grado's generator is referred to as a 'moving iron' type and has inductance a factor of ten lower, though resistance and output voltage remain unaffected and this should give better consistency with application and better high treble in general.

In typical Grado style it's a plain-looking little device that comes in understated packaging, but if they've put all the money into sound quality instead, we're not arguing. The stylus is elliptical and compliance is moderate, while mass is on the low side of average.

Two things struck us at the outset about this cartridge: its bass is gorgeously full and its imaging seems distinctly better than most (though none of the models we were comparing it with is in any sense bad in that regard).

The funny thing is, though, that after a few minutes one's attention is directed elsewhere, for this cartridge has qualities in the upper midrange and treble that really make it stand out from the crowd.

This frequency range is tricky for cartridges as it's often quite 'busy' and places high demands on the stylus and generator.

The Prestige Gold 1 just seems to sail through the toughest tracks, resulting in a more refined sound than one expects anywhere near this price. Voices and instruments benefit equally, with admirably consistent tonal qualities from soft to loud.

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