Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Pro-Ject Cherry Classic | Ortofon 2M Red

So far the Pro-Ject Cherry Classic turntable with its original Ortofon 510 cartridge have served well. But tucked away in a box somewhere around here has been an Ortofon 2M Red cartridge. Not a major expense, very cheap even by US hifi standards, but I anticipated a significant upgrade from the 510.

I also had a very useful cartridge alignment tool especially for Pro-Ject tonearms so I dug it all out, took a deep breath and set about changing the cartridge.

The 510 was easy to remove with a small screw-driver, but the 2M Red was slightly problematic in that I managed to break one of the hair-thin connecting wires. Fortunately, I was able to resurrect my soldering skills so the repair was fairly easy.

I set the 2M Red at about 1.70gm using a micro-scale before setting up the alignment tool.

The tool was a very snug fit on the turntable spindle and the device which centres the arm pivot was also a good fit. The manual - if you can call it that - takes you through the process, and the device is ingenious.

From now on it's just a case of tweaking until you feel it's right. Once I'd checked and re-checked a couple of times I tightened up the screws connecting the cartridge to the arm to the point where I thought any more would strip the threads.

So, mission accomplished ... Initially, I left the cartridge tracking at about 1.70gm, but I felt there was a little sibilance on Adele's voice, although it was a lot smoother than with the Ortofon 510, and there was some mis-tracking when confronted with some strings rattling on frets.

At this point I am setting up by ear ... I increased the tracking weight to about 1.80gm and this has brought about a significant improvement, although I might just edge the weight up 0.05gm at a time to see if this helps.

Incidentally, when it comes to final tweaking, I don't think you can beat using a record of a woman's voice to get the sound you want. At some point I'm going to have to check it with a Donna Summer LP. Miss Summer's voice - while great - always seems to me to give a good system a hard time ...

So far, the Ortofon 2M Red sounds incredible for the budget cartridge it is.