Ortofon Launches Concorde MK2 Turntable Cartridge Line at NAMM 2018

For turntablists and DVS lovers, vinyl cartridges are an essential bit of kit that can make or break a performance. It also can be really, really hard to convince a DJ to switch needles once they’ve developed an allegiance to one particular style or brand. For NAMM 2018, Ortofon has refreshed their entire popular Concorde line with a five models, each specialized for different uses and all sporting a new distinctive look.

  • Product Line: Concorde MK2 cartridges
  • Models: Mix, DJ, Club, Scratch, Digital
  • Manufacturer: Ortofon
  • Price: Offerings between €89 – €149 (approximately $110 – $185)

Concorde MK2 Details

Looking beyond the nice hero video above (complete with reaction interviews from modern turntablists DJ Rafik, DJ Angelo, Eskei83, DJ Netik, and Jose Rodriguez), we thought it would be great to dive into what actually makes this launch unique.

First up, it’s worth noting that there’s a complete new look and design to each of these models. They have a nice logo where the stylus is to indicate which model you’re using. There’s also some clever complementary color design going on for each model. Have a look at this side by side of a the new DJ model versus the old Concorde DJ S model:

Concorde DJ MKII vs older Concorde DJ S

Here’s a quick look at each cartridge’s speciality, according to the details we got from Ortofon (prices are per cartridge):

  • Concorde MKII Mix – €89.00, designed as an “all around” and “general-purpose” model for scratch and back-cueing. “Excellent price-to-performance ratio.”
  • Concorde MKII DJ – €109.00, 1 gram heavier than the Mix, has “excellent groove handling”, “improved tracking” while still not having high record wear like some scratch needles.
  • Concorde MKII Club – €149.00, has a unique “special-elliptic” stylus which “fits better in the groove and therefore has more contact area with the groove itself, extracting more intricate details” than other spherical styli. Also requires less gain from preamps, meaning clearer sound and less chance of your decks producing feedback.
The Concorde MKII Scratch model
  • Concorde MKII Scratch – €119.00, designed for scratching and back-cueing use. It has increased tracking ability with a “supreme ability to trace the grooves of the records.” It has a 10mV output (the highest except for the OM Q.Bert special model), which makes it “perfect for scratching music with deep bass frequencies”. 
  • Concorde MKII Digital – €129.00, a stylus specifically designed to “extend the life of timecode vinyl and minimize errors in decoding”. It also has the same 10mV output, for a good signal-to-noise ratio – making it easier for software to accurately track the timecode. 

Ortofon and DJ Cartridges

We were amazed to learn that Ortofon is actually celebrating their 100th anniversary later this year of (continuously) being in the audio reproduction industry. The founders were engineers who helped to develop some of the earliest technology for playing and syncing audio with film in the 1920s. You can read more about Ortofon’s history here.

The question we wanted to know was more about market size. What’s really happening in the DJ industry that a company can afford to develop not one, but five new models of cartridges for release in 2018? As it turns out, it’s a sizeable market – and Ortofon has a lot to gain by continuing to challenge the heavily-used Shure models that often dominate the top sales slots (at least based on our US-only industry data).

The hardest one to challenge is the much-loved Shure M44-7.

So, will Ortofon’s new Concorde MKII offerings become the new standard for turntable DJs? Having specialized models that allow DJs to self-identify their intent (potentially buying more than one pair for different scenarios) and get stand-out coloring at the same time could be big. Share your own thoughts in the comments below. 

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