Ortofon M15 Super phono cartridge Manufacturer's Comment

Manufacturer's Comment

Editor: We do not agree with your subjective evaluation of the M-15 Super's sound, but since there is no disputing personal taste, we are not going to argue the point.

There are however some misleading statements in the report that we must, in the interests of accuracy, take issue with.

You stated that it is likely that production quality control will be better (than it was for your sample) by the time this report gets into print, but expressed no such qualification for the rather poor response and separation curves you show. In fact, the deviations in the sample you measured represent the maximum limits of tolerance in channel balance and treble response of current-production M-15s.

We know what our competition is among critical audiophiles, and we have conducted exhaustive objective and subjective tests on those two pickups. We simply cannot go along with your findings. The Shure V15-III was found to measure exceedingly well—as well as the M-15 Super, in fact, except at the low end where the Ortofon has better tracking ability. The Decca, by contrast, does not measure up very well according to the performance standards we normally apply to modern pickups. And while it is well known that some components that measure well don't sound that way, we have never yet found one which sounded good despite poor measured performance. Perhaps we have just never heard a "good" Decca.

It is true that the Shure V15-III and the M-15 Super do not sound the same, and thus it is to be presumed that one of them, or possibly both, is "wrong." None of the three pickups in question has a frequency-response rise in the mid-treble range, yet both have been observed to have a hard "edge" to their sound, Such a quality, in the absence of a treble rise, nearly always indicates odd-harmonic distortion. Yet it appears you favor those other two over the Ortofon, which you describe as sounding "dark."

Perhaps, under the circumstances, it would be advisable for your readers to make their own listening comparisons between these three pickups, and decide for themselves which does the most musical justice to recordings.

Ortofon Inc.
500 Executive Blvd, Suite 102
Ossining, NY 10562
(914) 762-8646

Metalhead's picture

I do not want to watch gladiator contests or good better best except in a casual way.

It was refreshing though to see it being called on quality control and compared to a competing product and having a very clear and succinct favorite in the comparison. I say this being a happy Ort owner since 1972 through various models.

Can see why J. Gordon had to sell the mag as this type of review must have made the ad companies reluctant to play.

dalethorn's picture

As a subscriber from 1971 on, Holt had no trouble attracting advertisers. His reasons for selling were no different from 1962 to 1972 to the date of sale - he was way overextended as the special kind of audiophile he represented, trying to juggle reviews, the logistics of handling the gear, managing the magazine and the subscriptions etc. His wife helped, but it wasn't nearly enough, and there wasn't a way in those pre-Internet days to communicate across the country and around the world cheaply and efficiently. He had long delays in getting issues out, and the ads didn't make a significant difference in that.

tonykaz's picture

I sold many of these M15s, along with the entire rest of their product range. They were simply replacements for worn or broken "needles".

All of the Ortofon range were Modest performers, they worked was the best that could be said for them, people had trust in the Ortofon name and willingly purchased, we willingly sold.

They offered a well reviewed Top of the Line MC with super low output and a matching step-up ( about $2,000 for the pair ) that my Electrocompaniet could play, it too was marginal for it's asking price, very typical of Ortofon sound quality.

Koetsu Rosewood ruled the Day.

Analog Planet just had Ortofon's lead designer presenting their "New" $4,000 MC pick-up, with a Boron cantilever. A "New & Improved" buggy whip from my Industrial perspective.

Tony in Michigan

egsp's picture

Interesting to see how much quality control expectations have improved.