Ortofon 2M Mono Phono Cartridge
Ratings & Reviews
Thanks to the previous review for convincing me I needed this. I don't need to add to his thorough review. I am amazed at how true to life real mono sounds when done right. I got this for the new Beatles box in mono, but I was surprised at how many records I have that benefit from a dedicated mono cartridge. If you are like me and have a sizable collection of mono LPs, then just bite the bullet and get this.
by Jimmy Jet
I hemmed and hawed about dropping over 300 bills for a mono cartridge, but after doing tons of research, I came to the conclusion this was really the only option on the market for me and my increasingly growing mono collection of 1960 – 1970 records. Simply put, to properly play mono recordings from this era, you need a .7 mil tip (preferably spherical), a single generator to pick up only on the horizontal plane, a stylus that still has vertical compliance even though it does not have a generator for the vertical plane, and will work well with a S type tonearm on a direct drive table. This cartridge meets all of the above criteria. I went ahead and ordered it along with a new Ortofon headshell. I set it up tonight with the correct overhang specified for my unit and preferred tracking at 1.8 grams. I’ll try to keep it short, but WOW. First impressions: huge jump in volume, tighter bass, clearer vocals without distortion on loud passages, and crisper highs. Previously, for my near mint mono records, I was playing them with my AT 440MLa cartridge and they sounded quite good with huge bass and crisp high end, but rather scooped mids – vocals could be distorted on loud passages, e.g., Mick’s voice on Stones early London recordings. For my less than near mint mono records, a Grado Prestige Gold cartridge was being used with a warmer sound and subduing the pops and clicks from any scratches, but the high end wasn’t as crisp as the 440 and the loud vocals were even more distorted. This Ortofon M2 Mono keeps the big bass from the 440, but tightens it up; gives more high end, just as crisp as the 440, but seems louder; cleans up distortion in the vocal range; presents more mids than either the 440 or Grado, yet keeps it balanced with the big bass and crisp treble (the only recording it presented way too much midrange on was the Byrds album [with Turn, Turn, Turn – Columbia mono] – this may be the way it was recorded, but I never noticed it with the 440). As sick as I am of Ruby Tuesday [Between the Buttons, London mono maroon lable], I was too lazy to get up off the couch, but for the first time I could hear the resin on the bow rub across the strings of the cello! (I used to play cello in school.) Then, at one point, you can hear something that sounds like either the cellist makes two false starts or hits the bow on the strings twice (in time) before coming back in on his part… this took my breath away. Then I moved on to new mono releases, Hendrix Axis on Track records, 180g mono vinyl and being remastered and cut with tubes in the entire re-cutting chain, that’s what you hear: pure, smooth, silky, and warm tubes oozing with power and in your face Hendrix playing in your house… Sundazed’s Donavan, Wear Your Love Like Heaven, quietist vinyl I’ve ever heard as far as the noise floor, as in CD quiet, very warm, full spectrum and tube sounding. Sundazed’s Jefferson Airplane, After Bathing at Baxters, very cool, different mix of Martha, has a different bass line than the stereo version – the psychedelic party scene still sounds like stereo until I figured out what was going on: instead of panning left to right, they panned the phasing from bass to treble – even though this is a mono record, it still has a 3D sound stage – unbelievable! Oh, I forgot one of my original mono’s, and it’s one of the best high fidelity mono records I have: a near mint Kinks on Kink Kontraversy on the the tri-colored mono Reprise label – beautifully balanced throughout the frequency spectrum. If you like early Stones and Kinks, you HAVE to get the mono vinyl – the stereo mixes are trash (no bass, all mids, and the Kinks especially, have some sort of echoey/reverb added and it’s just mud). Okay – I think you got the idea… I’m in love with this cartridge and how much life it’s brought to both my historic as well as mono reissue records. If you are into mono, the Ortofon M2 Mono is worth the 3 bills – while it may hurt to place the order, you’ll soon forgot about it when you start listening to your mono collection – it will be like listening to new recordings and you’ll discover things you never noticed before. (Just a heads up – the Ortofon booklet only instructs you how to mount the cartridge on the headshell and doesn’t give the specs or tracking force, and I incorrectly thought I had read that the tracking force should be 1.5g and the first few songs were kind of shrill – I went back to the specs here on the Needle Doctor about this cart and saw that the recommended tracking should be 1.8g, so I re-calibrated for 1.8, and it made a huge difference!).