The phono, turntable, or Hi-Fi hobby has a lot of great cartridge makers associated with it. Two of these manufacturers include Sumiko and Ortofon.
Both have been around for ages. They’ve consistently released cartridges that have become some of the most classic choices for newbies and veterans of the hobby. So, how do you know which one to choose?
This article looked at the head-to-head—or rather needle-to-needle—battle of Sumiko Blue Point vs Ortofon 2M Bronze.
Blue Point 2 and Ortofon 2M Bronze have a myriad of differences, from the type of cartridge down to the stylus shape.
Hence, you can expect a lot of variability between the two cartridges’ sounds. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that one is automatically better than the other. Ultimately, it depends heavily on the music and sound you’re after.
Sumiko Blue Point
Ortofon 2M Bronze
Sumiko’s Blue Point 2 is a high-output moving coil cartridge (MC). The Blue Point line’s entire premise is to seamlessly combine the best things about an MM cartridge while being a high-output MC.
This means you can use this cartridge regardless of your phono preamp’s MM capabilities. The resulting sound from Blue Point 2 is a strong and inviting bass, well-defined and musical mids, as well as lofty highs.
Ortofon 2M Bronze is a moving magnet cartridge (MM). In addition, it’s made to track high-frequency records and passages because of its tip design.
It’s also widely compatible with different turntables because of its refined cartridge form. Ortofon made sure to make the mounting uncomplicated as well.
This cartridge promises a vivid and detailed sound that’s easy to listen to, regardless if you’re a newbie or a veteran in the hobby.
Let’s look at the differences between Blue Point 2 and Ortofon 2M Bronze.
It’s important to note beforehand though that Ortofon and Sumiko use different measurement forms for factors like compliance. This makes it difficult to pinpoint the exact variability this makes in sound quality.
Here’s a table that sums up some of the differences between the two cartridges based on the manufacturer’s website:
|Specifications||Sumiko Blue Point 2||Ortofon 2M Bronze|
|Dimensions||0.66 x 0.66 x 1.09in||0.70 x 0.72 x 0.94in|
|Frequency Response||15Hz to 35kHz||20Hz to 20kHz|
|Stylus Type||Elliptical||Nude Fine Line|
|Channel Separation||30dB @ 1kHz||26dB @ 1kHz|
|Recommended Tracking Force||0.07oz||0.05g|
|Capacitance||100pF to 200pF||150pF to 300pF|
One of the biggest differences between Blue Point 2 and Ortofon 2M Bronze is that they’re completely different types of cartridges. What exactly does this mean, though?
Well, for the most part, it means that they work differently. Even though they both mainly utilize electromagnetic generators, the mechanism of how they produce sound is distinct.
As the name suggests, a moving coil (MC cartridge) uses thin coils—commonly made of copper—that move inside the cartridge body. On the other hand, a moving magnet (MM) cartridge has fixed coils and a pair of small magnets. These magnets are the ones that move within the set magnetic field to produce sound.
This explanation is a rather simple and condensed way to put it, but that’s the general mechanism of those two types of cartridges.
Another major difference between the Blue Point 2 and Ortofon 2M Bronze is the shape of their stylus. The former uses an elliptical stylus, while the latter sports a fine line one. What difference does this make?
A fine line stylus will track even the highest of frequencies—which is true for the Ortofon 2M Bronze. However, an elliptical stylus gives a cartridge more precision without sacrificing clarity, even in high frequencies.
The manufacturers of both cartridges are popular for a good reason: they produce good-quality audio gear. We think it’s safe to assume that you can expect fine build quality in Sumiko’s Blue Point 2 and Ortofon 2M Bronze.
However, if you go around some music forums, some people have experienced the stylus suspension of the Ortofon 2M Bronze giving out. The problem may lie in the suspension material drying out and becoming brittle over time, especially when the cartridges are kept in storage for a while.
Other than that, there seems to be no other issue regarding build quality for both cartridges.
How Are Blue Point 2 and Ortofon 2M Bronze Similar?
Based on specifications alone, Blue Point 2 and Ortofon 2M Bronze have many more differences than similarities. In addition, most of their similarities have minimal effects on their sound.
The tracking angle refers to the angle of the cantilever or the tonearm, with regard to the surface of your record. The two cartridges have a tracking angle of 20°.
This angle is standard for most cartridges of this size, so the similarity isn’t all that shocking.
Another similarity between Blue Point 2 and Ortofon 2M Bronze is channel balance.
At 1kHz, the two cartridges have a channel balance of less than 1dB. This is a desirable value because it generally means there’s an equal volume from both sides of the stereo.
Related: Ortofon 2M Bronze vs Blue
So, what does Blue Point 2 do better? Does this cartridge’s overall quality live up to the hype and popularity that surrounds it?
We want to preface this by saying that just because we’re saying Blue Point 2 has better sound quality doesn’t mean Ortofon isn’t a viable choice anymore.
Sumiko’s cartridges are known for the warmth of the sounds they produce. On the other hand, Ortofon is usually associated with being dry and neutral. This isn’t necessarily bad because some records and types of music sound better through this kind of cartridge.
To be completely honest, it’s down to a matter of taste.
Almost every cartridge will require you to break them in or use them for a set amount of hours before you can attain their maximum potential. In addition to the distinct warmth of sounds that Blue Point 2 makes, it also has a shorter break-in period compared to Ortofon 2M Bronze.
Now, we do want you to take this with a grain of salt because the breaking-in period obviously isn’t listed on any manufacturer’s website. This metric is mostly from people who’ve used these cartridges.
According to forums like Vinyl Engine, the Ortofon 2M Bronze takes almost 50 hours to break in compared to the 20 hours on the Blue Point 2.
What’s Better About Ortofon 2M Bronze?
A lot of seasoned audiophiles prefer MC cartridges over MM cartridges. Does this mean Blue Point 2 automatically takes the bag? Not exactly.
Below are some of the reasons why this cartridge is still a viable contender against Blue Point 2.
Let’s start by saying that both Blue Point 2 and Ortofon 2M Bronze have the same price range. The exact price depends on where you buy it from.
However, we’re giving this point to Ortofon 2M Bronze, because Blue Point 2 is already listed as “Out of Production” on Sumiko’s website. While this doesn’t mean you won’t be able to get it anymore, it may have an effect on the cartridge’s current market price.
Ortofon 2M Bronze, on the other hand, is easily available on the manufacturer’s website itself at the suggested retail price. Any extra fees might be attributed to shipping and handling charges.
Based on Ortofon’s website, the 2M Bronze’s stylus is interchangeable with 2M Black and 2M Black LVB 50. Even if 2M Bronze belongs to the 2M Series, not all components of every cartridge in the series are interchangeable.
We gave this point to Ortofon 2M Bronze because Blue Point 2 lacks the opportunity to interchange styli with any other cartridge in its line. According to Sumiko’s website, you can only re-tip this cartridge.
Related: The full ortofon SH-4 cartridge review
Thanks to its frequency response, Blue Point 2 offers a relatively full soundstage and strapping bass sounds. If you feel like this is the sound you’re looking for, this cartridge is for you.
Because it’s out of production, you may have to go the extra mile to get it for yourself. However, if you have the time and resources, by all means, go for it.
This cartridge has become a cult favorite over the years, which is a testament to its sound and build quality.
Ortofon is committed to that Hi-Fi goal, and they achieved it with Ortofon 2M Bronze. If you’re looking for more natural sounds to come through in your records, this is the cartridge for you.
It offers vivid sounds that will, according to Ortofon’s website itself, bring you a sonically spectacular experience.