Ortofon Switches From Boron to Sapphire Cantilevers

Ortofon recently announced a switch from Boron to Sapphire cantilevers on all but its more expensive "Exclusive Series" (photo is of original Boron cantilevered Quintet).

You can read about it here. The change affects the Quintet line, in which the top of the line Quintet Black model with Shibata stylus will now come with the new Sapphire cantilever and be rebadged "Quintet Black S". The original with Boron cantilever was reviewed here.

The new Quintet Black S will be available at the end of September.

A Boron cantilever shortage was reported to me "off the record" by more than one cartridge manufacturer at last year's Hi-End Munich show. While they looked for a new source the manufacturers were able to obtain a supply from other cooperative cartridge manufacturers who had stockpiled them for just this kind of eventuality.

Meanwhile it was also reported that a plentiful supply would soon be forthcoming from an American manufacturer who supplied to the military similar (but much larger!) Boron pipes. The source was found on the Internet.

azmoon's picture

Is this one considered "better" or is this being done for another reason?

gce's picture

Boron cantilevers are strong, stiff, light and 100% inert. From all possible options Boron cantilever is the best, but unfortunately extremely difficult to obtain.

Keen Observer's picture

Are you too lazy to click the link Michael provided to Ortofon's statement and read the answer for yourself (although his post should already be sufficient)?

audiof001's picture

that this change was done for affordability. At least, that's how I read it. Still, read my other post below regarding ruby cantilevers...

azmoon's picture

Not too lazy, I just don't buy in to the company line on which is better. I was looking for opinions from people who might know. This leaves you out, obviously. Keep observing in that mirror.

scottsol's picture

If you had followed the link you would have found that Ortofon states that Ortofon is the best material. They are not trying to present the change to Saphire as an advantage.

Lazer's picture

Why the attack? Can't we all just chill and enjoy the music? Mellow out dude.

tube dog's picture

cartridge has always used a ruby cantilever. It wil be interesting to see how Ortofon will spin this. You can be sure they'll probably say that ruby is superior to boron.

tube dog's picture

I meant to say sapphire.

audiof001's picture

Soundsmith used a ruby cantilever on my brother-in-law's Benz Silver rebuild and he believes it to be a huge improvement to the original Benz cantilever material. Sapphire may be equally appealing to the ear.

Ortofan's picture

... MC5000 cartridge. Did MF ever review it?

Rekkid's picture

I have an AT150ANV that utilizes a MicroLinear stylus tip mounted on φ0.4mm sapphire cantilever pipe. The AT150MLX replacement stylus is a perfect fit for the 150ANV and I much prefer its Boron cantilever to which is mounted a MicroLine Stylus. The sound with the Sapphire cantilever seems a bit "washed out" and polite as compared to the boron cantilever which sounds solid and full bodied.

Odd thing is, the Sapphire cantilever/Microlinear stylus is rated from
10Hz - 23,000Hz whereas the Boron cantilever/Microline stylus is rated from 10Hz-30,000Hz. Of course, YMMV.

Bromo33333's picture

The posting talked about the Exclusive series as well as the Cadenza, but didn't mention the Cadenza series? I clicked through to "Exclusive" and it didn't include Cadenza.

(I suppose since they said every cart but Exclusive, that the Cadenza gets Sapphire as well - I think Cadenza Black is Boron?)

I suspect there is more to it than the shortage, though the shortage provided motivation to fix it quick. I think that the Quintet Black was so good it was stealing sales from Cadenza options - Ortofon sometimes makes these sorts of "errors" and then eventually gets around to "fixing it"

Bromo33333's picture

"The posting talked about the Exclusive series as well as the Cadenza, but didn't mention the Cadenza series?"

Was supposed to be:

The posting talked about the Exclusive series as well as the QUINTET, but didn't mention the Cadenza series?

kimi imacman's picture

Clearly the Exclusive series does not include the Cadenza range which is separated in the drop down menu. The Cadenza Black spec still shows a boron cantilever, the only one in the range to do so but I suspect that may change when stocks are exhausted. If there is this shortage I guess it's change the cantilever material or ditch the product. Don't bank on a price drop though.

Bromo33333's picture

I suspect the Quintet Black isn't going to go back - I think it's harder to convince someone to go to Cadenza when that was available. I dunno about the Cadenza Black - the MSRP is high enough that there are a ton of boron options available at that price level - even in the face of shortages.

Down at the bottom of the article it sounded like at least one company may be supplying boron cantilevers eventually. I would expect them to be more dear.

I looked up the comparison of cantilever materials on Soundsmith and saw they felt ruby and sapphire were for all intents and purposes "the same" yet Ruby cost a little more. Go figure - I guess you want what you want. Boron was the top of the heap for them, too.

myheroiscoltrane's picture

Michael, I just re-read your review of the quintet black, which was fairly glowing. Your recent review of the Soundsmith MIMC Star was equally so, as was your review from several years back of the Lyra Delos. If you were in the market for a $1-2K cartridge, which way would you gravitate?

lvrndrssn's picture

For those of you wondering about the Cadenza Black: I contacted an Ortofon representative in Denmark and received the following response:

"Currently there are no plans for replacement of the boron cantilever in the Cadenza Black cartridge."

Eskisi's picture

There is something disingenuous in all of this. I looked through the web, at metal trading exchanges and no-one mentions a shortage or a spike in prices. I wonder what the real story is...?

Mikey23450's picture

Having been in hi-fi retail longer than I care to mention I have a deep mistrust of "jewel" cantilevers. They can sound stunning, Dynavector various and Audio-Technica AT37, but are very fragile. So when I ordered a Quintet Black I made sure I received the last Boron cantilevered version the dealer had.