Ortofon Phono Cartridges

Good Morning Folks.

A few days ago, one of the client’s of All That Jazz showed me a response to a readers inquiry in a Canadian Audio Magazine. The reader was asking about tips in regards to his system and mentioned that he had recently changed out his Ortofon Cartridge for a Grado and preferred the Grado.

The answer from the magazine writer was – and I quote; “Going to the Grado was certainly a move up from the Ortofon. We’ve always been impressed  by what Ortofon knows about cutting records, not so much about what they think about playing them back. Do you know they still make thesame tonearm that has existed for what must be half a century? ‘Nuff Said”.

To my own eyes and ears, I think that this is a silly biased statement. Ortofon may not be your cup of tea. You may prefer the sound of a ClearAudio, Benz Micro whatever by no one can dispute the success and high quality of Ortofon Cartridges. Perhaps another argument against this statement is that Ortofon Cartridges have been declared best buy / best sound in as many as 5 categories from virtually all hi-fi critics on both sides of the Atlantic.

Each cartridge has it’s own unique sound. In our store, we sell Goldring, Ortofon and Sumiko. We also have access to others such as Audio Technica and Shure. Probably 80% of what we sell is Ortofon. I spent yesterday afternoon doing a comparison between a $100. Ortofon 2M Red and a Shure M97XE. The client preferred the Ortofon Red, then switched to the 2M Blue which sounded simply outstanding on his turntable.

Does that mean that Ortofon is better than Shure. By no means! Does it mean that Shure  is outdated – No! The M97XE is also a renowned cartridge. At one point in my life, I was also a retailer for Grado. I thought this was great value and sounded pretty good.

Why did I stick with Ortofon, because of all the cartridges that I have used my favourites were an Ortofon MC-20, MC-20 Super and MC 30 and now my choice is the Ortofon Cadenza Series. Yes, Ortofon does make tonearms, not sure whether they are awesome or not but I do know that in hi-fi circles they are still fairly highly regarded. the arm that the magazine writer is referring to has been upgraded twice since it was launched. Ortofon now has 4 tonenarms, one 9″ and three 12″ units. As a note, no one would dare be a critic of the Shure tonearms and yet they still have in their portfolio a similar model that was marked in the late 70’s.

In my world, if a product can still be marketable after 50 years, something must have been done right!

Does a cartridge manufacturer have to make tonearms? Of course not, as a matter of fact many don’t.

In reading any information on your audio hobby, it is very important that you take this written information with, somewhat a grain of salt. Many times responses like these can come from the fact that the magazine has a “misunderstanding” with the distributor or a personal “hate-on” for a particular product. Usually when I see disparaging reviews, I check the advertiser’s list to see if that product is promoted in the publication. Often this can be the difference.

 Yes, I sell Ortofon but I sell others as well. Does this mean that Ortofon is better – not necessarily. I do however have the utmost respect for the cut of the stylus, the polish of the diamond  and the unique materials used in the construction of the cartridge body.

As a final, I agree that the web has changed the way we make our decisions on acquiring new products for our hobby but please remember, our words are only opinions. If we lash out at a product, you may never know why however for the most part it is important that you – the audience – keep us in check! Don’t let us get away with what you may think are questionable statements.

Thanks for your time in considering my ramblings.

Gord C