$2k for new Cartridge Benz LP or......

Hi all,

I'm looking to change my cartridge and have the opportunity to trade my Benz Ruby 2 for an LP for $2k. I will be able to hear the LP but not in my system...and the system I will hear it in is significantly differnent so the excercise may be less than useful. I also have Helikon on hand but found it not as pleasing through the mid band as the Benz. It is sitting on the shelf with probably less than 200hrs on it.

What else is out there around the $2k mark that would have the ease through the mid band and some slam..I have refurbed stacked ESLs running back through a Berning ZH 270 or Futterman H3 or Various vintage amps to an Aesthetix Io Sig with VC & 2 supplies . Arm is an SMEV and Hovland MusicGroove 2.

$2K is a challenge I know.. but this is the ease of entry for the LP I'd really love an upper end Koetsu but the $$$ are not workable now..Thanks for any comments.
You could buy a used Koetsu Rosewood for the 2K and still keep your Benz as a backup, or sell it.

I have owned several Benz and Koetsu cartridges and the Koetsu is a more satisfying cartridge by far. I never felt emotionally connected to the Benz, but the Koetsu connected with me before it even had enough hours to break in.

You did not mention table and arm, perhaps the sale of the Benz could go toward upgrade?
Thanks Albert, neglected to mention the table is a Oracle MKV with turbo supply + Golmund mat and SMEV arm.....
The Benz LP is somewhat of a departure from the rest of the Benz line. I've heard people who say that don't like the "Benz sound" also state that they really like the Benz LP. It is an excellent cartridge. I am not sure if you can get more for your $2k than the performance obtained from the LP. The upgrade is a nice way to get into the upper echelon of cartridges. It is what, a $4k to $5k cartridge? Regarding used cartridges, I’d prefer to acquire a new cartridge than someone’s used cartridge. This is not to say that used cartridges are problematic, this is just my preference.

I'd say check out that system that has the Benz LP. Although different from your system, if you like what you hear you know that the LP is not doing anything to the music that you don't like, and thus worthy of your consideration. If you love what you hear, I'd consider going thru with the upgrade. If you don't like what you hear, than it becomes more of a gamble as it may be difficult to determine if it is the Benz or another component that contributes to the sound that you do not like.

I bet those stacked Quads sound real nice!
I don't see weakness in the turntable or arm. If anything, that combo should deliver excellent dynamics and bass, more reason to play to the strength of the midrange which the Koetsu delivers in spades. It would be nice to have your report on the outcome of this, whatever way you decide.

Other members should chime in here as quite a few prefer the ZYX and other currently popular cartridges, perhaps some have direct experience?

I've owned three Oracles but never owned that Oracle / SME combo. I had excellent results with my Oracle's combined with Triplanar, carbon fiber Pioneer arm and the original Breuer.
All of the potential choices,here are really quite valid,but Albert makes a salient point,regarding Koetsus.I had about ten years of music life,with Koetsus.They really can become addictive,and with good reason.Once you live with them(though there are other great designs now,but it still doesn't diminish the Koetsu legacy)it is really hard to pull away from that trademark,let's call it "sonic presentation",which is quite remarkable.I do wish I could sport a few designs,and a Koetsu would surely be one,though I've moved on.

I sold my Onyx Sapphire,and then Urushi to a friend,who gladly snatched it up.What he did was find a retip service in England(I forgot who),who did the work for300.00- 400.00 dollars per cartridge.He has been a busy beaver,snatching up an "almost wine cellar type" of collection,and retipping cheaply.He is ecstatic with the retip results,though NOT from Koetsu.Trust me,he knows what he's doing,and has been at the hobby for over thirty years.

Just food for thought.Best regards!
I recommend the My Sonic Labs "The Eminent" for about $2500 brand new. It is an excellent cartridge that I currently prefer in my system to the Dynavector XV-1s. It does have some of the Koetsu Magic but has incredible dynamics & great extension at the extremes. I haven't tried it on my SME V though to know compatability. The Benz is supposed to be an ideal match for the SME. I prefer my Dynavector on a high mass tonearm.
I have the same table - Oracle Mk. V with a Vector arm & the Benz LP ebony.
It sounds fantastic!
Great bass, superior highs & a very lush & warm midrange.
As soon as my new racks arrive - I will switch the Benz LP ebony to my Nottingham Mentor with SME V5 (my reference table) & use the VDH Colibri with my Oracle/Vector combo.
Hope this helps.
Dear Nkj: The Ruby 2 is a very good cartridge and mates good with your V specially if you re-wired internally. The LP is a different cartridge, very good too but I preffer the Ruby 2.

No, I don't like the Koetsu Rosewood the Ruby 2 is far better. If you want a Koetsu you have to go for the Rosewood Signature Platinum.

Maybe you don't have to pay 2K for something different that you really like, here are some very good alternatives:




and the Sumiko Celebration ( 1.5K. New. ). This one was voiced with the tonearm you have: great match.

Regards and enjoy the music.
I started years ago with a Benz MC-Gold, and have worked through the Glider, H2O, Ruby 2 and now the LP for the past 3 years. My system has the exact same phono stage ( Io Signature with volume controls and 2 power supplies ). My table (Avid) has the SME IV arm.

The step from the Ruby 2 to the LP is a quantum leap. And this is based on the LP from 3 years ago. Benz keeps improving it. If you want more info, call Garth at Musical Surroundings. They have stepped up the output voltage a little and changed some of the internal parts, yet kept the price the same.

One nice thing about Benz is that factory retip is reasonably priced. Often, you just simply wind up with a new cartridge and the old one is cycled back through. As you know, it is less expensive to stay within the Benz line for an upgrade than to switch brands.

The LP is very lyrical, harmonically rich and has deep, taut bass. The timbres are very natural - transparent and revealing. I love the sound of the Benz. Have not tried a Koetsu, my friends that have them love them and they also like the sound of my analog playback. The LP tracks well and is perfectly mated to the SME arm. Vocals are really well rendered, soloists and massed chorus alike. I listen to lots of classical and some jazz, most of it recorded in a hall with minimal microphones (ie not studio recordings). The LP really lends itself to conveying the ambience and warmth of acoustically recorded music.

One thing I did find was that I had to get a really well shielded DIN-RCA tonearm cable. I tried the Hovland, Graham, Harmonic Tech and Music Metre and settled on the Nordost Quattro Fil (just upgraded to Nordost Frey).

Good luck on your search.
Well thanks for all the opinions it is interesting to see that many have(or have had) experience with the Io,Oracle,Benz Ruby2 and LP..too bad not as a system!

I love some elaboration from Raul...why do you like the Ruby over the LP? I will be going to hear the LP at my dealer and will let you know how I make out in the next while.


Oldvinyl,could you please elaborate on your experiences between the different phono cables you've tried,and why you settled on the Nordost.Also,did you ever try the Purist Venustas,or have a mutual friend who may own it.

Thanks in advance!
The problem I had was that the Music Metre Silver phono cable had a loosely wrapped shield. Music Metre preferred unshielded for their silver cables, but with my set up and all the power supplies it was picking up too much hum.

The Harmonic Technology was not shielded well enough, it had a low level hum. Also, the musical presentation of the Harmonic Tech was not quite right to my ear. It seemed a bit bright.

The Graham IC-70 was very well shielded but seemed to be a bit soft or muted. It could have been a break-in issue, but that cable just did not do it for me musically.

I found a 2m Nordost Quattro Fil. It turned out to be the quietest of the bunch. The shielding completely eliminated the hum. Also, it was the most musical phono cable. Sweet highs and rich mid-range. The bass is really extended and tight.

I am going to sell that Quattro Fil, having just recently upgraded to the new Nordost Tyr phono cable. It takes everything the Quattro Fil did up a couple levels. More bocy on the sound, way more ambient detail (without sounding detailed or etched at all).

Alas, I have never heard the Purist Venustas, but have read a lot of good things about it.

Enjoy the music!!

Sirspeedy, the retipper in the UK you are thinking of is the cartridgeman www.thecartridgeman.com. He makes the music maker MM cartridge too of course. I have to say I am a Koetsu man too. I am sure Raul is correct, the Rosewood platinum is the one to go for, but I went for a Rosewood Signature and am very happy with it. Don't forget it can be rebuilt in time as a Signature Platinum, by Koetsu. The Signatures are ovewr $2000. but I bought a nearly new one on the Gon 18months ago for $1500 and it was mint. Before you say it, I know the risks of second user cartridges. It is a risk you are prepared to take or not.
Ok I went over budget and got a deal on a Koetsu Rosewood Signature Platinum !

Any tips on set up with this one? Or break in time?

Oracle V, SME V, Aesthetix Io Sig. w/VC + 2 supplies

I"ll report back on this when I get it installed!
I am envious, if you ever get fed up with it, I will buy it from you. I use the Rosewood Signature, Koetsu don't advise on impedence, but most people recommend 100ohms. It is a long lasting cartridge and break in is prolonged. I felt mine was about 200 hours. I track mine at 1.85gms with slight base down VTA(the adjustment on my Origin Live deck is a bit primitive so I can't give precise VTA details)

I used my Urushi w. an SME supplied spacer to be able to get the VTA negative enough. As a rough guide the VTA should be level to the rear half of the cartridge, which is slightly angled. Use your ear for setting the VTA once broken in. Also, the impedance in my system was set at 100 ohms.

Also, I used blue tack on the arm tube right next to the pivot point & inside the headshell area which did lead to an improvement. Lastly, I hope you are not using the SME included phono cable. There is a tremendous jump in improvement once you upgrade to a better cable.

Hope this helps.
Congratulations Nkj. I used a RSP/Oracle V/Triplanar IV for years and was never disappointed. Though I've "defected" to the Benz LP I still think your front end will be remarkably satisfying. Enjoy!
Well I got the RSP installed and my eyes are probably not what they used to be...I set it up with the tacky SME gauge (what a pain to get the stylus point in the "little" hole), the Oracle disc (which is remarkably good but still tough to see) and the DB systems protractor which is probably the best but still painful...its pretty darn close.

I'll re check over the weekend when I'm less frustrated as I can feel an accident waiting to happen. I stupidly ended up breaking off an aluminum cartridge screw into the body of my perfectly good Benz Ruby 2 when putting it away...so I'll let that sit for a while until I decide to send it off as I don't think I'll ever be able to get the broken stud out...argh!

Right away you can hear the sustain and fineness in the top end with the RSP...the tremble in Neil Young's voice never sounded so rich and real!
I would have suggested Shelter 901 if it was not too late.