Ortofon 2M Blue Phono Cartridge

by Audiophilia on May 8, 2013 · 5 comments

in Analogue

by Anthony Kershaw

Danish manufacturer Ortofon, highly regarded by audiophiles for fair value, wonderful sounding cartridges, has produced a ‘colour coded’ set called the Ortofon 2M magnetic cartridge system. Entry level Red is followed by the subject of this mini review, the Blue and up through Bronze, and finally Black. The Blue retails for a very reasonable $225.

The Blue was mounted under a Rega-sourced Basis 300 arm which was attached to a Basis 1400 turntable and its signal fed the the Moving Magnet section of the Zesto Audio Andros PS1 Vacuum Tube Phonostage Preamp. A 7K system with a $225 cart. Interesting match, but one that the Blue took completely in stride. It was not fazed at all.

In fact, after a few adjustments for the VTA of the Rega arm (Basis provides an adjustable ring rather than having to shim), the Blue was singing merrily and, most importantly, sweetly.

We dialed in the VTA via a Ricci/Decca LP — his violin sounded detailed and became more focused as the VTA became more to the Blue’s liking. We had the cartridge tracking at an easy 1.8 grams.

If you have only a few dollars to spend on a cartridge, always go for a moving magnet (MM) rather than moving coil (MC). Cheap and cheerful MCs come with all sorts of problems that rarely get sorted out by equipment upstream. But, be wary, inexpensive MMs, too, often sound harsh and a bit rough. Happily, the Ortofon had none of these problems. It was an easy load, tracked like a champ and gave an honest account of the vinyl.

‘Honesty’ is one of the descriptors I use with entry level analogue. The Rega ‘tables with good quality carts are honest. The same cost/quality digital fibs a little. There is no shame in saying this particular Blue was ‘maxed out’ by the Basis table and Zesto phono stage, especially. Yet, it was a good match that I could live with easily. The Blue was certainly enjoying its associated kit.

The sound had the immediacy that I associate with good carts but it also had a sweetness that I’ve experienced with good MCs like a Benz Glider. It had a little Sumiko Blue Point edginess in the upper strings and a stridency from trumpets that may not stand the test of time, but for two and a quarter, there is no arguing the Blue is a cartridge performing well above its price point. When I first heard it, I’d have guessed it was in the $7/800 range.

The midrange was dynamic, with a really fine separation of instruments — another tenet of more expensive MC carts. Bass, too, was dynamic, but more ‘homogeneous’ than defined. You can’t expect a layer cake of deep bass at this level.

If you match the Blue with a cheaper setup, it may retain the sweetness but not highlight the top end as much. But, you’ll lose detail. Your choice.

Ortofon’s colour series offers a frugal audiophile a glimpse into a higher domain. Not the penthouse like Koetsu or Clearaudio MCs, but a floor with a good view. Very highly recommended.

The Ortofon 2M Blue Phono Cartridge

Manufactured by Ortofon A/S
Stavangervej 9
DK-4900 Nakskov
Denmark
Tel. +45 54 91 19 10
Fax +45 54 91 19 11

website
email

Price: $225
Source: Distributor loan

Specifications

Output voltage at 1000 Hz, 5cm/sec: 5.5 mV
Channel balance at 1 kHz: 1.5 dB
Channel separation at 1 kHz: 25 dB
Channel separation at 15 kHz: 15 dB
Frequency range at - 3dB: 20-25.000 Hz
Frequency response: 20-20.000 Hz + 2 / - 1 dB
Tracking ability at 315Hz at recommended tracking force: 80 µm
Compliance, dynamic, lateral: 20 µm/mN
Stylus type: Nude Elliptical
Stylus tip radius: r/R 8/18 µm
Tracking force range: 1,6-2,0g (16-20 mN)
Tracking force, recommended: 1,8 g (18 mN)
Tracking angle: 20°
Internal impedance, DC resistance: 1,3 kOhm
Internal inductance: 700 mH
Recommended load resistance: 47 kOhm
Recommended load capacitance: 150-300 pF
Cartridge weight: 7.2 g

{ 1 trackback }

Basis Audio 1400 Signature Turntable — Audiophilia
07.19.13 at 11:12 am

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

narcis 05.08.13 at 9:09 am

Many thanks, Anthony, for this sweet review! It’s interesting to see how refined and honest enough a 225$ can sound in the context of a far much expensive system. I am too in a similar position here: enjoying my Grado Prestige Gold cart partnered with a Clearaudio Emotion turntable and the stunning Pathos Classic amp. Cheap cart, much more expensive gear… and great results altogether. cheers!

admin 05.08.13 at 10:32 am

Thanks, Narcis.

The Ortofon is a serious contender for Budget Component of the Year. It’s that good. I was very surprised.

The distributor goaded me to guess the product and price as I was listening. As I mentioned, I figured it was a 7/800 dollar cart.

Cheers, a

marvin fox 05.12.13 at 6:36 pm

Ortofon is a great sounding cartridge and i am glad to hear the price is reasonable to purchase.

roy harris 05.14.13 at 6:41 pm

hi anthony:

can you recommend a cartridge to use with an ortofon arm that is on the lush side, i.e., rolled in the treble and a bit ripe in the mid bass ?

thanks

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