Ortofon 2M Black Phono Cartridge
"The Ortofon 2M Black has to be one of the best moving magnet cartridges currently available, as well as one of the most practical, due to its high output, normal tracking force and weight. This is a masterful design for anyone keen to get the best from LP, without moving up to the complexities, cost and delicacy of moving coils." - Hifi World
Design ElementsThe 2M Series is developed in conjunction with the Danish Industrial designer Møller Jensen Design – the same designer who designed the award winning MC Jubilee and Kontrapunkt series. Inspired by the facets of a diamond, whose contours gracefully trace the grooves on a record’s surface, the 2M’s handsome elegance establishes a great combination of form and functionality.
The name 2M was selected from among several ideas. We wanted a modern name that would be easy to pronounce and remember, and therefore an alphanumerical name was chosen. 2M means MM, which is the abbreviation for moving magnet. Of course the 2M isn’t just another pretty face. It has been engineered to the highest standards and is congruent with Ortofon’s unrelenting commitment to providing the most precise and accurate reproduction possible without coloration.
Ortofon 2M SonicsThe 2M series of cartridges feature Ortofon’s trademark split-pole pins, an invention that enables moving-magnet cartridges to have a flat frequency response, as with a moving-coil cartridge. Split-pole pins were invented by Ortofon, and were originally presented in the 500 and OM Super series. We have optimized the design for ease of mounting the cartridge, and the weight and size to fit the most common turntables on the market today. The 2M Series provides excellent compatibility when used in an assortment of playback systems and with a wide variety of phono preamps.A briefing on each...
Ratings & Reviews
by Dave C
I thought long and hard about upgrading from my 2M Blue which is very very nice. But after an evening of listening I'm totally blown away by the Black. I have it mounted on an Ortofon headshell on my Audio Technica AT12P tonearm. I had my Blue for a few years and had the install tweeked to perfection. Some reviewers say the Black is noisier, my finding is that it is very quiet. The sound stage is huge and I can hear things I've never heard before in records that I'm very familiar with. This could possibly be the best money I've spent in a long time on an audio purchase.
Just ordered this for my Rega RP-6. Going from a MC Dynavector to a MM for the first time. Feel very excited. Will provide review in due course.
I just love my new 2M Black. I totally agree with all the posts I've read so far...Soundstage is amazing, it's quiet and you can tell you're in analogue world...You can almost hear the hiss of the master tapes :) I paid about 10 times more for my DAC (Which I do love) but I still prefer the sound of my new 2M Black. While tweaking it with the Hi-Fi News record I must admit it doesn't track as well as my former OM30 but it still tracks amazingly well on records in bad shape......One thing I noticed highs seem a bit extended and/or brilliant...But not in a bad way though...This is night and day with the OM...Resonance is about 8 Hz with my KD-990 so I would suspect something might be off with Rudy's set-up...
I wanted to like the 2M Black, but unfortunately believed all of the hype in the audiophile press, some claiming it was the heir apparent to the Shure V15 Type V-MR. Well, it is anything but a successor. The original Type V (not the later Vx) was known for its flat, neutral sound characteristics but even more so, for its tracking ability. The 2M is neither. First of all, the response. It is forward in character in the upper mids and the highs--not overly bright like Audio-Technica MM cartridges, but still forward enough to be unpleasant after long periods of listening. Loading at the preamp's MM input is per Ortofon's recommendations. But the glaring problem here is the 2M Black's tracking ability. For having a Shibata stylus, it is a very poor tracker. There is sibiliance on even laid back tracks like "Crazy Love" on the Van Morrison 'Moondance' 180g LP or the 180g release of Rumer's 'Seasons Of My Soul', and the vocals and bright electric guitar on the Elvis 24 Karat Hits 45RPM set exhibit breakup in the louder sections (like "Big Ol' Hunk" and "Jailhouse Rock"). I verified its poor tracking with a few test records, and it fails miserably, tracking no better than a Grado F3E I purchased new back in the early 1980 for $55. This is inexcusable for the price. At this point, I am usually blamed for not having it set up correctly. Let's see...duplicate alignment gauges used to set overhang and initial alignment--check. USB microscope to set stylus rake angle at 92 degrees--check. USB microscope to fix the azimuth being a degree or two off due to the cantilever being rotated in its mount, and the diamond not at a perfect 90 degree angle to the vinyl--check. Oscilloscope used to fine tune zenith alignment due to sloppy mounting of diamond within cantilever (where it was not perfectly square with the cantilever)--check. Vertical tracking force measured with digital scale--check, and even tried at different points to see if it helped. Antiskating checked via oscilloscope--check. Good match to the Pro-Ject tonearm--check. In short, alignment is dead on, and conditions are as good as they'll get. Notice two things about the alignment process? Sloppy manufacturing. This is a cartridge costing over $700, and the manufacturing flaws are inexcusable. It took a bit of a change of tonearm height to get the SRA set to 92 degrees, and I've heard this is all over the map among various 2M Black samples. The cantilever not having the diamond sitting at a 90 degree angle to the vinyl surface, and the diamond not even mounted straight in the cantilever, are two more signs that quality control is lacking. The real tracking issue isn't the nice Shibata cut diamond, but that cantilever. Who in their right mind would design a cartridge with a premium diamond stylus, but stick it in a cheap, fat aluminum cantilever? For this price, the cantilever should be a rigid, lightweight material such as boron. Ortofon does this in their moving coil cartridges, and they are better trackers. There is nothing in the construction or the materials of this cartridge that warrant a $700 price tag, so a better cantilever is something I would expect in a product at this price level. The result of this is that the moving tip mass is too high to follow high-frequency information. The Shibata diamond can follow the traces of the grooves, but just has too much mass to accelerate fast enough to track them properly. That aluminum cantilever is also the cause of the forward sound characteristics--its resonance is within the range of human hearing, at the spots where the response is a bit "agitated". Other cantilevers (like the boron in Ortofon's MC top cartridges, the Shure's beryllium, Dynavector's diamond in the 17D3) push that resonance up past our range of hearing and are thus closer to neutral in response. Needless to say, this 2M Black is no longer in my stable, and I've moved upward in the cartridge world. Buyer beware. And I strongly recommend looking at other cartridges, or auditioning this one with highly demanding recordings, before dropping this kind of money.
Sam in DC
by Sam in DC
When I got my Rega P3-24 a few years ago, Needle Doctor kindly installed a 2M Blue on there, and the whole thing was an upgrade from a real budget player I'd bought when I was in college. Of course, to my un-accustomed ears, it sounded amazing. So I wanted to try this black one to see if the setup could sound MORE amazing. Yes. It sure does. It sounds more amazing. First impressions are really, really positive: it's like the whole sound of whatever's playing is bigger and clearer and fuller. I tried a bunch of different stuff - Neil Young, Thriller, Ren Fair stuff, solo guitar music, etc. - it all does sound very much better. Didn't really know it could, but now I do. This, to me, was a lot of money to spend on a cartridge. But dang, if you can afford it, it's totally worth it.
I paired the cartridge with a Rega RP6, the sound is fabulous, for 35 years of being an audiophile always having Ortofon cartridges on my TT's never had this quality of sound before, well worth the money.
by Charles M
This thing just keeps sounding better and Better the longer it is played! Rock,Jazz,classical all sound great! Went from the 2M RED to the Black and all I cans say is WOW! Bravo!! Ortofon.
I can only echo the comments of previous reviewers. This cartridge is astounding in the quality of the sound it brings from the grooves. The bass is not at all modest, but is well controlled. Male and female voices are accurately protrayed. What no one has mentioned thus far is that this cartridge has turned my older mono LPs into near-stereo with depth and width I have not gotten with good mono cartridges! I am sitting listening to highlights from "Il Travatore" LM-1827 with Milanov, Barbieri, Bjoerling and Warren. This was produced in 1955 (!!!!) and sounds better than some new recordings I have heard. The background is quiet, the voices are amazingly real, and for once the glass in my listening room was not threatened by Bjoerling hitting one of his proverbial high notes at ffff! He rather sounded like Bjoerling. Cannot thank Needle Doctor enough for this marvelous purchase!
by King bee
Upgraded from a Rega Elys 2 on my P3-24 to the 2M Black and am very satisfied. More open, wider soundstage and more detail. I thought the Elys sounded pretty good but the 2M black just sounds better. Vocals and instruments sound more realistic. Highly recommend checking VTF with an accurate scale however. Originally just adjusted the VTF to the recommended 1.5 g based on the reading on the Rega tonearm, but when I measured it it was tracking at over 2.5 g! I guess this cartridge weighs a lot more than the Elys. Highly recommended
Went from an entry level Grado Black with silver stylus upgrade. All fellow reviewers hit it right on the money.. You know your finally in high end cartridge land with this one..Bass it precise and controlled, not exagerated, midrange is sweet and smooth, highs are definately there without being harsh or irratateing. Set up is definately worth a couple of hours of listening, adjusting and more adjusting to get it just right. Nothing complicated ,just trial and error to get that perfect sound. Tracking force on the high side of setting with tone arm exactly parrallel to platter yielded the best result. The music, its all there in spades with the Ortofon 2m Black.
Upgraded from 2M Blue to 2M Black. I actually got a buzz from it the first time I listened. It sounded so good within the first hour that my legs got dizzy. I physically swooned while sitting in my listening chair. My Wife "what did you do now? That sounds amazing." She doesnt normally notice my "tweaks" on her own.
Upgraded from a Pro-Ject Debut III / Sumiko Pearl combo to an XPression Classic / 2M Black from Needle Doc. Listened to a new Cat Stevens Tea for the Tillerman 200 gm vinyl on the old table and immediately on the new table when I got it set up in about 30 mins. I was all set to send the Xpression/2M Black back if I didn't notice a big improvement. The difference in sound quality was amazing so needless to say I kept it. I know the difference in the two tables is not that great so I'm sure it's the cartridge. Highly recommended and worth the money.
The 2M Black has completely turned everything I know about cartridges on its ear. I never would have thought that an MM cartridge would be able to produce this level of detail and overall cohesiveness. I was always the one to tell people that they should spring for a Moving Coil for reasons of linearity, detail, and imaging. But once my friend introduced me to his 2M Black, all of that thinking went straight out of the window. I had to have one for myself! It definitely has a very wide frequency response, resolution to handle the most demanding passages, yet manages to never be harsh or strident. If the 2M Black is this good, I think my question is how good the MC Cadenza Black could be!?
by Rick M
LOVE this cart!!! Went from a Benz Glider S on my Pro-ject RPM 10 as I needed more output then the .4mV of the Benz. I was a little worried to be honest making this swap but honestly I have not missed the Benz at all!!! Like all the others have said here, great bass, non fatiguing airy highs and mids to die for, worth every penny!!!!
This is a superior cartridge and represents an unbelievable value when performance is weighed against price. Installation went well and with my Thoren’s TD-320i mk II, I experienced no issues with rake angle. Upon first listening, it was a little tight, however even then it showed signs of its true potential. I now have about 30 hours on it and like a fine wine, it is opening up in an incredible fashion. First the lows. While the specs say it bottoms at 20 HZ, with my Bowers & Wilken’s CM 8's, it seems to have a presence below that. When listening to jazz, the bass is full and direct with no hint of any spurious overtones. The highs, while bright, are not overly brilliant so as to upset the balance of the music. Imaging is almost scary. Despite having heard Miles Davis’ “Freddy the Freeloader” hundreds of times, it was a new experience as Davis cuts back in after Adderly’s solo. Classical music likewise demonstrates the 2M Black’s talents. The sound stage is full but not blurred. Unlike the “wall of sound” that some cartridges present with orchestral music, the individual players are distinct and appear precisely where they should. One of the outstanding sides of this cartridge is what the Shibata does for older albums. Surface noise is minimized to the point where even a clean older non-audiophile album sounds new. New audiophile albums, such as MFSL's “Sinatra at the Sands” become a remarkable experience. The depth and quality of the reproduction is so superior that the listener walks away with a sense that he or she has actually heard a live performance. As I said, I have only 30 hours on it and professional reviews call for 50. I can't wait!! Five stars
I recently purchased a 2M Black cartridge. Unbelievable! I've had a lot of cartridges over the years (both MM and MC), and I can honestly say that the M2 Black is the best of any I have had. Detail, top and bottom end, and overall accurate reproduction of what is in the groove seem to be the strong points of this outstanding cartridge. I have to give much credit to Brian at Needle Point for steering me in the right direction. He really knows what he is talking about, and I would recommend that anyone contact him before purchasing a new cartridge (or any piece of audio equipment for that matter). Very, very happy with this cartridge!
Theres a reason stereophile magazine called this "probably one of the best moving magnet cartridges in the world" In all likelyhood it probably is. While some might balk at the 700$ pricetag, Youve got to remember your stereo is like a chain, Its only strongest at its weakest link. You say youve got thousands invested in your gear, does it really make sense to be playing it though a cheap forty-buck cartridge? this cartrige has been worth every penny.
by Joseph Czentnar
Killer MM cartridge. It's damn near as good as the OC9 MK-III. I tried them on the same table, and either of them are what I consider "state of the art". I let a buddy of mine borrow this cart, and I still don't have it back!!!! Tracking is like a Shure V-15, just make "Shure" to keep her clean.
This cartridge is a bargain. A solid tracker, with smooth midrange and solid bass. Very musical, but does not sacrifice extended range and detail for a plush midrange like some less expensive cartridges.
I upgraded from the Blue to the Black and I heard an immediate difference. The bass is greatly improved, and the mid's and highs are crystal clear. This is a fantastic cartridge.
Initial thoughts on the Ortofon 2M Black (upgraded from Goldring 1012GX): Truly Amazing! I began with an RCA ‘Living Stereo’ recording (LSP-2231) of Elvis’ “Fever” - nothing but vocals, bass and finger-snapping. I was immediately struck by the tremendous low-end; bass is powerful and rock-solid. Background is a level of quiet that must be heard (or rather not heard) to be appreciated…Black indeed! Channel separation is excellent, with instruments set in space within the room in ways I have never experienced on my system. This cartridge must be on your list of those to consider. In the words of Ferris Bueller, “If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.” Follow-up: After a few weeks with the cartridge I have yet to find anything it does not do well. However, if I had to pick out its strongest assets I would commend Bass and Vocals. The bottom-end is magnificently lush, and vocals are truly sublime.