Review: Ortofon 2M Black LVB 250

Perfectly composed

A pickup that honours Ludwig van Beethoven has big shoes to fill. Ortofon succeeds in doing so.

Published 2023-06-09 - 8:00 am
Ortofon 2M Black LVB 250
Lasse Svendsen

As someone with all of Beethoven’s symphonies and piano concertos on my shelf, I took the news of an Ortofon pickup bearing the composer’s name with a shrug. According to the press release that came out in 2020, they had taken a perfectly good 2M Black and added an exclusive pin. Big deal. Besides, it would probably sell out pretty quickly.

For the uninitiated, a 2M Black is a Moving Magnet pickup, and the flagship of the series. Until the LVB 250 was launched, that is. The number is taken from Beethoven’s birth year, 1770, which was 250 years before Ortofon launched the LVB 250.

The pickup has actually been forgotten by me, until I discovered by chance that it was still available in many stores.

In most stores, it costs a lot more than a regular 2M Black, and that should perhaps make it a worse buy, I thought. The only way to find out is to test an LVB 250.

As I said, so done.

LVB 250 is an improved 2M Black. Photo Lasse Svendsen

Ortofon’s 2M series consists, for the record and in ascending order, of 2M Red, Blue, Bronze, Black and this 2M Black LVB 250. In addition, there are versions for 78 discs and a mono version in the same series. The nice thing about the 2M series is that you can change pins and upgrade from, for example, 2M Red to Blue, or 2M Bronze to Black.

Those who already have a 2M Bronze or Black can upgrade to LVB 250 if they wish. This will give them better sound, because the staple on an LVB 250 uses a so-called naked Shibata diamond cut on a Boron needle arm. The exact same one that protrudes from the many times more expensive Cadenza Black MC pickup from Ortofon.

Moving Magnet

The needle arm on an LVB 250 has a suspension made of a composite material Ortofon calls MWCNT (Multi Wall Carbon Nano Tubes). Which they believe both provides better damping and is more environmentally friendly to produce.

By the way, the pickup can be delivered fully assembled in an SH-4 pickup housing – headshell – with the correct Baerwald mounting curve. Ready to be mounted into an s-shaped tonearm with standard SME mount.

The specifications are on paper almost identical to a 2M Black, with the exception of 1 dB better channel separation for the LVB 250. The output voltage is 5 mV, and the pickup should be loaded with 47 kOhm, and capacitance should be within 150 – 300 pF. In practice, this means that LVB 250 can be used with any amplifier that has an MM input.

If you’ve done it before, installation is hassle-free. Photo Lasse Svendsen


There is no need to fear the installation. If you follow the instructions, it’s done in 20 minutes. The cartridge is supplied with a weight and simple assembly instructions, but I recommend buying a simple assembly template, or protractor as many people call it. This makes it easier to get the correct tracking angle in the grooves. The vertical tracking angle should be 20 degrees and the pin pressure 1.7 grams.

If you buy the pickup pre-assembled in the SH-4 headshell, you only need to set the weight, anti-skating and check the vertical tracking angle.

Dynamic and vibrant sound

Then you’re ready to let the needle drop and the music float out into the room.

I doubt that even those of us who are familiar with a 2M Black can immediately put our finger on what’s better about an LVB 250. But let me give it a try.

Ortofon’s 2M series is characterised by a relatively full-bodied sound with good dynamics, nice openness and balance throughout the sound. Bronze and Black offer more detail and better focus, and there is – especially in Black – a blacker background (!) with more depth and air.

Ortofon 2M Black LVB 250

What an LVB 250 can offer in addition is greater dynamic contrast, faster transients and an even airier soundstage with sharper focus. The difference isn’t huge, but it’s definitely noticeable. The pickup has much of the same immediate response to dynamic transients that you associate with good MC (Moving Coil) pickups.

The music flows easily and effortlessly, while at the same time there’s real weight in the percussion and double bass. The pickup isn’t exactly afraid of bass, and rhythmic changes happen at lightning speed. There’s not much that resembles hot syrup here.

It’s really fun to play music with such a good pickup. It opens up the soundstage and presents the listener with a solid stage, with all the timbres intact.

The LVB 250 does not have the same fast transient response as an Audio Technica AT-ART20 at three times the price, but it unfolds an equally large and rich soundstage, and plays with greater openness and authority than, for example, a 2M Red, Denon DL 103 or Grado Gold 1.

That’s all you need for the price. But how does it actually play Beethoven?

On a remastered recording of Beethoven’s Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, released on Deutsche Grammophon with Wolfgang Schneiderhan and the Berlin Philharmonic, it sounds marvellous. The strings are rendered with lovely warmth, and Schneiderhan’s strokes across the strings vibrate in the room. There is good depth in the remastered recording, which sounds fresh and open with the Beethoven pickup. An Ortofon Cadenza Bronze or Black would add more body, depth and warmth, but at over twice the price of an LVB 250.

LVB 250, and one of his concerts on a remastered vinyl. Photo Lasse Svendsen


What Beethoven would have thought of a pickup that reproduces his music, we will never know. One can guess that he would have been mildly surprised that it was possible at all, and if you add goodwill, I think he would have welcomed the reproduction of his works from the LVB 250 pickup. The Ortofon 2M Black LVB 250 is more refined and focussed than the original 2M Black, giving the music more depth and richness. Since it’s an MM pickup, it’s easy to get it to play well with most amplifiers that have a turntable input. But the 2M Black LVB 250 is so good that it deserves a serious turntable, and a proper turntable input.

Ortofon 2M Black LVB 250

We think

Sparkling dynamic contrast and lightning-fast transient response. Very focused and open, playing everything with joy and immersion. Easy to change pins. Many good alternatives can be found in the same price range.

Do not use the phono stage!

Sensational bargain

Dig out your CD collection!

So simple - so masterly!

The compact system that has it all

Time for a change!

Scroll to Top