Ortofon 2M Red Review

by Bruno Brozovic

I have already tested three Ortofon cartridges. These were 2M Blue, 2M Bronze, and 2M Black representing a wide price range. Now it’s time for the basic member of the 2M family, the Ortofon 2M Red cartridge. The word “basic” in this case is not pejorative at all, and the cartridge, despite being the cheapest in the 2M offer, defends itself in terms of sound and build quality in many respects. But more on that in a moment in Ortofon 2M Red Review article.


Ortofon 2M Red Review

Ortofon is certainly a very reputable and technologically advanced company with a very wide product catalog, because in addition to phono cartridges (over 300 on the market!), there are also various audio cables, tonearms, preamplifiers, and transformers, as well as many audio accessories. However, the core of the portfolio are cartridges and turntable styluses, because Ortofon has its own, very innovative grinding workshop, which, as one of the few in the world, provides the most sophisticated cuts, including Gyger S. Ortofon also operates in the field of production of progressive plastics, modern acoustic equipment, including and for medical purposes, mechanical micro-assembly and others (Ortofon Microtech company).

The Ortofon 2M Red is a high-end phono cartridge designed to provide superior sound quality and performance. It is the flagship model of the 2M series from Ortofon. The 2M Red is a moving magnet cartridge that is designed to provide a detailed and balanced sound. It is a popular choice among audiophiles and vinyl enthusiasts due to its excellent sound quality and affordability. In this review, I will take a closer look at the features and performance of the Ortofon 2M Red.

Ortofon 2M Red Specifications

  • Output voltage at 1000 Hz, 5cm/sec. – 5.5 mV
  • Channel balance at 1 kHz – 1.5 dB
  • Channel separation at 1 kHz – 22 dB
  • Channel separation at 15 kHz – 15 dB
  • Frequency response – 20-20.000 Hz + 3 / – 1 dB
  • Tracking ability at 315Hz at recommended tracking force – 70 µm
  • Compliance, dynamic, lateral – 20 µm/mN
  • Stylus type – Elliptical
  • Stylus tip radius – r/R 8/18 µm
  • Tracking force range – 1.6-2.0 g (16-20 mN)
  • Tracking force, recommended – 1.8 g (18 mN)
  • Tracking angle – 20°
  • Internal impedance, DC resistance – 1.3 kOhm
  • Internal inductance – 700 mH
  • Recommended load resistance – 47 kOhm
  • Recommended load capacitance – 150-300 pF
  • Cartridge color, body/stylus – Black/Red
  • 2M standard and 2M Verso cartridges weigh – 7.2 g

You can download & view the manual here->Ortofon 2M Red Manual


Ortofon 2M Red is a representative of the 2M family, which also includes the 2M Blue, 2M Bronze, and 2M Black models, as well as their Verso (with screws fixed in the housing) and PnP (Plug and Play) headshells for direct mounting on the tonearm. There are also special versions such as 2M Mono, 2M Mono SE, and 2M 78, the purpose of which needs no explanation. It should be emphasized, however, that despite all the above cartridges belonging to one group, there is almost a technological gap between the lowest Red and the highest Black, because the Red has an elliptical stylus, the Black has a Shibata stylus cut, and an advanced MM system. So, when deciding on a specific model, the buyer also chooses a clear technological solution, and thus – the sound.

If you are interested in a more deep view of Ortofon 2M Black go here: Ortofon 2M Black Review.

Ortofon 2M Red

It is worth knowing that the entire 2M series was developed in cooperation with the Danish Møller Jensen Design studio. The same studio also designed the award-winning MC Kontrapunkt and Jubilee cartridge series. The external structure of the 2M cartridges was inspired by the shapes of a diamond, thanks to which their sophisticated elegance of design creates a combination of form and function. The name 2M simply means two letters M, which is the abbreviation MM for Moving Magnet. Simple and ingenious. Each of the 2M cartridges has replaceable needles that can be purchased separately.

Ortofon 2M Red Moving Magnet Cartridge
  • Universal fit for most turntables
  • Upgrade from stock cartridges
  • The Ortofon 2M Red is an all-purpose cartridge that delivers open, dynamic sound with a slight touch of warmth
  • The Ortofon 2M Red features an Elliptical diamond
  • Can be upgraded with an Ortofon Stylus 2M Blue

If you are interested in a more deep view of Ortofon 2M Blue go here: Ortofon 2M Blue Review.

2M Red looks identical to the other representatives of the 2M series. It has a red cap on the front, which is a replaceable part with a needle. The rest of the outer liner is the same. It is a black case made of very durable and hard plastic. At the top, there is a red inscription 2M. The diamond needle used has an elliptical cut. Inside, it has an improved proprietary MM chip, which ensures optimal sound reproduction and a high sound level characterized by high accuracy (as you can read on the company website). The cartridge uses the company’s split pin pole technology. This invention enables the MM cartridge to achieve flat characteristics comparable to MC cartridges. This technology was originally used in the 500 series and Super OM series, but 2M Red uses an improved engine’ reaching an output level of 5.5 mV. The cartridge is mounted with two screws screwed into the threaded holes from above, which is a great help. With time, you can buy an Ortofon 2M Blue needle with a nude elliptical cut for 2M Red, this solution is proposed by the manufacturer itself as an upgrade.

Ortofon 2M Red Test

How the Ortofon 2M Red Cartridge Can Improve Your Listening Experience

This cartridge is designed to provide a detailed and accurate sound reproduction, allowing you to hear every nuance of your favorite music.

The Ortofon 2M Red cartridge features a nude elliptical diamond stylus, which is designed to provide precise and accurate sound reproduction. This stylus can track the grooves of your records with greater accuracy than other styli, resulting in a more detailed and accurate sound. The stylus also has a low-friction design, which reduces distortion and improves sound quality.

The Ortofon 2M Red cartridge also features a high-output design, which allows it to be used with a wide range of phono preamps and amplifiers. This allows you to get the most out of your system, regardless of the type of equipment you are using.

The Ortofon 2M Red cartridge also features a low-mass design, which helps to reduce record wear and improve sound quality. This design also helps to reduce the amount of vibration that is transferred to the stylus, resulting in a more accurate sound reproduction.

Ortofon 2M Red Front View

Overall, the Ortofon 2M Red cartridge is an excellent choice for anyone looking to improve their listening experience. This cartridge is designed to provide a detailed and accurate sound reproduction, allowing you to hear every nuance of your favorite music. With its high-output design and low-mass design, this cartridge is sure to provide an exceptional listening experience.

If you are interested in a more deep view of Ortofon 2M Bronze go here: Ortofon 2M Bronze Review.

A Comprehensive Guide to Setting Up the Ortofon 2M Red Cartridge

Properly setting up the cartridge is essential for optimal performance and to ensure that your records are played back accurately. This guide will provide step-by-step instructions on how to set up the Ortofon 2M Red cartridge properly.

Step 1: Mounting the Cartridge

The first step is to mount the cartridge onto the tonearm. Begin by loosening the tonearm’s counterweight and removing the stylus guard. Carefully place the cartridge onto the headshell, making sure that the stylus is facing the correct direction. Secure the cartridge to the headshell using the two screws provided.

Step 2: Setting the Tracking Force

The next step is to set the tracking force. This is the amount of pressure that the stylus applies to the record. The recommended tracking force for the Ortofon 2M Red is 1.8 grams. To set the tracking force, use the counterweight on the tonearm and adjust it until the stylus is applying the correct amount of pressure.

Step 3: Setting the Anti-Skate

The anti-skate setting is used to counteract the inward pull of the tonearm caused by the spinning record. The recommended anti-skate setting for the Ortofon 2M Red is 1.8 grams. To set the anti-skate, use the dial on the tonearm and adjust it until the correct amount of pressure is applied.

Step 4: Setting the Azimuth

The azimuth setting ensures that the stylus is perfectly aligned with the grooves of the record. To set the azimuth, use a protractor to measure the angle of the stylus relative to the record. Adjust the tonearm until the angle is correct.

Step 5: Final Checks

Once all the settings have been adjusted, performing a few final checks is important. Make sure that the stylus is clean and free of debris. Also, check that the tonearm is balanced and that the cartridge is securely mounted to the headshell.

By following these steps, you can ensure that your Ortofon 2M Red cartridge is properly set up and ready to provide you with excellent sound quality.

Sound Test

I installed the cartridge in two turntables: Clearaudio Emotion and Pioneer PLX-1000. Comparative cartridges are Goldring 1042 and Goldring Legacy. Phono preamplifiers include Sonus Oliva, Primare R32, iFi iPhono, and Ri-Audio PH-1, as well as internal ones in the Cayin MS-55 A and Audio Analogue Fortissimo amplifiers.

The 2M Red cartridge, which is relatively inexpensive by audiophile standards, may not sound as good as you’d expect. But to the surprise of many, the 2M Red provides a clean and open sound that is clear and tangible. The sound is full, lively, and juicy, with a dynamic quality that is slightly warm and sweet. The treble is not too sharp or bright, but it is not the most detailed or selective either. The midrange is rich and clear, but more expensive cartridges can provide better detail and differentiation – the midrange is somewhat influenced by the treble. The bass is surprisingly powerful and well-controlled, but other cartridges like the Goldring 1042 and Legacy may do it better. Despite its limitations, the 2M Red provides a wonderful and harmonious sound that is authentic, direct, and strong, with a well-defined sense of space.

Ortofon 2M Red Close Up

The Ortofon 2M Red cartridge is a fantastic option for anyone looking for high-quality sound. It tracks the grooves of your vinyl records with impressive reliability, making it easy for the needle to move smoothly and effortlessly. This results in a fast and alluring sound that truly showcases the natural analog advantages of your records.

What’s great about this cartridge is that it doesn’t color the sound too much. Instead, it provides a pleasant and pure sound that is a great introduction to the world of high-fidelity audio. And the best part? The build quality, sound quality, and price are all perfectly balanced, making it an excellent value. It’s a cartridge that’s hard not to like and one that I would highly recommend to anyone.

Ortofon 2M Red Video Review

Maintaining and Cleaning Your Ortofon 2M Red Turntable Cartridge

Maintaining and cleaning your Ortofon 2M Red Turntable Cartridge is essential for ensuring the highest quality sound reproduction. The 2M Red is a highly sensitive and precise cartridge, and as such, requires special care and attention.

To begin, it is important to keep the stylus clean. The stylus should be cleaned with a soft brush after every use. This will help remove any dust or dirt that may have accumulated on the stylus. Additionally, it is important to check the stylus for wear and tear and replace it if necessary.

It is also important to keep the cartridge body clean. This can be done by using a soft cloth and a mild cleaning solution. Make sure to avoid using any abrasive cleaners, as this can damage the cartridge. Additionally, it is important to keep the cartridge away from dust and dirt, as this can affect the sound quality.

Finally, it is important to keep the cartridge properly aligned. This is done by using a protractor to ensure that the cartridge is properly aligned with the tonearm. This is an important step, as improper alignment can cause sound distortion.

By following these steps, you can ensure that your Ortofon 2M Red Turntable Cartridge will remain in top condition and provide you with the highest quality sound reproduction.

To Buy Or Not?

The Ortofon 2M Red is a great cartridge for anyone looking for a high-quality, reliable, and affordable phono cartridge. It offers excellent sound quality with a wide frequency range and a detailed soundstage. It is also easy to install and maintain, making it a great choice for both experienced and novice vinyl enthusiasts. With its great sound quality and affordability, the Ortofon 2M Red is an excellent choice for anyone looking to upgrade their turntable setup.

Ortofon 2M Red Pro & Cons


  • Great resolution
  • Easy to use
  • Sleek with solid casing
  • Solid sound


  • Require precise VTA adjustment
  • Not so good for straight tonearms
  • Not good for unbalanced audio systems
  • Midrange influenced by the treble
  • Not so strong bass
Great cartridge in this price range. If you are looking for an upgrade it is worth looking for an Ortofon 2M Blue needle with a nude elliptical cut for 2M Red.
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