Ortofon 2M Bronze, a review

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Stefan, Jan 24, 2010.

  1. Stefan

    Stefan Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Montreal, Canada
    I thought I'd share my thought on my new phono cartridge. I picked up an Ortofon 2M Bronze on Thursday and have been playing it all weekend. After about 10 hours I have to say it's a tremendous match for my Pro-Ject Xpression II. I started with an Ortofon OM20, then switched to an Audio-Technica AT150MLX and neither of these sounded as good on my Xpression as the 2M Bronze.

    The OM20 was strong in the midrange with lots of dynamics but was nothing special in terms of frequency extension or tracking.

    The AT150MLX tracked quite well but was lean in the bass and midrange. It's top end was bright and metallic, giving a false sense of detail. It did track more detail than the OM20 but then it boosted it somewhat like Unsharpen Mask gives a false sense of detail to an image in Photoshop.

    It may be a very worn out cliché, but the 2M Bronze really is digging out musical details I hadn't noticed before. I'm hearing obvious edits in recordings that just didn't show up before. There are so many instances where you keep hearing little details that give you an impression of musicians moving in the recording space or the physical interactions of instruments, piano keys, guitar strings, sticks hitting drums. The bass is absolutely beautiful with deep, solid articulation without getting boomy. The midrange is smooth and accurate with a nice sense of realism. This extends into the highs, which are detailed but not at all harsh the way they were with the AT. In fact, the whole 2M presentation throughout the frequency range seems textured and almost holographic, with a great deal of honesty. You get the sense that it's giving you whatever info is in those grooves and without any embellishments or coloration. As I write, I'm listening to the Rhino reissue of Joni Mitchell's Blue that Steve mastered a couple of years ago, the end of the song "California." The percussion is stunning with sweet natural highs and a solid bottom end. On side one, the piano was rich and natural. Throughout, Joni's voice is natural and flowing.

    The 2M also seems to track better than the AT on sibilants. Before Joni, I tried the 30th anniversary Dark Side of the Moon and it tracks right through those tough spots on Money and Brain Damage without any harshness or break-up. I also have an old Canadian pressing of Surrealistic Pillow where the sibilants on White Rabbit were really annoying before but the Bronze pushes right through them without hiding them yet rendering them with an honesty. They're sibilants but still musical and smooth, sounding more like Grace just sang a little close to the mic.

    The background is also blacker then with the OM and AT. This is one aspect where I really think the 2M series matches the Project 8.6 tonearm extremely well. There's no sense of rumble or resonance at all. When the stylus sits down on a clean record, there's a quiet. almost comforting "whooosh" of diamond gliding through vinyl. Records with a noisy background seem quieter with any pops and clicks less obtrusive and seemingly more "detached" from the music.

    I still notice a bit of stiffness due to the cartridge being new so I can't wait to hear this thing sing once it's about 100 hours or so!
     
    Heckto35, james, John Bliss and 3 others like this.
  2. Spitfire

    Spitfire Forum Resident

    Location:
    Pacific Northwest
    I told you it would probably be to your liking. It's a good sounding cartridge.
     
    Heckto35 likes this.
  3. Deuce66

    Deuce66 Forum Resident

    I bought this one also a few months ago, my TT is a Project 1.2 - I'm very happy with it so far, it's a massive upgrade over the Sumiko Oyster that it originally came with. The bronze is probably the limit for my table; so the next step will have to be a turntable upgrade, maybe later this year.
     
  4. TigerMMG

    TigerMMG New Member

    Location:
    NJ
    I don't think so. I think your limitation is your phono preamp... not listed in your profile.
     
  5. TigerMMG

    TigerMMG New Member

    Location:
    NJ
    Upgrade your phono preamp and reevaluate all the cartridges again. Bronze will still top your expectation but with higher end phono preamp, you will have more appreciation of your lower cartridges.

    I recently upgraded my phono preamp to Rega Fono MM... and it was 10 times better than the Rega Fono Mini... which is in slightly lower priced then your 640P... but since your 640P can do both MM and MC... I wonder how well the phono preamp is... is it a $80 MM and $90 MC amp combined? As opposed to Rega Fono Mini is $145 for only MM cartridge and the Rega Fono MM is $350 for MM only.
     
  6. Coldacre

    Coldacre Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Melbourne
    that's a strange way to look at it; dividing a phono stage's dollar value in half because it handles both MC/MM :confused:



    still, good one Stefan. I'd love to throw the bronze into my TT and see how it compares with the 10x5. I've heard a 2M blue on my table and sounded really good, although a little leaner than the 10x5. I'm sure the bronze is an improvement on that.
     
  7. motorcitydave

    motorcitydave Enlightened Rogue In Memoriam

    Location:
    Las Vegas, NV, USA
    Cool review. I wish I could afford an Ortofon Bronze or Black as an alternate cart.
     
    Heckto35 likes this.
  8. Coldacre

    Coldacre Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Melbourne
    get a paper round Dave :D
     
  9. motorcitydave

    motorcitydave Enlightened Rogue In Memoriam

    Location:
    Las Vegas, NV, USA
    Get outta here...lol.
     
  10. Baron Von Talbot

    Baron Von Talbot Forum Resident

    wrong perspective, there is NO direct link between price and performance - The pricea certain item cost depends on a lot of aspects, such as how many do you sell or how much is your clientele willing to pay or a mixture of all these and more .

    As I told you before I trust the judgement of professional ears/test persons with a lot of experience and reference points - for every class they got their reference, so first they listen to a Phono Pre for a good while , then discuss in which region it might perform. Then they make long listenung session without knowing which item is playing - BT - that way you end up with pretty realistic data .. The larger model is not thousand times better, but two steps and the 640 P is smack dab in the middle of what you had before and got now...
    Around the Creek OBH 15 if you know what I mean..
    carts have the potential to surprise you - the Bronze is a giood cart the 640 is also okay for it.. Sure you could do better - a lot better, but - it will cost you a fortune and you need to upgrade the rest of your chain to the same level to really appreciate it...
     
    Heckto35 likes this.
  11. buckeye1010

    buckeye1010 Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Dayton, OH
    Thanks for the review!
     
  12. TigerMMG

    TigerMMG New Member

    Location:
    NJ
    You still haven't told me the source of all your ratings mentioned. If that is the defacto guide... it should be posted or recommended to eliminate all cartridge/phono preamp questions... at least most of it.

    It probably is two step up... yet it is a major improvement. Even you said the 640P is "okay" yet you say oh to get all of it, you gonna have to spend a fortune... like if you need to spend $2000 to really hear the benefits of Bronze... and then you probably will then said, oh yeah, your TT is not good enough for that phono preamp.

    All I was saying, he spent $389 for cartridge and he had spent $179 for 640P... which is slightly better than Rega Fono Mini... If he upgraded his phono preamp, would yeild much better performance. Borrow one if you can for all I care. Even a Creek OBH 15 for $450 is great suggestion (although I have no experience). If you recommended the Creek OBH 15, then it would be on the shopping list to audtion it. He would be shocked to hear the difference...

    Then I said, try the older cartridges while you are at it... and decide for yourself if the phono preamp should be first purchase or the cartridge should be... that is all I am encouraging... experiment and see for yourself. My word don't mean much unless he can hear it on his system. MMG is extremely revealing that my dad thought I tampered with the settings while I only switched the phono preamp. It is not just 'a tad' better... it is major (not thousand) improvement.

    As for the calculation... all I was speculating is that Rega sells MM and MC preamp separately... $350 and $450 respectively... and some reviewer raves about the Fono MC that they should have been in $800 range based on their review... and yes, it has no bearing... and CA 640P is sold for $180... so MC is 'worth' more... etc... It is a mythical number

    I do wish when I bought my TT that my Rega dealer had both Fono Mini and Fono MM for me to hear the A/B test on MMG speakers... I would have spent extra $200 for the Fono MM instead. Not all dealer can accomodate this but it would be an excellent selling tool to show the customer that it does make a difference.
     
    Baron Von Talbot likes this.
  13. OcdMan

    OcdMan Forum Resident

    Location:
    Maryland
    Great buy for sure. What's the effective mass of your Pro-Ject?

    Your impressions of going from the AT150MLX to the Bronze read a lot like mine when I went from the MLX to the long-discontinued AT155LC/ATN160ML combo. That's a bit of a relief because I haven't been sure where I'm going after this stylus wears out. I don't think I'll roll the dice again on a NOS stylus. So the Bronze seems to be a serious option. I wonder if the Bronze is, in some ways, superior to the Black? I've heard some talk of that but this in the internet after all.
     
  14. Stefan

    Stefan Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Montreal, Canada
    Indeed. My dealer sold it to me for $328 CDN plus tax!
    It's 8.6g, so according to the calculator at vinylengine.com, I'm sitting right in the middle of the sweet spot for resonance at between 8-9Hz.

    Yeah, I've seen a couple of comments about the Black being a bit more revealing of surface damage, but then again there are several other comments that the Black is just a bit better. I will say that I'm finding the 2M Bronze so far to be even better at masking surface noise than the AT. On some pressings where I knew there were pops, etc., they either aren't showing up at all with the Bronze or else they're reduced to a much less annoying level. This was the one worry I had when choosing a new cartridge. I really liked that aspect of the AT so it's a relief that the Brone is even better at it. No matter how much one cleans some records, they just aren't going to be flawless.
     
    Heckto35 likes this.
  15. Mark W.

    Mark W. New Member

    Location:
    Silverton, OR
    Something to nite here. The engine on the Bronze and Black 2M's is the same only the stylus is different. So if you own a Bronze you can buy a Black Stylus and have both with a simple no alingment needed stylus swap.

    I have been seriously thinking down the road a 2M Bronze would be one of the carts I use on my ProJect RM-5 with the 9c arm on it. I am also planning on adding a second arm pod to the table and adding a Jelco 250 S shaped arm to the table so I can have an arm that uses interchangeable headshells.

    For now I'm happy using an Ortofon X3-MC on it.
     
    Heckto35 likes this.
  16. Stefan

    Stefan Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Montreal, Canada
    Yes, I'm thinking of buying a 2M Black stylus later this year when the budget permits and keeping the Bronze stylus as a spare.
     
    SandAndGlass likes this.
  17. motorcitydave

    motorcitydave Enlightened Rogue In Memoriam

    Location:
    Las Vegas, NV, USA
    Damn good idea. Go for it!
     
  18. Liquid Snake

    Liquid Snake Member

    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    Interesting that you found the Bronze better on sibilants than the AT. In my experience, the Black fared worse on the 30th DSOTM vinyl than the AT on those sibilants. It also picks up more surface noise than the AT. Pops and clicks are about the same actually, but the Black seems to have a slightly higher level of hiss. Maybe it's just due to the different frequency response? The Black has nicer tone than the AT150MLX for sure. The metallic sounding highs of the AT have always bothered me.

    Now you have me wondering if my stylus was defective...it sounds like you've found the Bronze an upgrade in every way while I found the Black to be an upgrade in some areas and a downgrade in others.
     
    Heckto35 likes this.
  19. Stefan

    Stefan Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Montreal, Canada
    Interesting indeed. One thing I checked when I first installed the Bronze was the frequency response using a test record and it was flat all the way up to about 16-17k where it rose by 1-1.5dB up to about 20k. With my AT150MLX into 47k, there was a rise starting at 10k and reaching 6dB around 14k!, even after modding the 640P, bringing the loading down to 37k, I was still dealing with about a 3dB rise at 12k.

    What's really striking me about the Bronze as it starts to break in a bit is the transparent imaging I'm getting. I just listened to an original pressing of the Yes Album and I've never heard it sound so open or with so much space around the instruments. Funny you mentioned hiss and the Black, what I've noticed with the Bronze is that hiss seems to be higher in frequency. For instance, the Yes Album has a somewhat annoying unbalanced hiss in the quietest parts that's concentrated more in the left channel. Although the AT was brighter, this particular hiss was more spread out with the 2M Bronze and seemed to reach higher in frequency yet without being as annoying.

    As I write, I'm listening to side 1 of Marillion's Misplaced Childhood. The imaging and clarity of the cymbals is exquisite while the big synth bass notes are huge and spacious. Perhaps I just never had the AT set up as well or it wasn't as good a match for my tonearm, but this sounds much nicer to me, truly like I always imagined listening to a master tape would be like.
     
  20. Baron Von Talbot

    Baron Von Talbot Forum Resident

    I didn't want to disss you in any way Tiger - these rankings are a german HiFi mag special - Many other mags shy away from thesedirect meeasurements because of variouus reasons - Often these come out with cheaper products earning more points. But that does NOt mean that another MUST BE overpriced. They simply may use more expensivegear, sell only a fraction of the cheaper model or have more expensive wages to pay - US Europe vs China etc.
    Plus - since those test are made by humans they are not the Koran coming directly from the source iylwim..

    Another issue is that many High End Brands are simply not amused seeing their 19.000 Euro speakers ( Vuurmeister ) beaten up by a pair for 3.800 Euro.

    Also synergie and personal tae must be taken into the solution. Even those mags often tell you in a cross tst that you shouldn't just **** points and buy the Test winners or you might end up with a chain, that has no soul ..

    But yes the steps are always 5 ponts and the one that is the testers fave at that level stays in the faults for reference reasons..

    Back to the 640 - This is one of the best selling Phono Pre's and so that makes them at Cambridge audio able to sell them for a price nearly too good to be true, Clearaudio sells quite a few, too. but not a quarter of the amounts.

    With carts and speakers you have the parts in the audio chain, that are themost individual sounding.

    The Black has the expensive Shibara cut and it is made from a single diamond - that makes the price so high..

    BZw Ortofon will introduce even better (and more costly ) carts this year Cadenza Red, Blue, Bronze and Black - from 850 to 2.000 Euro and the top one winnig 93% from 100% , close to the reference cart cisting 4.500 Euro. With Cadenza it is either Red or Blacck. The Red is already that good, unless you step up your game it isn't really worth the premium from red to blue or blue to bronze...At least that is what the first reviews say.. Will be an interesting alternative although 850 Euro for a cart is madness for most of us DUAL / Technics or Project / lower REGA owwners..

    Final thought : Better a decent cart + phono pre than a killer phono pre + a lesser cart or vice versa..


    TigerMMG - Here is a 'Bestenliste" with carts

    http://www.audio.de/Uebersicht/Bestenliste-Tonabnehmer_582061.html

    stereo /audi and stereoplay are the 3 mags with rankings - various numbers and ratings but basically they all come up with similar rankings..
     
  21. Baron Von Talbot

    Baron Von Talbot Forum Resident

  22. OcdMan

    OcdMan Forum Resident

    Location:
    Maryland
    Wow, great price. And you've nailed the resonance point too. Thanks for the extra info. Yeah, the Bronze is very intriguing. I think its stylus may be more forgiving of noise and less sensitive to the stylus rake angle (SRA). I've heard on more than one occasion of people having minor problems with sibilance with the Black, and that's not including Liquid Snake's mention of it here. From what I've gathered from Peter Ledermann at Soundsmith and others, the main concern with super fine-line styli like the Black and AT150MLX is that the SRA and azimuth need to be spot-on for maximum tracking performance. Just setting the azimuth for optimal crosstalk won't be enough. The mid-line of the stylus actually needs to be perpendicular to the record surface. Oddly enough, I've never had any problems with an AT MicroLine-based cartridge on my cheap Sanyo turntable.
     
  23. Vinyl-Addict

    Vinyl-Addict Groovetracer Manufacturer

    Location:
    USA
    It is interesting that you couldn't get the AT-150MLX to track well, or at least as good as the Ortofon. I suspect your setup wasn't up to the task. I've never owned a better tracking cartridge than the AT. It tracks better than my Koetsu RSP and Koetsu Black, and the Shure V15.
     
  24. Stefan

    Stefan Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Montreal, Canada
    Oh my AT was tracking well. I'm just noticing that the Bronze seems to handle some situations better.
     
    Ortofun likes this.
  25. Spitfire

    Spitfire Forum Resident

    Location:
    Pacific Northwest
    My experience is that the AT150MLX and the 2M Bronze track about the same.
     

Share This Page