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Ortofon Quintet Blue review

What Hi-Fi? Awards 2019 winner. A modestly priced moving coil cartridge Tested at £349 / $524

5 Star Rating
Ortofon Quintet Blue MC review
(Image: © Future)

Our Verdict

If you’re after an affordable moving coil cartridge, we haven’t heard a better option than the Quintet Blue

For

  • Detailed and precise presentation
  • Expressive dynamics
  • Easy to fit

Against

  • Needs a good dedicated moving coil phono input

Since designing its first moving coil cartridge in 1948, Ortofon has made more than 100 different models over the years. This experience shines through in the Quintet Blue, one of five models in the new range.

It’s the step-up option in a family that’s topped off by the £679 Black, with its fancy Nude Shibata stylus tip and sapphire cantilever. At around half that money the Blue makes do with an elliptical tip and aluminium cantilever, but beyond that it shares much with its pricier sibling.

Build

Ortofon Quintet Blue MC build

(Image credit: Future)

Both use a conveniently squared-off ABS/body with captive threads that makes mounting the cartridge on an arm and subsequent alignment a breeze. At 9g, the Blue isn’t particularly heavy and so shouldn’t present any difficulty for most arms to balance out.

Looking through the specifications, our attention is drawn to the output voltage figure. At 0.5mV (1kHz, 5cm/sec) it’s on the healthy side for a moving coil, though nowhere near the 5.5mV in-house moving magnet designs such as the 2M Blue deliver. This means you will need a dedicated moving coil input on your amplifier or phono stage, and that perhaps is the biggest issue with the Quintet Blue.

Compatibility

Ortofon Quintet Blue MC compatibility

(Image credit: Future)

It’s a moving coil with the price tag of a decent moving magnet design, and that for vinyl enthusiasts will be tempting. But, you’ll also need a good phono stage to make the most of it and those aren’t cheap or common. An outboard unit such as Musical Fidelity’s LX2 LPS (£199) is a good starting point, so you’ll need to factor that in. Such is the Ortofon’s quality that even moving up to something like Musical Fidelity’s MX-VYNL (£699) is justified.

We mount the Quintet on our reference Technics SL-1000R record player and feed its signal into Cyrus’s excellent Phono Signature/PSX-R2 phonostage. The rest of our set-up is Gamut’s D3i/D200i pre/power and ATC’s SCM 50 speakers. This system is way more revealing (not to mention notably more expensive) than the Ortofon’s intending partners, but that doesn’t stop the Quintet from impressing. 

Sound

Ortofon Quintet Blue MC sound

(Image credit: Future)

It doesn’t take long to realise that the Quintet Blue is a terrific performer. It has notably better sonic precision and agility than the highly rated and similarly priced Goldring 2400 moving magnet (£395).

We listen to Orff’s Carmina Burana and the Ortofon responds with a clean and crisp presentation that brims with plenty of detail. The sound is stable and organised, capturing the bristling energy of the piece beautifully. 

Ortofon Quintet Blue tech specs

(Image credit: Future)

Moving Magnet No

Moving Coil Yes

Cartridge weight 9g

Nominal tracking weight 2.3g

Tracking weight 2.1–2.5g

The Quintet Blue handles the music’s frantic dynamic swings with composure, refusing to harden-up even when provoked. We’re impressed by its refinement and ability to render treble textures. In comparison, the otherwise excellent Goldring sounds a touch coarse and lacking in subtlety.

The Ortofon is a secure tracker too at the recommended 2.3g. The presentation’s even tonality and pleasing sense of life mean that we don’t feel the need to play around with the tracking weight one bit.

We switch to Nirvana’s Nevermind and the Blue responds with enthusiasm. There’s plenty of attack here as basslines are punched out with glee and no shortage of passion in Kurt Cobain’s vocals.

The Blue is rhythmically surefooted and has a fine sense of drive. That Goldring edges ahead here by adding an extra dose of solidity and muscularity to the proceedings, but even so the Ortofon does well.

Verdict

Given a suitably capable system we have no doubt the Ortofon Quintet Blue will impress. It’s a well-balanced design with no obvious weaknesses. If you’ve always hankered after a moving coil cartridge we can’t think of an alternative we prefer. Buy this one with confidence.

SCORES

  • Sound 5
  • Compatibility 5
  • Build 5

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