Review: Ortofon FF 15 C MK II Cartridge

Category: Analog

While rummaging around in my stash of long ago put away items,came across this phono cartridge. If memory serves me correct, I got this from a guy in Germany that was blowing them out at $17.00 each. This was a year ago or so.Anyway NOS Ortofon at that price, why not? So ordered it and when it came in, just put it away for future use as a back up or whatever.

Anyway last week had to service the Rega by putting on new cartridge clips. Anyone who has done this, knows what a total pain in the butt that job is.

So after that job was done, I was kicking back relaxing and the Ortofon FF15 C MKII came to mind. Decided to install the Ortfon as I had not heard one of these in years and hear what the sonics offered.

The Ortofon FF15C MKII is a standard half inch mount and mounting and set up was straight forward, nothing unsual encountered in set up. Set overhang and VTF at 1.5 grams.

Spun the fist disc a Chuck Mangione Lp "Feels So Good". The Ortofon came to life and played very well, but nothing really out of the ordinary to speak off.Nice and pleasing and certainly worth the palty $17.00 plus $6.00 shipping spent for it. So while doing a web search on the Ortofon found that the recommended VTF was 2 grams as it had a spherical stylus. Okay - reset the Ortofon for 2 grams. Holy crap what a total difference .5 of a gram makes on this cartridge, the FF15 C MKII literally sprung to life. All of a sudden the depth, sound stage, and separation were beyond all expectations I had previously heard with this Ortofon. It clearly paled the At 440ML,and Grado Red and was giving the Shure M97Xe a run for the money in overall execution of sonic signature.

No this venerable Ortofon FF15C MKII does not redefine the MM phono cartridges, nor is it near a high output MC in sonic signature. With that being said the FF15C MK II plays music with total authority and takes a back seat to damn few MM phono cartridges.

List of Lps used below:

Bob James - Hands Down (Columbia FC 38067)
Hiroshima - Self Titled - (Arista MFSL1-525)
John Coltrane - Blue Train - (Blue Note BST 81577)
Wes Montgomery - Bumpin' - (Verve V6-8625)
Rickie Lee Jones - Self Titled - (Warner BSK 3296)
Wynton Marsalis - Live Blues Alley - (Columbia PC2-40675)
Eric Gale - Forecast - (KUDU Records KU 11)(CTI Records)
Kenny Burrell & Grover Washington Jr - (Blue Note BT 85106)
Earl Klugh - Finger Painting - (Blue Note MFSL 1-025)
Larry Carlton - Friends - (Warner 23834-1)
Sadao Watanabe - Autumn Blow - (Inner City IC 6064)
Doobie Brothers - Minute by Minute - (Warner BSK 3193)
Santana - Zebop - (Columbia FC37158)
Pat Metheny Group - American Garage - (ECM 1-1155)
Frederick Fennel - Cleveland Symphonic Winds - (Telarc 5038)
Paul Desmond/Jim Hall - Complete Recordings - Mosaic(MR6-120)

Turntable is a Rega P3 with the RB 300 tone arm with JA Michell counter weight. Using Deep Groove sub platter and Iron Audio Acrylic Platter.

This has been my first experience with an Ortofon cartridge since the debut of the X5 a few years ago, which was a high output MC cartridge. I didn't keep the X5 very long as it was not my cup of tea, way to analytical for my tastes. It is not fair to comapare these two against each other, but I can safely say to my ears the FF15 C MKII has a signature that is by far more pleasing to me than the highly touted X5 from Ortofon.

These are not hard to come by. A search of on line auctions show that many FF15 models are available and many are NOS and prices remain more than acceptable. Keep in mind there are several different models of the FF15 and the XE version has the ellipitical stylus.

I would say if just getting back into vinyl or want to set up a second turntable, the Ortofon FF15C MKII should be on your short list. For what it costs and the performance it delivers, in my opinion it has no peers.

Every once in awhile something like this comes along to make this hobby more than enjoyable. For me this little jewel is a keeper. I have since reinstalled the Denon MC phono cartridge. But should something go wrong with the Denon, the Ortofon FF15 C MKII can respond to the situation nicely.

Associated gear
Click to view my Virtual System

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I am using an Ortofon FF15XE Mk II on a Pioneer Pl-L1000. It playes very well with classical music. Anything you throw at it will play with a neutral tonal balance. Heck!