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Rega Apheta 2/Ortofon Black S comparison

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Rega Apheta 2/Ortofon Black S comparison

Postby dimucci » 18 Apr 2018 23:14

I am shortly to have on home trial a Rega RP10 with Apheta 2 package (£3698), but want to compare with the well-received Ortofon Quintet Black S (£679), which my dealer will also fit to try out. If bought separately, the Apheta comes out at £998, but works out at £200 cheaper with the package. Hence, the Ortofon is comparative in price and has come out better overall than the Apheta in one MC review I have seen and the RP10 sans Apheta is £2998. I would not spend £998 on a cartridge! A plus point for me also is that Ortofon do an exchange scheme for damaged cartridges.
Does anyone have experience of these two cartridges and their respective strengths and weaknesses? My own ears will of course ultimately decide, but I would be interested in other peoples' views.
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Re: Rega Apheta 2/Ortofon Black S comparison

Postby DSJR » 19 Apr 2018 09:54

The Apheta series is a wild and unfettered cartridge, tamed in series '2' form. rather than smothering the sonic details in the cause of 'refinement' as some so-called Top End pickups do, the Apheta will give it to you straight, sort-of in the way a Decca does. It'll mean a good phono stage with decent headroom at high frequencies (I gather many cheaper ones don't have this) and speakers that don't have crossover or tweeter problems (so many modern speakers, including some larger Rega models in the past, almost hurt ones ears with neutral sources all in the name of 'deeetail!'

The Ortofon you mention is the top model of their beer budget range, so shouldn't be too bad. As you appear to be a Welsh native (?), Rega are local compared to other people here, so you shouldn't have any worries with luck...
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Re: Rega Apheta 2/Ortofon Black S comparison

Postby Legrace » 19 Apr 2018 15:53

It is easy to imagine you would enjoy either one. But the package discount favors the Apheta 2 IMO.
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Re: Rega Apheta 2/Ortofon Black S comparison

Postby Toaster » 20 Apr 2018 15:17

Don't underestimate the Rega MCs. I haven't heard an Apheta 2 in familiar cirumstances, but I've just set up a Planar 6 with an Ania, and sound quality seems exceptional.
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Re: Rega Apheta 2/Ortofon Black S comparison

Postby readargos » 20 Apr 2018 21:21

My experience with lower-end Ortofon & Rega carts, as well as the wealth of published reviews out there, suggest the Rega carts are more dynamic, lively, and upfront, an overtly exciting sound that some people will hear (or some equipment render) as bright. The Ortofon Blacks go for a more refined, sophisticated, linear (smooth), slightly laid back, slightly cool sound, which some hear as polite (so maybe not the best for rockers). The Rega ethos is built on transmitting the maximum amount of energy captured in the grooves. The Ortofon ethos is built on neutrality (or their take on neutrality). They are both excellent, but will appeal to different sensibilities/systems.

There is an argument to be made for the Bronze in each respective Ortofon series. The Bronze tend to be warmer, and chunkier (meatier/palpable/flesh on bone) sounding, more upfront and dynamic, but probably not quite as dynamic as a comparably-priced Rega cartridge, and not quite as linear in frequency response as a comparable Ortofon Black. Some people who have owned both end up preferring the Bronze, especially in the 2M series. The Bronze kind of split the difference between the Rega sound and the Ortofon sound.
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Re: Rega Apheta 2/Ortofon Black S comparison

Postby DSJR » 21 Apr 2018 13:03

I genuinely don't mean to keep labouring the point, but 'vinyl reproduction' tends to soften high frequency dynamics, bloat up the bass and so many so-called 'Top End' stereo's tend to over-egg the high frequencies (in the speakers most often) to seemingly sound more 'detailed' to try to make up for this. Cheaper speakers can sound 'rough as a badger's backside' due to cheap tweeters and basic crossovers, so a cartridge with real high frequency life and sparkle (as there in the original recording) can sound ott and edgy, just as so many of us loathed 'digital' when it came along because at the time it challenged poor speaker design and some distortions in amplifiers (yes 80's and 90's Naim, I'm glaring at you!!).

I think Rega have cottoned on in recent years to how good and basically 'truthful' 'digital' can be to the recorded source (it is in my personal experience) and their MC range reflects the dynamics of the master recording very well I feel and their MC's do their best to minimise the losses vinyl introduces. Rega's current speakers have toned down their spitty-tweeter act really well and in fact it's their old fashioned squidgy-soft MM models now letting the side down in my book. the Ania is an all-round delight and although the Apheta 2 will be more of a challenge, I feel it'll be worth it. make sure the deck itself is properly sited (if a suitable wall is available away from a corner, their wall bracket is superb and you'll hear it in better bass quality/tunefulness - I accept modern Rega decks are better in the bass and 'free-er' all round in sonics than earlier RB-arm equipped models anyway).

Good luck whatever you do. Apologies folks, I don't like creamy 'chocolate' bass tones with refined sweet highs from vinyl as you don't hear it this way live and I assure you that most master recordings don't sound like that either ;)
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Re: Rega Apheta 2/Ortofon Black S comparison

Postby dimucci » 22 Apr 2018 09:59

Aha! Interesting related comments on this site
http://forums.stevehoffman.tv/threads/p ... er.735036/
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Re: Rega Apheta 2/Ortofon Black S comparison

Postby dimucci » 28 May 2018 17:40

Well, I have been and gone and done it. Bought an RP10 with the Ortofon Quintet Black S. Over two weeks' worth of a loaned RP10 from Audio T in Swansea (thanks, Nic), with run in examples of the Apheta 2 and Ortofon fitted.
I was impressed by the Apheta's dynamics, but there was "something" missing in the presentation: detail and emotion. The Ortofon is altogether a better match in my system (see below) and gives an easier to follow and more definitive and less one-note bass (but not at the expense of treble) and an overall more balanced sound and more pin point imaging.
Test vinyl included Dire Straits, Pink Floyd, Fleet Foxes, Julie London, 1812 overture (the one with real cannons!) and Frank Sinatra. But let me summarise with examples from two other recordings; Magnum's marvellous "On a Storyteller's night" ("Direct Metal Mastered" and one of my favourite album covers) showed deeper emotion to Bob Catley's voice on the semi-spoken intro to "Les Morts Dansant" and Wally Lowe's bass playing was easier to follow, as with other recordings, and adding to the "oneness" of a track.
The other record was Boston's first album, one which can sound too trebly on a poor system with the high pitched guitars and vocals. The "Foreplay" intro to "Long Time" was superbly reproduced with the dual bass guitar and keyboards (bass pedal?) having real weight. It was also easier to distinguish when there were acoustic and electric guitars playing together.
My system (the vinyl part):
B&W 685 S2 speakers on dedicated sand-filled stands(not bi-wired)
Tom Evans Microgroove Plus phono stage
Arcam FMJ A19 amplifier
Deck wall shelf
My previous deck was an LP12/Cyrkus/Ittok LV3/2 with Denon DL304 and the Rega/Ortofon easily tops it. I can now hear information that was never prominent before.
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Re: Rega Apheta 2/Ortofon Black S comparison

Postby Legrace » 28 May 2018 20:21

Congrats, fine table. A Rega truly worth owning.
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Re: Rega Apheta 2/Ortofon Black S comparison

Postby andybeau » 29 May 2018 10:59

Nice review and congrats on new table.
Gives me options in future when my Apheta is up for replacement.
I had a Quintet Blue on my old table which I enjoyed very much, so the Black is an interesting option.

Enjoy the music
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Re: Rega Apheta 2/Ortofon Black S comparison

Postby dimucci » 29 May 2018 14:37

I should add a note on the matter of arm spacer(s).
I contacted Ortofon direct and had an excellent, detailed and immediate response. To summarise: " It is vital to ensure that the cartridge base is parallel with the tonearm and this again is parallel to the record surface when the cartridge is loaded with recommended tracking force. 2 - 3 mm spacers should be enough for Quintet series." Not definitive, then.
Audio T did measurments against the Apheta 2 and came up with a 4mm spacer, duly fitted. The arm is parallel with the deck at 2.3gm - given a slight variation depending on vinyl thickness - and it seems that the 4mm is the optimal.
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Re: Rega Apheta 2/Ortofon Black S comparison

Postby kb007 » 29 May 2018 20:08

Nice choice, congrats. Did they specify bottom of the tonearm or horizontal centreline? I would presume, and have always use centreline.
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Re: Rega Apheta 2/Ortofon Black S comparison

Postby dimucci » 30 May 2018 09:28

kb007 wrote:Nice choice, congrats. Did they specify bottom of the tonearm or horizontal centreline? I would presume, and have always use centreline.


No, Ortofon did not specify. They give more information here:
https://www.ortofon.com/support/support ... stallation
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Re: Rega Apheta 2/Ortofon Black S comparison

Postby markcass » 30 May 2018 10:00

Hi

As the Rega armtube is tapered, the centre line is the one to use. Sighting along the bottom of the tonearm will be misleading.

HTH

Mark
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Re: Rega Apheta 2/Ortofon Black S comparison

Postby dimucci » 30 May 2018 14:16

markcass wrote:Hi

As the Rega armtube is tapered, the centre line is the one to use. Sighting along the bottom of the tonearm will be misleading.

HTH

Mark


With the stylus resting on a run-out groove near the spindle, I have measured the arm underside is 12mm above just after the head and 14mm to the underside furthest point at the run-in groove.
Whatever, the Ortofon sounds great!
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