It comes as no surprise that the quality of your cartridge has a huge impact on the sound you hear. After all, it’s the part responsible for decoding all the musical information in a record.
With tons of cartridge options on the market, we’ve decided to compare two of the most hyped cartridges, Sumiko Rainier vs. Ortofon 2M red, to help you pick the right one. Stick around to learn all the details!
Both Sumiko Rainier and the Ortofon 2m Red balance affordability with good performance.
Sumiko Rainer produces a fuller bass and mid-range sound than the 2M Red, resulting in a more dynamic sound. Ortofon 2M Red, on the other hand, is more affordable and focuses on high frequencies, giving the audio a pronounced sharpness.
Ortofon 2M Red
What Is Sumiko Rainier?
Sumiko Rainier is one of the popular cartridge options. It also delivers a natural, warm sound and does a decent job of capturing the highs. However, the higher instrument frequencies can sound a bit scattered and lack precision.
The Rainier has a durable diamond stylus, lasting up to 2000 playing hours with proper care. However, that’s not the only stylus feature Sumiko offers; it’s also replaceable.
Plus, the needle is interchangeable with other cartridges in the Oyster lineup. That allows you to upgrade to higher styluses without changing the body.
Although aesthetics are entirely subjective, it’s safe to say that Sumiko Rainier’s design is slightly boring. It has a box-like body with smooth edges. The body is all black, with a white tip that holds the needle. Still, the design allows ease of fitting to most ½-inch-mount headshells.
What Is Ortofon 2M Red?
Interestingly, unlike the Rainier, Ortofon 2M Red focuses more on high frequencies and lacks the fuller, richer sound in the bass range. Nevertheless, it offers good clarity in the midrange and does a better job with higher frequencies.
So, the overall audio precision depends mainly on the type of record you play.
Users also read: Sumiko Moonstone Review
Similar to the Rainier, Ortofon 2M Red is interchangeable with the 2M blue and silver, but not the entire 2M series. It also has a durable diamond stylus that lasts for 2000 playing hours. However, you’ll notice a considerable reduction in quality after you hit the 1000-hour range.
When it comes to the design, the 2M Red seems to offer more than the Rainer. It comes in a dashing red color. Plus, it’s manufactured for ease of fitting to most tonearms and top-mount headshells, even those without captive nuts.
This cartridge also has two other models, the 2M Red Verso for bottom-mounted headshells and the 2M Red PnP for tonearms with an S shape.
- One of the most affordable cartridges in the market
- Produces slightly warm and dynamic sounds
- Ease-of-fit design with two other models for expanded installation options
- Focuses on the highs, which makes their bass range experience a bit lacking
- Lacks precision and can skip parts of the record
Here are the key differences between both cartridges to help you understand their features better:
Sumiko Rainier has a standard elliptical stylus. That stylus shape traces larger areas of the grooves, even those hard-to-read inner grooves. As a result, it captures wider frequencies, produces less distortion, and reduces delays.
Ortofon 2M Red has an elliptical stylus as well. However, the 2M Red has a split pole pin shape. That’s why it tracks higher frequencies better than the Rainier. Still, it lacks when it comes to low and mid-range tones.
So, although the 2M Red stylus captures higher frequencies, the overall sound isn’t as dynamic and detailed as Sumiko Rainier.
A cartridge’s frequency coverage is responsible for producing different tone ranges. The wider the frequency response range, the more you hear low, mid, and high tones in the record.
Sumiko Rainier boasts a frequency of 12 Hz to 25 kHz range. In comparison, the 2M Red has a frequency coverage of 20 Hz to 22 kHz. This means that the Rainier produces lower and higher frequencies than the Ortofon 2M Red.
That said, the human ear hears frequencies within the 20 Hz to 20 kHz range.
So, while the Rainier frequency is impressive, it might be unnecessary. Still, the clarity of Sumiko Rainier is much better, making it the winner of this category.
Related: Check out our detailed Ortofon SH-4 review
The weight of a cartridge is crucial for smooth performance. If the cartridge is heavy, you can expect it to weigh down the record’s speed by applying too much pressure. Even worse, it can dent and warp your precious LP.
On the other hand, a light cartridge cause a skip on the record as the cartridge won’t put the right pressure, preventing the stylus from reaching the grooves.
There isn’t that much weight significance between the Rainier and the 2M Red. The former weighs 6.5 grams, while the latter is 7.2 grams. So, with less than one gram difference, both of these cartridges are tied in the weight category.
What counts toward achieving the proper cartridge pressure is the tracking force and not the cartridge’s weight. The tracking force is the weight your cartridge applies to the record.
Ideally, you should adjust the tracking force to be within 1 to 3 grams, depending on the turntable’s needs. The heavier the tracking force is, the more the stylus pushes down, producing distortion.
Sumiko has a tracking force range of 1.8–2.2 grams. With 1.8 grams of tracking force, the Ortofon 2M Red is pretty much similar.
The difference here is negligible, but if we were to pick a winner, it’d be Ortofon 2M Red.
Must read: Dual 1219 vs. Dual 1229 turntable comparison
If you’re looking for a cost-efficient option that produces a natural warm tone along with capturing some highs, then Sumkio Rainier might be a better fit.
It’s also ideal for those who want to have clarity and details in their records.
Ortofon 2M Red is for those looking for a very affordable cartridge and enjoying listening to bright records with much treble.
It’s also a great option if you’re starting your cartridge journey and looking for an easy-to-install device.