It’s hard to imagine just how radical Goldring’s G900 series seemed when launched in the late nineteen seventies. In a world of relatively heavy, lowish compliance cartridges, here was a state-of-the-art device that weighed a silph-like 4 grammes. As zeitgeisty as New Wave music and drainpipe trousers, for a moment at least it was the very embodiment of a modern moving magnet.
The pretty looking plastic-cased generator assembly put out a highish (by the standards of the day) 4.5mV, and had fairly standard loading (47kΩ, 150pF～200pF). It turned in an admirably smooth 20-20,000Hz (+/-2dB) frequency response, and tracked very securely at between 0.75g～1.5g (around 1.5g is best). End-of-side distortion was surprisingly low on all variants, by the standards of the day.
The cartridge came with a range of interchangeable stylus options. The base model 900E had a shank mounted elliptical tip and was medium compliance. The 900SE had a nude mounted special elliptical and was of higher compliance. The 920IGC had a van den Hul type 2 stylus of medium compliance (purple), the 910IGC had a vdH type 1 (amber), and the flagship 900IGC had a VDH type 1 (with a green stylus body) and had an extremely high (42cu) lateral compliance.
The flagship 900IGC (Improved Groove Contact) got rave reviews in its day, and one listen confirms why. The best reference point is Goldring’s own G1042 (which is effectively its replacement); the 1000 sounds fuller and more solid but the 900IGC has a lovely lyricism that the later cartridge arguably lacks. It’s a very fluid sounding device as only the best moving magnets can be, but has much of the detail of a good moving coil. Bass is supple, fast and bouncy; midband open and expansive and treble easy, crisp and delicate. Like all its low mass contemporaries, the G900IGC ideally needs a lowish mass arm to really sing, such as an SME III or Mission 774.
These days, Goldring G900s aren’t the coolest cartridges around but it’s a lovely little curio if you can find a good surviving example, and have a turntable/arm combination that’s geared up for it. Back in its days it was a seriously special product – one that was notable for introducing the van den Hul stylus tip to the British market – but even now it is still surprisingly sound.