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Choosing the Best Ortofon Cartridge: A Detailed Breakdown

by Crawford Moore 30 Jun 2024
Choosing the Right Ortofon Cartridge Article banner

Introduction to Ortofon

Ortofon, founded in 1918 in Denmark, is a renowned manufacturer of high-quality audio equipment, particularly phonograph cartridges. Over the past century, Ortofon has been at the forefront of innovation in the audio industry, consistently producing products that meet the highest standards of sound quality and reliability. Their commitment to excellence has made them a trusted name among audiophiles and professionals worldwide.

The Evolution of Ortofon Cartridges

Early Innovations

Ortofon's journey in cartridge manufacturing began with the introduction of their first moving magnet cartridge in 1969, which utilized the Variable Magnetic Shunt (VMS) system. This technology was revolutionary at the time and laid the foundation for Ortofon's future developments in cartridge design.

The Birth of the 2M Series

In 2007, Ortofon introduced the 2M Series, a line of moving magnet cartridges designed to provide high-fidelity sound and ease of use. The most notable feature of the 2M series cartridges is their upgradability. These cartridges possess a removable stylus assembly, that can be upgraded to any stylus within the same line. The series was developed in collaboration with Danish designer Møller Jensen, whose expertise in industrial design helped create cartridges that are both aesthetically pleasing and functionally superior.

The Concorde Series for DJs and Audiophiles

The Concorde series was first introduced in 1979, specifically targeting the DJ market. Its unique design and robust performance quickly made it a favorite among DJs worldwide. In 2018, Ortofon released the second generation of the Concorde series, further enhancing its performance and durability.

In 2024, Ortofon introduced a groundbreaking expansion to their renowned Concorde series, specifically designed for S-shaped tonearm turntables and home stereo use, rather than for DJing. This new addition caters to the needs of high-fidelity listeners, offering exceptional sound quality and maintaining the iconic Concorde design.

This new Concorde series is based on Ortofon's acclaimed 2M series cartridges, renowned for their outstanding performance and sound clarity. By integrating the same upgradability, technology, and color scheme, Ortofon ensures that users can easily identify each cartridge's standing within the product line. This visual consistency simplifies the selection process, allowing users to choose the perfect cartridge for their specific audio setup.

The Ortofon Color Coding System

Ortofon's color-coding system is a unique feature that helps users easily identify the quality and characteristics of their cartridges. This system is particularly evident in the 2M, Concorde, and Cadenza series. The colors not only signify different performance levels but also guide users in selecting a cartridge that best suits their needs.

The 2M and Concorde Series: A Closer Look

Ortofon Concorde Music Blue Moving Magnet Cartridge

Ortofon Concorde Music Blue Moving Magnet Cartridge

Ortofon 2M Bronze Moving Magnet Cartridge

Ortofon 2M Bronze Moving Magnet Cartridge

The Ortofon 2M and Concorde series are designed for audiophiles seeking high-fidelity sound. Each model in this series is color-coded to indicate its performance level and stylus type:


The entry-level model, the 2M Red and Concorde Red, features an elliptical diamond stylus that offers balanced and dynamic sound quality. Reviewers praise its performance for delivering a robust bass response and clear midrange, making it ideal for listeners new to vinyl or those who want a high-quality cartridge at an affordable price.


The 2M Blue and Concorde Blue improve upon the Red by providing a nude elliptical diamond stylus, which delivers greater detail and resolution. Audiophiles appreciate the Blue for its ability to reveal subtle details and nuances in the music, offering a significant enhancement in clarity and soundstage without a significant increase in cost.


The 2M Bronze and Concorde Bronze feature a nude fine-line diamond stylus, which tracks the grooves of the record more accurately, resulting in a more nuanced sound. This model is lauded for its precision and detail, providing a refined audio experience with a more extended high-frequency response and punchy dynamics. It is best suited for audiophiles who demand higher precision and detail in their music.


As the flagship model, the 2M Black and Concorde Black use a nude Shibata diamond stylus, known for its exceptional ability to extract the finest details from the record grooves. Reviewers highlight its superior tracking ability and expansive soundstage, making it the ultimate choice for those who seek the highest level of audio fidelity.

Black LVB 250

A special edition, the 2M Black LVB 250, commemorates Ludwig van Beethoven's 250th birthday. This model features enhancements, such as an improved suspension system, that provide even greater performance. It is celebrated for its remarkable clarity, depth, and precision, making it a contender for the best moving magnet cartridge on the market for serious audiophiles who want the best possible listening experience.

Banner image for the Cadenza Moving Coil Cartridge Series, showcasing Ortofon's color scheme hierarchy for cartridge product lines

The Cadenza Moving Coil Cartridge Series: A Detailed Inspection

The Ortofon Cadenza series offers a range of high-end moving coil cartridges, adhering to their color hierarchy, each with unique characteristics to cater to different audiophile preferences.

Cadenza Red

The Cadenza Red delivers a relaxed, homogeneous sound with a touch of warmth. It features a nude fine-line stylus on an aluminum cantilever and uses 6NX pure silver wire for the coils, offering excellent channel balance and stereo imaging. Reviewers appreciate the Red for its smooth and engaging sound, making it a great choice for those who enjoy a natural and inviting listening experience.

Cadenza Blue

The Cadenza Blue provides a balanced sound with high detail resolution. It features a nude FG 70 stylus with a ruby cantilever, known for its precision and tracking ability. Audiophiles commend the Blue for its ability to render detailed and dynamic soundscapes, providing a lively and immersive audio experience that captures the intricate details of recordings.

Cadenza Bronze

The Cadenza Bronze is a high-end reference cartridge that conveys music with supreme precision, impact, and dynamics. It uses a Replicant 100 stylus and a conical aluminum cantilever, making it ideal for those who seek a rich and detailed sound. Reviewers highlight the Bronze's exceptional ability to reproduce music with great accuracy and depth, offering a powerful and articulate sound that satisfies the most discerning listeners.

Cadenza Black

The Cadenza Black is the flagship model in the series, featuring a nude Shibata stylus on a boron cantilever. It offers unparalleled auditory clarity and detail, capturing every nuance of your favorite recordings with breathtaking accuracy. Critics and users alike praise the Black for its extraordinary resolution and transparency, providing an unrivaled listening experience that reveals the full potential of high-quality vinyl records.

How to Choose the Right Ortofon Cartridge

Choosing the right cartridge depends on several factors, including your listening preferences, the type of music you enjoy, and your budget. Here are some tips to help you make an informed decision:

Determine Your Needs

Are you a casual listener, or a dedicated audiophile? Understanding your needs will help narrow down your options.

Consider Your Equipment

Ensure that the cartridge you choose is compatible with your turntable and phono preamp. Ortofon cartridges are designed to work with a wide range of equipment, but it's always good to double-check. Explore a variety of turntables and phono preamps available to ensure compatibility.

Set a Budget

Ortofon offers cartridges at various price points. Decide how much you are willing to invest and determine which model offers the best value within your budget.

Think About Upgradeability

If you plan to upgrade your system in the future, consider starting with a model that allows for easy upgrades. The 2M Series, for example, offers a range of options that can grow with you as your audio preferences evolve.


Ortofon's color-coding system for their 2M, Concorde, and Cadenza series cartridges simplifies the selection process and ensures that users can find a cartridge that suits their specific needs. Whether you are a casual listener, a dedicated audiophile, or a professional DJ, Ortofon provides a range of options to enhance your vinyl listening experience. Explore more about these products on the Ortofon Brand Page and discover the perfect cartridge for your turntable.

By understanding the nuances of each model, you can make an informed decision that will bring out the best in your vinyl collection. Ortofon's commitment to quality and innovation continues to set them apart in the world of audio technology.

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