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Thread: 2M Black Upgrade

  1. #1
    Join Date: Jan 2013

    Location: Birmingham

    Posts: 4,645
    I'm James.

    Default 2M Black Upgrade

    I have always been a massive fan of the 2M Black cartridge and have used this now for 4 years. I have tried many other cartridges but have decided that in my system the 2M Black has excellent synergy and a dynamic detailed resolution that can match the quality of many MC cartridges I have listened too. I have replaced the stylus once in the last 4 years at a cost of 360 and as I have not heard anything better, either MM or MC I decided that I would keep this cartridge as my daily driver for some time yet and just keeping changing the stylus.

    However sometime back Rob (RobbieGong) tweaked my curiosity when he had his Cadenza Black upgraded by Holistic Audio with a new stylus. I thought this was a brave and leftfield decision considering the Cadenza Black is already a stunning MC Cartridge with an excellent Stylus. This upgrade paid off for Rob and took his cartridge to another level so I decided to contact Holistic audio to ascertain if they could improve on the 2M Black MM cartridge. After some communication with Kilian at Holistic Audio I found that indeed they had an upgrade "recipe" for the 2M which included a Fritz Gyger S stylus replacement for the line contact stylus and some internal cartridge work which included an upgraded damper and checking of the coil poles alignment for better channel separation.

    So I decided that I would have the work done but wanted to keep my existing 2M in original condition as I wanted a benchmark to hear what the upgrade bought to the party and also wanted to preserve the sound I already had. This necessitated the acquisition of a donor used cartridge which was acquired at a reasonable price. I sent off the cartridge to Holistic Audio and must say had excellent communication from Kilian during the whole process.

    The process actually started with a thorough detailed technical inspection in order to ascertain whether my cartridge was suitable for the upgrade and it was. About a week later it returned.

    [IMG]IMG_1449 by [url=https://www.flickr.com/photos/162281319@N03/]ckr[/IMG]

    [IMG]IMG_1450 by J, on Flickr[/IMG]

    The Fritz Gyger S Stylus.

    [IMG]IMG_1453 by [url=https://www.flickr.com/photos/162281319@N03/]n Flickr[/IMG]

    The cartridge had already been fully tested and so I ran it in for a few days after carefully setting up on the VPI turntable.

    THE SOUND

    The upgraded 2M Black was not meant to be changed beyond recognition but just subtly enhanced and some of the negative areas of its design improved on. Obviously changing the stylus from a line contact Shibata to the Fritz Gyger was quite a significant change and this is one area the 2M Black has become a cartridge which has divided opinion. The Shibata stylus is notoriously difficult to set up and for some notoriously difficult to like as it can have an etched top end and digs out every flaw on your record. I have never had any problem with this stylus in my system apart from the difficulty in setting it up and the edgy top end!

    The Upgraded 2M Black with the Fritz Gyger bought a calmness to the proceedings along with the upgraded damping. Actually the cartridge did weigh a little more compared to the standard 2M when I set it up so something significant must have been added.

    The sound was much more full bodied and smoother with a very solid stereo image. The original 2M could sound a little fragile in this respect. Not only was the sound fuller but the soundstage depth in particular was hugely improved, I could hear very deep into the recorded material now and the rendition of acoustic detail was much clearer. In particular space and the acoustic environment the vocalists or instruments were recorded in was greatly enhanced which gave you the impression you were hearing a lot more detail. This extra depth gave the sound a wonderful 3 dimensional quality.

    The SP2 speakers I use are highly transparent and excel in their presentation of midrange material especially vocals and here you could evaluate the much greater quality the Fritz Gyger bought to the proceedings. The level of micro and macro detail bought vocals up to a level that made you sometimes feel you were listening to a different recording. My two favourite vocalists, Agnes Obel and Aldous Harding were sublime. The FGS stylus revealed tonal colour and detail in their voices that presented them so lifelike and real in the room. It must be remembered this stylus , or a version of it, is used in the very top MC cartridges Ortofon manufacture so you are getting a taste of the very highest level of cartridge design.

    To say the upgrade was a huge success would be an understatement. For me it has bought about a level of analogue sound in my system I never thought possible and revealed and presented well known recordings in a manner that makes your jaw drop. I have had a few spine tingling moments with this new version of the 2M black which take me back to my early days when I started listening to my system. So I would say the Upgrade is an unqualified success which leaves me with one issue, I now have to upgrade my other standard 2M to the same level as going back to listening to it will not be easy!

    I would just like to say thanks to all those who have influenced me in making this happen and especially to Kilian at Holistic Audio who is an extremely talented cartridge technician and someone who is an absolute pleasure to deal with.
    Last edited by Jimbo; 17-02-2019 at 09:07.
    VPI Scout 1.1 - Ortofon 2M Black FGS - Croft 25R+ - Croft Series 7 - Spendor SP2

  2. #2
    Join Date: Oct 2012

    Location: The Black Country

    Posts: 4,833
    I'm Alan.

    Default

    Fantastic James, who would have thought it?


  3. #3
    Join Date: Sep 2014

    Location: brighton uk.

    Posts: 4,063
    I'm jamie.

    Default

    nice! is it still a nightmare to set up with the different profiled tip?
    and the all important question,how much did it cost?
    My System
    John Wood KT88 Amp.
    Paradise Phono Stage
    Sony TTS-8000 Turntable.
    PMAT-1010 MK6 Tonearm.
    Sony X555ES Cd Player
    Yamaha NS1000m Speakers
    Audioquest Columbia & Colorado interconnects

  4. #4
    Join Date: Jan 2013

    Location: Birmingham

    Posts: 4,645
    I'm James.

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by karma67 View Post
    nice! is it still a nightmare to set up with the different profiled tip?
    and the all important question,how much did it cost?
    Hi Jamie, No it is easier to set up than the Shibata stylus,

    The cost worked out at 300, so less than a replacement stylus!
    Last edited by Jimbo; 17-02-2019 at 09:10.
    VPI Scout 1.1 - Ortofon 2M Black FGS - Croft 25R+ - Croft Series 7 - Spendor SP2

  5. #5
    Join Date: May 2017

    Location: West Sussex, UK

    Posts: 675
    I'm Steve.

    Default

    Hi James
    Glad the new tip really works, quite often they're not upto the original standard and the fact it works so good is a bonus considering it costs less than a new stylus

    Steve...
    Project 2experience sb dc, Cart: At33ptg
    Puresound P10 / T10 Phono Stage
    Firebottle Mono Blocks
    Nelson Pass Dcb1 turbo @ 1.2A. Khozmo 50k series attenuator.
    CD Player: Cyrus cd8se
    Spendor S6e
    Spotfire rca throughout - Spotfire Speaker Cable

    Steve...

  6. #6
    Join Date: Jan 2013

    Location: Birmingham

    Posts: 4,645
    I'm James.

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by STD305M View Post
    Hi James
    Glad the new tip really works, quite often they're not upto the original standard and the fact it works so good is a bonus considering it costs less than a new stylus

    Steve...
    Hi Steve,

    It was well worth doing in every respect. Can't recommend the upgrade more highly.
    VPI Scout 1.1 - Ortofon 2M Black FGS - Croft 25R+ - Croft Series 7 - Spendor SP2

  7. #7
    Join Date: Jul 2010

    Location: Cheltenham

    Posts: 845
    I'm Charlie.

    Default

    That's a great result and helpful to know of someone else who rebuilds cartridges. The FGS profile is very close to a cutting head. The Ortofon Replicant profile his very similar too. Good to know that someone can fit a FGS to a MM in Europe.
    R2R: Studer A820 1/2 inch 2 track; Otari MTR-12 1/4 inch 2 track; Sony APR 5003; Sony APR 5002; Studer A807/II. Vinyl: Platine Verdier Allaerts MC1B/Schroeder Reference & Model 2 Decca C4E/Hadcock 228 TRON Seven Reference phono. Other analogue source: Nakamichi Dragon with ANT4066 mods. Amplification: TRON Meteor preamp TRON Voyager 20B SET power. Speakers: Avantgarde Duo. Digital: does not compute

  8. #8
    Join Date: Jan 2013

    Location: Birmingham

    Posts: 4,645
    I'm James.

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Firebottle View Post
    Fantastic James, who would have thought it?

    I was surprised that this work could be done to the 2M and even more so with the upgrade in SQ.
    VPI Scout 1.1 - Ortofon 2M Black FGS - Croft 25R+ - Croft Series 7 - Spendor SP2

  9. #9
    Join Date: Nov 2015

    Location: Wolverhampton

    Posts: 8,735
    I'm Oliver.

    Default

    Yes, I've heard this guys work first hand.

    He's obviously very skilled as the results are really impressive. I do plan on having my Kb done by this guy with a fgs stylus and also have a few little bits added to the insides to push the performance up to the level of the Ortofon Vienna, or as close to it as possible.

    He also did some work for JohnG who I believe is over the moon with the work he did on his Kb. It is indeed very useful to know of this guy as I believe his background was in ortofon cartridges previously, so I will certainly be looking to use his expertise to eek a little bit more out of my system.

    Well done Jim for being brave enough to send your cartridge off and stray from the beaten path a little bit. It's often very rewarding when you have something unique, especially something as unique as a 2m black with an fgs stylus

    enjoy it mate!
    Analogue: Technics SP10 MK2 > Phonomac AT-1010 MK6 tonearm > Ortofon Kontrapunkt b > Bigbottle Jfet MC Valve Phonostage (Telefunken Valves)
    Digital: Raspberry Pi 3+/Allo Boss 1.2/Isolator 1.3 & 2x LPSU's with Volumio & JRiver
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    Price List For SPOTFIRE Cables here:https://bit.ly/2Uxiv3j

  10. #10
    Join Date: May 2011

    Location: Glasgow

    Posts: 7,143
    I'm Brian.

    Default

    Excellent mate . You took a punt and it paid off

    Do you know if he does this kind of work on lesser cartridges , or is it only the Black and above ?
    Regards
    Brian

    Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment . (Rumi )


    Korus Computer Audio music server .
    DAC 3 French DAC
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    Interconnects : MS Audio / Klotz MC5000 .
    Speaker cables : Chord Epic Twin

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