Most people who have one, or have owned a turntable, have heard of Ortofon. The 100-year-old company has been making cartridges longer than most. The angled Concorde cartridge, which has stood on thousands of DJ players, is among the best known.
This one, The Ortofon MC Quintet Red, is made for discerning ears, and is a pure Moving Coil cartridge.
However, the MC Quintet Red is one of the more affordable motorcycle cartridges from Ortofon. The Quintet series consists of five models, and this is the entry-level model.
The red cartridge is relatively heavy and weighs in at nine grams, while the pin pressure should be 2.3 grams. It delivers 5 mV output and needs an MC input on the amplifier, or an MC phono stage.
With threads on top of the red housing in ABS plastic, the cartridge is easy to mount. The pin guard can be on while turning, and the straight sides make it easy to fine-tune the cartridge.
Quintet Red fits perfectly in tone arms with medium mass. In other words, those who are on most turntables in the price range Ortofon cartridge belong.
The red Orthophone cartridge is a successful compromise. The tuning of cartridges is an art Danish master, and here they succeed with a balanced soundscape where everything is in place. But it also does not excel in any particular area. It just does a decent job, without compromising on a sound ideal or a musical style.
It sounds nice on Radka Toneff’s Fairytales, and the piano sound comes out well in the soundscape. The vocals do the same, but there is something gray about the presentation. The focus on detail is subdued here, and there are not as clear sound nuances here as e.g. at Denon- or Audio-Technica. Bob Dylan’s Oh Mercy sounds dynamic enough to give you a sense of the rhythm of Political World.
So it does not squirt the sound here, but control is a good thing. In classical and jazz, the fine balance in the sound ensures a fairly believable presentation, but it lacks a little communication ability.
The orthophone cartridge is so well balanced that it is almost a bit boring. For some it is perfect, for others not.
Ortofon MC Quintet Red is a good choice for those who need to lift the sound from the vinyl collection, but are not looking for special qualities. The qualities of the orthophone cartridge lie in an outstanding balance, almost completely neutral sound and a rock-solid presentation of all music, even of complex music as well as classical. An acoustic boost for most turntables.