Question Ortofon 520: keep or upgrade?

erbasically

Well-known member
Sep 26, 2012
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I have a Pioneer PLX-1000 turntable and have tried various cartridges in the arm, including the original AT95, an AT120e, a Shure M97XE, even a Linn K5 I found in a drawer, but none of them sounded quite right. The other day I remembered I also had an old Ortofon 520 left over from a faulty Pro-Ject turntable so I fitted that.

It sounds way better than any other cartridge I've tried in that arm, with a proper soundstage and vocals that actually sound like the singer is there in the room. So my question is, have I stumbled on the "correct" cartridge to get the best out of the Pioneer turntable, or is there an upgrade that will sound even better?
 
You have obviously found the best cartridge for your ears which is good.
Not sure which Project turntables fitted these but your best bet, if the sound is right, might be simply to buy a new stylus. Anything from the 520 mk2 at around £134 to the top of the range 540 will fit your cartridge body.
The 540 is the predecessor of the 2M Black of today. However, these may be outside your budget.
the 520 is the equivalent of the 2M Blue which you can get for £180 so it really depends on your budget.
 
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erbasically

Well-known member
Sep 26, 2012
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18,545
It was supplied fitted to a ProJect 2 turntable, the one with the record clamp. I had it for many years and when I wanted to replace the stylus I couldn't find any identifying numbers on the cartridge or stylus so I contacted Henley Audio who told me it was a 520. However I now believe the standard cartridge for the ProJect 2 was the 510 so I was slightly upsold into buying the better stylus. But it sounds good so no problem.

The Ortofon web site says that the Pioneer is rated to support either the 2M Red or Blue, but not the Bronze or Black. Not sure whether that means the 520 is also the best of that range for my turntable.
 
I wonder what their reasons are for stopping at the Blue as the only differences are the style of the stylus tip. I can see no reason the Bronze or equivalent 530 couldn't be used if the other cartridges are considered to be OK.
perhaps it might be an idea to ask them.
 

erbasically

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Sep 26, 2012
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The way I read the Ortofon web site, the Red and Blue are a pair with many identical specs - tracking force, compliance, output, impedance etc; and the Bronze and Black are likewise identical to each other in those measurements but slightly different from the Red and Blue. Whether that means the Red and Blue are compatible with some arms that the Bronze and Black aren't I have no idea.

But as I have the 520, would the Blue be a worthwhile upgrade? Would the Bronze, if it's OK in that arm, be significantly better at the things I like about the 520 - the 'in the room' soundstage, for example?
 
The way I read the Ortofon web site, the Red and Blue are a pair with many identical specs - tracking force, compliance, output, impedance etc; and the Bronze and Black are likewise identical to each other in those measurements but slightly different from the Red and Blue. Whether that means the Red and Blue are compatible with some arms that the Bronze and Black aren't I have no idea.

But as I have the 520, would the Blue be a worthwhile upgrade? Would the Bronze, if it's OK in that arm, be significantly better at the things I like about the 520 - the 'in the room' soundstage, for example?
The 520 is the equivalent of the 2M \Blue so I doubt getting an actual Blue will be much of an upgrade as such and it will cost you £180
 
D

Deleted member 108165

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I also own a PLX1000. The Bronze/Black can be fitted to the Pioneer but I don't believe you will hear their full potential using this table. I currently have a 2M Black fitted to the Pioneer and it works fine but I much prefer the Bronze on every turntable I have owned.

Al's comments are good and sound. If it sounds good to you why change. Personally I'd be looking at saving some money to purchase a better turntable.
 

erbasically

Well-known member
Sep 26, 2012
26
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18,545
Interesting. I never got the full potential of the Ortofon 520 cartridge out of the Project 2, which was a bit of a dud (it was actually faulty but I didn't figure that out until it was out of guarantee), so it's nice to be able to enjoy it now.
 

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