Goldring Ethos

Phono cartridges tend to have a long shelf life and stick around for a number of years, but following Goldring’s updates to its moving-iron 2000 Series and entry-level E Series – we saw the £100 E3 moving-magnet in HFC 428 – it’s the turn of the top of the range to receive some attention. The Ethos replaces the long-running Legacy as the new flagship model.

It’s a moving-coil design that uses a Vital profile stylus on an aluminium alloy cantilever. Goldring has designed this to offer the best balance between responsiveness (which favours a shorter design) and ride height above the record. This acts on a cross-shaped iron assembly with the coils wrapped around each arm of the cross. The magnet is a neodymium design, intended to reduce the mass and ensure the field that the coils operate in is completely consistent.

These reductions in mass are partially offset by the body. This is thinner than the old Legacy when viewed from the front, but instead of the magnesium used by its predecessor it has moved to an aluminium body. As a result, at 8.5g the Ethos is only 0.5g lighter but the body has threaded inserts and is incredibly easy to attach.

With a claimed output of 0.5mV, it won’t struggle to partner today’s phono stages and feels well designed, exactingly made and as user friendly as any cartridge can be. It is also more visually interesting as the aluminium body has a higher level of shine than the magnesium of the Legacy cart it replaces. Technically, these things shouldn’t matter, but when you’re spending just under £900 on something this small any hint of visual flair tends to count. 

Sound quality
Fitted to a SME M2-9 tonearm installed on a Michell GyroDec turntable and with a few hours under its belt, the Ethos reveals itself to be a cartridge that goes for strength in depth rather than superficial attention grabbing. This is partly down to a wonderfully refined top end. Listening to Last Night All My Dreams Came True by Wild Beasts, this rather ‘hot’ pressing gains a little touch of civility to the top end that is achieved without affecting the hefty low-end punch available.

With the more conventionally mastered Caer by Twin Shadow, the Goldring is also extremely impressive. Vocals are rich and cosseting and are given the space they need to be truly convincing. Behind them the Ethos delivers the deep bass of Brace with clarity and impact. This is not the most ballistic-sounding cartridge at the price though, and if you’re looking to seize the beat by the scruff of the neck, you might need to look elsewhere. The Ethos is light enough on its feet to be an engaging partner with high-tempo material, though.

Where it really comes into its own is the delivery of emotional content. Without ever tipping over into sounding too warm or bloomy, the manner in which it handles the hauntingly lovely To Build A Home by The Cinematic Orchestra makes this one of the most outstanding performers I have encountered under £1,000. Its ability to generate an unforced and completely believable soundstage of the performers involved is impressive. The Goldring manages to sound consistently ‘right’ in a way that makes it a very easy device to listen to for extended periods. It is also able to do a good job with less than stellar recordings. My standard torture test of Placebo’s Meds is more than listenable considering the dismal quality of the recording.

The Goldring Ethos takes the positive qualities of the Legacy and manages to offer a consistent improvement across all of them. This is not a cartridge that will blow you away in the first 15 minutes of listening, but as a long-term vinyl partner it is extremely adept and should be on any audition shortlist at the price. ES

Product: Goldring Ethos
Price: £895
Type: Moving-coil cartridge
Read the full review in May issue 449

Armour Home Electronics, Woodside 2
Dunmow Road, Bishop’s Stortford
Herts, CM23 5RG
01279 501111