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Nagaoka MP-200, Ortofon 2M Bronze, or another option?

Ngower

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Hello,

First post after lurking for a long time so my apologies if this isn’t the right place to ask.

My current setup is Pro-Ject Debut Carbon w/ Ortofon 2M Blue -> Cambridge Audio Alva Duo -> NAD C356BEE -> PSB Image B6

I’m generally content with this setup, though I’m eyeing the turntable/cartridge as an area for improvement. I’m considering the MP-200 while the yen is weak to the US dollar ($320~ shipped from Japan) but had my eyes on the Bronze as a next logical step from the Blue.

I appreciate the detail and dynamics from the Blue, but understand the Nagaoka takes these qualities up a notch.

My collection is a lot of jazz and 80s new wave, plus modern indie and assorted shoegaze/fuzzy stuff.

Would anyone be able to offer their advice on which I’d these two cartridges or an alternative woild suit my system as a good next step?
 

My adventures in stereo

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I went from a Ortofon blue to a Audiotechnica 95 ML
Liked I had been hearing on a friends system with the ML
Find I like it more than the Blue

Highs are very pleasant, bass is tighter & it picks up less surface noise
 

mike70

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There's no better price / performance ratio than Audio Technica today.
The vm95 or the vm500 range are outstanding, for less money than the Ortofon Blue you have the vm95ml or vm95sh (both fine line stylus, much better than eliptical).

If you like the sound with your phono preamp / system, ... that goes to you. No one can know what you like.
 

TimW

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  • MP-110 - like it a lot. Not a neutral or detailed sound to my ears but very fun to listen to, made records sound very different to digital which I appreciate.
  • MP-150 - bought as a step up and found that it was more neutral sounding. Not as fun to listen to but also not any more detailed sounding. I sold it.
  • AT-VM95SH - sounds much more detailed and neutral (when comparing to digital) than the Nagaoka's. Sometimes the treble irritates me though.
  • I've had an Ortofon OM10 stylus and have heard the Red pretty extensively but don't like either.
My advice would be to save your money for better speakers.
 

DSJR

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The 2M Blue is a tetchy old thing to get right and is a bit lively, very like its 520mk2 and OM20 predecessors. The Bronze (simply change the stylus) still has sparkle, but it's far better managed and I love it to bits, finding it less scrappy than the Goldring 1042 can be. The Nagaokas *to me* are too expensive for the standards I believe they achieve, but that's my vibe not necessarilky shared with others.

The AT VM95's are absolute bargains and the ML is huge raw fun (the SH is reportedly more refined), but the generators are bettered in the VM500 series. The 540 is an excellent mid priced MM type and the 740 with metal mount, more subtle (same cartrisge otherwise I believe).

The thing is, the deck and arm may begin to be a limitation on the performance of the cartridge (the vinyl hierarchy musn't be ignored here). Most of the options discussed will give a slight change of sonic flavour, but proper siting and setup can pay dividends here. I don't know the speakers, but indeed, a change here may well make an improement?

P.S Is vinyl your only source?
 

mike70

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Sometimes the treble irritates me though.

Take care about capacitance ... AT MM cartridges must be under 200pF, that means tonearm internal cable + RCA cable to preamp + preamp.

You need a low capacitance RCA cable and preamp.
 

TimW

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Take care about capacitance ... AT MM cartridges must be under 200pF, that means tonearm internal cable + RCA cable to preamp + preamp.

You need a low capacitance RCA cable and preamp.
I have heard this before and got a Musical Fidelity MX-VYNL so I could adjust capacitance on the fly. The difference between 50pF and 400pF on the dial is noticeable but not massive. Maybe the capacitance of the old cables in my table is too high.
 

mike70

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I have heard this before and got a Musical Fidelity MX-VYNL so I could adjust capacitance on the fly. The difference between 50pF and 400pF on the dial is noticeable but not massive. Maybe the capacitance of the old cables in my table is too high.

Older cartridges likes high capacitance.. try low capacitance cables.
Blue Jeans, Mogami (Ebay), Kabeldirekt (Amazon), ...
 

TimW

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Older cartridges likes high capacitance.. try low capacitance cables.
Blue Jeans, Mogami (Ebay), Kabeldirekt (Amazon), ...
I've got the Blue Jeans and used them with a Pro-Ject RM-1.3 with this cartridge but with a different phono stage. I've just been too lazy to rewire my vintage table so far.
 

DSJR

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Back in the day, older cartridge designs suffered a mid kHz suckout followed by a tip resonance peak at 15kHz or so. Sometimes, increasing loading capacitance could reduce the suckout considerably *without* messing with the peak higher up. In the case of older Ortofons, adding 100pF either separately or via the dinky 'CAP 210' plate which fitted snugly in between the cartridge pins used to smooth the hf response somewhat. Shure first and then Ortofon later (with the OM Super body) went over to laminated (Shure) and slit (Ortofon) pole pieces which all but removed the suckout at source it seems. The Shure V15VMR which I love, could either be flat to 10k or a gentle roll-off to 20k depending on capacitive loading, but regardless, it was 5dB down at 20khz...

AT's seem different, in that older ones had a gently falling response quite often up top, but the current crop are flat in the mid kHz but with rises starting at 8khz or so (the 'EN' versions - VM95-EN and VM530 - have strong peaks in the high 'sparkle' region of up to 6dB which can weak havoc on phono stages with poor overload margins up-top. many modern pickups, even low output MC's, exhibit an hf rise in this digital age and with a cheaper deck/arm, less than stellar diamond finishing, worn records and a phono stage not properly able to deal with the hash coming into it, you can get a most unpleasant din from some records. It does seem that the ML and especially the current generations of Shibata tips, can offer a much 'kinder' reproduction and on the case of Ortofon and AT, I'd stand by that view, the better and sadly more expensive stylus options offering a less hashy/noisy presentation and often with a better hf response with less raggedness..
 

My adventures in stereo

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What I specifically liked about the AT 95 ML vs the Ortofon blue , was the gentler highs
which is preferable on more revealing tweeters like the Revel M126 Be
 

Angsty

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I have the Ortofon 2M Blue and the Nagaoka MP-300. The MP-300 is fantastic and clearly superior to the 2M Blue. I'd personally buy a MP-200 over a 2M Blue if I were choosing today. I'd pick the Hana EH (I have the SL) over either. But the Hana is about twice the price of the 2M Blue.

I listen to jazz about 85% of the time.
 

AaronJ

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I have owned an Ortofon OM 30 for a while, which is regarded to be similar to the 2M Bronze. I think it sounds very good but has been finnicky. I had a spare VM95C not being used so I decided to pick up a ML stylus. I think the VM95ML sounds so much better than the OM 30, at half the price, that I've moved the OM 30 to my second system. I echo the sentiments of those in this thread that the VM95ML is arguably the best bang for your buck cart on the market, and considering the lifespan of a fine line vs. elliptical also comes out costing less per record than a VM95E.

My advice is get a VM95ML and use the rest of the money you may have allocated to your next stylus purchase to put to getting more records.
 

Digby

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Not sure if the OP will be back, but there is some good information here.
MP-110 - like it a lot. Not a neutral or detailed sound to my ears but very fun to listen to, made records sound very different to digital which I appreciate.
I agree. It is very easy to listen to, not the last word in detail, but sometimes you want less detail; some cartridges (AT440 I'm looking at you) seem artificially boosted in the highs. The MP-110 has excellent bass, among the best of sub 150 £/$ cartridges.

The Bronze (simply change the stylus) still has sparkle, but it's far better managed and I love it to bits, finding it less scrappy than the Goldring 1042 can be.
I have the Goldring 1042 and it is like an improved MP-110. More detail, more definition, but not artificially so. I've been having problems with distortion and not just at the end of a side. I can't seem to set it up to avoid this and it is very ugly when it appears. Is this what you mean by scrappy or have I just got a duff stylus?

The Bronze interests me, it does sound quite good for the price (in youtube comparison videos). I do wonder whether the 2M series is nothing more than a 'dressed up' OM they charge more money for though, have you compared to OM series?

I have a VM95ML to see if this will be better at tracking than the 1042. I haven't installed it but have my doubts it will sound as good. Might be a little too forward for my liking.

There is a very interesting comparison video of the VM95SH and a LVB 2M Black here. The black perhaps sounds slightly more refined, but for a cartridge many times more expensive, there isn't much in it to be fair. I often think the music used for these comparisons is poor, in that better quality recordings should be used to compare the differences between cartridges:

 

Angsty

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Not sure if the OP will be back, but there is some good information here.

I agree. It is very easy to listen to, not the last word in detail, but sometimes you want less detail; some cartridges (AT440 I'm looking at you) seem artificially boosted in the highs. The MP-110 has excellent bass, among the best of sub 150 £/$ cartridges.


I have the Goldring 1042 and it is like an improved MP-110. More detail, more definition, but not artificially so. I've been having problems with distortion and not just at the end of a side. I can't seem to set it up to avoid this and it is very ugly when it appears. Is this what you mean by scrappy or have I just got a duff stylus?

The Bronze interests me, it does sound quite good for the price (in youtube comparison videos). I do wonder whether the 2M series is nothing more than a 'dressed up' OM they charge more money for though, have you compared to OM series?

I have a VM95ML to see if this will be better at tracking than the 1042. I haven't installed it but have my doubts it will sound as good. Might be a little too forward for my liking.

There is a very interesting comparison video of the VM95SH and a LVB 2M Black here. The black perhaps sounds slightly more refined, but for a cartridge many times more expensive, there isn't much in it to be fair. I often think the music used for these comparisons is poor, in that better quality recordings should be used to compare the differences between cartridges:

I don't trust sound comparisons over YouTube; who knows what digital processing has been done before you hear the final result. Unfortunately, without more brick and mortar stores, this is what people have been reduced to accept.

The Goldring E3 has also had good reviews (pro and am) in the MP-110 price range. I have not heard it myself.
 

DSJR

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Not sure if the OP will be back, but there is some good information here.

I agree. It is very easy to listen to, not the last word in detail, but sometimes you want less detail; some cartridges (AT440 I'm looking at you) seem artificially boosted in the highs. The MP-110 has excellent bass, among the best of sub 150 £/$ cartridges.


I have the Goldring 1042 and it is like an improved MP-110. More detail, more definition, but not artificially so. I've been having problems with distortion and not just at the end of a side. I can't seem to set it up to avoid this and it is very ugly when it appears. Is this what you mean by scrappy or have I just got a duff stylus?

The Bronze interests me, it does sound quite good for the price (in youtube comparison videos). I do wonder whether the 2M series is nothing more than a 'dressed up' OM they charge more money for though, have you compared to OM series?

I have a VM95ML to see if this will be better at tracking than the 1042. I haven't installed it but have my doubts it will sound as good. Might be a little too forward for my liking.

There is a very interesting comparison video of the VM95SH and a LVB 2M Black here. The black perhaps sounds slightly more refined, but for a cartridge many times more expensive, there isn't much in it to be fair. I often think the music used for these comparisons is poor, in that better quality recordings should be used to compare the differences between cartridges:

In a Rega 3 with RB300 arm (so slightly tail down at the back of the arm), the 1042 'sounded' fine to me i n this 'digital age.' In other arms and decks, I find the 1042 a bit 'tinselly' and by that I mean 'one note treble' with little delicacy. It may not be the cartridge at all in fairness so may be worth giving the tip a damned good clean (I found the AT607 cleaning fluid safe and effective) and set the VTA with the arm slightly down at the back.

In a later Rega 3, I loved the 2M Bronze, finding it a 'funky' kind of sound with a healthy but never unpleasant 'sparkle' up top (It's VINYL, so I'm going to be effin' subjective, OK??? :D ). if the arm has a lively kind of quality to it (maybe the Technics 1200mk2 type up to current models), the AT740 may be a bit more 'subtle' perhaps. I can't say for definite, as I'll never get the chance now to try all these things for myself, but I do hope it helps a bit. the German Lowbeats site has tech tests and soundbites too, using a top Rega model (Planar 9?) as a platform.
 
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Ngower

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Not sure if the OP will be back, but there is some good information here.

I agree. It is very easy to listen to, not the last word in detail, but sometimes you want less detail; some cartridges (AT440 I'm looking at you) seem artificially boosted in the highs. The MP-110 has excellent bass, among the best of sub 150 £/$ cartridges.


I have the Goldring 1042 and it is like an improved MP-110. More detail, more definition, but not artificially so. I've been having problems with distortion and not just at the end of a side. I can't seem to set it up to avoid this and it is very ugly when it appears. Is this what you mean by scrappy or have I just got a duff stylus?

The Bronze interests me, it does sound quite good for the price (in youtube comparison videos). I do wonder whether the 2M series is nothing more than a 'dressed up' OM they charge more money for though, have you compared to OM series?

I have a VM95ML to see if this will be better at tracking than the 1042. I haven't installed it but have my doubts it will sound as good. Might be a little too forward for my liking.

There is a very interesting comparison video of the VM95SH and a LVB 2M Black here. The black perhaps sounds slightly more refined, but for a cartridge many times more expensive, there isn't much in it to be fair. I often think the music used for these comparisons is poor, in that better quality recordings should be used to compare the differences between cartridges:

I'm here just lurking.

I actually picked up a 1210GR recently so that's kinda changing plans a bit in terms of what to upgrade and when. Hana EH, Denon 110/103, Nag 200/300, 2M Bronze are all in the running. The AT carts I'm kinda hesitant on mostly because my phono/cables are about 230pf as is plus whatever the tonearm adds (I've seen 20pf reported) and those carts seem sensitive to loading more than most.
 

dougi

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Yes support the AT VM95ML or VM540ML, but as @Ngower says, make sure you have low cap cables and phono stage unless you want a big treble peak.
 

Angsty

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I’m a Nag MP-300 fan. I use Blue Jeans LC-1 to keep my cable capacitance low. I’d recommend the Hana EH (I have the SL) if you were specifically interested in a MC, but it does not have a user replaceable stylus as the Nags do. Neither do the Denons.
 
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