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Ortofon Rondo Blue
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The Ortofon range of MC cartridges seems to be constantly expanding. The Rondo series form a range below that of the Cadenzas and above the Vivo pair. The body is made of a ground wood/ resin composite. Beneath this hangs an aluminium cantilever with a Nude FG70 stylus attached. It tips the scales at 10.5 grams so is only just within the balance limits of most arms. Alignment was easy with the straight edges to the body and the very visible cantilever. A flip down stylus guard is provided. After a little listening I unclipped it entirely, rebalanced the arm and found a small but useful improvement in the sound quality. It seemed to sound a bit more secure in the groove and to have a little more air and space in the sound.
    I started again with the Copland and found a slightly more delicate and gentle sound than I had been listening to from the Denon. It seemed very well suited to the sound of this chamber orchestra, picking out little details in the performer’s technique that fleshed out the sonic image somewhat. It seemed to offer a taste of the higher levels of refinement that have always made MCs such a sought after product, although I did feel that some other, more full bodied pieces of classical music that I played, overwhelmed it slightly, resulting in a little constriction to the flow of detail. The imaging was quite good, if a little ethereal at times compared to the Denon, the latter seeming to have a bit more confidence in the way the sound was presented.ortofon-rondo-blue_rear
    The cover of the Pearl Bailey LP has a sticker on it stating that this disc is prohibited from radio and television performance. Although the risque nature of some of the lyrics seems quite tame now, it is easy to imagine the reaction of middle America at the end of the Eisenhower era to songs such as ‘Since I Became A Hussy For My Husband’! Backed by an orchestra conducted by Don Redman, which swung along nicely in a post Benny Goodman style of jazz, Bailey’s voice took centre stage and displayed enough forthright attitude that the listener was left in no doubt that this was a woman who knew what she wanted, and just how to get it! The Rondo Blue made quite a good job of displaying this, creating an image of the seasoned cabaret and club performer, confident in her singing, and with a powerful delivery should the song so require.
    It was less happy when faced with Janis’ throaty wailings and howling guitars, seeming to shy away from the rawness and emotional power of the performance. It sounded a bit too mannered to be really convincing or a satisfying listen. Put bluntly, it didn’t seem to have the guts to deal with such wild and vulgar guitar sounds and vocal behaviour.


Quite refined sounding cartridge from Danish manufacturer

- very good with classical
- gentle and subtle sound
- focussed image

- a bit restrictive on musical
- easily overwhelmed by
musical information.

BLUE        £525.00
Henley Designs
+44 (0)1235 511166


The Rondo Blue tracks at a high-ish 2.3gms and clears most tracking tests at this force, almost tracking a top 90µm track at 300Hz and managing to track a high 24cms/sec at 1kHz. Applying the 2.5gms maximum gets it through all tracks – a very good result.
    Frequency response was flat right out to 20kHz, but with a slight fall above 5kHz, just enough to give a soft or easy balance. Inner groove tracing losses added to this, resulting in pronounced treble fall on inner grooves.
    The vertical tracking angle measured 25 degrees. As a result distortion was low at 3% on vertical modulation, mostly second and third harmonics. Output was healthy at 0.82mV at 5cms/sec rms so the Rondo Blue will work with budget MC phono stages that are hissy and have low gain.
The Rondo Blue measures well but it will have a mild sound balance compared to many rivals. NK

Tracking force    2.3gms
Weight    10.5gms
Vertical tracking angle    25degrees
Frequency response    20Hz - 20kHz
Channel separation    28dB
Tracking ability (300Hz)
lateral    85µm
vertical    45µm
lateral (1kHz)    24cms/sec.
Distortion (45µm)
lateral    1.1%
vertical    3%
Output (5cms/sec rms)    0.82mV




Red - inner grooves



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