For you vinyl audiophiles : I broke my Ortofon 2M Blue and the sound got better?!
Jun 11, 2013 at 1:18 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 6

mirkodog

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SO, I thought I'd post this because I found this to be extremely interesting.  Last weekend, I broke the needle on my Ortofon 2M blue.  (silly in moving my equipment without very good lighting and my clumsiness).  I was very bummed out given that the stylus replacement on this cart goes for about 200 bucks.  This was my only cart, and I had no back up and I was in a bit of a bind last weekend in wanting to listen to some new records just purchased...SO, I got a little creative: What I did was I pulled the broken stylus off the 2M Blue cart and literally pulled the needle right out of the stylus housing.  I did this by using tweezers and tugging on the needle and cantilever until It pulled out.  The cantilever was completely snapped and there was no way to repair this.  I figure I'd save the diamond tip right? Which for this cart, was a nude elliptical diamond. 
 
I then went to the record shop and they had some crappy stylus needles (generic elliptical diamond tipped needles) all for a whopping 17 bucks.  They didn't have the 2M blue replacement stylus, but they had some 2M reds.  I passed on getting a 2m red stylus for 100 bucks and just picked me up the 17 dollar stylus.   I was interested in hearing audiotechnica cartridges and also picked up a 39 dollar cartridge.  An AT311EP. 
 
When I got home, I took tweezers and pulled the needle and cantiliever out of the replacement stylus housing(because it was incompatible with the 2M blue cartridge), and then I inserted the needle taken from the replacement stylus and inserted it into the 2M blue stylus housing (done carefully to have it aligned).  
 
I run the 2M blue with crappy needle on a Project Debut III turntable into a Pioneer SC-09 TX, B&W Speakers, and Audio-technica ATH-W1000x headphones.  When I played my 17 dollar fix, it seriously sounded amazingly good for what I just did.  I was actually really surprised, but then I wasn't, given that all a needle does is pick up the vibrations of the record (so does it really mater if its a hundred dollar nude diamond or a 17 dollar stylus).  I did my listening with and without my headphones.  Amazed at how good it sounded. 
 
I then decided to check out the audio technica cart.  I installed it and listening to the same music at the same volume. Result: no contest.  The 17 dollar stylus shoved in the 2M Blue cart still won hands down. So I put that back on my system.  Aligned and balanced it all out. 
 
Since I have a habit of converting my vinyl records I purchase to 96KHZ/24Bit Flac, and because I had a recording with the previous cart I thought I would do a A/B comparison of the digital file.  I use Audacity to do my sound capture straight in with no post processing on all my files....using a Asus Xonar Essence STX.  I did this for a same piece of music I captured with the original 2M blue that had a 200 dollar stylus.  Im already dragging this out, but in short, I actually liked the 17 dollar flac file better!!!! WHAT!!!? 
 
I also wanted to look in more detail and did a spectral analysis and compared the same measure of music of the two files using Audacity.  Result: the 17 dollar fix file took the frequencies to 31Khz, while the original only went up to 21khz.  Not that you can tell really unless you have dog ears, but there is still a distinct difference in the sound between the two.
 
Here are the results of the two 96/24 flac files (one with original nude diamond, the other with cruddy 17 dollar needle).
Hope you don't mind the music preference, I can do this with jazz, but decided on some rock. 
 
Original nude diamond 2M Blue flac file here:
https://www.yousendit.com/download/WFJXRm93NDROQng4SjhUQw
 
17 dollar fix on the 2M Blue  flac file here:
https://www.yousendit.com/download/WFJXRm96aytuSlFsYzlVag
 
Conclusion:
The replacement stylus on the 2M blue cart is simply not worth the money.
 
I would post the attachments to the spectral plots but this editor wont let me.  Well, I thought I'd post this to save a penny or two for somebody else out there and share this experience.  This also brings up an interesting question: are 4,000 dollar stylus worth it?  LOL!!!!
 
Mirko
 
Jun 11, 2013 at 8:46 AM Post #2 of 6

penmarker

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There is a lot of variables in determining the quality of sound through turntable. Maybe the stylus+cantilever you bought is just so happens to be a good match with your Ortofon Blue.
 
Also the AT311Ep is really just a $30 cartridge so it's not much of a performer at all. But comparing that to the original stylus, that's really something.
 
Did you buy the Ortofon Blue new or used? Maybe the stylus is already worn through time.
 
Jun 11, 2013 at 10:34 AM Post #3 of 6

mirkodog

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Hi there penmarker, the ortofon blue was purchased brand new. Only a few months or so old. You may be correct in what you said about the replacement stylus. Just lucky good match.....but still. Starting to think the entire cartridge industry is bit of a sham. Physics controls. As long as you have something that fits In the groove, and vibrates with it, it doesn't matter what the material is.
 
Jun 11, 2013 at 1:24 PM Post #4 of 6

penmarker

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Can you provide some pictures from the stylus and the original assembly?
 
You're right about the snake oil business, so many people are willing to drop $10,000 for a cable for it's warmth, but declines from using EQ because they don't want to listen to artificial signatures.
 
One thing to be caution is if your replacement stylus is just a maybe 0.003 x 0.007 tip, it might not be able to squeeze itself trough the difficult passages and will be "pinched" out from the groove. It may provide you with the same frequency count (31khz), but not the same frequency response (content of the passage). I can't download your uploaded audio files because of this crappy connection I have currently, so I can't comment much on that.
 
I'm not really that an expert so this is all I could think of. I could be talking out of my ass for all I know.
 
Jun 3, 2014 at 8:32 PM Post #5 of 6

Audiolad

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You have the AT311EP and it sounded pretty bad, and I have two of those for spares.  Now order the Shibata stylus that fits that cartridge body and you have the same results with amazing output.  There's not much to the body and many are designed to accept many stylus, especially the Audio Technica models.  In 2014 it sells for $64.95 and that isn't as cheap as many others.  I really couldn't follow how you were able to change out the arm to a different cartridge stylus, but I trust you did.  People should remember when they're looking for cartridges, there are many brands such as Ortofon (OM series), Grado (prestige series) that can be upgraded with a better stylus in the line.  This allows a person to buy an OM10 and later upgrade to OM20 and the difference in sound is significant.
 
Mar 13, 2016 at 7:30 AM Post #6 of 6

bracko

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I know this is a very old thread but still. I don't understand why pulling off the needle out of the housing of 2m Red and putting it on Blue housing. The sylii of 2m Red and Blue are completely interchangeable. The cartridges have exactly the same cart body and engine. No difference at all. 
 
http://www.ortofon.com/ortofon-2m-blue-p-333
 

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