Pickering vs Grado chapter two - Penny Lane. Image is a banner of two cartridges playing a record.

Pickering vs Grado: Chapter two — Penny Lane

This time we're looking at a Beatles classic for our cartridge comparison. Penny Lane from the Canadian pressing of 1967 - 1970. Which will sound better?

This is chapter two of my com­par­i­sion of two cart­ridges — the Pick­er­ing XV-15/625E and the Grado Prestiege Green3.
Chapter One can be found here.

In Chapter One we reviewed the hard­ware and the pro­cess I’m using to com­pare these cart­ridges. I’m not an audio engin­eer so my pro­cess likely has a bunch of areas for improve­ment. But this is what I can do now and for con­sist­ency I’ll keep to it. Onward…

Penny Lane

I chose this Beatles tune because I’m famil­i­ar with it, and it has a lot of inter­est­ing instru­ments. This vinyl copy is a VG, maybe VG+ copy from 1976 (Cana­dian press­ing). I think it’s a little bit worn, and both cart­ridges seem to notice this though the Pick­er­ing seems more sensitive.

But first, let’s give it the song a listen and then on to my comments.

Penny Lane — The Beatles — 1967 — 1970 — 1976 Canada release

Pick­er­ing XV-15/625E

  • Ouch! Ini­tially came in very sharp off the top. Almost harsh.
  • Piano comes in strong, though a bit tough to sep­ar­ate out oth­er instru­ments as distinctly.
  • Except for the horn. That’s clearly a horn. The horn sec­tion is more merged.
  • Horn/voice blend­ing?
  • Ohh, some sibi­al­nce. Maybe around 1:45 ish. Might need to tweak the cart­ridge setup a bit? 
    • It almost sounds dis­tor­ted. Hmm.
  • Not great instru­ment place­ment. Hard to notice a dis­tinct sound­stage. Almost mono.

Grado Prestiege Green3

  • Less harsh.
  • Nice clear piano.
  • Much bet­ter instru­ment sep­ar­a­tion. Clear cym­bals and hi-hats.
  • No sib­il­ance where it was noticed on the Pickering.
  • Small bit of horn/voice blending
  • Grado Hum only noticed at the end.
  • Still has that ‘mono’ feel.

As with the pre­vi­ous test in Chapter One, I found the Grado soun­ded warm and but­tery. Some­thing about the way the Pick­er­ing star­ted this off was very harsh and pier­cing. And I had more dif­fi­culty pulling out dis­tinct instru­ments with the Pick­er­ing. Much easi­er on the Grado.

So, for this tune, I’m going to give it to the Grado. Bet­ter instru­ment sep­ar­a­tion, less pier­cing high end. Even though the Grado Hum was there, it’ was­n’t noticed as the music levels were much higher.

And if you’re keep­ing track, the score is now:

  • Grado: 1
  • Pick­er­ing: 1




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