This review will deal with the latest incarnation of the venerable Sumiko Blue Point, that being the Blue Point No.2 .Pictures show the original Blue Point and the latest version the Blue Point No.2.
Volumes and volumes of critical acclaim reviews have been published on the Sumiko Blue Point Moving Coil phono cartridge. In the years since its debut it has become a modern day icon of analog playback. No it isn't a $1,000.00 Moving Coil, so don't expect that kind of performance. With that being said it more than competes with anything up to twice its retail and sounds superior to most in this price point category.
I have had the original Blue Point several times since its inception,and have always found it to be a very musical performer when it is associated with a good tone arm such as the Rega RB 300 and other like arms. With a good turntable,with a good tone arm and with an above average phono preamp or preamp with on board phono section as well as decent interconnects, the Sumiko Blue Point renders one of analogs great sonic signatures.
The Sumiko Blue Point No.2 takes this sonic signature to a another level indeed. While retaining the basic original signature the No.2 has more than embellished what was once a very musical presentation. The No.2 is everything the original was,plus whatever Sumiko has done, the No.2 far surpasses the original in overall presentation.
Out of the box the No.2 is somewhat on the bright side. It takes the No.2 anywhere from 35 to 50 hours to develop the final signature, and you will know it when it comes in,theres no guessing. Its full signature will show speed,detail,sound stage and extended depth, that the original did not have. The Sumiko Blue Point No.2 is one of those rare cartridges that one can listen to for hours on end and never feel listener fatique. It has a .3 x .7 elliptical stylus that retrieves every nuance from the vinyl, plus its channel separation of 32dB is astounding by any subjective judgement.
Basically we are all looking for the same type of perfomance from a phono cartridge. The ability to play music as we percieve it to be. To have it interact with the components we have on hand. The Blue Point No.2 is a superlative performer, that works well with a vast majority of components and renders one solid musical performance after another. In short the Blue Point No.2 does not do one or two things very well,it performs very well across the entire spectrum, without calling attention to itself. Remember components are only there to serve the music, not the other way around. And yes phono cartridges are components and to be evaluated as such.
As with all phono cartridges and the Blue Point No.2 is no exception, it is system dependent. It will not be a panacea for other components that need replacing or upgrading. To extract the best from the Blue Point No.2 it needs to be associated with the best equipment that is within your budget. Given that the Sumiko Blue Point No.2 will deliver all the music one could ask for.
Listed Below are some of the LPs used for evaluation of the Sumiko Blue Point No.2
Bob James - Hands Down (Columbia FC 38067)
Hiroshima - Self Titled - (Arista MFSL1-525)
John Coltrane - Blue Train - (Blue Note BST 81577)
Wes Montgomery - Bumpin' - (Verve V6-8625)
Rickie Lee Jones - Self Titled - (Warner BSK 3296)
Wynton Marsalis - Live Blues Alley - (Columbia PC2-40675)
Eric Gale - Forecast - (KUDU Records KU 11)(CTI Records)
Kenny Burrell & Grover Washington Jr - (Blue Note BT 85106)
Earl Klugh - Finger Painting - (Blue Note MFSL 1-025)
Larry Carlton - Friends - (Warner 23834-1)
Sadao Watanabe - Autumn Blow - (Inner City IC 6064)
Doobie Brothers - Minute by Minute - (Warner BSK 3193)
Santana - Zebop - (Columbia FC37158)
Pat Metheny Group - American Garage - (ECM 1-1155)
Frederick Fennel - Cleveland Symphonic Winds - (Telarc 5038)
Paul Desmond/Jim Hall - Complete Recordings - Mosaic(MR6-120)
Actually listen to more LPs than listed above, but this gives one an idea of the program material that was used.
The turntable is the Rega P3 with Deep Groove sub platter and Iron Audio Acrylic Platter. The Rega RB 300 tone arm is equipped with the J.A. Michell Counter Weight.
Sumiko Blue Point No. 2 Specifications.
Cartridge Type: MC
Frequency Response: 15Hz-35KHz
Output Voltage/Channel: 2.5mV
Channel Separation: 32dB
Channel Balance: 0.5dB
Compliance: (x10-6 cm/dyne) 15
Stylus Size/Shape: .3x.7/Elliptical
Load Impedance: 47k Ohms
Tracking Force Range: 1.6-2.0 grams
Recommended Force: 1.8 grams
Cartridge Weight: 6.3 grams
Have found that tracking at its maximum of 2 grams delivers the best performance, trackability, and signature.
What Sumiko has done with the Blue Point No.2 is raised its elevation to that of the Blue Point Special II, while the Blue Point Special is now a MKIII variant.
If memory serves me correct the original Blue Point came out at $175.00 in late 80s or early 90s. The No.2 now retails for $299.00 and is worth every dollar. With careful shopping it is possible to get for about $249.00.
In my opinion to do sonically better than the No.2 you will have to go to the Benz Micro Ace HO or the Dynavector
20X HO at twice the price. Or the ultimate from Sumiko the Blackbird at well over twice the price at $799.00. Trying to keep the comparison in the high output moving coil arena.
How Sumiko is able to continue to make vast strides in the Blue Point ,while keeping the price so very affordable is a mystery to me. Great sounding high output moving coils are indeed hard to come by. But Sumiko has been a leader in this field for years and the new Blue Point No.2 is testament to that fact. In fact I no longer own low output Moving Coils. The hassel of getting the right set up for a low output MC, no longer appeals to me. The high output moving coils of today have managed to narrow the gap considerably to thier higher cost brethern and offer a sonic signature that is on par,with all but the most esoteric low output Moving Coils. No need for a head amp or transformer and the added expense of additional cables. For me and I dare say for a vast majority of us high output Moving Coils like the Sumiko Blue Point No.2 more than fills the requirement of musical playback in the analog medium.
So should one find themselves needing to replace or update thier current phono cartridge, the Sumiko Blue Point No.2 should be on the short list. While it may have an entry level price tag, the Blue Point No.2 clearly performs at a level not thought possible a few short years ago.
Here is a product that has stood the test of time, has had and continues to have a loyal following. One of the true enduring values in analog playback. At its price/performance ratio, it just doesn't get much better than this. A proven winner,from a time honored manufacturer,that continues to embrace the vinyl medium,long after vinyls golden days. For me that speaks volumes about Sumiko and its products and commitment to analog playback.
Well done and Bravo - Sumiko!Associated gear Click to view my Virtual SystemSimilar products