Ortofon 2M Black LVB 250 Cartridge Page 2

Owing to my current drive to create some order in my life, I have been clearing out my libraries of books and music and have uncovered a cache of 12in/45rpm singles with their expected spectacular sound. First up was Aretha Franklin's 'I Say A Little Prayer For You' [Atlantic 5046727630], notable for the background vocalists (and better sound quality than my preferred song on the same disc, 'Respect').

Aretha's voice was delivered with that inimitable mix of power and subtlety for which she is adored, while the spread across the room exposed the first of the 2M Black LVB 250's many virtues: it recreates space, especially stage width more so than depth, with ample provision for forensic listening into the performance. You could almost separate the vocalists from each other, but the more impressive element was that, despite this wide-open view, one enjoyed coherence across the sound spectrum. The sound was 'of a whole' rather than comprising disparate elements.

Rattle The Room
In direct contradiction to this trait was a spin of the most synthetic recording I can name, that milestone of artifice that is the Human League's 'Don't You Want Me (Extended Dance Mix)' [Virgin VS466-12]. This became a legendary audiophile demo disc, because despite it consisting wholly of music rendered by synthesisers, it also has an uncanny layering to it. While there is nothing natural whatsoever about the recording, the use of it for bass extension and speed, attack, snap, dynamic contrasts and other characteristics is indisputable. (If that's too clinical for you, you can flip it over and play the mix with vocals.)


Goodness me, did this rattle the room. The sound was rich and full, if not quite as scalpel-like in its precision. Without waxing too eccentrically, the Human League single was made to be heard via a Decca/London Gold, especially if you expect synth transients to be as fast as they come. The 2M Black LVB 250 isn't sluggish, but neither will it dazzle those who find even hip-hop bass to be slightly lethargic.

After puzzling over this cartridge for a fortnight, I had an atypical revelation, philistine that I am. No, I wasn't daft enough to think that this was voiced for Beethoven material above all others just because of the initials and the portrait that grace it, but there was a nagging suspicion that it just might favour classical.

The week before this cartridge went live for me, I had been listening to Riccardo Muti and the Wiener Philharmoniker, performing Mozart Symphonies Nos 25, 35, 'Haffner' and 39 [Decca 00289 482 6249], via the Soundsmith strain gauge design. I played it as well with a couple of MC cartridges, and something suggested that this Ortofon pick-up might love strings.

Elegant Variation
Not only was that LP an ideal diet for the 2M Black LVB 250, it also showed it has a way with the natural acoustic of a massive hall, as would host an orchestra. The 2M Black LVB 250 blossomed. While I doubt it would seduce dedicated MC fans, used to hearing more deep bass mass, it certainly narrows the gap between MMs and MCs in many areas, especially warmth. The strings enjoyed a particular lushness that – dare I say it – reminded me of the venerable Ortofon SPU.

Indeed, the 2M Black LVB 250 is one of the most charming MMs I have tried, though it doesn't cancel out the 2M Red, which has more bite, especially for electric guitar and sharp percussion. The 2M Black LVB 250, on the other hand, revelled in recreating a large, natural acoustic and delivers far greater refinement for the extra outlay. While it doesn't strike me as the most impactful of the 2Ms, it certainly merits its position as the line's top model on elegance alone.


As much as I hate to revert to the 1960s practice of categorising audio products as genre-biased, this cartridge undeniably prefers classical and acoustic music. Then I noticed the small print on the Mozart LP sleeve: 'Produced in co-operation with Pro-Ject Audio'. Y'think? Heinz Lichtenegger of Pro-Ject and his wife Jozefina, CEO of EAT, regard rock music the way Greta Thunberg looks at McDonalds. They're classical music lovers to the core, as well as clients of Ortofon. I knew Pro-Ject fitted Ortofons in various turn-key turntable packages. So I checked out the EAT webpage and sure enough, the B-Sharp turntable [HFN Jul '20] is shown with an Ortofon 2M Blue… and the costlier C-Major deck is revealed with a 2M Black.

Hi-Fi News Verdict
Having lived with the 2M Red, I was surprised to hear how the 2M Black LVB 250 varied from its sibling. It's certainly more refined and composed, if less vivacious. What amused me was the not-so-subtle clue communicated by LVB's silhouette on the side: this is a silky, sophisticated cartridge which – to my ears – favours classical, much jazz and acoustic, rather than the sizzle-and-snap of pop or rock.

Ortofon A/S
Supplied by: Henley Audio Ltd, UK
01235 511166