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Ortofon 2M Black Moving Magnet Phono Cartridge Review

Sunday, June 12, 2022


$695.00. Available from various online retailers or via your local dealer.


Flagship moving magnet model from famed Danish cartridge manufacturer. Notable for it’s Shibata stylus and reviews proclaiming it to be the best moving magnet cartridge made today.

Specifications (from the manufacturer)

Output voltage at 1000 Hz, 5cm/sec. – 5 mV
Channel balance at 1 kHz – 1 dB
Channel separation at 1 kHz – 26 dB
Channel separation at 15 kHz – 15 dB
Frequency response – 20-20.000 + 2 / – 0 dB
Tracking ability at 315Hz at recommended tracking force – 80 µm
Compliance, dynamic, lateral – 22 µm/mN
Stylus type – Nude Shibata
Stylus tip radius – r/R 6/50 µm
Tracking force range – 1.4-1.7 g (14-17 mN)
Tracking force, recommended – 1.5 g (15 mN)
Tracking angle – 20°
Internal impedance, DC resistance – 1.2 kOhm
Internal inductance – 630 mH
Recommended load resistance – 47 kOhm
Recommended load capacitance – 150-300 pF
Cartridge colour, body/stylus – Black/Black
Cartridge weight – 7.2 g


Cartridge was mounted on a vintage Technics EPA-100 tonearm with Technics SH-100 detachable head shell, using a tracking force of 1.5g and a SRA of approximately 92 degrees. An AudioQuest Wildcat tonearm cable was used and connected to a Manley Chinook tube phono preamp, which was set to 45 db of gain and loaded at 47K Ohms.


Where a good moving coil cartridge can impress with eery air and delicateness, the best moving magnet designs impress with big sound and sheer fun. This cartridge is well-balanced and does most everything well. Maybe a little boring at times.

Treble is nicely integrated and has great extension. Not the last word in nuance, but for a moving magnet design, is quite nice. Mids and voices are very very good. Tuneful and non-fatiguing. Bass is plentiful and goes deep. Maybe a little overly pronounced on ripe systems.

Compared to the Ortofon 2M Red moving magnet cartridge ($99), which is on the opposite end of the 2M line, the 2M Black is clearly superior in every way. The 2M Red is a great bargain cartridge but sounds somewhat opaque compared to the 2M Black. Also, the inner groove distortion performance of the 2M Red is not great due to its less sophisticated stylus profile.

Is the 2M Black worth seven 2M Reds? Yes, yes it is.

Fun fact: Ortofon says the 2M Black and 2M Bronze styli are interchangeable, and the 2M Red and 2M Blue styli are interchangeable. Technically, they are all interchangeable, in that they all fit one another. I actually mounted the 2M Black and occasionally put the 2M Red stylus on the 2M Black body when playing beat up records or I just want some background music. It works and preserves the life of your expensive Shibata stylus!