Just bought an Ortofon 2M Black

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by 4011021, Apr 12, 2018.

  1. 4011021

    4011021 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brazil
    There's a thread with this title but referring to the Bronze so I thought it would be fun to start one with the Black.

    Anyway, yesterday I bought a 2M Black. I also have a 2M Blue (and a Nagaoka MP-110) so I skipped the Bronze and went from the Blue to the Black.

    I aligned azimuth in a Jelco HS25 headshel. I set VTF at 1.5g, heard some songs, then 1.7g, and it sounded better I guess. I also reduced VTA a bit from the first position and I think it sounded better too. I dialed 1.5g then 1.7g anti-skate. Noticed a bit more balanced channel separation when I increased it to 1.7g to match the new VTF.

    I have maybe 2-3 hours on it only. The difference is really impressive. Not a "subtle" difference, on the contrary, it's pretty evident.

    The good part:

    - Much more detail. I'll describe it by saying that with the Black I hear things through the speakers that I could only hear with headphones. Very impressive.

    - Sound is clearer. It was muffled with the Blue (and the Nag) in comparison. That "take a blanket off" cliche works just fine.

    - Much more separation. Instruments don't mix themselves too much, each of them has its own more defined place.

    - More stereo separation and larger soundstage.

    - Much better highs. I bought the 2M Blue because I sensed roll off with the Nag. The Blue is a bit better in that aspect but a bit too bright sometimes. The Black has much better highs than both. Highs are easier to distinguish but it doesn't sound too bright. Cymbals sound like I'm playing them.

    - First I thought I had less bass with the Black. Then I realized I don't. I have more highs and mids and clearer sound overall. Bass is still there, at least as good as it ever was, but now everything else is better so it's less prominent. I have to focus more to hear it the way I did before. On the other hand, no matter how much I focus, I'll never hear the same highs with the other cartridge. It's just not there.

    - More real. What I said about cymbals could be said also about the whole drum set and all other instruments.

    - More "presence". The music is much more "in your face". It reaches me and touches me more. Actually it flows from the speakers, grabs me by the throat and shakes me yelling "listen to me!" and I can't help but hearing all of this so intense sound.

    - I absolutely noticed nothing worse in noise floor, clicks and pops. I read a lot of reports about it but not in my experience - I must say I only tried good condition records so far though. However, I think I hear more "whoosh" from the friction between stylus and record groove if I crank it up in an empty groove. I need to try more records to be sure though, since this whoosh varies from record to record.

    - No mistracking, no IGD and no sibilance so far.

    - There are reports on some difficult to set it up but I didn't have any problems. Maybe in the future I'll feel the need to fine tune it a bit but for now I think it's just right.

    - You might think it's funny, but I'm sensitive to visual aestetics and prefer a good looking cartridge/headshell/turntable system. I wanted to avoid the Bronze because it looks ugly in pictures and videos, but considered buying it because of the reported noise floor with the Black. I'm glad I didn't since I hear no more noise than what I already had with the Blue (no noise in good condition records). The Blue is beautiful. The Black is stunning. I love it. If you find it funny, or weird, ok, I agree.

    The bad part:

    - All this presence and detail seems to make some music sound more aggressive and fatiguing.

    - All this separation sometimes sound weird. It feels like I miss something to glue the music back together.

    These two negative aspects will maybe be eliminated if the cartridge breaks in and/or if my ears and brain get used to the new sound I have now. I don't know. I'm also having a very tiring weekend and I was already feeling ear fatigue before this new cart, it was difficult to use headphones in a flight I had a couple of days ago, so maybe when I calm down the music will settle down too. Let's see.
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2018
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  2. 4011021

    4011021 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brazil
    Today I'm feeling less fatigue and more musicality. I added one more rubber mat to lift the headshell a bit for a different SRA. Maybe it helped.

    The level of detail doesn't cease to amuse me.
     
  3. JoeSmo

    JoeSmo Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Maidstone
    Very interesting as I also have shortlisted the Black. Please report on how you find it after a few weeks as I really believe cartridges need a good run in.
    One thing you mention, which would make be personally wary, is the level of detail being fatiguing. I totally get this and as a result veer towards the MM cartridges that are slightly warmer in the treble. However I’m pretty convinced your cartridge is a way off run in.
     
    4011021 likes this.
  4. DangerousKitchen

    DangerousKitchen Up in TO, keepin jive alive

    Nice review, and thanks for taking the time to post your thoughts thus far. I actually just bought an Ortofon 2M Black as well. It's funny to read the negative reviews claiming issues with a hot top end and sibilance but I have my own theories about those. I do feel any systems that present an existing forward or bright top end from speakers, amps, etc may not be a great match for the Black.

    I don't know when I will get the time to install but I'll try to review once set up.
     
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  5. JoeSmo

    JoeSmo Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Maidstone
    Can’t wait to read your review too Dangerous.....
     
  6. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Forum Resident

    Get the Bronze stylus.

    You already have the cart. The Bronze will seem a touch easier on the ears than the Black.

    A quote from Ortofon's web site, regarding their 2M product line.

    The Audio Beat, August 2016
    by Marc Mickelson


    ... The 2M Black is "open, fast, detailed, vivid, full of vitality and sonically spectacular." It is a true high-resolution transducer that consequently puts great demands on the downstream electronics and speakers...

    Good things to say about the black. But, with regard to the Bronze:

    ...While the 2M Black sounds more immediately impressive, the 2M Bronze is the more satisfying over the long haul, halving the difference between the Black's speed and resolution and the Blue's balance. In fact... it is a mixture of all of these sonic virtues. It's fast, but not ostentatiously so; it turns information into music, and it does this because it is better balanced, neither leaning in one sonic direction or another. I would say that it represents not just the 2M line's sweet spot but also its musical core. ..."

    So, I don't get that our members have a dislike for the bronze, so just prefer the black and others have never owned the bronze.

    From the members posts, I am of the opinion that about half of the members, have no preference for the black at all, most of those members appear to be opting for either the bronze, or for another different cartridge all together.

    I have the bronze and I think it is an excellent sounding cartridge. Since, at present, over 90% (probably closer to 95%) of my records, are sourced used, it is entirely possible, that excessive detail, may not result in the best, most musical sound.

    The 2M line are not the fullest sounding cartridges, every one should be aware of that. AT's are known for being thin and detailed, with their HF resolution being more prominent than their bass.

    There is an older thread about the 2M Black vs. the Bronze.

    So is the Ortofon 2m Black that much of an upgrade/improvment over the Bronze?

    You might want to read through that thread, it is only four pages, at present. I had acquired a vintage Thorens TD-150 Super that was restored and customized by VN and the TT came with a Rega arm with upgraded wiring and a 2M Bronze cartridge.

    During the course of the thread, I purchased a Black stylus, and now I two completely different cartridges. I can change the sound signature anytime by just changing out the stylus.

    I recommend that you do the same thing. But, in your case, you have the most expensive cartridge any stylus in the 2M family. If you fork you just a little bit more, you can purchase a Bronze stylus and you will be good to go also.

    I do recommend that you shop for your stylus from a reputable seller on eBay, that is located in Germany, that should afford you your best deal.
     
  7. 4011021

    4011021 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brazil
    If I keep swapping stylus from Bronze to Black too often do I risk to damage the cartridge body or its connection?
     
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  8. DryWhiteToast

    DryWhiteToast Well-Known Member

    Give it time. Good initial thoughts but I am sure if you gave it 100 hours of listening time, you would have different ideas. Maybe the negatives won't be there.
     
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  9. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Forum Resident

    I would not do it every single day. But the stylus with the color coded plastic body just pops in and out. You should do it a few times, just to get the hang of it.

    You will discover that there is a certain angle that you need to use to remove and reinstall the stylus.

    It is way too easy for the stylus body to get away from you and you don't want to see your $500 Shibata stylus go flying across the room.

    The majority of users may only remove the stylus when it is time to put in a new one.

    All you have is a stylus and the cantilever held in the molded plastic body by a small rubber grommet.

    You are not electrically plugging something and unplugging it over again.

    Use care and you shouldn't have any issues.
     
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  10. 4011021

    4011021 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brazil
    I have now about 7-8 hours.

    Another positive thing is dynamics. Much more noticeable than with my other cartridges. I haven't noticed that in the first day, so many differences to account for.

    I don't think it's that fatiguing anymore. Still a bit but not that much. What changed is that I'm using two rubber mats instead of one, I put a blanket in the otherwise clean wooden floor in front of me, and I had a better night of sleep. Next upgrade in my system will be a carpet.

    I'm enjoying more the details and the clearer sound the 2M provides. I was just listening to Lou Reed singing Perfect Day in my old Transformer LP (best buy edition so probably from the 80's) and it's just beautiful so I wanted to report it. I'm amazed. And now I have Satellite Of Love and the piano is beautiful.

    I simply didn't know vinyl could sound like that. From the system I had last year (Pro-Ject Debut Carbon with 2M Red playing through the receiver's internal phono stage) to the system I have now I'm in a completely different world.

    I have the feeling that things will still improve further in the future. I'm excited with this cartridge.

    However, more surface noise now that I'm trying old records. I'll have to clean a few records this weekend.
     
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  11. Mugrug12

    Mugrug12 Yellow brick, Black on black

    Location:
    San Francisco
    I had one for a couple years. I found the higher the tracking force, the better it sounded. I settled on 2.0g in the end. It was really an improvement imo.

    was w thorens 160super w rega rb300
     
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  12. Steve0

    Steve0 Audio Banana

    Location:
    australia
    Love my 2m back, took around 100 hours to settle into its true form so keep that in mind.
     
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  13. LitHum05

    LitHum05 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Washington, DC
    Wow, it sounds like those negatives pretty much ruin the positives.
     
    4011021 likes this.
  14. 4011021

    4011021 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brazil
    Yes I was wondering if it did, now I believe the negatives are getting weaker and the positives are arising, let's see what happens.
     
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  15. Drewan77

    Drewan77 Forum Resident

    Location:
    UK/USA
    When I purchased a new turntable with a removable headshell, it was partly so I could start using a collection of unused cartridges I had boxed away. This included the 2M Black which was rather clinical, almost digital sounding (I don't really mean that as a criticism though). It already had a couple of hundred hours on it so it was fully run-in.

    On the Technics SL1200G, this has been a revelation - it sounds absolutely superb, smoother than a succession of other decent MMs and definitely not the slightest bit clinical - lively, exhilarating & dynamic, with a very sweet top end which seems tonally 'just right'. I always take a lot of care with alignment, using a Dr Feickert protractor (Baerwald) & have adjusted azimuth too because this cart does need very accurate setup. I accept that surface noise between tracks can be slightly louder than other styli in the 2M range but it's music I listen to, not the deadwax!

    I'm prepared to accept that my new found love for this cartridge could also be a combination of very short, low capacitance interconnects to a perfectly matched phono stage (Graham Slee Accession) or the new magnesium tonearm but whatever the reason, the 2M Black on this table is now damn near perfect.
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2018
  16. Minty_fresh

    Minty_fresh Yeah it’s christmas time again...in my head

    Location:
    Dirty Town
    There’s a good chance the PLX1000 will be my next table (from a PDC with a 2M Blue no less) and I was planning on the bronze mostly because of complaints about clicks and pops. In another thread people were stating that setting the VTF to the cart’s max recommendation if 2.0 really brought body to the sound so maybe give that a shot too.
     
    4011021 likes this.
  17. 4011021

    4011021 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brazil
    2M Black seems to be softening fast. 10 hours and some care in set up (decreasing VTA with mats, carpet on the floor, slightly reposition of speakers) and that sense of fatigue and too much separation is disappearing. Much more enjoyable now.
     
  18. 4011021

    4011021 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brazil
    It's a very nice deck. Search this forum and you'll find 99% positive reviews (from actual owners). You'll find some forum members who had it along with some famous decks (like the Planar 3) and preferred the PLX-1000. However, of course, it's not perfect. I also know a couple of SHF members who upgraded from it to more expensive tables (2k-3k range) and did not regret.
     
  19. Minty_fresh

    Minty_fresh Yeah it’s christmas time again...in my head

    Location:
    Dirty Town
    That huge thread is what got me considering it. I was set on a P3. The only downside to the PLX in my eyes is that it’s an ugly DJ (cherka cherka) deck. But if, when the time comes, it’s still regarded as highly as it is currently then it’s the deck I’ll purchase.
     
  20. 4011021

    4011021 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brazil
    I think it's beautiful!
     
  21. 4011021

    4011021 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brazil
    Other thing that seems better with the 2M Black is that the music sounds great no matter where I am in the room. I have a sweet spot where it's best but everywhere else it still sounds great. The sound seems to fill the whole room.

    Some say the 2M Black makes great souding records sound great but bad recorded albuns sound like crap. It's not quite right I guess. It doesn't make a bad recorded album sound worse than it really is. It's only that since you can hear the potential of great recorded albums, the limitations of a bad recorded LP will be clear in comparison. It sounds the way it is I suppose.
     
  22. DangerousKitchen

    DangerousKitchen Up in TO, keepin jive alive

    So I spent 2 hours mounting my new Ortofon Black over the weekend. All the conditions were right: No kids, no girlfriend and we ended up getting pounded with an ice storm so even the weather was helping me feel good about staying in my pj's, drinking lots of coffee and fooling with the stereo. And listening to music! Here are my observations:

    Out of the box, the Ortofon Black steps right up to the plate with immediate detail and nuance. It really has the ability to pull out all those micro details and subtleties that might have previously been glossed over or simply lost in translation. All the naysayer's claims of being overly analytical, harsh or bright simply just do not exist here.

    Neil Young- Harvest. I had been playing this one on both my active systems for a couple of weeks prior to the change. Both the new re-issue and a clean US Sterling LH (CDN vinyl with US stampers) and to say I'm familiar with this album would be understatement. The kind of revelation you feel when something you know so well can give you something new can only bring a smile to your face. As it did mine. The acoustic guitar just feels so authentic, and even the somewhat overwrought orchestral passages are just so much more cohesive. There is a section in the track "Alabama" where Neil's guitar is on the threshold of feedback and that information is normally downplayed almost to the point of not being that significant, but the Black pulls it out and puts it on glorious display for all to enjoy.

    Lucinda Williams S/T. Original US first pressing. This one is recorded hot but I love the energy. The previous tendencies to at times label the recording a bit much are just not there. There is a velvety sheen to all that top end that just envelops you. You get the true sense that you are in a bar and the band is playing while you stand on the dance floor with beer in hand. The presentation is so lifelike. It was so easy to believe I was in a bar and to forget I was listening to a record. I often only play side 2 of this record and then put it away, but after hearing the gorgeous twang on "The price to pay" I flipped it over to hear the second side. And I opened a beer. All bets are off after noon.

    Bob Dylan - Desire Original US Quad pressing. Like Blood On The Tracks, I own 7-8 early/original copies of this. The album is a favourite of mine and one I am emotionally connected to. Everything here is brought to a new level of detail while never ever coming across and analytical. The boomy muddy bass solo intro in "One more cup of coffee" is for the first time, restrained and controlled yet still fully extended. The best I've ever heard it and I bought this one new on release. Desire is a tough album sonically and it clocks in at almost an hour so it has the ability to sound amongst other things, congested. The mo-fi 2 x 45 is surely the way to go but the energy here on this quad original is exceptional. There are very many instances of drumming cross-stick/rim-click that are just startling. I have heard them before but never with such realism. In one instance, I think I have now actually identified one as a hand clap!

    Surface/groove noise has never been an overbearing issue but to be fair, I have been playing clean copies. Although the early Sterling Harvest does contain some instances and I never noticed them.

    This Ortofon 2M Black is a keeper. I look forward to break in to see how it changes. I also look forward to playing noisier records to see what happens with the overall presentation. I know the Ortofon Bronze well. My best listening pal owns one and I virtually put him in a headlock and forced him to buy it. It's lovely and the real crowd-pleaser in the 2M line. The Black just extracts more from the grooves and delivers it in a refined way.

    My final thoughts are:

    Maybe it's not for everyone. If you have a truly neutral system that has little/no tendency to highlight top end and does not present "forward", this cartridge will reward you with all your heart desires. If you have owned a Black and found it unforgiving or harsh, as some seem to claim, you might want to look at your tonearm setup and/or system symmetry. To paraphrase jack Nicholson in "A Few Good Men" : You want the truth? You can't handle the truth!
     
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  23. Tom Littlefield

    Tom Littlefield Well-Known Member

    Location:
    New Hampshire, USA
    I had one in my system before my Dynavector Karat, give it at least another 50 hours or so to open up completely.

    One thing that I may suggest for your next upgrade is your Musical Fidelity V90 LPS phono stage is really not getting everything out of the Black that it is capable of. Getting a better phono stage will really open it up (-;
     
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  24. 4011021

    4011021 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brazil
    I'm working on that!
     
  25. Drewan77

    Drewan77 Forum Resident

    Location:
    UK/USA
    Yes, I agree with that comment about the V90 LPS which I used to pair with the 2M Black. I have one (in a box upstairs somewhere!) & when I borrowed a Graham Slee Reflex M through their loan scheme, the difference was substantial - clearer, more dynamic, more natural sounding, in fact more of everything!
     
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