The Grado Black Cartridge is a cheap little cartridge that serves as Grado’s entry point to their colour cartridge range. Made in the USA, the Grado Black is a great option for people wanting a low budget cartridge with warm sound.
The Sound of a Grado Black
Grado cartridges are renowned for their wonderful midrange and excellent representation of vocals. If vocal heavy jazz is up your alley, a Grado Black may be the best entry level cartridge available to you. This cartridge is a little warmer than Shure’s range which is another bonus for classical, jazz and pop listeners. The high end of the Grado Black is a little toned down which can create a more classic vinyl sound, but will be unsatisfying to people used to more high end cartridges.
Compared to something like a Grado Silver or Gold, Shure M97xE or Audio Technica AT440MLA, the Grado black will sound muddy and lifeless. This is fairly symptomatic for cartridges in this price range – 100 to 200 dollars is about the ‘sweet spot’ and down in this price range you’re really not going to get fantastic sonic quality.
Grado Black and Grado Green: Two Sides of the Same Coin (But One Side is Shinier)
The Grado Green is essentially a Grado Black that was chosen out of the pile as being better than the rest. This carries on up the line and applies to the Blue/Red and Silver/Gold cartridges. This also means that each stylus is replaceable with a stylus of the same cartridge pair, i.e. Grado Green styli will fit on Grado Black cartridges, which provides an easy replacement stylus option. The Grado Green stylus is around $10 more expensive than the Grado Black stylus.
The Grado Black is a nice entry level cartridge that is a suitable replacement for any clapped out cartridges you may have lying around.