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Goldring G1042 Moving Magnet Phono Cartridge

[Goldring G 1042]

[Italian version]

Product: Goldring G1042 Moving Magnet Phono Cartridge
Listprice: UK Pound 120.00; USD 250.00
Manufactured by: Goldring

A while ago I was in need of a new Phono Pickup Cartridge. Having stayed for a long time with such budget favorites as the Cambridge C-77 and a nice NAD 9100, I was not going to shell out for a Koetsu Black or similar mega-buck cartridge. But I sure wanted something better then the trusty old 77. So what to do? I ended up buying the Goldring G1042 Moving Magnet and what a splendid purchase it was.

Bring on the Technobabble

The G1042 uses one of the most advanced Stylus-shapes going (Fritz Gyger S), together with a very lightweight Cantilever assembly. The Stylus is of the Line-contact type, which in plain English means that the Stylus much more closely resembles the shape of the Cutter, and thus can track higher frequencies better.

The Cantilever Suspension unusually stiff for a Moving Magnet. As result the (nominal) tracking weight is 1.65 gm (though I track it nearer to 2gm - sounds better to my jaded ears) just like many good Moving Coil Cartridges.

Unlike most cheaper high Output Moving Coils (which tend to have anything of up 3db lift in the lower treble) the G1042 has an essentially flat frequency response with an ever so slight tilt downward (about 1db overall). The Output is very high at 6.5mV (ref 5cm/s) so it will work well with some of the slightly noisy Phono-stages of Budget amps and with various Valve Phono Sections which tend to be lower in gain then their Solid State brethren.

Together with a Price of 120 UK Pound (list), all this results in a Cartridge that is a bit of a stalking Horse for almost any moderately expensive Cartridge (Moving Coil or not).

It is however important to note a few things:

1) The Cartridge is very sensitive to capacitive loading. Some experimentation with it will be necessary to get the best match to your system. I ended up with 51 kOhm resistive Load and 120 pf capacitive load (plus the Tonearm cabling - probably another 50 pf or so).

2) The cartridge is a little more than usual sensitive to VTA (Vertical Tracking Angle) adjustments (for a Moving Magnet Cartridge), so experimentation is on order.

3) Partnered with "typical" warm sounding equipment the G1042 is a bit too sweet. A point in case is the original Phono-stage of my Marantz Amp. With a lift in the Bass and a notably shelved down Treble it attempts (and in my opinion succeeds) in emulating "classic" Valve Sound. The 1042 did not mix all that well with this Phono-Stage. My own high resolution design makes it much happier (the RIAA EQ flat by +/-0.05db).

4) Some people have noticed a (electrical) Buzz with this Cartridge, something I also came across when using the Kenwood Turntable. It turned out that the Turntable had a additional Binding-post (which was missing from it's socket) that should have been used to ground the case of the motor and other Metal-bits (like the Platter) at the Amplifier. Once that was done the Buzz went away and the overall presentation was also quieter (reduced Radio Frequency interference maybe?).

Bring on the Music

The sound reproduced by the Goldring G1042 is deliciously detailed (I think the Stylus-shape mostly responsible here) but lacks the "thinness" or "brightness" of tone and lack of "body" found in many inexpensive high output MC's. Indeed, the whole tonal balance is spot-on and instrumental tones are rendered very convincing.

The soundstaging (both my current table - an Oracle Delphi MK III and my previous marble plinthed Kenwood KD-550 Directdrive) is glorious. On a "Best of the Dave Brubeck Quartet" LP from 1968, the Piano on "Take Five" is way out to the right and quite a bit back. The "Unsquare Dance", a Track with clapping hands, rimshot snaredrums and the like materialises the Players right in my room (near the rear wall) with the Bass playing way outside on the lawn.

Listening to classical music, massed Violins are always what makes a budget Cartridge become unstuck. Mostly the Sound turns harsh and gritty. Not with Goldring, the String-tone is vibrant, full of live but sweet. Can it do Timpani's? Boy can it do them. On my recording of Coplands "Fanfare for the common man" (Dallas Symphony Orchestra - 1967 Turnabout Records) I end up with nice seat in the first row. And I can hear not only the attack, the resonance of the skin, but also the body of these Timpani's.

For an absolute torture track I tend to play Culture Beat, a German techno/trance project of the late Thorsten Fenslau, who used to be a really cool dude. This record is cut HOT. And I mean hot (like +6db). Anything other then DJ Cartridges (Stanton 500, Pickering and the Orthophone "Concord") usually has tracking problems with this Disk. Not so the Goldring, it tracks like train, but without derailments. The fundamental (sub) Bass on this recording is rendered convincingly and the exhilarating speed of the sequenced drum-lines at 140 BPM (Beats per Minute) is not diminished.

So, a big thumbs up from me on sonical grounds.

Bring on the comparisons

There are a few Cartridges under about £300-400 which will better the G1042 in one area or the other. Non of the ones I have heard, are a notable step up from the 1042, so it is likely not worth paying much extra. Let's look at some major competitors.

When compared with the Sumiko BPS (heard via Trilogy Valve Amplification, Pink Triangle Anniversary Table and Canadian ARS Speakers - similar to my Wilson Audio Clones) the Sumiko was unbearable bright, worse than CD indeed. As far as soundstaging and Detail was concerned I did not perceive much more with the Sumiko, which here in the UK retails at more than twice the Price of the Goldring.

A comparison to the Shure V-15 (older Version - not the current one) revealed the Shure as blatantly colored and possessing a soft Bass and indistinct Treble. You gather, I really didn't like this one a bit.

And now the hammer. You can buy the Goldring G1006 (for under 50 UK Pound) and at later point in time replace the Stylus Assembly with the 1022 (Gyger II Stylus) or the 1042 Stylus assembly. A number of British companies have their own Versions of the 1042 Cartridge, which are usually more expensive and also a bit better.

In the US the "secret tip" seems to be the Audio Note IQ which undercuts the 350 USD Listprice for the 1042 by 50 Dollars).

As Standard Turntable wisdom has it, the most important things in a Turntable are firstly its bearings (main bearing and afterwards motor bearing) and then the quality of bearings in the Tonearm.
A decent Arm is fairly cheap to come by nowadays is the REGA RB300 Arm (or the Audio-Note Version of this Arm). I myself use the G1042 in a Sumiko Arm (soon to be upgraded to the Manticore Magician Arm) on a Oracle Delphi MK III for a Killer Analog Frontend.

Bring on the End of this boring review

So, is the Goldring 1042 Cartridge the High-End Bargain of the Decade? Maybe. Is it the best Cartridge around? No certainly not, but it is VERY GOOD. Should you buy one? Well, if you are in the market for a new high-output Cartridge (MM or MC) you should certainly shortlist it. As long as your system is essentially neutral in it's tonal balance, the 1042 will do the trick for you. I have come across this lowly onehundertandtwenty pound cartridge in SME Series V Arm's on various Tables and the Goldring certainly lived up to it's partners.

Only if your system deviates substantially from neutrality, you may find that the brighter Sumiko BPS or the darker Shure V-15 suit you better.

© Copyright 1998 Thorsten Loesch/TNT-Audio

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