Ortofon TA 210 vs Jelco 750

... or: sometimes you pays more and you really does gets more. 

Those of you you who are unsurprised by this statement don’t need to read any further. Rather, this post is prompted by those who have asserted that the Ortofon is “just a Jelco”. I thought a note based on direct experience might be useful.

The back story: I lived for a while with the Jelco as a way to afford a TW Acustic table. In time, I replaced the Jelco with TW Acustic’s own tonearm. I was curious to dip my toes into the world of SPUs, so I reinstalled the Jelco — the TW Acustic table can run two tonearms — to run a GM E. I found the SPU to be warm and a bit fuzzy, but not at all as impressive as the SPUs I had heard at the dealer. I assumed that the magic came from running more expensive SPUs into transformers. I was happy with the TW Acustic arm and decided not to pursue things further. 

Noting my thoughts some time later to the dealer, he ventured that upgrading the tonearm would be a big step forward. I’ve learnt to trust Jeffrey. So I bought the Ortofon 210 12” and replaced the Jelco.

First appearances might disappoint. The Ortofon certainly looks like a Jelco. Even the packaging appears very similar. But then the details become apparent: first of all, the finish of the Ortofon is so much more polished — an impression that carries over to the sound. Installation is easier and more accurate because the jig provided is better. The counterweight system is similar but better suited to SPUs. The arm moves more smoothly. Simply put, it feels more expensive. 

In terms of sonics: the GM E that sounded a bit dull and crude on the Jelco has come to life. There’s a great sense of momentum and drive. The thwack of a drum stick against the rim sounds like wood against metal. The pluck of an upright bass billows. Horns blat. I see a lot more jazz, big band, soul, and funk records in my future. 

Should anyone be shocked that a tonearm that costs four times the other sounds better? Of course not. The Jelco is fine value. And I’m not for a moment saying that the Ortofon 210 is better than the Schick, or the EMT, or even Ortofon’s other arms. But saying the Ortofon is “just a Jelco” is just a bit silly. 
Have you tried some other SPU cartridges ?
Maybe SPU Spirit Ltd or SPU Royal ?

As much as you impressed with slightly better arm from the same manufacturer you will be surprised how better can be a different SPU model, not only in finishing, but actually in sound quality. Only if you like SPU by default. 
You raise a good question, to which the short answer is no. I intend when next at the dealer to bring my GM E and compare against his suite of SPUs, including those with replicant profiles. I don’t know yet whether there’s something uniquely special to SPUs or I would enjoy just as much some low compliance 1/2” mount alternatives. At this stage, all I know is that my SPU experience has gone from “meh” to “ok, I get it”.
I don’t know yet whether there’s something uniquely special to SPUs or I would enjoy just as much some low compliance 1/2” mount alternatives.

Definitely nothing special in GM E in my opinion, but the Royal with Replicant was superb in my system. The SPU Spirit is rare and unique because of the very special coil wire. There are so many different SPU, so i gave up. 

Fidelity-Research FR-7f or PMC-3 or the rarest FR-7fz . they are great alternative to SPU. Highly recommended if you willing to try some other low compliance cartridges that your dealer can't offer :) Specs for the best FR models here

A cantileverless Ikeda maybe ? 

My cartridge of the month is Miyabi MCA  

Chakster, do you have any experience with Soundsmith cartridges? I’m attracted to the theoretical advantages of moving iron and the low retipping costs. 
I do not retip cartridges, i'm buyin' another sample or different cartridge. Retipping or refurbishing rare vintage cartridges by someone else is not what i like.

The SoundSmith are not low compliance (my recommendations here are about low compliance only), so it's another story, he's been making cartridges for Bang & Olufsen for decades (OEM). But i'm sure SS are good if you want to limit yourself with new cartridges only (and a good service). For myself i'm looking for original styli to extend the life span of my favorite vintage MM or MI, no problem with that. I've been able to find (in time) original NOS replacement for my favorite high compliance Grace or mid compliance Audio-Technica and Victor. Service is not a problem as i don't need it. Also with many cartridges in rotation the life span of each one is already extended.  

The Ortofon has a piece of rubber in a slit on the armtube which may help elevate its sound quality.