Ortofon MC Cartridge Problems ??

I am having "major" issues with my MC cartridge...keep loosing the stylus??? 

I purchased a VPI Prime Signature (B stock - lacquer rub during initial shipping) at a great price...went back and forth on which cartridge to add - ended up upscaling & getting the Ortofon MC Quintet Black. Had to wait for the new cartridge for several months...I left the turntable at the Audio store until the system was complete. Had the entire system mounted at the store and checked. Took delivery and set the turn table up at my house - as I placed the arm on the system noted that no stylus attached to the cartridge? A little bit in shock - I called the audio store. They were excellent - they brought a brand new entire Ortofon MC Quintet Black (no cost) to my house (4 hr drive each way) and mounted it for me while I watched over the shoulder...they indicated it was not the first time seeing this. We played several albums, rechecked the mounting, tracking force, azimuth, alignment, tightness of the screws...all spot on. The anti-skate set up I was skeptical about - but after a demonstration of both methods - it worked...

The Quintet Black S has a Nude Shibata diamond, mounted on a high-performance Sapphire cantilever...the set up is extremely small. My table arm is the standard 3d printed carbon arm that came with the VPI table... JMW 10 3D tonearm. The table and system is build like a tank and although the arm is on a single needle pivot point (takes a little getting use to) - the cueing system lowers and raises gently without issue. My only concern is on the last track on the each side of the LP the arm/cartridge does track inward toward the spindle. I am extremely careful with the entire system. Before an album is played it goes thru the ultrasonic cleaner. I played about 25 albums over the course of a few weeks - and guess what - the entire stylus is missing in action again today??? Uggg...

Before calling the audio store again - helpful thoughts and insight from the community is appreciated. At this point I may look for a more economical cartridge that will last longer...I have read some threads about Ortofon cartridge fragility. Understandable - the cartridge is likely the one component that is replaced most often in a system...but i need something more reliable... recommends are welcome. A MC cartridge that matches well with my arm/table...at three different price/quality points...

Your insight is appreciated,



Ouch! This shouldn't happen on a 1k cartridge let alone any well known cartridge. I'm sure you are careful but if the arm/cartridge can run into the center where the label sits this "may" be an issue. Don't really know just thinking outloud

Send the Ortofon back to the dealer and get a refund. I recommend the Hana SL mc cartridge ($750).

There has to be a post mortem exam on the cartridge. If the cantilever is snapped in half the most likely problem is the operator or tonearm set up. If the cantilever is missing entirely then it was not mounted correctly and it is a manufacturing defect which Ortofon will replace under warranty. If just the stylus is missing and the cantilever is entirely intact it is also a warranty issue. 

Unipivot arms are wobbly and probably more likely to damage cartridges. They are harder to handle and it does not take much to damage any cantilever. Since mass is the enemy the better cartridges use very small diamonds and cantilevers which have to be more fragile. You could always get a DJ cartridge but it will not sound as good. 

I played less than 25 albums...did not clean the stylus yet...or touch it, except to lower arm/stylus onto the record. In both cases...the entire stylus is no longer attached to the body of the cartridge. I am 2nd guessing it is something i did or doing..but  have been overly cautious...as the system is new.  I have read good thinks about the Hana cartridges... I am taking the entire table back to my Audio store and have them trouble shoot it from the start. I feel that the tracking inward on the last tract may be the issue, but unsure. It is a great table (i hoped it is my last table...the cartridge was more than i really wanted to spend...but wth...)and the cartridge is reportedly an excellent match.  J

FWIW I’d say you have dodged a $1k bullet. I ran that cartridge on virtually the same table and found it lacking in several areas. After two fails I’d ask the dealer for a refund and move on. An AT ART 9 or OC9 IMHE is a much better option or even a Soundsmith MIMC Star will be a step up in SQ and reliability. You could also look at the Charisma line—very Big Bang for the buck and beautifully made.

To be more specific on the problem....both the stylus and boron cantilever arm are gone as if dropped out of the connection point at the cartridge body. No matter what the Audio store finds...i feel i should move on from the Ortofon cartridges....think it.may be a quality control build issue....J

bummer, sorry to hear.  

fyi the quintet has a saphire cantilever that is fairly robust in my experience.  

you should definitely clean it more than every 25 plays!  

as to the failure, it has to be one of these possibilities-

1 user accident.

2 batch of poor quality builds from ortofon

3 incompatibility with the unipivot arm imparting twist on the cantilever. 

4 combination of bad quality batch and tonearm incompatibilty.

5 combination of bad batch and user accident.  

ortofons are generally well crafted, high quality units. 

did you happen to notice when it happened?  

defnitely try an audio technics ART9 XI.  superbly robust and much better sound than the quintet.  

It is normal for the cartridge to track toward the label in the dead space between the last cut on the LP and the label, even when antiskate is properly set. But the stylus tip should not actually make contact with the paper label. I’m imagining that if that’s happening, the stylus could snag on the edge of the paper, pulling the whole stylus/cantilever assembly out of the cartridge body. Is this what you’re observing?

I have the Quintet Black S and have had no issues in 2 years. Sorry this happened. Ortofon is a pretty well known brand. I haven't heard of widespread dissatisfaction.

I have run Quintet Black S for 4 yrs until a Shelter 501 replaced it. No issues with Orto. Kept it as a backup. On one occasion the cart tracked the dead wax and ended up on the label area (Damn Kirmuss cleaning solution residue collected on the stylus) but no harm done. I suspect,.as others have mentioned, cart/tonearm incompatibility.

Provided the cartridge was not mounted in some very bizarre orientation, like sideways or dialing in a crushing amount of VTF, I cannot imagine any cartridge/tonearm incompatibility that could do this, and I do regard Ortofon cartridges as very well made.

Is there a record clamp and has the cartridge made contact with it? I had another unipivot and couldn’t use my HRS record weight with it because they made contact at the end of the side while the groove was still trying to take the stylus inwards. With a Dynavector 17D2 I got away with it, once, and it didn’t get put to the test a second time.



K... I do have a HRS weigh... I don't think the arm/cartridge has made it inward to that degree...as I take the table in for trouble shooting I will have an inexpensive cartridge mounted and give that a test run...! Thanks...J 

Ortofon is a great company, but given what you report I would suspect manufacturing defect. Maybe they had a bad run of attaching the sapphire cantilevers for whatever reason. I’d move on to another model. I’ve never had a problem with their metal cantilever models - the Cadenza Red is a rockin little cartridge for not much more, and should be quite robust too. But what you’ve experienced is extremely frustrating, so I wouldn’t blame you for hopping off to another brand!

Mulv do you really think two randomly selected samples of the Quintet were so defective that the stylus and cantilever were pulled out by ordinary use? I don’t.

Mulv do you really think two randomly selected samples of the Quintet were so defective that the stylus and cantilever were pulled out by ordinary use? I don’t.

That (bad run of a few consecutive serial #s), or they were fiddled with by a 3rd party (dealer?) before OP got to them. Or OP is doing something bad to them - but he seems trusty so I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt :) 

As for labels - though one should obviously strive to avoid it, I've had stylus eat label a few times over the years (failed end groove), including an Ortofon MC (Kontrapunkt c), and they all seemed completely unphased by that. The only time I've seen a stylus lost is when it was *thrown* down and across a record, with lots of kinetic energy. Simply gliding across a label shouldn't generate enough energy to snag and kill a good assembly, UNLESS the record weight is poorly shaped and clips the cantilever, or the cantilever is not protected from spindle, etc. 

Maybe you have a favourite disc with a non-concentric label that catches on the stylus? My experience with Ortofon's is that they have excellent quality control.

My experience with Ortofon's is that they have excellent quality control.

My experience with Ortofon is also that they have excellent quality, but they don't have a long history with sapphire cantilevers like with metal, and I think it's OK to at least entertain the question.