Ortofon 2M Red Not Happy Need advice


I just got myself a 2M red. was not able to audition, many of the local shops don't have lower models mounted or identical double turntables for comparison. I went with my gut and dropped a minimal amount of cash on it, figured $100 what is the worse that can happen. Well, I am thoroughly disappointed.

I picked it up since I thought my cart was worn and I needed something to tie me over until I get something serious. My old cart is a Grace F9 Ruby and it beats the pants off of the 2M. I have not let the 2M burn in, but there is such a huge difference between the level of detail between the two carts that I really don't think I can stomach the 2M burned in or not.

The 2M sounds muddy, bright, and is lacking detail big time. Jazz at the pawnshop, take five sounded nice, especially the bottom end but everything else was wrong. Jimi Hendrix came on next, bold as love and little wing were used to audition. Wow, Voice is horrid and the guitar solos made me want to leave the room.

The one thing I can say, surface noise was minimized with the 2M, I think this is due to its inability to pick up detail. I thought my f9 was worn, but it sounds A1 in comparison.

What now, upgrade to the blue? I don't get a refund, otherwise I would take it. Dealer doesn't carry audio technica or denon for the 440 and 160 cannot be exchange candidates. I am seeking a warm and detailed sound. What do you guys think? Should I be more patient and wait for burn in, or is that an uphill battle? Hope to hear from you, thanks.

PS: dealer carries: Dynavector, Ortofon, Lyra, Grado and a couple of others.
dfelkai
The Grace I had was so totally smooth I can understand the disparity. Here's where your setup chops will be called into play - you must examine the stylus for proper alignment, Azimuth and SRA.

You'll need a magnifier of at least 5x. Putting it close to playing position, make sure the Azimuth is proper \/ and not even slightly twisted. A problem here can be corrected a few different ways, like spacers, etc. You are aligning the stylus to the groove which is the most important thing.

Checking for SRA you can put the stylus down on the very outer edge of the record (not spinning) and check the DIAMOND (not the cantilever) and see if it points down with only a degree or 2 of positive angle, or pointing toward pivot.

I've seen many out of spec cartridges under magnification, don't assume the manufacturer is 100%.

If these check out ok, the only thing I can think of is bringing the VTF to max and break it in some more, or get a Denon dl-160
Did a baerwald on it; I think it is pretty well aligned.
Cartridges are sensitive the capacitance load they see. That makes the choice and length of cables from the turntable to preamp important. Some preamps allow for easy adjustments to input capacitance.

Even after that adjustment, some cartridges and preamps are just better matches than others.

Or you may simply prefer the sound of the Grace. Like speakers, a cartridge is a mechanical transducer that changes the motion induced by the ripples in plastic into electricity. There are a lot of variables in that process!

I've got an older Ortofon OM-10 and it is a good match in my system.
I have (3) Grace F9E cartridges and will never sell them. I just had one retipped at SoundSmith, (the $250 SoundSmith ruby version retip) and it's even better than ever. IMHO, the Grace F9E was one of best MM ever made and I've heard just about all of them. I say send it to SoundSmith and be happy forever.
try the Blue or Bronze.Both are wonderful!

Larry
Hi,
you say:
>>> there is such a huge difference between the level of detail between the two carts <<<
and
>>> The 2M sounds muddy, bright, and is lacking detail big time <<<
I have a small problem with "muddy" and "bright" all at once, but lets see.

All the above suggestions are valid, yet I have heard far to little on the VTA/SRA being gone into.

Firstly what stylus does your Ruby have? If is a 'parabolic' type (now more often Shiabata, etc.) and it sounded good, I suspect your VTA was arm down from level, (1 - 1.5mm?) that's what this type of stylus most often likes best.

Next look at your 2M Red, and there we do know it is an 'elliptical' stylus and those like arm up (positive SRA/VTA). If I'm right, then those two carts are diametrically opposed in their VTA/SRA setting requirements.

This could mean a difference of 4mm or even more that with the 2M Red the arm *could* need to go up!
If you are not aware of this and you are trying within a much narrower range, you would not come right.

It is just a hunch, since I can not find the stylus spec for your Grace, as it is rather old --- but considered one of the top MMs, still by today's standards (I'm told).

Greetings,
Axel
Interesting thread, I also have a 2M Red and find no real fault with it. I would certainly describe its 'sound' as slightly euphonic, but rather pleasant. Indeed it makes some rather worn records in my collection sound quite good! I wouldn't call it a totally 'accurate' cartridge but I find it quite 'nice sounding'. I wonder if your sample is faulty in some way. Regards, Fap.
Re Axel's good comments, the Grace F9E and F9E Ruby (I'm assuming it is the E version) had an elliptical stylus. However, based on my experience with both, and on what I recall reading from way back when, VTA/SRA needs to be set for it with the arm considerably down (i.e. down at the pivot end).

Also, the Grace is specified for a load resistance of 100K, while the 2M is specified for the usual 47K. I don't know what value you are using, or how significant a difference it would make, but I thought I'd call it to your attention.

That said, it's not surprising to me that a cartridge costing $100 in today's dollars would be outperformed by an all-time classic, which cost upwards of $200 in the early 1980's. TAS awards notwithstanding.

Regards,
-- Al
So, you bought a bottom of the line cartridge with a bonded stylus and aluminum cantilever and it doesn't sound as good as your nude mounted stylus on a ruby cantilvered top-of-the-line cartrdige. We'll just have to call Colombo on this one.
Hi,
there we go, as Almarg says:
>>> on what I recall reading from way back when, VTA/SRA needs to be set for it with the arm **considerably down** (i.e. down at the pivot end). <<<

The same I had presumed, and then I was just going to post what Raul had to say about the same cart:
>>>... only the Grace Ruby and F9E and Sonus Gold Blue likes a **negative VTA** <<<

So there we are, and as suggested, that "2M Red" wants **POSITIVE** VTA, a pretty different setting from your old Grace Ruby.

Now for Viridian's comment: ... have to call 'Colombo' on this one.
OK, that Grace might be 'a bit long in the tooth' also as it was mentioned.
Furthermore, a top of the line (1980) Empire S1000 ZE/X, and plenty others used aluminium cantilevers -- AND even their 'nude' options often used just a dab of bonding on top.
That '2M Red' is made by people the must have learned just maybe a bit the last 30 years, that THEY make MM carts also, is that fair to suggest?

So, Dfelkai just before all wind up in a panic, move your arm first to level, and then add 2 or 3mm by going higher and try to find your (new) sweet spot.
I'd be blasted if that cart can't get going that way.

Greetings,
Axel
" So, you bought a bottom of the line cartridge with a bonded stylus and aluminum cantilever and it doesn't sound as good as your nude mounted stylus on a ruby cantilvered top-of-the-line cartrdige. We'll just have to call Colombo on this one."

You are right, so right. I got the cart from my old man, and he got it in a trade over 20 years ago. He told me that he used it for about an hour before reverting back to his supex cart. It was used for 30 hours when he got it, hardly broken in. It is a little noisy, and my inexperience lead me to believe perhaps the suspension is gone on it. I think I was wrong.

I believe the Ruby retailed for $300, in 1980 dollars, not sure though.

As for the VTA, yes 3 mm did help, but the adjustment yielded a minor improvement, in my finds eye (or ear).

A buddy of mine bought the 2M Blue at the same time as me, I tried it last night. I am not going to lie when I say that the difference between the Red and the Blue is negligible. Am I just crazy, or does it sound like many of the same flaws from the red carry over into the blue? has anyone else done an A/B like I have, if so what have you found?
Hey! Patience, just a little.
Now you got the VTA closer, and now it will have to run for a bit.

I often found myself 'through the baby out with the bath water'.

Any of those MMs likes at least a couple of hours to settle in.

Maybe your friend's 'Blue' was also setup with the wrong VTA?
Raul has a saying: **NO Plug&Play** (with an MM)
Do not underestimate some trial and error required.

Axel
Well, I am disappointed by the 2M red and Blue. I see lots of hype and no results. Even my girlfriend was able to pick out the grace f9 when I blind tested her. I think I might call the cash I dropped on it a sunk cost, as I the shop doesn't carry anything I am interested in apart from an entry level dynavector.

As a side note, it can easily become more expensive to experiment with bogus cartridges then to just drop the cash on something nice to begin with. Shops these days hardly have analog listening rooms, and the chances of having two decks set for an A/B on carts that are properly mounted is virtually impossible. I would have hoped that I could trust the reviews I have been reading, but I have been let down.

The hunt continues, I am going to seriously consider soundsmith for a retip (when needed). I am curious whether or not they can do something about the suspension as well.
It's not easy to buy steak on a hamburger budget.
" It's not easy to buy steak on a hamburger budget."

You can say that again, looks like I got taco bell meat instead of hamburger meat. This cartridge would make a sad and weak bbq!
I believe the Ruby retailed for $300, in 1980 dollars, not sure though.

That's not too far off. I just pulled out my original purchase receipts :). In 1980 I purchased a non-Ruby F9E for $169 plus tax. In 1983 I purchased a ruby stylus for it as part of a complete turntable/tonearm/stylus upgrade package, so I don't know what the price was for the stylus itself, but iirc it was about $100.

Regards,
-- Al
U wanna donate the red 2 me? I would love 2 try it
Donate, no. Sell maybe, but I don't think we can talk about that in here, I would have to post the item for sale. Arrangements can certainly be made if you wish to exploit my loss.
Viridian has the best response so far... Try comparing this (after it beaks in!) to another cart in the same price range before damming it so much. So the ruby sounds better even after it breaks in, it is still not available new. If I read another post about someone discussing any audio component's sound before it breaks in I'll puke.
Half kidding i went shure 97 curious 2 see how 2m rates
G'day mate, funny that you should ask hat as that's precisely my situation, as I've taken my 2M Red out of service (some time ago) and replaced it with one of my three (working) M97xE's.

The 2M Red is a nice cartridge, but I like the M97xE better! Regards, Fap.
gimme some more on the 2m red vs m97xe. I am particularly curious about the detail/accuracy, and harshness.

Though I agree that at these price ranges we shouldn't be splitting hairs.
" Viridian has the best response so far... Try comparing this (after it beaks in!) to another cart in the same price range before damming it so much. So the ruby sounds better even after it breaks in, it is still not available new. If I read another post about someone discussing any audio component's sound before it breaks in I'll puke. "

people overrate "break in". It is perfect for dealers to use that excuse, it is quite convenient. Speakers: okay some of the glues and moving rubber etc... can break in and change character via fastness. Caps: take a mininal amount of time to heat and set (minutes). Wire burn in: is the biggest joke I have ever heard. Wire burn in is even funnier then wire direction, Like the electrons follow road signs on the outside of the cable. Now for the cart, yeah I can see how the suspension break is a real physical phenomenon but 100 hours give me a break! I think temperature would affect the suspension much more then that period between 30-100 hours. It is a rubber part after all.

I'll give it the benefit of the doubt, and wait a week and do another comparison and post on the boards for the sake of accuracy and full disclosure.

Yeah I know that there is a difference in price. Let us quantify this. $300 1984/1985 dollars carried forward at the average annual rate of inflation (3.5%) for 25 years. 300*(1.035)^25=708.97 today dollars. So yes I realize this, but all the hype for this cart is for nothing, Same goes for the Blue. We shall see if "break in" can change my opinion. I hope you are right and I am wrong but I have my doubts.
Hi Dfelkai
re.: cart break-in (the rest is more 'complex' or call it woo doo).
All I can share is that I simply have noticed that MM carts take for some reason some break-in time. In fact much older broken-in? carts taken out of the system seem to take at least ~ 1 day to come right again.

I must say, that I have not noticed this kind of thing with my MC carts. I have in fact a suspicion it has some more 'electrical' than 'mechanical' reason.
Maybe some expert out there may be able to shed more light on this.

Axel
PS: maybe you want to go over this "Red" test and actually find confirmed what you hear: http://www.mds975.co.uk/Content/vinyl07.html
>>06-21-09: Dfelkai
Arrangements can certainly be made if you wish to exploit my loss.<<

Exploit your loss?

It's a $99 cartridge not 100,000 shares of General Motors stock.

UFB
See Bill-

I told you that you were funny.
97 is detailed but in a relaxed mellow way
>> "Exploit your loss?

It's a $99 cartridge not 100,000 shares of General Motors stock.

LOL!!!!! Yeah dinner for 2 sounds like a better investment to me then this cartridge.
I wish I could short cartridges, shorting this one would be almost as nice as a short position in GM 6 Months ago.
06-23-09: Phasecorrect
97 is detailed but in a relaxed mellow way
... if dull as dishwater is your idea of "relaxed mellow". :P
97 far from dull just not in your face non~fatiguing bro
I bought a Dynavector DV XX2 MK2 and it sounded bright and etched till I got about twenty hours on it. After that, all I can say is wow, what a great cartridge.
I agree with Utahusker; same company but different cartridge.

Out of the box a Dynavector XV-1t was terribly grainy and shrill.

It calmed down after about 10 hours.

I find this common across the entire line excepting the 10X5 which doesn't seem to evolve much from the first play.

Dealer disclaimer.
I would have to admit, you seem to be one of few who is NOT happy with the ABS "Product of the year". But this hobby is very much all about taste, and taste is per the individual. Some prefer a nice bean burrito from Taco Bell, and some don't. Enjoy whatever makes you happy! Peace
No surprise, most people who buy that cartridge are rising through the ranks, not taking a few steps back. I'ts okay, you may have paid a little extra for the attractive body enclosure, marketing ? The blue, now a person is passing up some strong runners in that price range. I have a DL160, still entry level, but a good performer. Forums mention the DL110 is not giving up much to the DL160 and is a better buy $ for $. Another cartridge that people overlook when on a budget is the LP Gear Deft II, it's hyperelliptical & $99. It's my mainstay for the ever changing 2nd system decks I go through.
All I know is the 2m Red is not in the same league as the Grace F9 Ruby. They are both light years apart. It eill take you a whole lot more $ to better the F9 ruby.
Slowhead, I'm a bit new to vinyl, so forgive my ignorance in advance :) Do you feel the DL160 has enough output to run with a Bellari 129 as a phono stage? I have heard so much good press on the 160, that I would love to give it a shot. Thanks!
According to other threads I've read here about the Bellari, its gain is too low (29 dB) for the DL-160's output (1.6-2.2 mV). If you can swing the extra bucks, I highly recommend the Audio Technica AT150MLX instead: It has a 4+ mV output which is a better fit, It has the same basic tonal balance as the DL-160 (I own both), it pulls more music out of the groove at a lower tracking weight (it's better in every way), and once you buy it, the cost of ownership is the same as the DL-160 as it has a replaceable stylus available from LPGear for $179.95.
Thanks John, I have looked into the Audio Tech and it seems like a lot of cart for the money! I will be giving it a shot and let you guys know what I think. Thanks again!
Defelkai

If this thread is still alive, one thing I noticed is that no one asked what phono pre amp you are using? Just curious as I recently upgraded to a much smoother preamp and it was night and day, even with "cheap" carts like the 2M Red.
What preamp did you buy?
I had a Bellari and took a chance on the Graham Slee Era Gold V. Very nice!
I can speak for Dave, he has an extremely smooth tube phono-pre. The exact brand and model escapes me now as it is an obscure make. But I assure you that it is high calibre.

And yes most cartridges shine with it. But unfortunately not the 2M red.
Pre is good, Cartridge not so much.
BTW, Axelwhal as regards your comment,

"AND even their 'nude' options often used just a dab of bonding on top."

A bonded tip refers to a smaller diamond chip being bonded to a slug of metal, that whole assembly being attached to the cantilever. A nude mounted diamond, is a diamond that has a shank that is part of the diamond and is mounted directly to the cantilever. Both methods of mounting typically involve the use of adhesives. A bonded tip typically is of lower quality and the metal usually involves greater tip mass. That is why the Blue, which is a nude mounted diamond is the more expensive cartridge. Glad to clear that one up.
Is there a cartridge around $100 that is readily available that is clearly better than the Ortofon Red?
What's the best pair of $100.00 shoes? It's a matter of taste, and mine would be to the much less expensive Audio Technica AT120E, but if you like a lush, full sound, the Grado Red might be attractive and for a little more scratch the Denon DL-110 is a very fine low output MC. Some like the Shure M97xE as well, it is a bit dark, but a fine tracker and very arm tolerant.
Like usual, an excellent post Viridian. So it is not a "BAD" cartridge.
Viridian,

I have not seen shoes for 50,000 but there are cartridges for 50,000. If it was possible to wear the 2m reds as shoes maybe....no I change my mind: it still wouldn't be worth it. You would need 2 of them...I would opt for the Nike.

I don't listen to the sound/dollar ratio, my ears don't adjust based on the cost of the cart.

That being said, perhaps I expected too much out of this little budget cart, or maybe it just doesn't work well with my system...there are many that like it you be the judge.

Dfelkai, here you go, Nikes for 50K, but that's for the pair.

http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/464084/nikes_50000_sneakers_solitaire_kicks.html