Ortofon 2M Blue, Nagaoka MP 200, Audio Technica VM 540 ML

the thin end of the wedge
Geof777
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Ortofon 2M Blue, Nagaoka MP 200, Audio Technica VM 540 ML

Post by Geof777 » 12 May 2019 00:24

This is my report about 3 cartridges I have owned in the past few years. It is not intended to discredit the quality of any of them but, in my case, I have arrived hopefully at a satisfactory purchase that should see me OK.
The most recent Purchase was the Audio Technica VM 540ML which cost me £223 which is good price considering the quality of the Cartridge. So I will work backwards:
The VM 540 ML replaced my Nagaoka MP200. Both used on my Gyrodec with Techno arm. A lot of my Vinyl gets committed to CD and/or MP3 for car listening or on my other system. The VM540NL is very natural in balance and music flows nicely in quite an organic and believable fashion. It is very clean and clear and not over bright. Bass is full but evenly balanced. Recordings, so far, sound like a performance and not a recording so much. Also it tracks very well at 1.8 or 1.9g but I felt it just sounded a bit more precise at 2.0g The Microline stylus seems to be very consistent across the whole of a record. It’s very clean and clear without overdoing it. I am playing it at 100pf capacitance. Surfaces are very quiet.
The Nagaoka MP200 replaced an Ortofon 2M Blue. The Nagaoka is a great cartridge and it is true it does seem to lend itself particularly to Jazz and smaller group settings – but is good at everything I have played on it. It is not quite so neutral as the AT but sounds nice anyway. The bass and Mid seem a little forward which, in turn, makes the top end (from 2khz on upwards) a little set back. Changing from 100pf to 200pf helps older records lifting the treble a bit but then rolling it off a bit earlier. I notice on bass drums and percussion an apparent lift at around 1khz (slight!) which give the hit or impact of the drum a little extra impact. Bass is generally very good if occasionally a little thicker than the MP150. Like the AT it tracks like a dream – I had it set a 1.8g Mostly I found the treble OK -but sometimes it would get edgy – this maybe due to the stylus shape. Surfaces are, however very quiet.
The Ortofon 2M Blue started out on the Gyrodec on my RB 300. It was my first return to MM after a series of MC’s last one being an Ortofon MC25 FL which was a past favourite. The 2M Blue has a more modern sound a slight presence and low treble emphasis gives rise to great clarity and detail. The bass is tight and tunefull but a little light weight on the Gyrodec - It sounded better in that respect on an SL1200 but maybe less detailed. It was sensitive to VTA and was part of the reason for changing to the Techno arm. Many may love the 2M Blue I found the range of 2M’s have a similar sound and liked the 2M Black best but it still has a little of that forwardness to the sound – many will love this. The 2M blue tracked Ok but not as good as the MP200 or VM 540 both of which are exceptional. Surfaces were not as quiet as the MP200 or VM 540 but respectable.
Any of these three may suit people, with a limited budget, very well. I have always aimed for neutrality at source and the VM 540 does that the best for me on my Gyrodec.
I hope this might be of some help to any potential buyers :D
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patient_ot
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Re: Ortofon 2M Blue, Nagaoka MP 200, Audio Technica VM 540 ML

Post by patient_ot » 12 May 2019 02:43

Glad to hear the 540ML works well with your tonearm.

Geof777
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Re: Ortofon 2M Blue, Nagaoka MP 200, Audio Technica VM 540 ML

Post by Geof777 » 12 May 2019 09:39

patient_ot wrote:
12 May 2019 02:43
Glad to hear the 540ML works well with your tonearm.
Thanks for all the help and advice, it is better than I was hoping for
:D

Tonybro
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Re: Ortofon 2M Blue, Nagaoka MP 200, Audio Technica VM 540 ML

Post by Tonybro » 13 May 2019 09:22

Thanks for the considered thoughts and words, Geoff.

Geof777
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Re: Ortofon 2M Blue, Nagaoka MP 200, Audio Technica VM 540 ML

Post by Geof777 » 13 May 2019 15:55

There were several possibilities I considered - on here later in my Mullings I was looking at the Goldring 1042.
Before that and even before the 2M Blue I seriously considered the Denon DL110 - its tricky with output as it sits in between in level and I need a good level to record from. If I had stayed with the Nagaoka it would have to be the MP 500 as the 300 is too similar to the 200 and would be a lot of more money for little improvement IMO the MP 500 is to much for the amount I use the Record deck.
In a blind listening test - with the Reference of an Ortofon Anna - I recognised the Ortofon's Black and Bronze as they have a similar sound to the Blue and its not quite right for me, good as they are. I blind chose the MP300 and the AT 150 ANV, (I also liked the AT7V) as my preferred sounds. Subsequently I listened to several different AT's and also read a lot.

33na3rd
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Re: Ortofon 2M Blue, Nagaoka MP 200, Audio Technica VM 540 ML

Post by 33na3rd » 13 May 2019 16:43

Nice review, thank you for sharing!

NewOldVinyl
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Re: Ortofon 2M Blue, Nagaoka MP 200, Audio Technica VM 540 ML

Post by NewOldVinyl » 14 May 2019 01:22

I recently switched from a 2M Blue to a VM540ML. I love the 540! It tracks exceptionally well across the entire record and it sounds very natural. The 2M Blue is good, nothing blatantly wrong with it. But the VM540ML sounds better to me.

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Re: Ortofon 2M Blue, Nagaoka MP 200, Audio Technica VM 540 ML

Post by AdlerW » 14 May 2019 05:54

All cartridges I've owned. The MP-200 was my favorite of those.

Geof777
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Re: Ortofon 2M Blue, Nagaoka MP 200, Audio Technica VM 540 ML

Post by Geof777 » 14 May 2019 08:27

AdlerW wrote:
14 May 2019 05:54
All cartridges I've owned. The MP-200 was my favorite of those.
What turntable set up are you using it on?

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Re: Ortofon 2M Blue, Nagaoka MP 200, Audio Technica VM 540 ML

Post by AdlerW » 14 May 2019 16:29

I was using it on a Technics SL-D205 with Schiit Mani.

The 540 handled difficult inner grooves better, no doubt, but I just preferred the sound of the MP-200.

Geof777
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Re: Ortofon 2M Blue, Nagaoka MP 200, Audio Technica VM 540 ML

Post by Geof777 » 14 May 2019 17:59

AdlerW wrote:
14 May 2019 16:29
I was using it on a Technics SL-D205 with Schiit Mani.

The 540 handled difficult inner grooves better, no doubt, but I just preferred the sound of the MP-200.
This is the thing - I find the Nagaoka to be a very good Cartridge and on another turntable it may
work even better. It worked much better, for me, than the 2M Blue on my Gyrodec as the Gyro can sometimes sound lean in the bass with certain setups - the MP200 is really no slouch in that area and sounded good.
That the VM 540 ML sounds slightly better, for me on my turntable does not follow that it will necessarily for someone else and a different turntable. Glad you are happy with the MP200 :D

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Re: Ortofon 2M Blue, Nagaoka MP 200, Audio Technica VM 540 ML

Post by EfeTe » 14 May 2019 18:24

Currently playing with the MP-200 v my Clearaudio Performer V2 'mano-a-mano' say a day each. While the CA might be a tad more neutral I think I do prefer the sound you get with the Nag!

patient_ot
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Re: Ortofon 2M Blue, Nagaoka MP 200, Audio Technica VM 540 ML

Post by patient_ot » 14 May 2019 18:33

AdlerW wrote:
14 May 2019 16:29
I was using it on a Technics SL-D205 with Schiit Mani.

The 540 handled difficult inner grooves better, no doubt, but I just preferred the sound of the MP-200.
I'm gonna guess the rolled off nature of the MP-200 hid the flaws of the Mani better than the 540. Nasty sounding phono preamp IMHO.

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Re: Ortofon 2M Blue, Nagaoka MP 200, Audio Technica VM 540 ML

Post by AdlerW » 14 May 2019 21:27

patient_ot wrote:
14 May 2019 18:33
I'm gonna guess the rolled off nature of the MP-200 hid the flaws of the Mani better than the 540. Nasty sounding phono preamp IMHO.
Yes, I know you don't like it. We all hear things differently and we don't agree on this one. :)

But yes, ultimately I prefer a warm, rolled-off sound. "Bright" is not something I favor.

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Re: Ortofon 2M Blue, Nagaoka MP 200, Audio Technica VM 540 ML

Post by Pikey » 14 May 2019 21:27

Interesting , thanks Geoff ...

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