Friday, April 10, 2009

A visit with the Ortofon 2M Blue

The Ortofon 2M Blue is a Moving Magnet phono cartridge that prices in at approximately $200. Designed by MøllerJensen Design, the 2M Blue sports a high output of 5.5mv and a nude elliptical diamond. There are four cartridge models in the 2M line - starting with the budget Red and ending with the highest priced Black. I had a few weeks of experience with the 2M Red and decided to buy the Blue as an entry level catridge to re-start my journey into analog playback. When first installed the 2M Blue sounded very hard - almost like a bad CD player - so make sure to give it a few hours before coming to any conclusions.

Though the 2M Blue is only one step up from the budget Red, I've found it to be an excellent tracker. Inner groove distortion is extremely minimized to the point where I can't tell when an unfamiliar record is coming to an end. This certainly bests some of the admittedly more budget carts I have heard in the past.

With my Graham Slee Era Gold Mk V phono preamplifier and VPI HW19 Mark III turntable, I get extremely deep and low bass that is tightly defined. More so than I have ever heard with any turntable setup before. The midrange is very transparent and clear, but the top end does seem a bit forward. Mind you it never gets glarey or etched, but the upper mids and treble are certainly a little more pronounced. Measurements by other reviewers confirm a rising frequency response so keep this in mind if you already have a forward top-end on your system.

Detail appears to be very good with some nice information retrieval. On Frank Sinatra's marvelous "At the Sands" original two LP set, I get some nice hall reverberation and audience noise. "Will you stop eating and drinking!" was all I could think during some of the instrumentals as you could hear the clatter of plates and glasses being moved about. This is about the closest you can get to hearing Sinatra live these days so make sure to check this LP set out.

Is the 2M Blue the best of breed? - most definitely not - but it certainly is a step in the right direction compared to the carts I've heard in the lower or same price range. I will be looking forward to the day when I upgrade to the 2M Black, but right now I'm enjoying the best analog setup that I've ever owned.