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BEWARE!!!! (The flimsy Ortofon cartridges)

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Lucabeer View Drop Down
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    Posted: 16 Apr 2019 at 8:38pm
Today I had the brilliant idea to put my Ortofon 2M Black on a better headshell than the generic Technics-like I was using.

I started removing the lead wires from the cartridge... 1, OK. 2, OK. 3 and 4... Bl##dy hell!!!!! While gently removing the leads with the tweezers, the blue and red pins CAME OUT of the bl##dy cartridge.

At the age of 44, and with a certain experience in handling cartridges (I have installed at least 8 of them), this is the first time it happened to me.

At first I blamed my clumsiness. Then I googled, I saw that at least 4 other guys around the world have had the same misfortune with the 2M series. It seems that the b#ggers at Ortofon have the funny habit of not securely attaching the pins to the plastic cartridge body: they are just stuck in, and connected to the innards via a thin wire. So when you remove the leads, if you pull a bit too much, the pins get loose and the internal wire gets broken. And putting the pins back doesn't fix it: the cartridge is broken for good.

I am extremely disappointed with Ortofon's build quality: first the stylus guard that broke after 2 months (and it seems that it happens to everyone sooner or later), and now this.

I have written to Ortofon, and I'll see what they'll reply. But judging from previous replies to the other owners who had the same accident, it looks like I'm stuck with it because Ortofon refuses to fix it if the warranty period has elapsed.

Soooooo... lesson learned, now what will I do if Ortofon refuses to repair my cartridge?

1) Sell the stylus to someone who already has a 2M Black or a Bronze (and then forget Ortofon forever). My stylus has 280 hours on it, so it still has plenty of life left. How much could I ask for it?

2) Buy a 2M Bronze (much cheaper than a Black), and keep using my Black stylus on it, keeping the Bronze stylus as replacement


If I choose option 2, I have the option of getting the cartridge pre-mounted on an Ortofon shell. I have a Technics SL-1210 MKII: do the premounted Ortofons work well? I see that the Ortofon headshell is rather heavy....





Edited by Lucabeer - 17 Apr 2019 at 5:41pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote patientot Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Apr 2019 at 10:02pm
I've heard of this happening, but mainly on the Ortofons with the integrated headshell. Seems like a bad design just waiting for problems to happen. Never experienced it with any cartridge myself, but then again I don't use newer Ortofons. The only cart from the brand I have here is a vintage F15E which is not in use ATM. Hope you get it sorted out. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Graham Slee Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Apr 2019 at 12:22pm
Originally posted by Lucabeer Lucabeer wrote:



If I choose option 2, I have the option of getting the cartridge pre-mounted on an Ortofon shell. I have a Technics SL-1210 MKII: do the premounted Ortofons work well? I see that the Ortofon headshell is rather heavy....





First, I'm sorry to hear about what happened.

Second, I am now glad I bought a pre-mounted black (as you are contemplating). I use it on my SL1200 II but it is so heavy I have to use the screw-in accessory counter weight in the back of the arm.

Otherwise all sounds good.
Not simple enough for Google-Bot to understand...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Lucabeer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Apr 2019 at 5:32pm
Ortofon hasn't replied yet, and I doubt they will: after all the cartridge is 5 years old, and completely out of warranty (even if a mishap such has happened should not happen even after 20 years).

This morning I called a couple of cartridge repair guys (very well known in the business, real historical figures with decades of experience in retipping and repairing). Both said: "don't bother, it would cost you more than what the cartridge is worth, and that cartridge is not meant for open-heart repairs. We would have to ask you 80-100 EUR to do such a precision work. And Ortofon themselves would just chuck it away and sell you a new body, they don't fix such industrial grade products".

It makes sense of course... So today, I went to my current retailer (I hadn't bought the Black from him, didn't know him at the time: and by the way, he likes Graham Slee products even if as a choice he usually uses and sells mostly valve amps), and he proposed me a good price for a new Bronze: 300 EUR.

Considering that on Amazon just the bronze STYLUS costs 230... it is definitely equivalent or cheaper than trying to repair my old body. I have saved the Black stylus, and now I will be able to swap between the two.

And guess what? I am listening now to the stock Bronze stylus, and I can't find anything lacking compared to the Black. Same dynamic sound, a bit clinical and aggressive, but exciting. And the suspension still has to break in.

And can I say one thing? It seems to my ears that the Bronze fineline stylus picks quite a bit less surface noise than the Black Shibata... which was one of my two "complaints" regarding the Black. I am listening to Sinatra's Swinging Session right now, an old LP that has been played a lot by my father before me (and with cheap piezos...), and it sounds FANTASTIC: no crackle and pop at all. Try that with the Black!

I'll report later on this... but it seems that the Bronze at half the price of the Black is not "half the cartridge" at all...

PS I got the Bronze WITHOUT headshell: the dealer said that the cost saving was consistent, and that in his opinion that Ortofon shell is too heavy for the Technics arm and the compliance of the cartridge. It would work, but very much at the limit of acceptable resonance range.






Edited by Lucabeer - 17 Apr 2019 at 5:54pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote patientot Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Apr 2019 at 6:27pm
I'm not surprised by your experiences with the Bronze. A lot of people say it's their favorite of the line and the biggest bang for the buck. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Lucabeer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Apr 2019 at 7:58pm
Yes, and it strikes me as very funny. Because, you know, Hi-Fi is an expensive hobby. And I have a lot of other expensive hobbies too, by the way.

But sometimes there are "epiphanies". I had never considered Technics turntables, in spite of having had my disco/rave years. Then once I read Graham saying great stuff about the 1200, I bought a used one and it still is my turntable.

It's an expensive hobby, yes. But after some time, one learns to judge with his own ears.

I often laugh when reading reviews saying stuff like "compared to XXXX, this XXXX2 is a revelation, it's miles apart. It's like having Scarlett Johansson in your bed". Usually, said sentences are written to justify twice the cost for a (presumed) 5% more of theoretical performances.

Having working ears helps, though. And having a TASTE for a CERTAIN kind of sound helps too. I have started trusting my own ears and only them. And this, for example, is a reason why I am a customer of Graham's since 2009, and I have returned. Because I like what I heard the first time. And I liked it the second time. And on and on.

Now, of course since I have some money to burn, I tend to gravitate towards (reasonably) expensive quality products. I said "reasonably", because my grandfather came from Genoa, and we have a reputation worse than that of the Scots and the Dutch. But exactly for this reason, I like being blasphemous and saying it out loud when I hear a product that plays as good as a more expensive one. And in spite all of the bells and whistles from the reviews. Wink

Or it might simply be that in the vinyl world, sometimes "too analytical" can be a bad fault... and a less revealing (cheaper!) cartridge might actually strike a sweeter spot.

(I am not a native English speaker, so I hope I have conveyed what I meant!)


Edited by Lucabeer - 17 Apr 2019 at 8:00pm
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