Grado Epoch 3

I have been shopping new cartridges for my Artisan Fidelity (henceforth AF)  NGS SE. My table started life as an AF NGS. I had Chris convert it to the four arm capable ~350lb variant now sitting on my stand. I currently have the table outfitted with two Kuzma 4 Points, an 11" and a 14". I am still awaiting the update of my third arm which is a Technics EPA 100 MK 2. The technics will hold the London Reference and is having the bearing replaced with lab grade saphires. The 14" 4 Point is awaiting delivery of the Ortofon MC Diamond which replaces my former MC Anna. I was really interested in the Epoch 3 based on my own intuition and the description of the motor. I was not terribly moTved by the reviews I've read. 

I spoke to Todd of Todd the Vinyl Junkie fame concerning the Grado line of transducers. Todd is very knowledgable and a real audio enthusiast. I have bought several far less costly items from Todd in times past so I was familiar with his company. Todd graciously offered to allow an audition of the Epoch 3 which he had on hand, but John Grado found out about this and arranged for me to get a new unit for audition. Talk about service!

This is my only experience with Grado Labs. The cartridge arrived in a short period of time, and I set it up on the 11" arm using Analog Majik 2, my SmarTractor and MY EARS. Initially it sounded very nice. It has a weight to it much like my former reel to reel. It was exciting and very impressive the first 26 hours but then it started sounding kind of boring to my ears. I changed the VTF from 1.8g to 1.65g and this was part of the problem. I should have been running it in at the upper limit of the specified tracking force range. I set it to 1.854g and let her go. 

The cartridge started to open-up and now showed more vigor and life, it was energetic but not as airy, or bright as some MC's I have heard. Once I hit 57 hours she was singing again and only got better up to about 67 hours. The highs were all there as I used my AMR CD 77.1 as a reference on certain pieces of music including vinyl, I had digitized to 24/96. The highs were there, just not the way my former MC Anna did highs. The Grado has a weightier center of gravity if you take my meaning. As the cartridge continued to run in between 67 and ~97 hours it waxed and waned from good too great to, "I don't like what I hear and I am walking out of my man cave and going to bed". I am now at 104 hours, and it sounds glorious. 

I used my DartZeel NHB-18NS and AMR PH 77 phonostages with the cartridge and it sounds fantastic with both units. I have settled on leaving it connected to the PH 77, the combination is really special. The Zeel sounds a little more romantic, which is counterintuitive as the AMR is tubes and Zeel is all SS.

I used the London Reference with the SW1X LPU III Balanced phonostage for comparative purposes. The LPU III Balanced is a wonderful full sounding end of road stage with 48dB of gain. Joe over the Lotus Group was kind enough to hook me up with the LPU III. It's a real shame this piece is not talked about more, it would put some pieces that magazine reviewers pump-up to a flat out shame.  It was perfect for the London. The LPU III does not have enough gain for the Epoch 3 therefore while I did listen to both cartridges on the 4 Point (love the 4 Point and its removable headshells) I optimized each cartridge with the stage that best fit its specifications. Both cartridges are super-fast and I mean fast!!! The Grado has a wider soundstage and is simply more luxurious. Don't you hate car analogies? Well TOO BAD, here's another one LOL. The Grado would be an AMG S65 while the London is Porsche GT3. Both fast and agile but they do it differently.

On piano the Grado is big and real sounding, the London is not quite as big but on some pieces the London has a transient speed with respect to hard percussive hammer strikes that no other cartridge I have heard can match. I have decided to keep my London.

The Epoch 3 It is one of my favorite pieces of gear and it makes music like very few other cartridges I have heard. The highs are all there, they just don't slap you in the face. It sounds ridiculously good on classic rock and jazz and even classical. I have read that it probably won’t be fully run in until about 150 hours so I still must see what more there may be to come. 

I did hear some hard sibilance with the Grado and that concerned me quite a bit. The little pamphlet that comes the Epoch 3 states that the front of the cartridge should be 90 degrees with respect to the surface of the vinyl or 2 degrees down at the back (lower the tonearm). Analog Majik 2 also showed the best IM distortion number when it was lowered. Problem is, I found it lifeless and boring! I ended up with the front of cartridge 2 degrees forward (tonearm a bit higher). The sound was spectacular but then I started noticing some sibilance. Did I have to endure sibilance in order to get the life I wanted out of the cartridge. This was the dilemma.

I spoke to John who is just about one of the most unpretentious and nicest guys in audio you will ever run across, and he mentioned the cartridge should be 2 degrees forward before I ever told him that is where I had my unit. John is revisiting the pamphlet which may be old material from another model or a misprint. So then, what about the sibilance. I recalled that one of the biggest offending albums was my copy of Jennifer Warnes The Hunter. I played it again and there it was, slapping me right in the face, HARD! I then recalled that some years ago I'd digitized that piece with my 4 Point 11" running the Ortofon MC Anna on my NGS using the ADC built into the AMR PH77. These files are on my HDD and part of my Roon Library. I did this to quickly reference what a tonearm/cartridge/stage combination sounded like for comparative purposes. It was fortuitous that I had done so. I played the same MC Anna digitized piece back and bam, slapped in the face again by sibilance. Problematic vinyl was the culprit. 

One evening while I was listening, the system was sounding so real and fantastic, I found myself happy and upset at the same time. Happy because of how convincing this cartridge makes music sound real, upset because right then and there I knew I would be out $12K. 

The Grado Epoch 3 is one of the finest cartridges I have ever heard and I am glad it is resident in my system. 




Great review. I do have some suggestions for you to consider -

The technics will hold the London Reference and is having the bearing replaced with lab grade saphires.

In my view you would be better off with silicon nitride balls. This is what JCarr uses in his EPA100 and I note that @jpjones3318 recommends this upgrade.

Some info here

With regards to the Decca - I’ve set up about 30-40 of them - I would have thought the Technics would be less than the optimal effective mass. You can purchase counterweight rings to add mass to the original counterweight in Japan.

As an aside, I have owned the original Ikedas for many years, since the 80’s in fact. Isamu Ikeda eschewed the use of jewelled bearings with low compliance cartridges - thought they sounded brittle. Another reason to revisit your choice of bearings for the Technics arm.


This sounds rather familiar! When my London Reference went off for a rebuild I thought it would be the last ever. Thank goodness John Wright found someone to take over! Anyway, I bought three moving iron pickups to see what might make a replacement. The Grado Statement3, Soundsmith Sussurro MkII and a Nagaoka MP-500. My conclusions are to be found online. Of relevance to you is to treat the Grado as an MC as far as your phono stage is concerned. I have used a Quad 24p and a Musical Fidelity NuVista Vinyl with the Statement3. Its output at 1mV might be treated as an MM or as an MC by a phono stage. Using it as an MM with 47kΩ loading (capacitative loading made no difference as advertised) was awfully boring. Once I connected it as an MC and started to play with resistive loading I was amazed to hear how it came to life with lower loading. 400Ω seemed accurate, and 100Ω was most musical and entertaining. Now I am enjoying it as much as my Reference on my other table. I assume the Epoch3 is somewhat similar in phono stage settings. As far as comments about tonearms go, I am no expert but use an SME Series V for the Reference and an SME M10 for other carts on the second SME table - I found myself buying a second SME turntable so as to be able to use a good cartridge to spin out what I thought was the last gasp of life of the London Reference! And now I know the Reference will be able to be rebuilt in the future I have found myself adding two more tonearms to these two tables via tonearm pods machined in the UK. Ignore all that; play with resistive loading for the Epoch3! I think you might be amazed.


Thank you. I am aware of the nitride bearings and almost went with them. There was some discussion that caused me to go with the jewels but it’s been a while and I don’t recall all of the reasons, but I think stiction was one of the main decision factors. If I don’t like them, I can always try the nitride bearings. I am aware of the "less than optimal effective mass" of the EPA 100 Mk 2 but recall that this arm has the adjustable damping system which is "supposed" to mitigate much of that dependance. We shall see :)


Thanks for all the information. I was unaware that John found someone to take over! I am so glad to read that information as it would have been a shame to not have recourse if something adverse (or just wear) were to happen to my London. I just got it back from John about a month ago and now have 25 hours on the London. When the Epoch 3 was being used with the DartZeel it was being run as a MC as the newer Zeels no longer facilitate MM cartridges. On the PH 77 it is set up as MM/MC Hi at 47K ohms. I will take your advice and play around with it set for MC and try various loads, should be fun. Would you happen to know to whom the mantle has been passed as it relates to the London? Thanks!

Please forgive my typos and the errant use of some commas in the original post. I should have proof read a bit better.

The EPA 100 MK 2 was chosen specifically for the London Reference because of its unique adjustable damping system.


I am definitely going to try running it as a MC on the PH77 tonight with different loading. I wanted to mention that going from 47k ohms to say 400 or 100 ohms is not actually "lower" loading, it seems counterintuitive but it is actually "higher" loading. The lowered resistance will flow more current thus you are more heavily loading the source. Just some nerd knowledge I thought I’d put out in the ether.

Nice review. Proves that running in is necessary before making one’s mind up on new equipment. I have 4 Decca cartridges in service so I’m also delighted that JW has found a replacement company for London Decca.

So a correction or two. I went down to the cave to check the settings for the PH 77 and I have been running the Epoch 3 in MC mode (not MM/MC Hi as I mistakenly mentioned above) at 60dB of gain loaded at 47k ohm. I keep the display of the PH 77 off unless I am changing its settings. I tried higher loading and the result was exactly what I expected it would be, a dull warmed over, and seemingly slower sound delivery. I tried 350 ohms, that was like putting a blanket over the system, and then 500, 750 and 1500 ohms. It got progressively better as the cartridge was more lightly loaded, but once back to 47k ohm, magic again. In my system with the AMR PH 77 the Epoch is best at 60dB, 47K ohms. I am not implying that it wont or can't sound better in another system more heavily loaded. YMMV


You are correct concering  proper run-in with audio gear. My unlce used to go through so much gear and then he would tell me how for instance one dac smoked the other. I stopped really putting any stock in his assertations because he might only have a piece of gear for 2 or maybe 3 weeks before it was out the door. I would always tell him that he actually has no idea how the piece sounds because he never gave it a chance. 

I can't think of any reason to do jeweled bearings on an EPA arm aside from nostalgia.  It's also exceedingly difficult to get anything approaching grade 5 or better.  Last I looked grade 25 is all that was reasonably available.  


I believe another reason I went with the jewels was due to some concerns around noise with the nitride or ceramic bearings (I think it was a concern with the ceramics) but as I stated it has been a minute and I don’t recall all of my conversations. I am, however, paying attention to your statements and may very well try the Nitride bearings. My saphires were expensive and come from a Swiss Lab. I don’t have the specs in front of me but the sphericity was, well Swiss lab grade :) very high.

FYI my SP 10MK 3 based NGS SE does use your Fidelis Analog FA6042 Pitch Synthesizer. Thank you for that contribution!

Really interesting article. I have not heard the Epoch 3 but recently installed it's little brother  - Aeon 3.

I like you eventually settled on raising the rear of the cartridge slight above horizontal and it made the cartridge come alive. Also use it on MC settings on the phono stage at 10000. A much more involving sound. Thing which has blown me away with cartridge is the detail it retrieves from the groove but without surface noice - no idea how they have managed this??

I crashed my bike about a year ago.

Now, I’m sure you’re thinking’ "What the %&*@ does crashing a bike have to do with a phono cartridge?!!!"

Okay, here goes:

Due to a mechanical failure on a new bike (manufacturer’s defect with subsequent recall) I hit the ground with enough energy to break my left hand and incur soft tissue damage in both wrists. After cast removal and a few weeks in rehab, my grip was somewhere around 30% in my left and 50% in my right hand

I’ve been a Grado dealer since the early 80’s and had been eyeballing the new Epoch 3. I thought it would be a right cartridge to gift to an old friend with a budding interest in quality audio. I ordered the unit and it arrived.

We live a few hours apart, so I thought I’d take a photo of the cartridge and tease him a bit until I got a chance to make it over there to install it. So, out of the box it came, with stylus protector attached. It needed to come off for its glamour shoot. Having familiar "junk" on my workbench laying around in the photo would make it more personal.

Being a cautious audiophile, I knew these things were pretty delicate, so proceeded as such. I guess I had overestimated the control I had with my hands and the cartridge slipped out of my grip as I was removing the stylus protector. It was when I positioned in on the bench for the photo shoot that something was amiss. The stylus was drooping down flat on the cartridge body. Needless to say, this was not the highlight of my day. I found out the hard way that a firm grip is a necessary tool of audiophiles.

Glad to see a strong approval for the cartridge. It put a smile on my face this morning.

@audiofun must be other differences in my system, but there again, I have the Statement not the Epoch!

The successor to John Wright now has a very basic website up at but it doesn’t say who is behind it. John has said:

All servicing work and manufacturing will be undertaken here in the UK by a specialist cartridge maker, who has been making high end cartridges in the UK for the last thirty years.

I did hear a rumour that it might be Northwest Analogue, but nothing definite.


It is super quiet in the grooves and it does pull a ton of information out. I hear things on the record the same CD doesnt’ really seem to reproduce well. I have my loading at 47K ohms. I have found the higher settings is where the Epoch thrives.


I am sorrry about your bike accident. I fell off my bike circa July 2019 and ruptured my ACL so I know the journey back can be a bit rough. I would imagine that your injury, being to both hands was especially tough. Glad you’re on the mend! Sorry for the mishap with the cartridge, just a horrible feeling. I destroyed my former MC Anna once with a miscalculated hand movement. Knocked the arm out of its resting place and the stylus hit the vinyl violently. I shone a light on the vinyl and a glint hit my eye, I knew it was my stylus. Waves of sickness rushed through me. Four thousand dollars later ($3800) and I was back in business but it took me months to get over the tagedy. I need friends like you that give out world class cartridges. Christmas is coming up and I am thinking of a Grado Reference or Aeon 3 Mono to add to the table, wink wink.


Thanks. I did find the site last evening. Welcome news indeed.

I was very intrigued by all the hype about the Decca London Reference.

But, unable to buy one, I was directed to the Grado Epoch3.

I was using the great Lyra Atlas SL. The Epoch blew it away.

Such silent blacks. Such musical detail. Such incredible dynamics.

What is the best loading for it? MM at 47K or MC at 1000K? Or other?

Currently MC at 1000.

Dear @audiofun  : Good move to following with the ruby in the EPA 100MK2 ( ceramic are way resonant ), Technics knew what they did it.


You can improve the Technics whole quality performance making 2-3  must changes on it:


first, rewiring internally with the silver wire by Audio Note.

second, at the same time change the stock female output connectors for silver WBT ones and

third, change the headshell wires for Ikeda silver or Kondo silver.


After those changes what you will listening will have a " nigth and day " differences for the better.


Worth to try it due to its big rewards.


Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,



My experience with the Epoch is the lighter the load the better, therefore I would say 47k ohms, as does the manufacturer.


Thank you, I now firmly recall that I eschewed ceramics because of possible issues with noise. It is rewired from the head shell mount straight through. I bypassed the horrid rca connectors that Technics had in place.

Thank you for your review. You don't mention tracking. Anything to say about that?  Also, I was wondering if you could compare it to a Koetsu.



The Epoch tracks very well, no complaints. I think that less anti skate bias is better, at lease for my setup. Concerning Koetsu cartridges, I don’t have a great deal of experience. I have listened to the Onyx Platinum but it was not in my system. I simply don’t feel I have enough ear time with Koetsu cartridges to make intelligent commentary.

What is the best loading for it? MM at 47K or MC at 1000K? Or other?

Talking here about my experience with the cheapest member of the Lineage series, the Statement3. It is easy to sort out if you are able to set it up as an MC. The resistive loading is pretty much like a tone control that tries to flatten the response curve. 47kΩ lets the high notes predominate, so the cartridge is detailed but scratchy. As the resistance is lowered (or the loading raised if you prefer to follow @audiofun’s terminology) you tame the highs and reveal the bass. I wrote in another thread how I like to use Elgar’s Sea Pictures for this, as there are kettle drums and a pure contralto voice to balance up. It might be my phono stage, or maybe my bass-shy Quad ESL speakers, but I find myself enjoying the Statement3 loaded at 100Ω most of all. It’s nearly as good as the London Decca Reference! 😉


I too have Quad 57s.

The Epoch3 is a wonderful match wt such “real” SQ.

I asked Grado about the proper load.

Their position is that MM and MC settings are false and foolish.

That the only way to set the cart is to try different settings to find which sounds best.


The resistive loading is pretty much like a tone control that tries to flatten the response curve. 47kΩ lets the high notes predominate, so the cartridge is detailed but scratchy.

Only in your system. At 47k the cartridge is flat - so you either have phono instability issues or worn tonearm bearings which - both of these issues would cause "scratchiness".

As the resistance is lowered (or the loading raised if you prefer to follow @audiofun’s terminology) you tame the highs and reveal the bass.

According to Grado the change in response loading down at 500 ohms is quite minor.

It might be my phono stage, or maybe my bass-shy Quad ESL speakers, but I find myself enjoying the Statement3 loaded at 100Ω

Yep - its your system - either the phono has issues or bad bearings in your tonearm which would give rise to high frequency issues. Your Quad 57's are not that extended in the top end.


I asked Grado about the proper load.

Their position is that MM and MC settings are false and foolish.

That the only way to set the cart is to try different settings to find which sounds best.

Quite right.

It has nothing to do with MC or MM - the cartridge requires high gain due to the low 1mv output - hence the OP's preferred 60db gain.

In terms of loading it is relatively unaffected, but the determining factor is more about the feedback loop and stability in the phono stage than the cartridge itself, so there is no "magic" number in terms of loading - only that in a decent phono stage with no instability issues, 47k should be relatively flat.


Doggie, it is very odd that you prefer 100 ohms load on your statement 3. According to two sources it has an internal R of 74 ohms and an inductance of 8 mH, about 100X to 1000X higher than a typical LOMC. Moreover Grado recommends 10K to 47K. At 100 ohms, you are losing signal voltage to ground and the treble is likely to be rolled off. If it sounds best to you at 100 ohms, that suggests there is a problem somewhere.

My Quads are the ESL2905 models, so they do have two extra bass panels, but even so, it isn't their strong point. I doubt my relatively new SME tonearm has worn bearings.

The problem is more likely in my one remaining ear (lost my left and half the sensitivity in the right when I was eight and was given streptomycin - which it ototoxic - for, ironically, ear infections). But I can't help what I hear. The Statement3 sounds best balanced between the tympani and Dame Janet Baker at 400Ω, and exudes some lushness at 100. Maybe I am doing it all wrong, but if it sounds the best to me that way, then that is what I'll carry on doing! I had been very disappointed with it when I used it as an MM with 47k loading. It was accurate, honest and boring. There was no joy, no foot tapping, no life. Those were the qualities I was trying to find as it looked like my Deccas were on their final rebuild. The MP-500 produced them, though not quite like a Decca. I bought a second SME table for it. The Sussurro MkII also disappointed me until again I connected it as an MC (I should have read the manual on the little USB 'key'! PL recommends connecting it as an MC and setting load at 470-1000Ω). I settled on 400, I don't have the option of 470 with the NuVista Vinyl. It's nearly as good as the Grado.

When my tonearm pods arrive from the UK my intention is to run the Reference, Statement3, Kontrapunkt C and MP-500. Fortunately the NuVista has five inputs and each can be set for MM or MC and all loadings and other options are remembered for each one.

One thing I believe we can all agree on is that these Grado cartridges are getting far less attention these days than they deserve.



First and foremost, thank you for your honesty. This is why I am keen on saying that most importantly is what “you” hear and like! I was perplexed by your findings but again, your system, your tastes. Now I understand and it makes sense. I absolutely don’t wish to come of insensitively so if I fail, PLEASE FORGIVE ME :)

I will stand by my findings with this cartridge barring any extraneous issues.

I am very glad that you can still find joy with your system!


No problem, my friend! I have confidence in what I hear and what I enjoy. My wife, an excellent classical guitarist who laughs benevolently at my appalling attempts to sing, has no issues with the hi-fi. The fact one can listen to the Reference on one table and the Statement3 on the other (same model) table and look for relatively small differences tells me it is set up correctly. I can't wait to enjoy the variety of four cartridges, all of them chosen more for their similarities than their differences. I recently wondered about a dedicated mono cartridge for the 3 or 4 dozen mono LPs I have. I'm being held back by my reluctance to remove any one of my four chosen stereo cartridges. So I decided to wait until all four are available at once and see what happens over a few months. If I find myself ignoring one of them because the others attract me more often, it might have to go away and be replaced by a mono cartridge. I'm trying not to be in a rush, but there are reasons why I have hurried along so far, as I don't know how long I can trust last year's bone marrow transplant to last. Leukemia tends to turn off the music before it has finished.

OK, chaps, I value honesty above pride. I may have been wrong. This evening I played two albums I regard very highly, and thus usually play on the table with the London Reference. Both are Fairport Convention original issues, 'What We Did On Our Summer Holidays' and 'Unhalfbricking'. I do have reissues of both, but prefer to play the originals as they are in good condition and have an awful lot of memories behind them. I know Sandy Denny's voice inside out, and how each note must sound. It was far from right with the Statement3. A very muffled voice at first, but on changing the loading those 50+ year old LPs came back to life with the loading at 47k.

Maybe the moral of this is not to set loading with one recording alone. No matter how much I love Elgar/Sargent/Baker/DuPré, it might just be a recording that varies from the norm. Sorry if I misled anyone, and thanks to those who have corrected me. I was always a fan of the story told by Richard Dawkins of the professor who had his life's work destroyed by new evidence, and who congratulated the person who had corrected him, saying "Thank you, I have been wrong this last fifty years!"


Well done - my philosophy is if one has made no mistakes, then one only knows half of what they should.

It's a good reminder that the cutting angle of records can be all over the place - hence pays to use a few well known records to do cartridge set up - VTA. loading etc.


I’m glad you’ve found a way to make your Statement 3 sound even better!

Preparing for the two tonearm pods that will shortly arrive. Took the Grado off the M10 arm on table #2, and replaced it with the Ortofon Kontrapunkt C. The latter is still better. Just lovely. Grado Statement 3 has become one of my backups. After all, moving iron can't win all the time, can it?

Ok, I finally got to the bottom of my left channel groove wall noise. I have never experienced this before, but the issue was VTA! I adjusted all parameters and thought I had the VTA perfect. It turns out it was a little high, one full turn on the 4 Point VTA tower and the noise vanished. This was difficult for me to diagnose because, as I stated previously, I have never experienced this type of effect as related to VTA/SRA. 

Also, I think because the cartridge was a bit thick sounding before actually clocking some real hours (133 at this point), I enjoyed the lighter sound the higher VTA produced. Now that the suspension has started to relax, lowering the VTA did not cause a thickening of the sound. 

I can now listen in all of the Epochs glory, although I know I now have to fine tune the VTF and maybe even the azimuth. 

I am just glad I was able to find the culprit as I love this cartridge! Thank you all for your input, it was much appreciated. 

Has anyone tried these 1mv Grados into a standard MM stage with typical MM gain? 

(speaking as someone who doesn’t have the gain/loading options that seem necessary for these Grados)

My experience with the Epoch shows that one needs 60dB of gain and loading of 47k ohms.

Following up on my Epoch adventure :) 

So some months have passed by since I purchased the Epoch 3 and I now have 171 hours logged. I have noted a few things in that time. The Epoch 3 requires approximately 150 hours of run it before it really starts to exhibit its extraordinary capabilities. I think it still has more to give as it runs-in further. 

I typically like to break cartridges in by running them at or near the maximum recommended VTF for about 50 hours, then I start lowering the VTF as the suspension has been exercised. The VTF is now set to 1.657g. 

My initial plans were to keep the Epoch on the Kuzma 4 P 11” and add an Ortofon MC Diamond to the Kuzma 4P 14” arm. While I loved how the Epoch made the music come alive,  I felt I was missing that last smidgeon of air up top on delicate female vocals. I no longer feel that way. This thing is very airy and I would say at this point it is simply the best cartridge I’ve yet to experience. It is a masterpiece of engineering with outstanding musical ability. 

The Epoch surprised me as I have found myself contemplating the need to add another cartridge, other than a true mono. In the end I think I am still going to add either an Audio Technica AT-MC2022 or a Dava Ref to the 14” arm. Do I need either? Well, I don’t need any of these toys but I enjoy them very much. My table can handle 4 arms so I plan to add superlative cartridges that offer different perspectives. 

My AMR CD 77.1, modified with a Double Crown 1541, Jupiter Copper Foil caps bypassed with .01uf silver foil Duelunds and other serious mods has served me well and is one of the best digital front ends I have experienced. It has outperformed a number of analog rigs with well recorded digital material. I have found lately that it is impossible for me to listen to analog first. I either have an all digital session and it sounds glorious or I listen to digital first and it sounds glorious. There is NO going from the Kuzma/Epoch to digital!

I have a Grado Statement 3 Mono which should arrive Wednesday. I am looking forward to putting it through its paces. I only possess a small number of mono recordings but I want to increase that count as I have experienced some phenomenal mono records.

To wrap up, I have not one regret on purchasing this transducer, it is shockingly good! Best I have yet to own or hear.

Now what will the Epoch 4 sound like? :) I am kidding, I have heard nothing of an Epoch 4 :) Just being an audiophile!!!

@mijostyn: LOL Nice!!! I literally almost started thinking, hmm!
Don’t be an enabler :)

It would be interesting to me for someone as meticulous and well equipped as Audiofun to do a comparison between a gaggle of well regarded “affordable” cartridges and a gaggle of very expensive cartridges, let’s say costing more then $6K. I’m a cynic.

Hi lewm, long time. 

I have done just that in a less formal setting. I have noted over the years when  comparing cartridges such as the Kiseki Purple Heart or various modified Denon 103's, even the AT Art 1000 that there does seem to be a step up in performance as the cost of admission increases. I wish this were not the case and it is certainly is not a law, but it seems to exist. I know many people want to believe that a Hana ML (a fine cartride btw) can play at the level of an Air Tight Supreme or a MC Anna, the truth is that in a system sufficiently resolving, the more expeinsive cartrides tend to simply leave the less costly cartridges in the dust. I have found that  when listening to cartridges on their own, they may sound reference level to some, but head to head the truth is revelaed, and anyone who can actually hear will experience the delta. 

I have read the statements of some writers claiming that $3-5K gets one about 99% of the capabilities of the $10k crowd of cartridges. My experience does not hold with their findings. Cartidegs like the Fuuga, MC Anna/Diamond, top level VDH's simply play at a far higher level of sophistication, resolution, and the ability to communicate the artists emotions in a more tangile manner. 

I recall listing to a Kiseki Purple Heart that a friend loaned me, and liking what I heard. I found it to be an excellent sounding transducer although I did think the $3.5K price was pushing it for the sound I was experiencing. When I put the MC Anna back in play it was just a masacre! The Kiseki was basically unlistenable. Again, a good deal of ones findings will depend on their systems overall performance level. 

One cartridge I recall that I did find to punch way above itt cost is the Ikeaa 9TT, that one is special as is the AT Art 1000. 

My experience has convinced me that the cost of the cartridge should be reflective of  the overall analog playback systems level of sophistication. Again, these are my general thoughts based on my personal findings, my personal listening:)

For example, I really liked my former Technics SL-1200 GAE. It was a great table. Could that table ever exploit the capabilities of an Ortofon MC Anna? NO! 

Yes, I did place the MC Anna on that table and it was not good. The Art 1000 on the GAE sounded fantastic! 

I admit some of this stuff is outrageously priced due to greedy distributors, pure hype, any number of reasons, but some of the prices are justified based on performance, the engineering and the art that went into the devices creation. 

Ok, just ordered, literally 30 minutes ago, the AT AT-MC2022. Not sure if I should be crying or happy :)  I will report my comparitive findings once I recieve the MC-2022 and get at least 50 hours on her. So, Christmas came early for me!

While I don't doubt that the Epoch sounds fantastic, I've always found it odd that Grado's $10K+ cartridges have just an elliptical diamond.  Couldn't they have just put in a line contact or Gyger for that price?   I don't mean to diminish the OP's enthusiasm.  Grado are on my list of cartridges to try, but the lack of microline or similar gives me pause.  Can you imagine hearing IGD on a 12K cartridge?


Hi. I think your point is valid. I believe John was building a system, and not just putting together a list of parts that make for great marketing. I was concerned about this as well, but noted that it is not a typical elliptical. All of my concerns were allayed after I auditioned the cartridge and witnessed how it went head to head with my former London Reference. Note that I wrote former as the Epoch finally outperformed the London to the point that I sold the Decca :) It wasn’t really close after the Epoch started getting some hours on the clock and the suspension loosened up.

There is nothing wrong with more acute styli, I mean my first cartridge was the Ortofon MC Anna with it’s very very picky Replicant 100 diamond. One thing I love about the Epoch is that I can dial in my 4Point and it is good for my 140g to my 200g albums. Although I loved my Anna, I do not miss at all readjusting the VTA and consequently, the VTF for albums at 180g, below 180g and above 180g, The Replicant 100 (on a highly resolving system) is that sensitive. I printed labels and placed them on my VTA tower ring for 140g, 180g and 200g (thanks Albert Porter :). This allowed me to fairly quickly turn the dial on the Kuzma VTA tower for the weight of the album I was spinning, and YES LOL, my albums outer plastic sleeves had a label with the wieght of the vinyl listed :) I have always mentioned to people that if you are thinking of purchaing a cartridge with a severe stylus, make sure your arm has easily repeatable VTA adjustments as you simply will not get the most out of your system if you do not adjust for album weight (thickness).

The stylus John has chosen has made a believer out of me, although I still have nothing against other styli including the Replicant 100.

Dear @audiofun  : Very good that you pull the triger on the 60 anniversary cartridge celebration by Audio Technica unique AT 2022.

I almost owned and own almost every MM/MC Audio Technica cartridges since the AT 20SS MM model, inclusive maybe before.

Audio Technica only designed/manufactured 2 cartridges with diamond cantilevers, I own the first one AT 1000 and just from the realease of the 2022 I shared along other gentlemans in this forum the link that really surprise me because it's the rtoday only cartridge where the stylus is not " bonded " to its diamond cantilever but the cantilever and stylus are made it as a unit not assembled.

In the past and that I remember Sony top of the line XL-88 shared the same cantilever/stylus unit/united. Btw, great performer.

I'm sure that you will deligth it.


In the other side, yes normally the price of a cartridge reflects its quality level performance. However always exist exceptions as in the case of the Umami Red this Hana model performs at quality levels way over its price. No, I'm not telling that is a " Lyra Lamda SL "  but it's really good.


Well , congratulations for that AT you own.


Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,



I wanted to add that you are not wrong that one may experience some IGD on certain albums, I have myself. I've found that with meticulous setup, this can be mostly overcome. The overall playback of the Epoch 3 is really something to experience.