Best loading for Grado 1.5mv cart on stellar phono pre

Have a Grado 1.5mv cart made for VPI turntables. Was trying to set my stellar phono pre for best results. Advice is greatly appreciated.


Is it mm or mc? Assuming the latter, but just checking.

Is it a Sonata? Says VPI on it?

If it is a low output moving magnet, then it is 47k. The other options are for moving coil carts.

It’s moving iron just to make things more complicated.

That is likely made by Soundsmith then. But does it have any info with it to indicate whether it is mm or mc? Moving Iron, despite sound of the name, is often lower mass than just about anything else.

Does it have a name or model number?

It’s 1.5mv, that I know. It was called The Reference and made to be played on VPI turntables. That’s about all I know. Thanks for your help

HI Brian…. Assuming that The Beef is correct and your cart is a Soundsmith moving iron, I have some experience to share. I have a Soundsmith Aida Mk II moving iron cart listed as ‘high output’ at 2.12mv. I am putting it through a PSA Stellar Phono Pre as are you. I initially set the phono pre at MM at low gain….and it sounded great. Later I tried it at MM and medium gain (with lower amplification on my preamp) and it sounder even better!! So, with your MI output of 1.5mv, I would start with MM/medium gain….and try high gain too. Experiment and have fun. Soundsmith moving iron, as Beef says above, can have very low moving mass and can be very revealing.

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I just realized it is a Grado, per the thread title, not a Soundsmith🙄 Sorry.

Well……It’s still worth experimenting with the Stellar Phono Pre’s gain settings and see what you think. Enjoy!

Thanks! It’s been fun playing around and listening to the differences. Appreciate the advice. It is a Grado cart though, and it is MI.

You can play with both gain and loading, it won’t break anything. Just turn down and mute in between to be safe. Should be obvious what is good and what isn’t. I can’t find anything that lists the specs for it, and there are several variants in any case.

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The Grado Reference3 spec is 10k-47k ohms.
Grado Labs - Reference3

First advice would be to contact Grado in Brooklyn, NY. They’re very nice people who would be happy to help you.
Second piece of advice would be to adjust the load by ear. As @badbeef stated above, you won’t hurt anything by experimenting with the resistive load. And one of the best features of the Stellar phono preamp is that you can adjust the load from your listening position with the remote.

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I will give them a call tomorrow. That you all very much. Really appreciate the help.


So true, thanks