atelier 13 audio
Moving Coil Cartridge
Ortofon MC Xpression
Since the cartridge length is identical to that of an SPU, the Xpression can easily be fitted onto tonearms without additional concern for proper alignment.
The cartridge height is likewise identical to the SPU height, which makes further VTA adjustments unnecessary.
The length of the cartridge ensures proper match with the SME-mount type tonearms, e.g. Schick, SME, Grace, Fidelity Research, SAEC and Micro Seiki brands. Additionally, the mass and compliance properties of the Xpression ensure that a proper match will be achieved with any SPU-compatible arm.
The magnet system is based on the designs used in such acclaimed cartridges as the MC Windfeld and the MC A90.
The magnet system is based on an extremely strong, compact neodymium magnet, which makes the generator system both compact and lighter through its minimal dimensions. Ortofon’s Field Stabilizing Element, a small cylinder of conductive material strategically placed inside the magnet system, guarantees that the force field remains stable regardless of the movement of the armature.
FSE improves the channel separation, while at the same time minimizing dynamic distortion and intermodulation. The result is the fantastic dynamics and even more elbow room between the musicians.
You simply experience more drama and greater breadth, height and depth in the sound scenario!
Adding to the list of important components is Ortofon’s patented Wide Range Damping (WRD) system. In this system, a small, heavy platinum disc is sandwiched between two rubber absorbers, both with different properties. This ensures not only an exceptional tracking performance, but also creates a perfect damping through the entire frequency spectrum. Because of this, distortion and resonance are virtually eliminated entirely.
The WRD system, which was originally introduced in the MC 20 Mk II in 1979 and was also used in the MC A90, the MC Windfeld and many of Ortofon’s other top-tier cartridges, is one significant reason why the Xpression, while achieving the most linear frequency response and a high upper frequency limit, at the same time tracks a fantastic 90 μm at a vertical tracking force of 2.6 grams
Extremely high end Coil Technology
Using expensive Aucurum coils of gold-plated, 6NX oxygen free copper allows for zero-loss transmission of the diamonds movements via its boron cantilever. This combination, which has also been employed for use in the MC A90 and the legendary MC Windfeld, combines low moving mass with an extremely high degree of rigidity.
The specially designed armature, created for the MC Windfeld and the MC A90, achieves an extreme precision in each coil turn in all layers.
This enables the Xpression to obtain a higher degree of channel separation, while simultaneously offering lower distortion and better channel balance.
A low output impedance of 4 ohm and a medium output voltage of 0.3 mV make the Ortofon Xpression a perfect partner for most step-up transformers as well as active MC pre-amps.
Polished Nude Replicant 100
on Boron Cantilever
STYLUS TIP RADIUS
20 – 20,000 Hz + 0.5dB / - 1.5dB
OUTPUT VOLTAGE AT 1000 HZ
5cm/sec. 0.30 mV
CHANNEL BALANCE AT 1 KHZ
HANNEL SEPARATION AT 1 KHZ
CHANNEL SEPARATION AT 15 KHZ
TRACKING FORCE RANGE
2.2-2.8 g (22-28 mN)
TRACKING FORCE RECOMMENDED
2.6 g (26 mN)
TRACKING ABILITY AT 315 HZ AT
RECCOMENDED TRACKING FORCE
COIL WIRE MATERIAL
RECOMMENDED LOAD IMPEDANCE
INTERNAL IMPEDANCE, DC RESISTANCE
what they say ...
JIm Austin | September 1 2018
"...Ortofon's 90th Anniversary SPU is a very fine cartridge. The Xpression is clearly and significantly better. My 90th Anniversary has the characteristic SPU midrange richness and color, but with far fewer compromises at the extremes of audioband.
The Xpression has all of that, and it's better still in the lows and highs... The most important improvement is in the highs. The fundamental tones of higher-pitched instruments and voices, and the even higher-frequency tones that convey color and a sense of space, were almost perfectly articulate and clear... Ambience was reproduced but not exaggerated...
The music came across with more drive, more emotional force... The sound got out of the way, which let me focus on the essence of the music, on human expression through sound.
...The Xpression is expensive, but age and experience have shown me that it's hard to set a budget for experience, including - or especially - the experience of music."
Art Dudley | February 21 2012
Ortofon, the Danish firm that's been in business longer than any other manufacturer of phono gear, has confounded all that with the Xpression: An entirely new moving-coil pickup head designed from the ground up. It has surprised even me.
The Xpression derives from the Ortofon MC A90, a technically advanced moving-coil cartridge that our own Mikey Fremer has called revolutionary. That limited-edition product combined a number of innovations, including a tiny cylindrical field-stabilizing element (FSE), to counteract disturbances the magnetic field; and a wide-range damping (WRD) system, made of tiny rubber and platinum discs, said to enhance both tracking and timbral neutrality.
But the A90's real calling card was the manufacturing process used to create its body: selective laser melting (SLM), whereby individual particles of stainless steel are welded together, one layer at a time, to create a complex, homogenous structure in which density and self-damping ability are more than merely random. Lest you think that SLM is just another initialism cooked up by a manufacturer or its advertising agency, I can assure you that it isn't. This computer-driven manufacturing technique, has already gained a foothold in the manufacturing of titanium-alloy orthopedic appliances, where the need for precision and consistency is obvious.
Thus the Ortofon Xpression is a unique blend of the new and the old. Its compliance is on the low side, and the pickup head's 28gm mass is commensurate with that. The recommended downforce is a substantial but not scary 2.6gm. Impedance and output are lowish, at 4 ohms and 0.3 mV, respectively, and the stylus profile is among the most advanced on the market: a highly polished sample of Ortofon's Replicant 100.
This new Ortofon is designed and built as a drop-in replacement for any G-style pickup head. It has an SME-standard four-pin connector at one end and an axial finger-lift at the other, both gold-plated.
The Xpression looks decidedly equine from some angles, but when viewed directly from its left side it resembles the head and neck of a friendly, googly-eyed Brontosaurus.
Used in either my EMT 997 or Schick tonearm and loaded with my Auditorium 23 step-up transformer, the Xpression proved itself to be much more explicit than my original SPU—more detailed, more open, more tactile, more revealing of nuance and technique—without sounding the least bit hi-fi. The new Ortofon sounded every bit as solid, colorful, dramatic, and forceful as the old one. I admit, I wouldn't normally have expected such solidity, such lack of fussiness, from a pickup with other than a spherical stylus tip.
The Xpression offered insights at which my Bakelite-bodied SPU has only hinted. The one that stands out in my memory—chiefly because I'm still listening to the record as I write this—is the manner in which drummer Dave Mattacks draws out his more broadly spaced cymbal crashes throughout Fairport Convention's House Full : difficult to describe, easy to appreciate and enjoy.
Playing Ravel's Ma mère l'oye, with Ernest Ansermet and the Suisse Romande Orchestra, the Xpression astonished me from the first few measures. Each orchestral swell came across with a degree of force and impact suggested by no other cartridge I've owned :
It was almost as if the Ortofon were magnifying the dynamic contrasts within the recording—an effect not unlike that of the Hommage T1 and T2 phono transformers I've written about in past columns. Tonally, the Xpression was more extended in its treble range than my SPU, but not to the point of brightness, nor at the expense of low-frequency richness. The contrabassoon that makes its entrance during the Prelude was just as deep and weighty with the Xpression as with the older SPU—and was better defined in pitch and presence.
The Ortofon Xpression was so outstandingly dynamic and communicative that I began to mistrust my senses :
During its first day in my system, did I select, by chance, recordings that just happened to show it off? I stopped that afternoon, and swapped back in my standard Ortofon SPU. The difference was real: Love my older Ortofon though I do, the Xpression was clearly more dramatic, with no penalty in texture or color.
The Xpression confounded more than my expectations regarding new-vs-old technologies : Delighted though I am to see and hear such a product in the second decade of the 21st century, the Xpression brings with it a certain disregard for convention and for the staid logic of commerce—not unlike the best music.
That such a technologically advanced company can still take a chance such as this is a blessing.