Want to upgrade my cartridge from 2m blue to black


My first post here on the forums and I needed an honest opinion. I have a cheap music hall mmf 2.2 turntable with 2m blue installed. I like the sound but was wondering if I can get better details from upgrading to a black cartridge on my basic turntable. Would it be worth it? I’m definitely an analog lover but am budget constrained. Any feedback will be greatly appreciated.
tubelvr1
If is has a better stylus profile then it will be an upgrade for sure.
The styli are interchangeable between Blue and Black ?
If yes just go for it (just the stylus)
The 2.2 can certainly benefit from a better cartridge. I'm not familiar with the Ortofon cartridges, so can't say how much of an improvement the specific upgrade you're thinking about will make. I have a Nagaoka mp500 on my 2.2 and it sounds really nice. I wouldn't spend crazy money on that table though, you might be better off spending that money getting a 5 series or 7 Series Music Hall second hand and putting the cartridge you have on it. My 5.1 sounded better with a $50 AT95e on it than the 2.2 with the mp500 on it. 
Yup, most definitely table first and phono stage second.
 I’m definitely an analog lover but am budget constrained. Any feedback will be greatly appreciated.

It seems like other folks ignoring your statement about " budget constrained", cartridge is the most important in your situation, change the stylus profile first, this is the most cost effective solution to upgrade the quality. You can always use your upgraded cartridge on another turntable. 

I have a local friend with similar cheap belt drive, he changed M2 Red to Stanton 881s mkII and it was huge improvement in sound quality without changing anything else, later he has bought a better phono stage, but still using the same turntable (Pro-Ject). 
Chakster, Where is the OP gonna get a used 881s with a good stylus? There's a couple on eBay of unknown quality. While I acknowledge the quality of the cartridge, it's not really viable advice.
I would not put a 2M Black on that turntable; that's a 750$ cartridge with a Shibata tip, not interchangeable with the Blue stylus. I  agree that you should get a better table first instead of just a different cartridge. Or maybe just get the 2M Bronze which is the next one up the line and only a little more than half the cost of the Black.
@naromance

Chakster, Where is the OP gonna get a used 881s with a good stylus?

It was not an advice to buy Stanton 881s, but just an illustration of how this particular turntable (or any turntable) benefit with a better cartridge. Turntable just rotate the record, but cartridge extract the music from the groove. Yes, this is a cheap turntable, but the cartridge is far more inportant of the owner does not have money for a new turntable which is probably $1700-2000 minimum.

@bsmg

I would not put a 2M Black on that turntable; that’s a 750$ cartridge with a Shibata tip, not interchangeable with the Blue stylus.

Are you sure ? This is Blue and this is Black stylus.

Why do you think they are not interchangeable ?

Here is a comparison chart of all models in 2M line. The difference is cartridge inductance (700mH for Blue and 630mH for Black), 1db higher channel separation for Black and 0.5mV higher output for Blue.

Why do you think the Black Shibata can not be used on 2M Blue cartridge body instead of Elliptical?

What’s the reason to say that ?

We’re talking about stylus replacement, not a cartridge replacement. The stylus cost is not as high as the new cartridge cost. If you are comparing a price of a new turntable with a price just for a new stylus the difference is huge!
You should be able to find a used Music Hall 5.1 for less than the cost of the cartridge you're considering and that will be a more significant upgrade than adding a better cartridge to that table. 

That table is decent, but it has inexpensive feet, a cheap tonearm, and not much (if any) isolation or mass in the plinth.  It does not handle bass very well, it tends to sound a bit "tubby". 

The 5.1 has much better isolation and a better tonearm and will sound much "tighter" and overall better than the 2.2.  No matter how good of a cartridge you put on the 2.2 you won't change the inherent problems the platform has.
chakster I do not know if it's physically possible to switch a blue stylus with the black stylus. I just would not do it. Besides, the cost of the black stylus is within 200$ of the cost of the entire cartridge (stylus 570$, cartridge with stylus 755$), I would still advise the OP to get a 2M bronze to replace the blue; it costs about 450$
@bsmg he could ask any Ortofon dealer about it online. 

@tubelvr1 If the Black stylus is so expensive i would recommend Ortofon M20FL Super with nude FineLine diamonds. Great cartridge that can be find NOS for about $200-300 or even for a lower price. Seach on audiogon forum for user feedbacks. I still have NOS stylus for it, but i don't have cartridge body. 
Ortofon’s site says the black stylus can be swapped into a bronze body but does not mention any other swap. You need to be wary of NOS old cartridges; the stylus suspension can / will deteriorate and become stiff over time.
The Black stylus can be swapped into any of the 2M bodies the difference is that the "better" ones gets selected for the Bronze and Black - the runts for the Red and Blue.  The electrical specs are listed as 1.2kOhm for the Bronze and Black - 1.3kOhms for the Red and Blue.

Be careful pulling the the wire leads of the 2M series the cartridge pins can pull out if the clips are too tight.  

Good Listening

Peter
 You need to be wary of NOS old cartridges; the stylus suspension can / will deteriorate and become stiff over time.

It happended only with 2-3 cartridges out of 60 that i've tried, and those carts with bad suspension are Technics EPC-100 and EPC-205 series. 
Thanks everyone for all your suggestions. My maximum budget is approx $700 so I thought this would be a worthwhile upgrade to my analog play back. I understand the limitations of the turntable and I am told the black is very critical in picking up noise from dirty vinyl. I will also be using gruv glide to treat my vinyl collection.
I picked up a near new 2m black for $350 right here on the Gon.

Pretty darn spectacular for the price. Did not compete fully with my higher dollar lomc carts but a very worthy modern mm cart for sure.

You can use it on later better tables/arms without worry of it being outclassed.
I am told the black is very critical in picking up noise from dirty vinyl.

That's not true. First of all i assume you play NEW vinyl, not a 40 years old vintage vinyl or not? So why do you expect noise on a new vinyl and why do you think a new vinyl is dirty by default ? 

If you play old vintage vinyl (like i do) the Shibata, LineContact, MicroRidge are so much better than Elliptical, because it can ride on a virgin part of the groove walls, not damaged by previous owner with Conical or Elliptical stylus decades ago. 

With Shibata, LineContact, MicroRidge stylus profiles you can only improve the sound quality compared to Elliptical profile. This is upgrade anyway. A lifespan of those styli are much longer! 

Read more about different types of styli here

Only digital aficionados are talking about noise coming from vinyl. 

$700 is fine for a great cartridge, but probably not enough for a good turntable and definitely enough for both, so you can do step by step. 

I would recommend to look for new Technics released this year:

SL1500s with build-in phono stage and phono cartridge ($1399 in the USA) or SL1200MK7 for $1199 in the USA.  



You are not getting the most out of your Blue. Upgrade the table/arm.
You can upgrade components all your life and still not get the most out of your vinyl :) 
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The 2m black will need to be properly adjusted to get the most from it with shibata stylus. If you cannot adjust both your stylus rake angle and azimuth properly you will be wasting your money.  If your confident in adjusting those 2 parameters and overhang with tacking force. You will hear a difference.
The OP's turntable Music Hall 2.2 is almost like Pro-Ject Debute Carbon designed for use with Ortofon 2M Blue or Red, those turntables suplied by the manufacturer with Ortofon cartridge as optimum and cost effective solution. It's a low budget turntable.

There is absolutely no need to change a turntable if the OP would like to upgrade it right now, all he need is just spare stylus with better profile, that's it. The stylus from Ortofon Black can be used with his Ortofon Blue cartridge. 

It's not a problem to make perfect alignment of any cartridge on this turntable/tonearm. I did that for a friend, but his choice for upgrade was Stanton 881s mkII (much better than any Ortofon MM). It was huge upgrade in quality compared to Ortofon Red. 

Some posters should really turn on the common sense here

P.S. I told my friend that he could sell his Pro-Ject in the future to buy more expensive Technics DD, but he's just fine with his Pro-Ject and the music sound good in his system, there is nothing wrong with that types of turntables for people who don't want or not ready to buy a better and more expensive turntable. They are happy to spend more on the records. 



 
The cartridge for the red and blue stylus is the same. The cartridge for the orange and black is the same but different and an upgrade to the red/blue cartridge. An orange and black stylus will fit into the blue cartridge but you will not get the best performance from that cartridge.  I had a Music Hall 2.2 and installed the orange and it was great...still have it for my Prime. I suggest you get the orange now it will be a noticeable improvement and then later you can just replace the stylus to the black either for your 2.2 or a new turntable that you will most likely get in the future. 
No, the Ortofon black stylus cannot be used with the blue cartridge body. This according to the Ortofon website. They list two swaps for the blue cartridge stylus; one is the 2M silver. I can't recall the other one but it wasn't the black. The site plainly states on the detail page for bronze and black cartridges that those styli are swappable. The detail page for the blue cartridge does not show the black being able to fit the blue body. If you want to take a chance on ruining a nearly six hundred dollar stylus, go for it.
Common sense is that a good table with an entry level cartridge will sound better than an entry level table with a good cartridge.

You could get a pretty nice second hand turntable for the $755 the 2m black would cost and put the blue on it or more than likely find a turntable with a similar quality cartridge already on it.

I did a lot of upgrades to My Music Hall 2.2. The acrylic platter, a speed box, a nagaoka MP 500 cartridge. At the end of the day my music hall 5.1 with a $50 AT95 cartridge sounded better. Not that the 2.2 is a bad turntable, it's not. I still have mine and enjoy it in another system.

My read of the original poster was that they have a limited budget and want to get the best sound quality. The money they are considering spending on a cartridge upgrade would be better spent on a decent turntable. They could spend less and have better sound quality by replacing the turntable instead of the cartridge.

A note of caution is that the wires on the tonearm on the 2.2 are very flimsy and break easily.
No, the Ortofon black stylus cannot be used with the blue cartridge body. This according to the Ortofon website.

I think you have no idea what you’re talking about, no matter what stated on the Ortofon website, here is a comparison chart of all models in 2M line. The difference is cartridge inductance (700mH for Blue and 630mH for Black), 1db higher channel separation for Black and 0.5mV higher output for Blue.

Another user also commented about it:

The Black stylus can be swapped into any of the 2M bodies the difference is that the "better" ones gets selected for the Bronze and Black - the runts for the Red and Blue. The electrical specs are listed as 1.2kOhm for the Bronze and Black - 1.3kOhms for the Red and Blue. @pbnaudio 

@big_greg

Common sense is that a good table with an entry level cartridge will sound better than an entry level table with a good cartridge.

This is BS and i already explained how big is the improvement of the Stanton 881s mkII instead of the Ortofon 2M Red on the same cheap turntable called Pro-Ject Carbon. I’ve heard it myself, did you ever tried just to swap a cartridge ? Or you’re always buying a new turntable for each cartridge ?

Entry level cartridge can not sound better on more expensive turntables, cartridge pick up the signal from the record, not from the turntable. A cartridge rides in the record groove. Turntable just spin the record. If a person has just $700 for upgrade why do you advice a new turntable for the same shitty cartridge ?

We can talk about new turntable with much better tonearm if the budget is $2000, but not a $700 (the stylus replacement is cheaper than $700 anyway).

For a better sound a person can upgrade cartridge, turntable, tonearm, phono stage, wires, speakers and to make room treatment ... but this is not the case of this topic !

We can start from room treatment for anyone, but in this topic the OP just looking for a new cartridge or stylus and what you’re posting here is nonsense.

Of course a new stylus with better profile will be an improvement for any good working turntable. And Shibata stylus is an improvement over Elliptical stylus. All he need to do is to buy a STYLUS from the top model for his cartridge body. This is the quickest and most cost effective solution for his system at the moment.
bsmg

As I describe above, any of the 2M styli is mountable on the two "different" body types - which physically are the same.  The "differences" are electrical, the "better" ones go to the Bronze/Black series the "lesser" ones to the Red/Blue

Take a look

https://systems.audiogon.com/systems/4923#&gid=1&pid=16

https://systems.audiogon.com/systems/4923#&gid=1&pid=17

The "Difference" between the Red/Blue - Bronze/Black is the 2M logo red vs Gold SilkScreen, and it sounds fantastic :-)

One Caveat when working on the 2M series, be very careful pulling the leads of the pins, a slight design flaw with them is that they are smooth so if the clips are too tight - the pins can pull out of the body destroying the cartridge.

Good Listening

Peter



I will stick with what the Ortofon engineers have published; you buy the ticket and take the ride. chakster states I have no idea what I'm talking about "no matter what the Ortofon site says" and then refers to a comparison chart from the Ortofon site. I have that chart myself since I have a bronze cartridge. Electrical specifications are separate from physical attributes......maybe the pole pieces in the black and bronze are not the same as in the blue and red. Or there could be a dozen other differences in physical attributes. But I don't know what I'm talking about.....I used to know one thing, but I forgot it. 
This is BS and i already explained how big is the improvement of the Stanton 881s mkII instead of the Ortofon 2M Red on the same cheap turntable called Pro-Ject Carbon. I’ve heard it myself, did you ever tried just to swap a cartridge ? Or you’re always buying a new turntable for each cartridge ?
Did you read what I wrote?  I own the same turntable the OP has and have put a really nice cartridge on it (along with other upgrades - an acrylic platter and Project Speed Box)- the Nagaoka MP500, Nagaoka's $700 top of the line MM cart.  I also owned a Music Hall MMF 5.1 and even with an entry level cartridge ($49 Audio-Technica AT95) it sounded better than the 2.2.  It's actual experience, not stuff I'm making up as you appear to be doing, since you don't seem to have any actual experience with the turntable being discussed.
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@bsmg

I will stick with what the Ortofon engineers have published

This is for marketing purpose only, read what Peter replied to you, i believe he’s experienced with both carts and styli if you will click on the link in his post (you will see).

All cartridge generators of 2M are identical 99%, you see what’s the difference if you have comparison chart yourself, but why you keep telling us they are different? If you’re afraid to swap the styli it’s your own problem.

@big_gre

I own the same turntable the OP has and have put a really nice cartridge on it (along with other upgrades - an acrylic platter and Project Speed Box)- the Nagaoka MP500, Nagaoka’s $700 top of the line MM cart. I also owned a Music Hall MMF 5.1 and even with an entry level cartridge ($49 Audio-Technica AT95) it sounded better than the 2.2.


If you like a $49 Audio-Technica AT95 cartridge better than completely different $700 Nagaoka this is all about the cartridge you like, and your personal preferences in sound, not about turntable! Turntable does not have a sound as much as the cartridge in entry level Hi-Fi system. You can keep buyin’ turntables for your cartridges, but i will buy cartridges for turntables/tonearms, not vice versa.

But the question is not Me or YOU, the question is the cartridge for the OP, he did not asked what is a better turntable. I currently have 6 very expensive turntables, 6 toneamrs and 20 cartridges, so what?

When i swapped and aligned Stanton 881s mkII on friend’s Pro-Ject (nearly identicall to OP’s Music Hall turntable) it was a huge improvement over the 2M Red and my friend was happy to buy Stanton 881s MKII because this is exceptional MM cartridge, read here about this cartridge if you don’t know, it’s $350 cartridge which is much better than $700 Nagaoka and many other modern MM crap. Stanton was Doug Sax's monitoring cartridge for his famous disk mastering. The 2M Red will never be a better cartridge, no matter which turntable you will buy for it.

@viridian

Some have not been in the hobby long enough to understand that someone’s first hand experience may be contradictory to another’s experience.

This is all fine, but as i told you we could start from the room treatment and all our listening experience will change immediately. You can also mention an electricity as a pure energy and so on and on. But there is only one thing that can dramatically change the sound of the OP’s entry level Hi-Fi system - this is a cartridge. You can’t buy much better turntable with tonearm for $700 and even when you will buy it (second hand) the next thing you will come to is a cartridge. For $1500-2000 he could buy a better turntable and better cartridge, but for $700 he could buy ONLY better cartridge or for about $500 a better stylus for his existing cartridge.
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Hi Peter! Thanks for reminding us about pulling the plugs off those pins on the 2M series. I totally ruined a Red when I tugged on a plug to remove it and the back of the cartridge pulled out with it, and then  (the horror!) I saw those super fine coil wires with it! Arrrrghhh!

Friends: BE VERY CAREFUL if you decide to de-install a 2M cartridge when pulling the plugs off the pins!!! Do not allow the back of the catridge to pull out as you do so!

Suffice it to say I decided not to replace the Red, but I still have my Black.

And thanks for setting the facts straight about swapability of the styli across the 2M line.
I would never buy a used cartridge unless I knew the person I was buying it from.
@bsmg just stick to your Ortofon if you don’t want to discover much better MM cartridges from the past. They are available in NOS (never used) condition, sometimes even factory sealed and still cheaper than those Orotofon models you’re using. As i said earlier in my own experience only 2-3 samples out of 60 different cartridges i’ve bought have had some problems and all of them came from professional re-sellers who never really care about the qiality test or simple check, some of them know nothing about the cartridges and willing to quickly re-sell them. It’s important to understand who is the seller (an audiophile like us or just a businessman). BUT Luckily paypal buyer’s protection is always on the buyer’s side, full refund always quaranteed (including retunr shipping) even if the seller said "no return". Absolutely no risk for the buyers, but can be time-consuming.

Astatic MF-100 MF (Moving Flux with LineContact stylus) NOS available right now from Japan just for $280 on ebay, bargain! I remember when Raul swear it’s one of the best
@viridian 

And I will respectfully disagree...  

With turntable and tonearm like yours you're indeed free to disagree, you sold it as i can see, hope you can buy a coreless direct drive to forget about the "sound" of turntable forever.

Personally i use only DD truntables of the highest class, they are all dead quiet and does not have their own sound signature, they are rather similar than different, but the choise of tonearm does make a different. However, the analog system sound as good as the cartridge is.  
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I’m reading great back and forth between all the analog audiophiles on this forum so let me restate my question in a different way and please give me a honest and straightforward answer...

If I install the 2m black cartridge (with black body) on my mmf 2.2 and properly setup vta, vtf, azimuth, overhang etc. will I be able to at least extract 90% of the 2m blacks potential in performance? If so I will be satisfied and go this route. Later if I have the money I can invest in a higher quality table. So let me know what you guys think.
You should see a benefit by putting a better cartridge on that table. How do you quantify what percentage of improvement?

Your money could be spent better, but it's your money and your choice. 

The bass will never be as solid on that turntable, the background noise will not be as low, the details of the music won't be as present as they would be on a better table. The turntable matters more than the cartridge. 
tubelvr1, if you put a 2M black cartridge on your table and it's properly set up you will get much better sound than you are getting with the blue cartridge. I subscribe to the philosophy of Andy at Vintage Tube Services: "I would much rather have a mediocre amplifier with good tubes than a high end amplifier with cheapo tubes." Perhaps not exact wording, but the concept holds.
If I install the 2m black cartridge (with black body) on my mmf 2.2 and properly setup vta, vtf, azimuth, overhang etc. will I be able to at least extract 90% of the 2m blacks potential in performance?

No, you will never get the quality of 2M Black (Shibata stylus) with 2M Blue (Elliptical stylus), no matter which turntable you’re using. Your cartridge is already aligned by the manufacturer on your tonearm, right ?

If you can’t properly extract the bass and hight from the vinyl groove how a better turntable can compensate it to you ? The music cut with a cutter head, the closer the stylus profile shape to a cutter head the more accurate and more impressive is the reproduction of the record in your system. This is rule number 1.

Because the ONLY component that physically ride in the vinyl groove is the stylus tip (diamond), nothing else.

You already have an optimal combination of the cartridge and tonearm, this combination selected by the manufacturer.

The Ortofon designed those cartridges to put them in line from cheap to expensive according to the quality level a customer can get with each model. With MM cartridges it all depends on the stylus profile.

The reason why Black is more expensive than Blues is much more compliacated stylus profile of the Black, not a cartridge generator, the generator is the same.

Do yourself a favor, ignore what some people are posting, they really know nothing about cartridge design as i can see. And their logic is very strange, more like a perversion.

You can learn by your own, just read this thread to understand why stylus profile is so important to extract maximum musical information from vinyl:

https://www.vinylengine.com/turntable_forum/viewtopic.php?t=22894

You’re using the cheapest stylus now, Conical and Elliptical are the cheapest profiles. Elliptical is entry level profile, conical is the worst ever!

The more advanced profiles are LineContact type, there are many:
Hyper Elliptical, Shibata, Stereohedron, Van Den Hul, F.Gyger, MicroLine, SAS, MicroRidge .... they are all High-End (nude siamonds, not bonded)

Why do you think so many different profiles have been designed?
Just to make the sound of your vinyl much better, to be more polite with your records in terms of record wear, and to serve you much longer. All you need in case with MM is just to change stylus.

-Elliptical stylus life span is about 500hrs
-Shibata stylus life span is twice as much !
-MicroRidge stylus life span is about 2000 hrs

Turntable has nothing to do with your record wear factor, frequency response of your cartridge and your vinyl grooves.

Turntable can make a rotation of the record more stable, one turntable can be better isolated from vibrations, tonearm can have better bearings etc, but all these things in your case is irrelevant if your cartridge has entry level stylus profile. The most noticable different (if you willing to spend no more than $700) you will get ONLY by upgrading a stylus profile on your cartridge (or with completely different cartridge) first.

Later you can upgrade your turntable for $1200-1500 (look for new Technics DD released this year, just don’t buy another cheap belt drive).

Here is my system (before i changed the apms).

P.S. actually you can get much better cartridge than 2M Black just for $280 (new) here


 Hopefully I can offer you a definitive answer as I have gone through them all, in a manner of speaking..
I started off with a 2M Red on an SME3009s2i fitted to a Transcriptors Hydraulic reference that I had rebuilt, you can see my reaction to the sound on YT at Transcriptors Hydraulic first play if you're interested.
The day after I made the video I upgraded to a Blue stylus as it was obvious the TT/arm combo was good enough to warrant it, I was very pleased with the upgrade.
A few months back I saw a company selling the 2M Bronze cartridge at an unbelievable price to clear them, just over £200, I ordered one with a plan in mind as I will reveal.
It was my plan to sell the brand new stylus, which I did for about the same price as the cartridge cost me and then use the blue stylus in the bronze/black body. My reasoning being that all the blue styli I would ever buy would benefit from the superior body.
The improvement over the stock blue was so marked I ended up biting the bullet and buying a black stylus at their promotional price of £300. Am I happy, oh yes I am, it was an absolute pig to set up correctly but well worth the effort and expense.
So definitively, you can interchange all the 2M styli and bodies, mess the geometry up however and it may well sound worse than your blue, very fussy stylus profile methinks.
Oh yes, video on YT of the deck with the black cartridge for comparison, see 'Psychedelic Transcriptors'.
Hope that helps you.
Just noticed this comment.

'The reason why Black is more expensive than Blues is much more compliacated stylus profile of the Black, not a cartridge generator, the generator is the same'.
  
That is not correct.
The 2M black body is made of a different material to that of the blue, there are also component differences inside. Silver wire for example.
The 2M black body is made of a different material to that of the blue, there are also component differences inside. Silver wire for example.

Where the heck did you get this info ?

Have both cartridges and many more - they are identical

Good Listening

Peter
tubluvr1....I (again) recommend you start with the 2M Orange cartridge and stylus. This is a great upgrade for your MH 2.2. The Orange is a nude fine line stylus and much easier to set up on your tone arm. The Black Shibata requires more nuanced set up, especially azimuth which the 2.2 arm doesn’t allow.  The Orange’s cartridge/engine is the same as the Black. You can always and easilychange to the Black stylus only later when you are ready...probably when you get a more refined turntable. I think the Black is overkill with the 2.2 and the Orange is a great upgrade. I added the Orange on my MH 2.2. When I sold my MH I put the original cartridge/stylus back on and kept my 2M Orange, which I have on a second arm for my VPI Prime. It sounds great on that turntable too, although I mostly use my Lyra Delos MC cartridge. Good luck!
Can your phono-pre amp do mc?
I have mastered and am able to control photons of light. I can stand in front of a mirror and not see a reflection if I choose. And there is absolutely no noise at all while this is happening.
tubelvr,

A cost effective, simple upgrade would be to go with the 2M Bronze stylus on your current 2M body....The 2M Bronze is not as picky as far as setup as the 2M Black and much lower price for the stylus. I would second the idea of NOT ever buying a used cartridge/stylus unless you know the seller well. And Yes....as stated many times here and on AnalogPlanet.com, the Red/Blue bodies are the same and Bronze/Black is different internally and the body is made of a different less resonate hybrid material than the Red/Blue...BUT any of the 2M series stylus will fit any 2M series body. Next I'd consider a different phono stage. 
@chrisoshea.. I finally took your advice and took the plunge and ordered a bronze stylus for my blue cartridge. As you and others here have posted it should fit my cartridge so hopefully  it works out ok.  I’m excited to hear the improvements over my blue. And thanks to everyone for their great insight, helped me to come to a decision.