Ortofon Cadenza vs. old Ortofon MC30 Super2 ?

I've been using an Ortofon MC-30 Super II for over 10 years now... it's an old design, but I love the sound.  
I bought a Soundsmith Zephyr mkII about 3 years ago, and while it's great, I simply don't love it as much as my old MC30.   Yes, the Zephyr is more resolving & lower distortion, but the MC30 is more punchy and musical.

I'm considering an Ortofon Cadenza.... Red or Blue...... probably Blue.    
Can anybody here tell me if Cadenza has a similar Ortofon family sound to my old MC-30 Super II ?
They've gotten rave reviews, but so did the Zephyr.... it's just personal preference & synergy at this point.

My Table is a 30yr old SOTA Sapphire/Premier MMT arm/Parasound JC3 preamp.  

I'd keep the MC30 and get a re-tip! 10 years! At least have the stylus examined under a scope to see how much life is left!
The Cadenza Range have a design technology that is incorporating proportions of the technologies of the PW Windfeld MC and are also referred to as having comparison to and modern replacement for the  Kontrapunkt Range. 
The Kontrapunk Range has incorporated proportional technologies of the Jubilee MC.
Certain Technologies used on the Jubilee MC were in use prior to the release of the Jubilee.
It might be best to check if your MC is sharing technologies from the above Model ranges. It is likely that the materials used have been superseded as the Models have gone through New Model Ranges.

I myself am a full convert to having a much enjoyed Cartridge
Overhauled / Rebuilt, when carried out by a trustworthy service, the experience to be encountered with the New Condition Cartridge and the value for money when following this approach is very attractive.  
I have a Cadenza Red and was hoping it was as good as my old MC30 Super. It isn't. Not a bad cartridge but not special.  I prefer the Quintet Black (boron cantilever) to the Cadenza Red. I haven't heard the Quintet sapphire cantilever but its stylus is a shibata, like the boron Quintet that it replaced, and it's cheaper than the Cadenza Red. 
Do you feel that you like your Quintet Black better than your old MC30?

My retip experience of an old cart was not good.  I had an old MC20 retipped by Soundsmith with a RUBY cantilever.   When I got it back, it was amazing for about 6 months, and then the internal suspension broke.  It was a 15yr old cartridge that just didn't survive the trauma of being worked on, I guess.  Soundsmith was not at fault, but they gave me $100 for my broken MC20, and that's when I got the MC30 SuperII from a dealer in Germany (around 2007).  MC30 was not in the Ortofon catalog anymore, so I think it may have been NOS.       
Dear @mirolab : Your bad experience with the MC20 was an oversight by the re-tipper but that's not common but in reality " weird ".

In the other side The cartridge motor of your MC30 Super II is a great one even by today standards and in this regards I'm with @jasonbourne52 .

Send it to a regarded re-tipper as:


Don't ask for ruby/saphire cantilever but boron that's way superior in that specific task.

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,
I can't compare the MC30 Super to the Quintet because I haven't had an MC30 since my last one quit over 10 years ago. I just prefer the Quintet to the Cadenza Red. YMMV.
Based on having an old MC20 still kicking around and having gone through the Cadenza / Kontrapunk / Windfeld / A90 lines - no, I don’t think a new Cadenza will the same "house" sound as your MC30 Super. The older motors used very low impedance coils coupled with large, relatively weak magnets (very different from the small strong neodymium in Cadenza). Honestly there's a kind of beauty to that type of motor’s sound (what you refer to as its musicality), though it’s also very demanding on your SUT and/or phono stage due to very low output levels.

Not saying you should’ve also give the modern sound a listen. But I’d definitely look into getting that MC30 refreshed if I were you!

Thanks for that perspective.  I'm sort of feeling that way about it.   My pre is no slouch (Parasound JC3) but when I run the MC30 direct, the noise floor IS an issue.  When I use my stepup transformers, the noise goes away completely, but it's not quite as transparent.   The SUT does make the mid-bass a bit thicker and punchy (nice).... but ultimately... slightly less transparent in the HFs.  It's nice to have the choice.  

The VAS service recommended above can put a new needle on it, and I might consider that.  And maybe I'll just add a decent MM cart to have something of a different flavor.  I haven't had an MM since the 80's, but I know that old 70's rock LPs can sound better with MMs.

The long awaited follow up (for nobody listening)... I’ve answered my own question. I finally got a Cadenza Blue, and it is everything I want out of a cartridge! Tonal balance is perfect (for me). Dynamics are tremendous. Distortion is low. No issues at the inner groove like with my old MC30super2. And the real surprise is how much quieter it runs. Dust & surface noise are reduced compared to all other cars I’ve owned. I simply love it.

As for comparing it directly with my old MC30 SuperII, the Cadenza Blue does have the same tonal balance and character, which is exactly what I was looking for. The Blue is, of course, better in every way.

I’ve also since, upgraded my Parasound JC3 to a JC3+. I went for it due to the greatly increased S/N ratio specs for the MC stage. While the JC3+ is quieter, it’s not the 8 dB quieter that the specs would imply. Rather the noise spectra is different and it sounds like they’ve reduced it in the upper mids the most. This is is a good thing, but it really only sounds about 2-3 dB quieter than the JC3. The + is also a bit more dynamic.

Trading up to the JC3+ ended up costing me about $1000, after selling my old one on Ebay. It’s hard to say if the improvement is really worth that much, but it’s done and I’m very happy with the JC3+. With the Cadenza Blue’s output of 0.5mV, the electronic noise floor is hardly an issue for me anymore.


I’m listening!

Was sitting here listening to my MC 30 Super wondering just good it is and where I should go next.

Thanks for the comparison and review!

Perhaps a Cadenza or something in that range is on the horizon.

@theflattire Cool that you are still running that old cart! There were some interim steps not mentioned. I first tried to replace it with a Soundsmith Zephyr mkII or mk3. ($1200) Very very nice cart.... but so nice that it was boring. I used it for a year and got used to it, but found I wasn’t listening so much. Then I put my old MC30 SuperII back on, and whoa! there it was. The excitement was back!! Even with its faults, I liked the MC30 better than the Zephyr.

I sold the Zephyr for ~600, and bought a used Quintet Black for $580. I liked it very much. Smooth and dynamic. Maybe just a tad warmer than what I was really looking for, but satisfactory. Probably the combination of Shibata + Boron put it on the warmer side. The fact that I liked it tho, meant to me that I’d probably like a Cadenza even better.

Then it happened! Ortofon had a 20% off any Cadenza with trade of an MC cart of ANY BRAND! Well... I had an old Blue Point Special maybe worth about $200 (if I was lucky) and I used that to get $400 off my Cadenza Blue.

I’ve still yet to try it with my Step-Up transformer (from the ’80’s). It’s a pretty good one i’m told, and it makes an MC totally noiseless, but with the slightest loss of some detail. Gives a bit more girth to the mid bass too, which is nice. I need to hook it up!



I need to stop buying vintage carts and re-tipping them!

Been looking at Van den Hul and Benz mostly, besides Ortofon.

Honestly I'm perfectly happy with what I have now, but the greener grass keeps calling.

I run all my MC through Hashimoto HM-7s.

Thanks for the follow up!

@theflattire I just looked at the HM-7's and HM-5's.  Do you also use that switch box that they're currently being sold with?  Have you ever vigorously compared using the SUT vs. just the MC gain stage?  (if u have one)  

I'm wondering if you get the same slight loss of detail that I observe.  All these years I been chasing higher output MC and lower noise preamp, but wonder if a better SUT would have been the better solution??  My preamp is the Parasound JC-3+.  The MC stage is quiet 'enough', but not dead silent like when using the SUT.

Right now, looks like a pair of HM5's and the interface box can be had for $750, if I wire it up myself.  I do see the HM7's are wider bandwidth.   


I just upgraded my Modwright PH9.0 to the XT and I haven't really had the time to do any A/B stuff with and without the SUT.

Being pretty lazy and having a couple of 0.2mv carts, I just kept the SUT in there.

I really should compare.  Before the upgrade I did some A/B and didn't notice a drop off so I just kept them in.  I do loose some dbs using the just PH9.0.

I do have the switchable build. I mostly use the 1:15. Sometimes I use the 1:30 if the vinyl is really quiet.  The gain on the Modwright is already high so sometimes I even use the -6db attenuation.  Silent for me.

SUT placement is kinda critical too as it can pick up all kinds of hum. 

I went with the 7s cause the gain on the 3s is kinda too much for me.

I don't know what the MC stage in the JC3+ is, whether its a SUT or active.  If it's active, I'd give the Hashimotos a try.  There's also the HM-X.

At this point I'm liking the sound with the XT upgrade and the SUT so kinda don't want to mess with it!

Hope that helps.

@theflattire Yes.... certainly if you're happy.. then leave it alone.  

The MC stage in the Parasound is active.  I had the JC3 for ~8 years, and happy with the sound, but the noise bugged me.  I liked my SUT sound too, but there was that resolution trade-off.  I recently upgraded to the JC3+ which has lower noise floor, and that cost me $1000 to do.  While I'm happy with the upgrade, I think MAYBE that money would have been better spent on a better SUT.  Hard to say. 

Looking at the Modwright description, your MC input is an internal SUT.  So your noise spec should be great either way.  Just comparing the sound of 2 different SUTs. 

I would say to try it.  Using an SUT may give you a blacker background.

I would go with some used Cinemag 1254s, just to try and then maybe more expensive SUTs if you find it helps.

Listening last night without the Hashimotos I didn't notice any kind of drop off.  At this level IMO any difference is going to be small.

Is it worth it? I kept looking for that last 5% but not anymore.  While I appreciate the difference, it's not how I listen so I realized I'm chasing bragging rights.  If you know what I mean.

An SUT does make a difference but like anything else it's also synergy.

I would try it, just for peace of mind.