Ortofon MC Anna Diamond Cartridge

hfnoutstandingWith its sintered titanium body, rare earth magnets, exquisite stylus and now a diamond cantilever, Ortofon's latest MC Anna is the very model of a high-tech flagship moving-coil

On the face of it, all that separates this new flagship pick-up from Ortofon's original MC Anna [HFN Oct '12] is the exchange of the latter's rigid boron cantilever for an even more rigid 'diamond' rod. The line-contact Replicant 100 diamond stylus, the 'wide-range armature damping' system (WRD), the sintered titanium body and rare earth alloy magnet are all, ostensibly, unchanged. Nevertheless, this 'Diamond' MC Anna is no mere blinged-up clone.

The eight-year-old MC Anna, named after the operatic soprano Anna Netrebko lest we forget, was trumpeted as Ortofon's best ever cartridge when released. And with good reason. Indeed, it wasn't until 2018 that the limited-edition MC Century was said by the company to better it.

The work undertaken for the MC Century project has now born further fruit with the release of the MC Anna Diamond. This sits in a rarefied field, one that's populated by a mere handful of other 'statement' cartridges from companies such as Lyra and van den Hul. A no-holds-barred design, it sees Ortofon take its engineering know-how and materials technology as far as they can go.

Rare Groove
So why a diamond cantilever? Serious vinyl aficionados know that the cantilever plays a vital role in the performance of any cartridge. It's a key interlinking suspension component, like the wishbones in a car, and needs to be as light, stiff and non-resonant as possible. The boron cantilever used for the MC Anna is certainly no slouch in this area but Ortofon says that diamond's hardness and crystal structure can improve upon these qualities still further. The use of diamond is not a new idea, but is rare due to the sheer cost and difficulty of manufacture.


The cantilever works in conjunction with the aforementioned Replicant 100 diamond stylus. This has a profile said to offer the closest match possible to the head on a cutting lathe and is claimed to have an exceptionally long contact area with the record groove. The company's well known wide-range armature damping system controls cantilever movement and features a small, but heavy, platinum disc sandwiched between two rubber absorbers of differing elasticities. First seen on the MC 20 Mk II of 1979, this is now a staple of Ortofon's MC cartridge design. Meanwhile, the generator system to which the upper end of the cantilever is attached employs high-efficiency neodymium and iron-cobalt magnets for high flux density in the air gap.

Body Art
As with the cantilever, when it comes to the body of the cartridge Ortofon has gone for strength and stiffness. Swimming slightly against the tide of fashion perhaps, the company doesn't follow the skeletal approach of rivals like Lyra. Instead, a Selective Laser Melting process – also known as direct metal laser sintering – is used to weld fine particles of Titanium together, one layer at a time, in order to construct a single-piece body. The company says the result is a structure completely devoid of resonance.

Finally, the bottom cover assembly is made from Thermo-Plastic Elastomer (TPE), claimed to provide additional damping properties. Oh, and just as a reminder that you now own Ortofon's most advanced cartridge ever, there is a small diamond logo underneath the company's name on the front of the cartridge, which the standard MC Anna does not have.

The result is a pick-up that weighs a hefty 16g, has a quoted compliance of 9cu and is said to track optimally at 2.4g. This means you'll need a tonearm having a high-ish effective mass –

I used a specially modified Rega RB300 on a Michell GyroDec turntable, among others. Thanks to the excellent stylus guard and generous fitting kit, I found the cartridge relatively easy to mount, although most will entrust this to their dealer. The company quotes an output of 0.2mV, which is low for a modern moving-coil – indeed, it's more typical of MCs from the '70s, such as the Supex SD900! That said, modern phono stages are quiet, and it presented no problems for my Trichord Dino+, running this on its 'very low' (ie, high gain) and 100ohm load settings.

sqnoteReality Bites
To cut to the chase, this is one of the very best moving-coil cartridges I have ever heard. Now, as with all of life's high pleasures, opinions differ as to what constitutes the 'best'. Suffice to say that the Ortofon MC Anna Diamond is an absolutely top-tier pick-up, and one with immense all-round ability – and so indeed it should be at the price!

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