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Thread: Philips GP390 Ceramic cartridge NOS 1970s

  1. #81
    Join Date: Jan 2008

    Location: Forest of Dean, Glos

    Posts: 9,860
    I'm Jerry.


    Quote Originally Posted by Audioflyer View Post
    ... this is now the first ceramic cartridge which has a para-trace stylus fitted.

    A great cart in original form, I eagerly await your thoughts on its audiophile resurrection!

    Results can be surprising and not always as you would wish with this sort of thing.

    Qobuz Hifi / Spotify Premium streaming, SMSL M8 DAC, Schiit Saga passive preamp, Trigon TRE 50 monoblocks, MBL 116F.

    Cables: Wireworld Starlight USB, Ixos Ixotica i/c, W&M speaker cables, Belden 19364 mains cables

  2. #82
    Join Date: Oct 2011

    Location: Nothamptonshire

    Posts: 158
    I'm Sharif.


    Philips GP390 standard conical stylus vs GP390 fitted with a ESCC paratrace stylus

    I've been using this ceramic cartridge for over two years it's never failed to impress me.

    It has a very open sound with some of the best renditions of vocals and instruments and dynamics I‘ve every heard, even when the music got louder and more complex it remained um-flustered.

    Listen to this cartridge in its standard form I felt the cartridge had more to offer so this year, I sent it off to the Expert Stylus Cartridge Company to have one of their paratrace stylus fitted.

    Here is my findings I’ve played four tracks with the conical and the paratrace stylus to see how they sounded, so below is the differences of what I heard.

    One of the first thing I noticed and what I didn't expect was there was about a 50% drop in the noise between tracks with a paratrace stylus. I've always been more than happy with the conical stylus performance regarding to vinyl noise.

    The first album track I played was:-

    “Give Me The Reason by Luther Vandross” last track on side two “Anyone Had a Heart”.

    With the conical stylus there was the usual open realistic portrait of Luther's voice and every instrument could easily be heard but there was also a slight hardness to the sound and a flattening of dynamics, I had put this down to the recording.

    Playing the same track again with the paratrace stylus the first thing I noticed that everything seems quieter so I turned up the volume to compensate but when he started singing you could clearly hear the power, passion and emotion that he put into his voice you could almost feel him breathing. The musicians behind this song play their instruments still had all the openness and texture of the conical stylus but this time the instruments took on a more refined quality. The fine detail, micro dynamics and tonal texture that will missing with the conical stylus with clear to hear, there was a sense that the musicians had gel together and become more relaxed with each other's playing.

    The second album track I played was:-

    "Tanz Von Heute from 1966 LetsKiss" first track side one.

    I use this disc as a test discs as it is been nicely recorded, it has some very impressive transient and dynamics.

    Again with the conical stylus the music was portrayed with a sense of ease and all the instruments heard had a natural tone. Its failing are with the hand claps and trumpets, the hand clap sound a bit wooden and the trumpet can sound overly brash.

    Playing this track with the paratrace stylus taken this recording to another level the drumming sounds like a real sticks is hitting the skins, as the drum was struck you could hear the resonance in the skin that made them sound so natural. With the hand claps gonna was the wooden sound and it is and like having someone clapping in the room. The brassy hard metallic sound of the trumpet had gone and was replaced with a powerful dynamic sound with a lovely metal shimmer that sounded like the instrument was being played in front of you.

    The third album track I played was:-

    “Tracy Chapman LP Crossroads” the first track “Crossroads”

    With the conical stylus there was a portrait of a realistic rendition of the song but with the paratrace stylus it was like a veil had been removed you could hear every bit of detail, breathing and expression within a her voice it became quite mesmerizing and haunting at the same time. The instrument again just seemed to be more natural and realistic.

    The fourth and final album track I played was:-

    “Watching The Stars by Doris Henderson with John Redburn” the second track “It's Been a Long Time”

    This is a lovely simple piece of music just a vocalist and guitarist first of all it is been recorded very quietly and you can hear surface noise just creep in with the conical stylus. Doris voice again sound very open and the natural with with a lovely portrait of John Redburn guitar playing.

    The surface noise that I heard with the conical stylus seems to just disappear with the paratrace stylus. Then when Doris starts to sing all I can say it is stunning just like it was being performing live and John's guitar player you can clearly hear every finger movement over the strings is just breathtaking.

    A couple final notes about the two stylus profiles.

    The conical stylus sounds louder with less fine detail and was missing some of the micro dynamics, also as the volume increase the sound became harder. Which until I heard the cartridge fitted with a paratrace stylus had not spoilt my listening enjoyment.

    With the paratrace stylus it seemed to sounded quieter so I was turning the volume up to compensate to what I thought was the same level as the conical stylus, but it then it took me by surprise how effortless and dynamic the music had become.

    Even now with the conical stylus it still sounds so good but with a with the paratrace stylus fitted it has been elevated to a new level of detail accuracy and tonal quality that I hadn't expected.

    So that it a 1968 Philips GP390 low output ceramic cartridge with a modern paratrace stylus sounds stunningly good and probably the best 87 I've ever spent.

    Sorry for rambling on but if there's any grammar or spelling mistakes I'm sorry I'm just got to get back to listening to the music!

    Last edited by Audioflyer; 01-04-2017 at 13:32.

  3. #83
    Join Date: Jan 2008

    Location: Wrexham, North Wales, UK

    Posts: 77,182
    I'm AudioAl'sArbiterForPISHANTO.


    Hi Sharif,

    Thanks for sharing! Most interesting... I'm not surprised at all with your findings, as marrying the best of old and new, in my experience often pays dividends.

    Just shows you how fundamentally good these 'old timers' were, in the areas that mattered most! Enjoy - oh, and don't forget, if you hear of any more of those Philips cartridges for sale, let me know.



    "A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do" -- Milan Kundera.

  4. #84
    Join Date: Oct 2011

    Location: Nothamptonshire

    Posts: 158
    I'm Sharif.


    I've not quite work out how to upload a HD video to youtube this is my first attempt low res only.


    It's just a glimpse of what a Philips GP390 ceramic cartridge sounds like.

    Thorens TD160 Super (modifed) - RB300 Tonearm (rewired) - Philips GP390 (low output) Ceramic Cartridge with a Paratrace stylus - High Octane RIAA Phonostage -Quad 22 Peamp & Quad II Amps (modified) - Restored JBL L40 Speakers.


  5. #85
    Join Date: Oct 2012

    Location: NE England

    Posts: 4,175
    I'm Jez.


    Dacca Deram anyone?

  6. #86
    Join Date: Aug 2010

    Location: East Midlands

    Posts: 359
    I'm Hugh.


    Quote Originally Posted by Arkless Electronics View Post
    Dacca Deram anyone?
    I dabbled with a Deram forty odd years ago, but never got it sounding anywhere near as good as Sharif's Philips. I've heard his setup a couple of times at Scalford and it really is stunning.

    Might be an interesting project though.

  7. #87
    Join Date: Mar 2018

    Location: Twickenham

    Posts: 3
    I'm David.


    I purchased 2 NOS Philips Super P GP390 for 15 each off a guy in Oval south London via the Shpoch app. he was concerned i was going to use them for scratching!!

    I'd previously passed up, one for sale in france for 50+ on ebay, collection only

    Purchase totally inspired by Audioflyer's review, which i found during a quest for a sonotone 9ta plug for a 4hf set up i'm restoring.

    I have to say every word uttered is spot-on. It replaced a Goldring 1000 with the elliptical stylus in a rega 250, which i always thought was great
    my deck is a 1965 401 and its all plugged into WAD pre/phono II and WAD KIT/KAT 6550

    I also built the Bass booster circuit but it induces hum for some reason, either hard wired or on a board. Can't work out why. If i hold the plastic box it is mounted in, it decreases and if i connect myself to the ground of the phono connectors it disappears! odd. However i can do without, i'm not that fussed, due to the fact that its a small room and bass is not really too much of a problem.
    Many of my records were "partied out" during my student days so i certainly notice an increase in crackles and pops with the conical stylus regardless of adjustments to arm, tracking weight VTA etc. So have taken the plunge and had a chat with TESC, who are now possibly shaking their heads and saying Oh-No, not another one.

    I'm such a copy-cat, but i am so so pleased with the results that i couldn't help but post, to thank Audioflyer for discovering the best HI-FI bargain. I have played in orchestras and bands in my time, i like to think i know what a snare drum struck 5 foot away sounds like, i can now remind myself daily without the purchase of a drum kit. wow i'm having to re listen to everything. Even 80s house music takes on a new life, bass heavy flat and compressed no longer, and i haven't listened to any of this since, well, the 1980s.


  8. #88
    Join Date: Mar 2009

    Location: South West-ish, UK

    Posts: 190
    I'm Patrick.


    Quote Originally Posted by Dave999 View Post
    I also built the Bass booster circuit but it induces hum for some reason, either hard wired or on a board. Can't work out why. If i hold the plastic box it is mounted in, it decreases and if i connect myself to the ground of the phono connectors it disappears! odd.
    It sounds like you are missing an earth somewhere.

  9. #89
    Join Date: Mar 2018

    Location: Twickenham

    Posts: 3
    I'm David.


    Yeah i'll try earthing to the earth stud on the back of the preamp. that will involve a bit of heavy lifting so have not yet got round to it.

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