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Goldring Elite - Followup

[Italian version]

Last Month my review of the Goldring Elite cartridge was published in TNT-Audio. You may have read it. In this Review I leveled quite a bit of Criticism at the poor Cartridge. I was about to send the Cartridge back when I had second thoughts.

Had I really done everything to try to get the best sound from the Elite? In the end I phoned up Goldring and asked them if I could keep the Cartridge a bit longer. Andrew East from Goldring kindly agreed. I also asked him to give me some hints on what I was doing "wrong" based on the Review. For whatever reasons, no further suggestions where forthcoming.

The Elite stayed in it's Box why I got on with the listening for the Review of the Reson Reca, which is a very fine Cartridge indeed. I made new Speaker-Cables and eventually even re-wired my Tone-arm with my own super-trick "Hyperlitz in PTFE" Wire. The Elite was still in it's Box and I was shirking around to put it back into my tone-arm and mess about with things and all for nothing.

Eventually, one week before the final Date to send back the Cartridge I decided that I owed it to Goldring to give it another try. It may seem strange to you, but I feel the obligation to tell truth about things. The truth is, when I wrote the Review, I was sure that the Cartridge was capable of much better performance then I had obtained, but somehow I had not made it work. So back to the Drawing Board.

Whooo weeee. Mount the cartridge. Click the Phono Gain-switch on the back of my Preamp and put in the 100 Ohm loading Plugs. Setting all basic parameters and mess about with the VTA until thing lock into place. Mess around more because it all still sounded screechy, tinny short of Bass and aggressive. Not VERY much so, but more then I was willing to tolerate.

Well, I was about to give up. I had now done everything possible to get the darn this work. It still sounded exactly as I remembered it. Okay back in the Box - but stop. There was something I had not done. I had tried a bit variation of the Loading of the Cartridge but quickly settled on the 100 Ohm recommended by Goldring.
Anyway, reading the Instruction I thought it said; yes the cartridge will work into less than 100 Ohm (like for example into 10 Ohm) but it will not work as well. But had I TRIED it? No.

Okay, a quick trip to the Tandy/Radio-Shack around the Corner, pick up a pair of their Gold Phono-Plugs and take two 10 Ohm Holco Resistors out of my Spares-Box. Solder the Resistors into the Plugs and plug the into the "Load" Jacks of my Preamp. Lo behold; there was an Improvement in Sound and not a small one at that.

The slightly tinny Balance finally had turned to something neutral.
Finally there was "some meat on the Bones". Allways before this was the Impression I had from the Elite, very high definition, I could make out all the strands of the Composition, but it was a bit like there was not enough else there. The only comparison I could use is a bit out of place in a Publication not marked for only over 18's, so use your immagination ;-).

As always what we gain on one side, we lose on the other. The Cartridge Output had almost halved. With both my all Valve and my solid-state Phono-Stage the Signal/Noise Ratio is getting a bit marginal. The Noise generated by the electronics is still below the Surface-Noise of my quietest LP's but only just. In this Load-situation the Elite should not be treated like a medium Output MC (0.5mV). It now is rather close to those MC's where in each and every review the Reviewer complains of the lack of output and Signal/Noise Ratio Problems.

So, if working against the Instructions improves the sound, then let's break the rules big time. Goldring says the Cartridge should not be loaded with more than 500 pF Capacitance? I'll show you!
Where was that pair of Foil & Film 22 nF Polystyrene Capacitors?
They nearly did not fit into the Plug. Plug back in and put a record on.

YES, YES, Yes. It sings. No trace of that aggressiveness left, but still a way more extended Treble than any of the MM's I have around. Going through a few loops of trying both the Reson Reca and the G1042, I had to note that the Elite now was notably superior....

All the points I criticised in my Review where sorted, without loosing any of the positive sides. All Gain and no Pain then?
No, of course not. The Pain is that I could now not let the Elite go. No way. So when it was time to box up the cartridge, I wrote a Cheque instead. For the full Retail Price. No Discount for this reviewer.

My Bank-Manager is going to hate me.... But man, "It's the music Stupid".

As for a blanket recommendation of the Elite, well the answer is still no.

By now giving more like only 0.25 mV for full Modulation you will need a VERY quiet Phono-Stage. Your Phono-Stage also MUST allow custom Loading Resistors and Capacitors to be fitted and allow the use of Capacitance and resistance at the same time.

Oh yes, Goldring could also improve the Manual to include more hints as to how Loading effects the cartridges tonal balance. And while I'm criticising, how about using threaded Inserts on the Cartridge to make the mounting easier?

Finally, it is safe to join the Elite. But remember, the Goldring G1042 Cartridge is still an excellent buy at less than half the Price of the Elite, is far more compatible with various tone-arms and Phono-Stages.
And the Reson Reca (based on the G1042) is a Cartridge that in many ways matches the Elite. Of course, if your Bank-Manager approves, there is a large number of Cartridges around for a lot more money.
Chances are that the Elite in my System will see quite a few of them off, but there is only one way to find out....

© Copyright 1998 Thorsten Loesch/TNT-Audio

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