Ortofon 2M Red and Input Capacitance

the thin end of the wedge
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bwmann89
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Ortofon 2M Red and Input Capacitance

Post by bwmann89 » 16 Jan 2019 04:07

Hello,

I own an Audio Technica AT-LP120 USB, and have followed the well-known procedure for removing the on-board preamp. I've ordered the Cambridge Audio MM Phono Preamp to replace it, and was considering a new cartridge as well. From what I've gathered, the Ortofon 2M Red pretty hard to beat for the price, and sounds like what I'm looking for.

However, after reading the specs on it, it mentions the recommended input capacitance is 150-300pF, while the Cambridge Audio Preamp I've ordered only holds 100pF. Should I not purchase the Ortofon 2M Red cartridge, and what kind of negative effect could I experience with too low of input capacitance - too much noise or distortion?

Ortofon 2M Red - https://www.ortofon.com/ortofon-2m-red-p-317
Cambridge Audio Phono Preamp - https://www.cambridgeaudio.com/usa/en/p ... reamp/solo

Thank you,
Braz

klegier
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Re: Ortofon 2M Red and Input Capacitance

Post by klegier » 16 Jan 2019 05:19

Braz,
I am new here too, and came here to essentially ask the same questions. I "think" that if the capacitance is lower than the recommended, the treble (high end) will be "reduced". It is more technical than that (something about it moves the resonant "peak" from 12k to 10k....or something or other....no one can explain it in beginners terms that I have found), but the "general" and "overall" effect of having less capacitance is less highs, while having more capacitance is increased highs. Different people describe "increased highs" different ways.....I've heard it described by others as "harsh", whereas others will say it is "crisp, detailed, or CD-like".

And....if any of the above is wrong, I WILL BE CORRECTED! LOL. (I don't take it personally). And if I am corrected, that would be a good thing for both of us. (I just hope they do it without resorting to Newton's Laws of Physics, or whatnot.)

I have the Red. It does sound "bright" with increased highs IMO. But, as you rightly point out, it is not only the cartridge, but the entire signal chain. Which is why I suggested that I change out my 45 year old tonearm wire and solder connections for some brand spanking new Cardas wire that would, in theory, reduce my total capacitance thereby reducing the brightness or harshness of the Red cartridge.

To me, adding capacitance is pretty easy. Use a foot longer cable....that will add probably 20pf......another foot, another 20pf, etc. REMOVING capacitance, on the other hand, is much more difficult. You have to result to things like changing out tonearm wire, searching for a preamp with very low (input) load capacitance, etc.

I have been recommended a Nagaoka cartridge (I am getting the MP-150 to replace the Red) in order to reduce the highs. The Nagaoka's (as I understand it.....as I have never actually heard one myself) are much "warmer", "laid back" and "relaxed" than the Red.

Now, is it possible that I install the Nagaoka MP-150, AND change my tonearm wire the sound will become TOO WARM and LAID BACK? Yes, I think it is possible. But in that case, all I need to do is find a myriad of preamps with increased loading to "add the treble back" or "boost the highs" or however you want to describe it.

I think another way I (repeat..."I") would say it is that it is much easier to "brighten up" a "warm" cartridge than it is to "warm up" a "bright" cartridge.

Does ANY of that make sense?

DeepEnd
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Re: Ortofon 2M Red and Input Capacitance

Post by DeepEnd » 16 Jan 2019 09:05

Just for information there are two sources of capacitance that the cartridge “sees” one being the phono stage/preamp and the other is cable/connections within the turntable itself.

On the phono stage manufacturers helpfully give you the figures but on the turntables they are not so helpful. Typically they tend to be 75pF to 150pF. Unless you have a capacitance meter to measure a specific deck you won’t really know.

These lead capacitances combined with the 100pF from the pre-amp you describe would give you with a typical deck 175pF to 250pF which is right in the middle of the range for the 2M series. It also shows why getting down to AT’s recommended figures is challenging.

Please note I am not an expert on the LP120 and/or removing the internal phono stages from them. However there is one thing I seem to recall reading at some point is that even if you remove the phono stage pcb it leaves some capacitors in circuit unless desolderd you end up with 400+ pF before adding the phono stage. I would suggest double checking before committing to a new cartridge.

I presume your AT-120 is fitted with the AT95E? This cartridge outperforms it’s price tag by some way and I would wait until you have the pre-amp (and/or removed the caps) and listen to the AT95E for a while - it might surprise you as the generator of this model has been used for quite a few “high end” cartridges over the years.

Again a personal perception of mine is the the 2M Red might be “different” rather than “better” than the 95E. Which suits your system better depends on the rest of the system, the room it’s used in and also your personal preference. This is why forum based recommendations are difficult.

Following your mods if you are enjoying your AT95E then decide what specific areas you want to improve e.g. treble refinement (2M Red is not particularly refined either), air and sparkle, transients, dynamics, tighter base etc. then it is easier for forum members to give good recommendations as they are based on comparison which takes out the impact of other equipment, rooms etc.

If just after a general improvement the perhaps the new VM95EN might be an alternative to the Red. This is a “nude” stylus and the resultant reduction in moving mass tends to improve refinement , transients and dynamics.

Again not an expert but you might even be able to fit the 95EN stylus in your existing body. Again I would double check this first or another forum member may have already tried this who can advise.

PioneerFan
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Re: Ortofon 2M Red and Input Capacitance

Post by PioneerFan » 16 Jan 2019 14:36

Stay with a 95E for a while. I waited a few years before recently selecting the Shure m97xE as my cartridge of choice.

The grass isn't always greener, and I have read mixed reviews on the 2M Red.

The built in preamp for the AT120 has never been a sore spot or issue for me. But I know that others seem to take it as a religious experience. I really doubt removing it makes for a dramatic difference. I run mine into a preamp with a dedicated phono input.

As always, mileage varies.

patient_ot
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Re: Ortofon 2M Red and Input Capacitance

Post by patient_ot » 16 Jan 2019 15:03

I wouldn't worry about too little capacitance. 100pf or less is a good number for a phono preamp since you need to take into account the cabling in your tonearm and captive RCAs on the turntable if you have them. All that could easily add up to another 100pf or more for 200ish PF total. In other words it will be fine.

RE: the 2M Red, I don't recommend it personally even though some people like this cartridge. Personally I think it is one of the worst budget cartridges I've heard.

EdAInWestOC
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Re: Ortofon 2M Red and Input Capacitance

Post by EdAInWestOC » 16 Jan 2019 21:13

You should understand something about high output cartridges and input loading of the phono preamp.

High output cartridges, like the 2M Red, have a large enough inductance that when you combine the inductance of the cartridge, with the capacitance of the phono preamp, plus the capacitance of the cabling, and then add the resistive loading of the phono preamp (47kOhms), you end up with a low pass filter with an effective frequency of approximately 20kHz.

That sounds like a lot of technical double talk, but it is true of all high output cartridges. The reason you choose the capacitance that you choose, is to set the right kind of filter settings for the cartridge, and you end up with the best setup for listening. The idea is to take the recommendation of Ortofon and ensure you have no more than 300pF of capacitance for your hookup. The capacitance of the phono preamp plus the capacitance of your phono cabling is where you come up with that number.

If your preamp has a capacitance of 100pF, you want to ensure your cabling has no more than 200pF of capacitance. Any additional capacitance and you will start rolling off the high frequencies of your cartridge's output. You should consult the manufacturer's documentation for the capacitance for the cabling used for your tonearm and cables from your turntable to the phono preamp.

And that is the why and how of high output cartridge loading.

Ed

bwmann89
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Re: Ortofon 2M Red and Input Capacitance

Post by bwmann89 » 17 Jan 2019 16:56

EdAInWestOC wrote:
16 Jan 2019 21:13
You should understand something about high output cartridges and input loading of the phono preamp.

High output cartridges, like the 2M Red, have a large enough inductance that when you combine the inductance of the cartridge, with the capacitance of the phono preamp, plus the capacitance of the cabling, and then add the resistive loading of the phono preamp (47kOhms), you end up with a low pass filter with an effective frequency of approximately 20kHz.

That sounds like a lot of technical double talk, but it is true of all high output cartridges. The reason you choose the capacitance that you choose, is to set the right kind of filter settings for the cartridge, and you end up with the best setup for listening. The idea is to take the recommendation of Ortofon and ensure you have no more than 300pF of capacitance for your hookup. The capacitance of the phono preamp plus the capacitance of your phono cabling is where you come up with that number.

If your preamp has a capacitance of 100pF, you want to ensure your cabling has no more than 200pF of capacitance. Any additional capacitance and you will start rolling off the high frequencies of your cartridge's output. You should consult the manufacturer's documentation for the capacitance for the cabling used for your tonearm and cables from your turntable to the phono preamp.

And that is the why and how of high output cartridge loading.

Ed
Okay, that makes sense. I appreciate you explaining this in detail, I'm trying to learn more about sound equipment, particularly for vinyl as I go, and this helps a lot.

I'm not able to find the details of the capacitance for the cabling in my tonearm as well as the RCA output jacks at this time, just the basic documentation I already have.

However, I just got my Cambridge Audio phono preamp, and I'm using it with with the standard AT95E cartridge that comes with the AT LP120, and it sounds fantastic. I'm sure it could sound better, but before trying a high output cartridge like the 2M Red, I'd like to be certain of the additional capacitance.

Thanks for everyone's feedback, I was not expecting this much :)

Boltman92124
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Re: Ortofon 2M Red and Input Capacitance

Post by Boltman92124 » 17 Jan 2019 19:11

bwmann89 wrote:
16 Jan 2019 04:07
Hello,

I own an Audio Technica AT-LP120 USB, and have followed the well-known procedure for removing the on-board preamp. I've ordered the Cambridge Audio MM Phono Preamp to replace it, and was considering a new cartridge as well. From what I've gathered, the Ortofon 2M Red pretty hard to beat for the price, and sounds like what I'm looking for.

However, after reading the specs on it, it mentions the recommended input capacitance is 150-300pF, while the Cambridge Audio Preamp I've ordered only holds 100pF. Should I not purchase the Ortofon 2M Red cartridge, and what kind of negative effect could I experience with too low of input capacitance - too much noise or distortion?

Ortofon 2M Red - https://www.ortofon.com/ortofon-2m-red-p-317
Cambridge Audio Phono Preamp - https://www.cambridgeaudio.com/usa/en/p ... reamp/solo

Thank you,
Braz
The 2M Red will get you more detail, but maybe not as musical sound as the AT95. Some people think the 2M Red sounds analytical/CD like. So there is a new VM95en with a nude stylus..which would be a great upgrade to the stock 95e. And it is very reasonable at $119 or so.

Shadowman82
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Re: Ortofon 2M Red and Input Capacitance

Post by Shadowman82 » 18 Jan 2019 00:16

I don't know what the capacitance of that Audio Technica is but I know the SL-1200 by Technics tend to be in the 120pf range for the whole turntable and all it's wiring . My guess is the Audio Technica would be in a similar range . I also use a pre amp with 100pf with my rig which uses a Ortofon 2M Blue and it sounds fine . So I think you are good with your set up .

bwmann89
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Re: Ortofon 2M Red and Input Capacitance

Post by bwmann89 » 12 Feb 2019 20:27

Boltman92124 wrote:
17 Jan 2019 19:11
bwmann89 wrote:
16 Jan 2019 04:07
Hello,

I own an Audio Technica AT-LP120 USB, and have followed the well-known procedure for removing the on-board preamp. I've ordered the Cambridge Audio MM Phono Preamp to replace it, and was considering a new cartridge as well. From what I've gathered, the Ortofon 2M Red pretty hard to beat for the price, and sounds like what I'm looking for.

However, after reading the specs on it, it mentions the recommended input capacitance is 150-300pF, while the Cambridge Audio Preamp I've ordered only holds 100pF. Should I not purchase the Ortofon 2M Red cartridge, and what kind of negative effect could I experience with too low of input capacitance - too much noise or distortion?

Ortofon 2M Red - https://www.ortofon.com/ortofon-2m-red-p-317
Cambridge Audio Phono Preamp - https://www.cambridgeaudio.com/usa/en/p ... reamp/solo

Thank you,
Braz
The 2M Red will get you more detail, but maybe not as musical sound as the AT95. Some people think the 2M Red sounds analytical/CD like. So there is a new VM95en with a nude stylus..which would be a great upgrade to the stock 95e. And it is very reasonable at $119 or so.
Thanks for the tip on that! What do you think of the VM95ML? I saw a forum where some people were saying you might as well go with it, or does a ML cartridge create too much of a cold, analytical type sound?

Boltman92124
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Re: Ortofon 2M Red and Input Capacitance

Post by Boltman92124 » 17 Feb 2019 16:45

I wouldn't get a micro line cart for a LP120 unless you correct the VTA issue this table has and you are serious about alignment/protractor. It would need very precise set up or it would sound terrible. The 2M Red might be worth trying and then you could upgrade to the Blue if you like it. I like the OM10 on the LP120. Get the Ortofon SH4 headshell if you get an Ortofon. Perfect match for their carts. Worth the extra $30.

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