On the back of the phenomenal success of the Quintet Black MC cartridge, Ortofon has now replaced it with a new model: the Quintet Black ‘S’!
Apart from the logo, at first glance it looks like nothing has changed. However, many internal modifications have been made. The body is made of thermoformed ABS and the frame has been reinforced with aluminium to maintain and optimise rigidity while keeping mass to a minimum. It also has threaded mounting holes for the screws that attach it to the headshell. The generator is made of neodymium magnets and the coils are made of an Aucurum copper conductor. This is an extremely high-end conductor made of a gold-plated 6NX copper wire. It is also used in the Cadenza Bronze and Cadenza Black cartridges.
But the main difference lies in the stylus/cantilever assembly. While it has the same Shibata profile stylus as the original model, the cantilever is made of sapphire rather than boron. This wise choice was made after many long hours of listening.
The square shape of this new Quintet Black S cartridge makes it significantly easier to set up and align. It also makes adjusting the VTA much easier, which needs to be increased to 19.2mm to accommodate for the height of the cartridge. Its compliance, mass and tracking force all work to make it compatible with the majority of medium weight and even lightweight tonearms. The only slight drawback is that it has to be assembled using the threaded inserts rather than screws, which means it can’t be used with headshells that attach from below, such as the Thorens 160, 166, etc.
We mounted it onto a 10-inch medium weight tonearm. We listened to it through several different transistor and tube phono preamplifiers within a price range of €350-1500. Your phono stage need only have a gain of around 60 dB and a load of 100 Ohms to deliver a minimum of musicality. From the opening bars it was plain to hear that we were in the presence of a truly exceptional cartridge! As you might expect, it has retained all the redeeming qualities of the original Quintet Black, including dynamic range, balance and neutrality. But it has also significantly gained definition and clarity in the upper registers. The bass is particularly dynamic and well articulated, reproducing the double bass with remarkable realism. In fact, transparency is remarkable across the whole spectrum, not just in the upper mid-range like certain other unflattering phono cartridges we could mention. The top end of the spectrum is bright, without any hint of hissing or listener fatigue at all.
We could also wax lyrical about the low levels of surface noise you get with the Quintet Black S! It’s so quiet that if the record is clean, there would be no way of knowing you were even using a vinyl turntable! You could hear a pin drop in the silences between songs. Compared to the Hana SL MC cartridge, which also has a Shibata stylus, we found this Ortofon cartridge to be more detailed and dynamic, if a little less warm. But they are still both in the top 2 or 3 best cartridges you can buy for under €1000 in this range!
Just can't recommend it enough!
Output voltage at 1000 Hz, 5 cm/sec. : 0.3 mV
Channel balance at 1 kHz: < 1.0 dB
Channel separation at 1 kHz: > 23 dB
Channel separation at 15 kHz: > 15 dB
Frequency response at 3 dB: 20 - 25,000 Hz
Frequency response: 20-20,000 Hz - +/- 1.5 dB
Tracking at 315 Hz: 80 µm
Compliance, dynamic, lateral: 15 µm/mN
Stylus type: Nude Shibata
Radius stylus: r/R 6/50 µm
Tracking force: 2.1-2.5 g (21-25 mN)
Recommended tracking force: 2.3 g (23 mN)
Tracking angle: 20°
Internal impedance: 5 Ohm
Recommended load: > 20 Ohm
Coil conductor: Aucurum
Weight: 9 g
Dimensions: 26.9 x 17 mm
Height: 19.2 mm