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Jack Pot
Jack Pot's picture
Last seen: 1 year 5 months ago
Joined: Dec 28 2019 - 7:31am
the Demise of a Good

The Demise of a God

Neither Wagner nor Shakespeare. But still Danish.

Two years ago, my official Ortofon dealer convinced me to buy an Ortofon MC Century cartridge. There was no chance to audition the cartridge, but my dealer assured me it would be a major upgrade from my Ortofon MC Anna cartridge. I have been an Ortofon fan all my life, slowly moving up the food chain of Ortofon cartridges. The investment and risk were considerable, but the MC Century would be the culmination of my lifelong loyalty to the brand. Empathy played a considerable role in the decision.

The upgrade was disappointing. The Century improved on the Anna in the lower registers but at the cost of an incisiveness reminiscent of digital playback. Detail at the cost of musicality. Over the course of the next 2 years, my dealer reset the cartridge/ arm combination a number of times, because I kept complaining that it did not deliver on its promise. To no avail.

Finally, after more than 300 hrs play-back (closer to 500 hrs by my estimation), the Century revealed its true character. At long last, the Century delivered on its promise: thunderous but always musically accurate bass, life-like mids, soaring highs and an expansive and wholly coherent sound stage. A month later, early January 2021, and quite suddenly, it died. The cartridge would no longer track. My dealer rushed it to Ortofon. They had long exchanges.
I highlight the most notorious one:

Feb 12th, 2021,

The cartridge has a lot of dust that has almost cemented to the cartridge and you can also see that the cartridge has a bit of rust on the bottom.

Best regards / Med venlig hilsen
Anders Bentley
Sales Department

Feb 17th, 2021,

The diagnostics made by our operator sounds like our recommendations for stylus and record care have not been observed, and that is how it had happened. The physical condition of the cartridge doesn’t align with the story customer has told, whilst we only rely on facts.
To avoid it would happen again, I’d recommend refer to our HiFi FAQ, p.1 Stylus and record care here, very shortly:
1. Remove dust carefully from record surfaces by using Ortofon antistatic Record brush before every use.
2. Use Ortofon Stylus fiber brush a few times along the cantilever in the direction of the stylus tip, whenever you play a new record or change sides.
Ortofon do not recommend the use of solvents of any kind for cleaning of either record surface or stylus
Best regards/Med venlig hilsen
Katarina H. Nielsen
Technical support Web Marketing

Unbelievably, these are the very words of Ortofon.

It is obvious from Bentley’s remarks that there was a serious quality control issue at Ortofon when my cartridge (nr 16) was assembled.

Rust? Rust!

Cemented dust? Cemented!

I live uphill in a cork dry climate (Greece). I religiously clean all my records in a Glass Vinyl Ultrasound Cleaner before their first spin, use a microfiber brush to remove any dust before playing, and apply a Furutech DeStat-3 before lowering the diamond into the groove. Besides, during almost 50 years of playing vinyl almost exclusively with Ortofon cartridges, I NEVER had ANY issue, let alone with either rust of cement.

Obviously, the rusted(!) part was rusted “ab initio”. And probably contaminated during manufacture with some cutting or hydraulic oil. Which in turn contaminated the cantilever and attracted the dust, which turned to “cement”. Or some variation of the above. Ortofon itself identified and recognized the problem! It sent a microscope picture illustrating the issue. But then Ortofon went Hamlet-crazy.

According to Ortofon "the condition of the cartridge does not align with the “story” (?!) customer has told". Obviously, the customer and the Ortofon-dealer connived to deliberately rust and cement the cartridge. My official Ortofon-dealer and myself are liars.

These are the “facts” and here is the “proof”: the customer uses a Glass Audiodesk Vinyl Cleaner (which uses water as a solvent, but then thoroughly dries the record). By the way, the use of any “solvent”-based record cleaner invalidates the warranty! And this, unashamedly, by the world’s leading manufacturer of cartridges!

Ortofon dismisses the self-evident explanation – its own glaring shortcoming - to go on a rant against its most loyal customers. Ortofon devises a crime involving customer and dealer. It throws credibility out of the window.

A crime needs:
1. a victim: the cartridge
2. a motive: why would 2 Ortofon loyalists make up a story? One is its official dealer for 30 years, the other a loyal customer for 50 years, both with an impeccable track-record
3. a weapon: how did the suspects manage to “rust” a cartridge? And in such short time! To cement dust to the cantilever? If the use of an ultrasonic vinyl-cleaner or other “solvent” vinyl cleaner rusts cartridges or cements dust, the WHOLE vinyl-community, incl manufacturers of all feather, should put Ortofon in its place: stop the b*s*!
4. a causality: absent motive and weapon, there is no causality.

If we apply the above fact-based reasoning to Ortofon, only one conclusion imposes itself: guilty!

The God has fallen of his pedestal.

What would I like to achieve with this letter?
1. an apology: Ortofon has no idea how hurtful its baseless allegations are; it seems to have lost track of its mission, which is to provide musical enjoyment to its customers and revenue to its dealers. Instead, it is content to insult them.
2. a redress: Ortofon repairs or replaces the MC Century at its own cost and provides a 5-year warranty, independently of the customer’s use of a vinyl-cleaner.
3. a warning: it is impossible for a customer to check in-depth a piece of brand new HiFi when he buys it; if defects are present, they might appear with time; a customer must then rely on the reputation of the vendor for a reasonable outcome; in fact, in such cases, HiFi enthusiasts rely solely on the manufacturer’s reputation. Ortofon failed the test ignominiously. I can only hope that the vinyl-community, led by its most trustworthy opinion-makers, puts the company in its place. Otherwise, any Ortofon customer will fall prey to the company’s predatory practices. Any problem with an Ortofon Blue? Your fault: only use blue vinyl. Ortofon Ti? You “rusted” it, never mind that Ti does not rust. Ortofon Wood? You “rotted” it.

The rot is elsewhere.

JDFlood's picture
Last seen: 1 year 2 months ago
Joined: Jan 5 2014 - 9:27am
That is a horrendous story.

That is a horrendous story. Really this should have been your dealers fight. I am absolutely sure my dealer would have taken entire exchange behind the scenes and refunded the money or let me choose another cartridge with no net lose to me. I am positive... actually. I would have known nothing about it other than he decided not to carry the manufacturer any more.

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