Nostalgia isn't what it used to be, they say, but opening the classic Ortofon packaging (itself unchanged in something like two decades) and examining, installing and testing a real live phono cartridge brings it all flooding back. And that's before examining the Ortofon website and finding that so many of the old favourites are still available, including models older than most of the SmartHouse staff and contributors!
But, this model is brand new, and pretty much an entry-level model as MC cartridges go. It shares a body design with an even cheaper newcomer (the Samba at $264.50) made in orange 'Noryl' engineering plastic, but has a more sophisticated stylus and cantilever. It is broadly in the 'medium output' range for MC models, ideally wanting a good step-up device but not desperately critical for noise.
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We gave it a good outing in a couple of turntable/arm combinations and rapidly came to appreciate its refinement, insight and general musical involvement. The classic advantages of MC cartridges over the generally cheaper moving-magnet types include better precision and sharper focus, and while the very cheapest MCs sometimes struggle to deliver that with tonal neutrality, good models like this one do have a lot to offer in that direction, without sacrificing basics like tracking ability.
There's a slight 'cuppy' coloration which we're pretty sure is a function of the body. It's not serious and does little to detract from the excellent pace and timing and the fine extension at top and bottom. In typical Ortofon fashion though, there's no strong preference for any one musical style, always a useful result.
Ortofon Salsa Â¦ $319.50 Â¦ Â¦ www.speakerbits.com.au
For: This is a fine first MC
Against: There's a slight 'cuppy' coloration
Verdict: Gives a good taste of the magical things Ortofon's best can achieve