Ortofon 2M Bronze vs Ortofon 2M Black

Is the Ortofon 2M Bronze better than the 2M Black?

The Ortofon 2M Bronze and Ortofon 2M Black are two of the best moving magnet cartridges on the market.  But their high quality comes at a premium price.

The Ortofon 2M Bronze costs about $450, while you can usually find the 2M Black for about $750.

Is the Ortofon 2M Black worth virtually $300 more than the 2M Bronze?  Well, in this Ortofon 2M Bronze vs 2M Black comparison review, I’m not only going to discuss things like each cartridge’s price point or notable specs, but also give you breakdown of how the 2M Black’s sound differs from the 2M Bronze.  I’ll also examine which cartridge I feel gives you the best value for your money.

And below, please take a moment to view our interactive guide.  You’ll be able to not only compare the 2M Bronze to the 2M Black, but also see how it stacks up to other cartridges on the market.

PhotoModelPriceKey Feature
Ortofon 2M Red$MM Phono Cartridge
Ortofon 2M Blue$$MM Phono Cartridge
Ortofon 2M Bronze$$MM Phono Cartridge
Ortofon 2M Black$$$MM Phono Cartridge
GRADO Prestige Black3$Cartridge w/Reconfigured Coil Design
GRADO Prestige Blue3$Cartridge w/47K Input Load
GRADO Prestige Gold3$$Cartridge is 5.5 ounces
Nagaoka MP-100$Load resistance: 47KΩ
Audio-Technica VM540ML$$Tracking Force: 1.8 to 2.2g

Ortofon 2M Bronze Specs

Let’s first go over the specs you can expect to see with the 2M Bronze and 2M Black.  

Let’s begin with the Ortofon 2M Bronze:

  • Output voltage at 1000 Hz, 5cm/sec.  –  5 mV
  • Channel balance at 1 kHz  –  1 dB
  • Channel separation at 1 kHz  –  26 dB
  • Channel separation at 15 kHz  –  15 dB
  • Frequency range at – 3dB  –  20-29.000 Hz
  • Frequency response  –  20-20.000 + 2 / – 0 dB
  • Tracking ability at 315Hz at recommended tracking force  –  80 µm
  • Compliance, dynamic, lateral  –  22 µm/mN
  • Stylus type  –  Nude Fine Line
  • Stylus tip radius  –   r/R 8/40 µm
  • Tracking force range  –  1.4-1.7 g (14-17 mN)
  • Tracking force, recommended  –  1.5 g (15 mN)
  • Tracking angle  –  20°
  • Internal impedance, DC resistance  –  1.2 kOhm
  • Internal inductance  –  630 mH
  • Recommended load resistance  – 47 kOhm
  • Recommended load capacitance  –  150-300 pF
  • Cartridge colour, body/stylus  –  Black/Bronze
  • Cartridge weight  –   7.2 g
  • 2M PnP MkII cartridge with integrated headshell weight  –  20 g
  • 2M PnP MkII cartridge with integrated headshell length – 52 mm 

Ortofon 2M Black Specs

And here are the specs for the Ortofon 2M Black:

  • Output voltage at 1000 Hz, 5cm/sec.  –  5 mV
  • Channel balance at 1 kHz  –  1 dB
  • Channel separation at 1 kHz  –  26 dB
  • Channel separation at 15 kHz  –  15 dB
  • Frequency range at – 3dB  –  20-31.000 Hz
  • Frequency response  –  20-20.000 + 2 / – 0 dB
  • Tracking ability at 315Hz at recommended tracking force  –  80 µm
  • Compliance, dynamic, lateral  –  22 µm/mN
  • Stylus type  –  Nude Shibata
  • Stylus tip radius  –  r/R 6/50 µm
  • Tracking force range  –  1.4-1.7 g (14-17 mN)
  • Tracking force, recommended  – 1.5 g (15 mN)
  • Tracking angle  –  20°
  • Internal impedance, DC resistance  –  1.2 kOhm
  • Internal inductance  –  630 mH
  • Recommended load resistance  –  47 kOhm
  • Recommended load capacitance  –  150-300 pF
  • Cartridge colour, body/stylus  –  Black/Black
  • Cartridge weight  –  7.2 g
  • 2M PnP MkII cartridge with integrated headshell weight  –  20 g
  • 2M PnP MkII cartridge with integrated headshell length – 52 mm 
  • Replacement stylus unit  –  2M Black (interchangeable with 2M Bronze)

Ortofon 2M Bronze and Black Compatibility

One thing I wanted to quickly mention here is that the 2M Bronze and the 2M Black both share the same cartridge body.  This means that they are 100% compatible with one another, which in certain instances, means you can potentially save a little bit of money.

Ortofon 2M Black

For example, let’s say you already have the Ortofon 2M Bronze installed on your cartridge.  Because the Bronze and Black are interchangeable with one another, it’s highly recommended that you simply buy the 2M Black stylus (not the entire cartridge) if you want to upgrade from the Bronze to the Black. 

Likewise, if you purchased the 2M Black, and for whatever reason weren’t satisfied with its sound, you could downgrade to the 2M Bronze by simply buying the stylus instead of the entire cartridge.

However, if you currently own a cartridge that’s outside of the 2M family (and specifically, outside of the Bronze or Black), you’re going to need to purchase the entire cartridge.  Going this route does require you to remove your current cartridge from your tonearm’s headshell, and then installing the four colored leads (coming from your tonearm) into the back of your cartridge.

The cartridge you select depends on your tonearm.  It will be one of the following:

  1. Ortofon 2M Standard
  2. Ortofon 2M Verso
  3. Ortofon 2M PnP

I’ll cover all three kinds of cartridges in the next section.

2M Standard vs 2M Verso vs 2M PnP

Here’s how it all breaks down.

The Ortofon 2M Standard is likely what a majority of people will need to purchase.  A top mount headhsell is simply one where the screws that secure the cartridge to the tonearm’s headshell are inserted at the top of the headshell.

The Ortofon 2M Verso is, in many ways, the opposite of the 2M Standard.  You would purchase the Ortofon 2M Bronze Verso or Ortofon 2M Black Verso if you owned a bottom mount headshell.

And finally, we have the Ortofon 2M PnP.  You would purchase the Ortofon 2M Bronze PnP or the Ortofon 2M Black PnP if you planned to install the cartridge onto an S-Shaped tonearm.  So, if you had (for example, the Technics 1200 turntable, you would need to purchase a 2M PnP cartridge because this turntable has an S-Shaped tonearm.  

How to Set Up the 2M Bronze and 2M Black

If you’re simply upgrading from the 2M Bronze to the 2M Black, setting up the stylus is quite simple.  All you would need to do is purchase the Ortofon 2M Black stylus, and then  pull off the 2M Bronze stylus from your turntable’s headshell and insert the 2M Black.  It should take no more than ten seconds.

If, however, you are upgrading from a cartridge that’s outside of the Ortofon 2M family, setting up either the 2M Bronze or 2M Black is a bit more involved.

First, you’re going to want to grab a pair of pliers and carefully remove the four colored leads that are connected to the cartridge that’s currently installed on your tonearm.  Make sure you take your time doing this, as the wires can be quite delicate.

Installing the Ortofon 2M Bronze

Next, you’re going to want to grab a screw driver or Allen wrench and remove the screws that are currently holding your cartridge in place within your tonearm or headshell.

Once that’s done, you’ll need to grab your Ortofon 2M Bronze or 2M Black cartridge and connect it to your headshell/tonearm using the same screwdriver or Allen wrench you used previously.

Next, grab those pair of pliers again and carefully connect the four colored leads to the back of the 2M Bronze or 2M Black.  Make sure, once again, you take your time with this task.  Because if you damage your tonearm wires, you won’t be able to enjoy listening to your records.

Once all of the leads are connected, you’ll want to set the tracking force.  The tracking force setting that’s recommended by Ortofon, for both the Bronze and Black, is 1.4-1.7 g (14-17 mN).

After that, you’re going to want to make sure that you properly align your cartridge.  You can do this is various ways, with one of the most popular being the use of an alignment protractor.  

In cases where you may not have a protractor available, Ortofon recommended 16 mm as a general guideline for the position of the stylus in front of the spindle center.  This should have close to zero tracking error on two positions of the stylus.  One position is at about 30 mm in from the starting groove and the other near the end of playing.

If you need more information on setting up your turntable cartrdige, please check out my video below:

2M Bronze vs 2M Black: Sound Breakdown

As I mentioned previously in my Ortofon 2M Bronze review, one of the things I really appreciated about the Bronze cartridge was its ability to do the following three things really well:

1) Provide instrument separation in the music

2) Give the listener a tight bass response in the music

3) Provide a treble that really soars

Listening to the Ortofon 2M Bronze, the clarity and definition of the instrument separation was immediately apparent—there was no burn in or break in time needed to hear this on the 2M Bronze.  I could clearly make out various instruments in the musical arrangement, with each instrument being given proper space to breathe. 

To that end, listening to the 2M Bronze gave me a great sensation of listening to a live concert.

On top of that, what made the 2M Bronze equally impressive in my eyes was the bass response in the lower end of music and the beautiful, soaring treble in the high end.  And while I did think the 2M Bronze has a very nice mid-range—certainly better than the 2M Red and 2M Blue, I felt the bass and treble were notable standouts.

My biggest reason for praising the bass response with the 2M Bronze is mostly due to the fact that I don’t use a subwoofer.  And despite this, I was surprised at how strong the bass kicked in when playing records. 

And while you certainly would expect to hear strong bass when playing a hip hop record or even more pop-friendly artists like Pharrell Williams or Bruno Mars, I was surprised at how noticeable the bass was with other genres of music, as well.  

And finally, the treble was also quite impressive with the 2M Bronze.  In fact, of all of the things I appreciated or was most impressed by with the 2M Bronze, it would be the incredible highs this cartridge produced.

I noticed that, in particular, female vocalists really seemed to soar when using the 2M Bronze.  And coupled with great instrument separation, the music sounded incredibly lively.

Perhaps one negative to the strong treble with the 2M Bronze is the fact that these high “highs” are produced because the cartridge itself is quite “bright.”  The brightness of the cartrdige helps to make music and vocalists sound extra crisp or sharp in the high end.

The benefit to this is that you get much more detailed resolution in the music.  Everything seems much more defined—there’s no veil that feels like its hanging over the music.

The negative to this is that the brightness can feel too sharp to some people’s ears.  And to others, it might just sound downright fatiguing if you embark on a lengthy record listening session.

This is why some people tend to prefer warmer sounding cartridges, where the higher end is less sharp and more rounded off.  That can, for some, lend itself to a more pleasurable listening experience.

I still think the 2M Bronze is a wonderful cartridge, but if it had one drawback, this would be it.

You can check out my full Ortofon 2M Bronze review on video below:

Let’s now move onto the Ortofon 2M Black.

My first thought is that the Ortofon 2M Black does everything the Bronze does—but better.  With that said, it’s also is a much less forgiving cartridge.  Because the 2M Black’s stylus is even more precise than the 2M Bronze, this is both a gift and a curse.  

The gift is that, of course, your music is going to sound much more detailed and accurate than you’ve ever heard it before.  You’ll hear more detail and clarity in your records—detail and clarity you likely never knew was there.

The downside is that, if your records aren’t quite up to snuff—perhaps because they aren’t properly cleaned before playing or simply because they’ve been scratched or damaged over the years, the 2M Black won’t hide these imperfections.  It will showcase them in illuminating detail.

And so, to that end, I think that the 2M Black—more than any other cartridge in the 2M line—rewards you for playing “clean” vinyl records.  These records don’t have to be in Mint condition—you’ll be able to play records graded Very Good that sound very nice. 

However, I’m simply saying that if you personally believe that you can throw on a record rated as “Good” (for example)—a record with quite a bit of scuffs or perhaps a stain or deep scratch on it—and think that the 2M Black is such a high end cartridge that it will overcome the imperfections of your record, I think you’ll be highly disappointed.  If anything, when using the 2M Black, you’ll hear these impactions much more than you would have if you used a lesser or cheaper cartridge,  

And by the way, if you need a refresher course on how vinyl records are graded (and how you can avoid record problems when shopping for used vinyl) be sure to check out my video on Vinyl Record Grading below:

One additional thing I wanted to mention.  Earlier I talked about how the 2M Bronze was a bright cartridge.  Well, I also think the 2M Black is a bright cartridge (I personally think all the 2M cartridges sound bright except for the 2M Red).

With that said, while both the Bronze and Black may sound bright, that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything to help mitigate this “problem.”

While a cartridge can have a big impact in how your records sound, your phono preamp or phono stage can be just as big of a factor.

For example, I recently purchased the Vincent PHO-701 phono preamp (you can read my review of the PHO-701 here).  It’s a tube amplifier, and it produced a warm sound when my records were playing. 

Pairing a typically bright sounding cartridge with a more warm sounding phono preamp is a great way to balance out the sharpness you might otherwise get if you were to listen to the 2M Bronze or 2M Black. 

Better Value: 2M Bronze or 2M Black

This is where things get tough.  I think both cartridges are truly great.  I think the 2M Black is a superior cartridge because it does everything the 2M Bronze can do, but better.  There’s better instrument separation.  There’s a better high end in the music.  The soundstage seems a bit wider.  The music feels a bit more present in the room, leading to an even more immersive listening experience.

However, the 2M Black costs over $700.  It’s a cartridge that costs $300 more than the 2M Bronze.

So, I think that despite the 2M Black being the better cartridge, I think the 2M Bronze is the better value because while it might not be as good as the 2M Black, it is still a very good cartridge in its own right.  There’s really nothing the 2M Bronze does that I would say I dislike or think is poorly done. 

And again, if you either don’t want bright sounding music or music with sharp definition in the high end, the 2M Bronze or 2M Black probably isn’t for you (you might be better off using the much cheaper Ortofon 2M Red).

However, if you can get over that, I think the Ortofon 2M Bronze provides the better value.  But I do think the Ortofon 2M Black is the best cartridge.

Conclusion

Whether you go for the Ortofon 2M Bronze or the 2M Black, you’re getting a great cartridge that is superior to a lot of other alternatives on the market.  

Providing you with detailed music, wonderful instrument separation, a wide soundstage and even punchy bass, the 2M Bronze and 2M Black are a great entry point into the world of higher end cartridges!

If you enjoyed this Ortofon 2M Bronze vs 2M Black review, please “like” us on Facebook too! Please also check out and subscribe to my Devoted to Vinyl YouTube channel!

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