Grado Black 1 Vs. Ortofon 2M Red

After searching for the right cartridge purchase, you’ve probably pranced upon several brands such as Grado Labs and Ortofon. These companies have produced some of the best mid-range cartridge options for record listeners.

We will be comparing two of their products, namely, the Grado Black1 vs. Ortofon 2M Red. Both products vary in their music tones and sound quality.

Stick around to learn more about each option and what makes them different from each other.

Grado Black 1 vs. Ortofon 2M Red – Overview

The Grado Black1 is perfect for bass listeners with its strong deep tones. In contrast, the Ortofon 2M Red is better performing in high and warm notes and tones, making it better suited for pop or rock music fans.

Grado Black1

Grado Black1

  • Strong Deep Tones
  • Good Choice
Ortofon 2M Red

Ortofon 2M Red

  • Better Performing
  • Better for Pop & Rock Music

What Is Grado Black1?

The Grado Black1 is a moving iron cartridge. It’s one of the first in the Grado Black Prestige series. The cartridge was developed by Grado Labs, a Brooklyn-based company producing a wide range of headphones and cartridges.

The device uses three-piece OTL cantilever technology to enhance its sound performance. Additionally, its 17% reduced mass has provided a more refined sound quality.

What Is Ortofon 2M Red?

The Ortofon 2M Red is a moving magnet cartridge fit for multiple types of turntables. The beginner-friendly cartridge is produced by the Danish reputable company, Ortofon.

Ortofon 2M Red Moving Magnet Cartridge

The device is built for easy installation and versatility. On top of that, the Ortofon 2M Red cartridge ensures anti-resonance music.

Grado Black1 vs. Ortofon 2M Red: How Are They Different?

After mentioning some of the cartridges’ features, let’s examine the key differences between each option.

Cartridge Type

Cartridges mainly come in either moving coil or moving magnet types. Interestingly, the Grado Black1 extends beyond those options and, instead, relies on a moving iron mechanism. Meanwhile, the Ortofon 2M Red classifies as a moving magnet cartridge,

Related: Grado Black 3 vs. Ortofon 2M Red

Now, there’s only one difference in this case. For the Grado Black1 cartridge, a piece of iron or some kind of ferrous alloy replaces the magnet piece. This change is a considerable improvement since the metal is lighter than a magnet piece.

Output Voltage

The output voltage of a cartridge typically measures how much current the device can create to produce music. This may affect sound levels.

Both the Grado Black1 and Ortofon 2M Red cartridges aren’t that far off when it comes to the output voltage. The prior produces about 5mV, while the latter, 5.5mV.

With these numbers in mind, you wouldn’t need to get a phono preamp to boost the output voltage.

Channel Separation

Channel separation is a critical factor when deciding which cartridge to choose. It allows you to measure the ability of one channel to ignore the other. It basically helps to reduce left and right channel interference in the speakers.

The higher the channel separation in the cartridge, the better performing its separation. Having said that, the Grado Black1 has a 30dB channel separation. On the other hand, the Ortofon 2M Red has a much lower 22dB rating.

Tracking Force

The tracking force of a cartridge measures the weight of the stylus resting on the record. The higher the number, the more likely your records will experience some wear.

The Grado Black1 has a recommended tracking force of 1.5 g, but it can range between 1 to 2 grams. Contrastingly, the Ortofon 2M Red’s pressure force can go between 1.6 to 2 g. Meanwhile, its recommended force is about 1.8 g.

Grado Black1 vs. Ortofon 2M Red: How Are They Similar?

After discussing what sets the Grado Black1 and Ortofon 2M Red apart, it’s time we delve into their similarities,

Stylus Features

The stylus or needle of both the Grado Black1 and Ortofon 2M Red are diamond-tipped and elliptical-shaped.

That being so, the elliptical shape is ideal for frequency response and precision. With its narrow tip, it can follow along the record’s groove with greater detail compared to a spherical stylus.

The diamond-mounted feature provides the cartridges with more durability, but a heavier mass which can affect the sound.

In addition to this, Grado Black1 and Ortofon 2M Red have detachable styli, which is a plus point for beginner use.

What’s Better About Grado Black1?

The Grado Black1 offers a lot of distinctive features from its separate magnetic gaps to its high output use. What could make it better compared to the Ortofon 2M Red is its cartridge type.
Since the Black1 is powered by a moving iron rather than a moving magnet, it’s lighter and produces more hi-fi sound quality.

On top of that, the Grado Black1 cartridge has a higher channel separation and lower tracking force.

What’s Better About Ortofon 2M Red?

Between the Ortofon 2M Red and the Grado Black 1, the prior is available at a cheaper price point. In addition to this, the product comes with a lot of extras such as a screwdriver, mini stylus brush, and screws.

Aside from that, the output voltage of the Ortofon 2M Red is slightly higher than the Grado Black1.

Appearance-wise, the Ortofon 2M Red takes the cake with its modern geometric shape. The Grado Black1’s design may appear a little too clunky.

Who Should Get Grado Black1? (and Why?)

The Grado Black1 is ideal for seasonal advanced record players and hobbyists looking to extend their cartridge collection.

It’s also well-suited for those looking for that organic and balanced tone. The music comes off as full with deep basses and decent mids.

In other words, you can jam to some cool jazzy tunes with the Grado Black1. Additionally, the cartridge is also ideal for those classical music listeners.

Who Should Get Ortofon 2M Red? (and Why?)

For those looking to get a good deal on a magnet moving cartridge, the Ortofon 2M Red is a reasonable option.

If you’re a beginner record or turntable player, then this cartridge may also be a worthwhile purchase. Besides that, the Ortofon 2M Red could provide you with warm, open, and clear sounds.

Users Also Read: Sumiko Rainier Vs Ortofon 2M Blue

That being said, the Ortofon 2M may not be the best for music with lots of bass. Instead, it tends to perform well on high notes, especially in rock music.

SpecificationsGrado Black1Ortofon 2M Red
Frequency Response10-50,000 Hz20-22,000 Hz
Cartridge TypeMoving IronMoving Magnet
Stylus TypeDiamond EllipticalDiamond Elliptical
Channel Separation30 dB at 1KHz22 dB at 1KHz
Output Voltage5mV5.5mV
Compliance CUs2020
Recommended Tracking Force1.5 g1.8 g
Weight5.5 g7.2 g