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Positive Feedback ISSUE44
Statement 1 cartridge
as reviewed by Robert H. Levi
With ground breaking lifelike imaging, state of the art precision and grainlessness, and flawless tracking at only 1.6 grams, the truly outstanding and unique Statement1 is a Grado cartridge like no other that has come before. Wound with seven feet of pure gold wire, sporting a boron cantilever, and custom ellipsoid diamond, the Australian Jarrah wood bodied Statement1 has shocked and awed every audiophile that has visited my number one reference system. With an extraordinary musical "projection" accompanying the photographic-like musical images, I hear a kind of reality and verisimilitude I've never heard in my 45 years of LP listening from any phono cartridge by any maker.
This isn't just reconstituted master tape sound like some makes claim. The Statement 1 produces a dynamic energy within the imaging that creates musical space in both the front and back of the instrumental image on quality LPs. It starts out as a vividness that's really quite nice as the cartridge breaks in. Then the magic happens at about 50 hours. Any sense of grain vanishes and you hear this expansion of the sound field accompanied by extraordinary definition. You are drawn into the music with an emotional connection rarely heard in any other medium other than really great LP.
I have heard bits and pieces of this kind of enthralling organic imaging with my gray Decca Select cartridge in 1978 and my current Koetsu Rosewood Signature. The Dynavector XV-1S has the purity and some of the energy of the Statement 1, but none of these have quite the excitement and holographic imaging I'm hearing from the Grado. One of my audiophile brethren commented that it was like listening in 3-D! How wonderful that Grado, with 56 years of development under its belt, has achieved this. It's made in America, too! J. Gordon Holt would have reveled in the "jump" from this cartridge.
Just a quick note about the phono set-up used here. The Grado is mounted in the Helius Omega Tonearm / E.A.R. Disk Master Magnetic Turntable and connected to the E.A.R. 324 Solid State Phono Stage with the fabulous new Kubala-Sosna Elation Interconnect. [Check out my recent review of the Elation Cables.] It may be $6000 per meter, but oh my does the Elation sing for its supper. It communicates the .5 mV output of the Grado with no cable signature of its own that I can detect. The new K-S Elation is the ultimate phono interconnect I've used to date. The phono stage is connected in balanced configuration via K-S Elation cables to the E.A.R. 912 tube preamp. All power cords and speaker cables are K-S Elation as well. I ran the Grado right at 1.6 grams at which it perfectly tracked every LP I tried. A lighter weight lost some authority and power. A heavier weight dulled the highs a bit. This weight maxed out Grado's performance in the Helius arm. Another arm may require a different force for best sound.
The airy ambient top end of the Statement 1 is thrilling and so very open. The best part is that the musical ambience makes sense. There is no stray reverberant sound that does not belong to an instrument. LP after LP confirmed that what I thought was over dub sweetening was really hall or instrumental ambience unaccounted for by another cartridge. The Statement reunified and reorganized the sound field into an organic whole. Vocals and acoustic instruments made more sense and sounded more like they were in the room. I consider this a break-through in the performance of LP cartridges. Much of these qualities are present in the Koetsu and Dynavector, but not to the extent of the Grado. Amazing!
This is where the music lives and breathes. Just wait until you hear the Statement 1 play your Sheffield LP masterpieces. Direct to disk is a case of the best keeps getting better. Instruments, horns of all kinds, project into the room. The sense of depth is as good as it gets with the clarity of the images at the back wall as clear as those at the front of the stage. Your speakers no longer create any boundary for the sound to cross. Yes, I checked the phasing of the cartridge. The affect is most exciting and involving. Layers of violins are enhanced and right to left spread is full and wide in dynamic energy. The Statement1 is fuller and fleshier than any other cartridge I have heard with snap as fast as my lightening quick [but lean] ZYX Airy 3. Even my wonderful Koetsu Rosewood Signature is somewhat less organic than the new Grado. No Grado has ever sounded like this before. Must be the gold wire. The Statement1 is also the best tracking Grado ever!
I'm not saying this to show off, but in honor of the Statement 1, I began playing selections from my extensive original Mercury LP collection. Suffice it to say, I was flabbergasted by the reproduction of these time honored LPs. One in particular, the Percy Granger Country Gardens Mercury, was beguiling and powerful as always…maybe more so this time. Sounds like liquid sunshine on the ear. The Howard Hanson's Song of Democracy LP was amazing and alive. And so it goes…
This has always been a strong suit of the Grado, but the Statement 1 takes the bass response to a new place. The solidity and textural nuance of the bass is equal to any moving coil. It's certainly ground-breaking for a Grado and it enhances the enjoyment of the state of the art mids and highs. Kick drum and bass fiddle are separated and nuanced. This is killer bass for phono and very organic, too. The projection of the bass into the room is just stunning and ambience retrieval in the bottom octaves is most exciting. The bass fully matches and compliments the fabulous mids. There is no disconnect or lumpiness at any frequency and my reference system is fairly flat from 22Hz to 45kHz.
The believable sonic images and the superb pacing of the Statement 1 set this cartridge apart from the competition. Its $3000 price is steep, but much, much lower than its European and Japanese competition since it's made in America. I am overwhelmed by the Decca-like dynamics, the Dynavector-like delicacy and purity, the ZYX-like speed, snap, and tracking ability, and the Koetsu-like textural layering. It all adds up to something new and thrilling for phono playback. I recommend you go to the Grado site and read about the moving iron principal and flux bridge concept. The internal resistance has been reduced to only 2 ohms!
My four year old Grado Statement Reference, $1200 retail, pointed the way to this achievement. It was very musical and dynamic in my VPI 9 tone arm, much more so in the Helius. I recently reported in a quickie that the Reference performed amazingly well in that cutting edge tone arm so it does not surprise me that the Statement1 is supremely happy in the Helius Omega. We all know that there are happy combinations with cartridge/tone arm synergies which bring musical timbres to life. It's interesting to note that ALL my reference cartridges seem to be supremely happy in this arm. I'm not a technical fellow, but there is something truly special going on here with the Helius Omega. I wonder if the folks at Grado have heard this combination. Nevertheless, the Statement1 outperforms all of my references in some or all parameters in this arm on the E.A.R. Disc Master Turntable. End of story.
By the way, I wish to thank Dan Meinwald, U.S. distributor for Marten and E.A.R., for his brilliant turntable and cartridge setup which made this review possible.
Suffice it to say, I'm having way too much fun listening to my best LPs to worry about the technical stuff. You have to listen to music sometime, and the Grado Statement 1 has transported me to phono Shangri La. If you can scrape together the dough or even if cost is no object, buy the Grado Statement 1 and don't look back. It will redefine your analog experience and is a world beater design. Moving coils move over, there's a new kid in town. The Grado Statement 1 is state of the art and most highly recommended. Way to go Grado! Robert H. Levi