Want to get the lowdown on the Ortofon 2M Red vs Blue? Which is better for you? Which is generally better?
All this and more today as we dissect the sonic and fiscal differences between these two great cartridges!
A quick look at the specifications of the Ortofon 2M Red vs Blue will tell you that, despite their differing color schemes, they are incredibly alike.
|Output voltage at 1000 Hz, 5cm/sec.||5.5 mV||5.5 mV|
|Channel balance at 1 kHz||1.5 dB||1.5 dB|
|Channel separation at 1 kHz||22 dB||25 dB|
|Channel separation at 15 kHz||15 dB||15 dB|
|Frequency range at – 3dB||20-22.000 Hz||20-25.000 Hz|
|Frequency response||20-20.000 Hz + 3 / – 1 dB||20-20.000 Hz + 2 / – 1 dB|
|Tracking ability at 315Hz at recommended tracking force||70 µm||80 µm|
|Compliance, dynamic, lateral||20 µm/mN||20 µm/mN|
|Stylus type||Elliptical||Nude elliptical|
|Stylus tip radius||r/R 8/18 µm||r/R 8/18 µm|
|Tracking force range||1.6-2.0 g (16-20 mN)||1.6-2.0 g (16-20 mN)|
|Recommended tracking force||1.8 g (18 mN)||1.8 g (18 mN)|
|Internal impedance/DC resistance||1.3 kOhm||1.3 kOhm|
|Internal inductance||700 mH||700 mH|
|Recommended load resistance||47 kOhm||47 kOhm|
|Recommended load capacitance||150-300 pF||150-300 pF|
|Cartridge color for body & stylus||Black & Red||Black & Blue|
|2M standard and 2M Verso cartridges weight||7.2 g||7.2 g|
|2M PnP MkII cartridge with integrated headshell weight||20 g||20 g|
|2M PnP MkII cartridge with integrated headshell length||20 g||20 g|
A large number of these similarities has to do with the fact that both the 2M Blue stylus and the 2M Red stylus are made from the same chassis, as evinced in the identical weight (not to mention many of the other identical characteristics outlined in the chart above. To differentiate them is really to split hairs, but what else is audiophilia about?
So, as previously discussed the weight of each cartridge body is essentially identical, both weighing 7.2 grams and also sporting an elliptical diamond stylus. The Ortofon 2M Blue (pictured below) features a slightly different variation of this stylus, the nude elliptical stylus.
A nude elliptical diamond stylus will be shaped from whole diamonds and will therefore be more costly than a bonded stylus which will have its diamond tips “bonded” to metal shanks before finishing. Additionally, because of their lower mass, a nude stylus will track more accurately.
For this reason, many audiophiles and turntable aficionados recommend saving money when buying a cartridge upgrade and buying the stylus itself instead of the whole cartridge, for this is one of the key differences between the two styli and why the 2M Blue is alleged to boast slightly better sound quality.
Not only will it save you money, but it will also save you the time and effort of getting out all the requisite tools for removing an entire cartridge and replacing it with another, including but not limited to a pair of pliers, and a screwdriver or Allen wrench (pictured below).
A lot of people just don’t have these kinds of tools lying around the house like they used to, but if you do and still fancy replacing the entire cartridge, it might be worth following some video guidance and buying a cartridge mounting surface, lest you do yourself an injury!
Variations on the Theme of Ortofon
At this point, it would be worth mentioning the various different variations of the Ortofon available. Sure enough, there is the Ortofon 2M Red and Blue, but even they have their own variations. The 2M Blue or Red are best described as the standard cartridges, but there are variations that are also best described as Verso and PnP.
It is plenty likely that you won’t even come across any of the other variations, though this would be extremely disappointing if you are the type of audiophile who looks to know what they are getting into – Ortofon is, after all, the manufacturer of some of the best turntable cartridges in the biz.
The standard 2M Red and Blue are the things you would purchase if you already have a top mount headshell where the screws that secure the cartridge in place are inserted at the top of the cartridge.
The Verso version of these cartridges (pictured below) is one where the cartridge is mounted from the bottom of the headshell instead, essentially intended solely for tonearms that don’t work by allowing screws to pass through the top of the headshell.
The PnP (pictured below) also does things a little differently, the niche here being that they are more or less entirely intended for use with S-shaped record player tonearms. For magnet cartridges such as these, it would be an awful shame to not be permitted to use it with an S-shaped tonearm especially as this kind of tonearm is revered highly within audiophile communities, particularly by those who are already fond of direct drive turntables.
Both the Ortofon 2M Red and Blue are incredibly simple to set up (not to mention their slight variations in the Verso and the PnP that cater to variations in the minutiae of the parts of a turntable.
As already mentioned above, if you are looking for an ever-so-slight upgrade to your current setup and want to, for example, change your Ortofon 2M Red (pictured below) to a 2M Blue, why not just change the stylus? If you have already read the list of specifications between the two cartridges, you will no doubt already be aware that they are almost identical, at least in terms of weight and general numbers.
In this way, you can just as easily save yourself the time and effort of replacing the entire cartridge with a more expensive cartridge by eliding this entirely and simply changing the stylus (which you can purchase by clicking the picture below). As you will see, it is clearly in the stylus that the large majority of the price of a cartridge lies, but you can at least forego the expense of the chassis by purchasing the stylus alone.
Red Sound Quality
This is clearly why many of you will have clicked upon this very article here today. What exactly makes these two sound different? How does this relate to their relative price on the market today?
Considering the fact that the Ortofon 2M Red is almost if not more than half the price of the Ortofon 2M Blue, the sound of the former is really good and certainly able to compete. Some have even gone as far as to say that, despite the fact that the Red is clearly the cheapest in the 2M line of cartridges, it is arguably the most fun to listen to (whatever that means). In this way, it is well-suited to live albums or records where there is a distinct surplus of organic instrumentation.
That being said, the Ortofon 2M Blue is said to be objectively better, largely due to the nude elliptical stylus that it boasts, offering a more direct connection between the record and the cartridge. However, considering the fact that aside from the stylus they are more or less the same cartridge, the overall sound is significantly different, enough to warrant shock and awe in the responses of many.
Blue Sound Quality
In contrast to the 2M Red, the Blue is said to offer an immediately more expanse soundstage, a panorama where the music and the instruments within are given more space within which to be themselves. The instruments, instead of being one pulsing mush of sound, were provided more space within which to act. This is, however, by no means to say that a more cohesive sound where the instruments are one is undesirable – think back to the wall of sound productions by the likes of Phil Spector.
For this reason, it is no wonder why many believe that the 2M Red is a more fun cartridge as it forces all of the instruments to collide in the mix in an interesting way that, when successful, can reanimate what might otherwise be a boring or dry song. Similarly, though, it’s not hard to see why people are more likely to side with the 2M Blue for its precision and attention to detail overall.
This precise quality certainly bleeds over into Ortofon’s other products like the MK2 cartridge (pictured below), for example, which is intended more as a vehicle for DJs than home listening. While the 2M Red might struggle to keep up in a DJ context, the 2M Blue most certainly could and in this way is incredibly versatile.
This precision is represented in the sheer clarity of the vocals and the music overall when compared with the 2M Red. Some like it murky and mucky, but if you are not one of them then the 2M Blue is likely the one for you.
Further Thoughts on the Blue
Something that might altogether turn off a lot of potential buyers, though, will likely be the emphasis on a bright and shrill high-end in the music.
In a certain sense, the focus on clarity and brilliance at the high-end of the frequency spectrum is something to be lauded – after all, there are far too many cartridges that provide a murky and dull listening experience that is to be besmirched at every available opportunity.
On the other hand, though, this accentuation of high-end detail might get in the way of your listening experience. Ultimately, it will depend on the kind of music you are spinning. If you are likely to listen to music that already accentuates this part of the frequency spectrum, then it wouldn’t be all that surprising if your ears became quickly fatigued through extended listening.
This is something that many believe isn’t as much as the case with the 2M Red, even if only due to the lesser amount of detail produced by the cartridge in comparison with its Blue brethren. Some even go as far as to say that the 2M Red is a more neutral cartridge than the 2M Blue with an altogether more scooped sound.
All in all, it really just comes down to personal preference and the kind of music you are likely to listen to on a more regular basis.
So, there you have it! Hopefully, you have now found out all you need to know about these cartridges and which might be best for you!
FAQs Ortofon 2M Red vs Blue
What is the difference between Ortofon 2M Red and blue?
Looking at the overall specifications of each cartridge, it can be difficult to quite tell the difference, though this will readily present itself if one pays attention to the stylus itself. Where the 2M Red uses an elliptical stylus, the 2M Blue uses a nude elliptical stylus which boasts better tracking and more nuanced sound response.
Is 2M Blue better than 2M Red?
This remains to be seen by each individual person and their sonic preferences. While on paper the 2M Blue should be better because of the more detailed and nuanced sound, this particular focus on the high-end can be grating to some and altogether quite fatiguing on the ears. It is best to try each and see for one’s self.
Which Ortofon 2M is best?
None of the cartridges in the Ortofon 2M series is better than another despite the fact that they are priced differently. Though the 2M Blue is better on paper as it boasts a clearer response, this focus on the high-end of the frequency spectrum isn’t for everyone, especially those whose musical preferences already express an intense partisan allegiance toward this end of the frequency spectrum.
How many hours does Ortofon 2M Red last?
The Ortofon 2M Red is said to last around 1000 hours without any degradation of performance – you should be able to hear when the cartridge needs replacing.