a dilemma for cartridge/phono stage combination

the cantilever of my Benz-Micro MC-20E2 "High Output" cartridge was broke.
fixing it will cost more than a new one.
benz offered me what they call  repair/exchange with a nice 40 % discounted price.
i'm thinking to go on it.
my dilemma is between a high output cartridge like mc silver, which is kind of equivalent to the one i had, or to the low/mid output.
i'm working now without external phono stage and with my 2.0 mv that i had i used to raise the volume of my intagreted amp not more than 11-12 clock.
i read that generally low output mc are better quality that the high one's.
another cartridge that i have with 0.4 mv ( monster cable alpha 2) gives me very thin and dull sound, so i guess i will need an phono stage for the low output cartridge.
if it'll give me a real sound improvement i am ready to spend on a phono stage.
i know that benz micro also sell those. 
the models i consider for my budget limit are :
Benz Micro MC Silver

Benz Micro MC Gold

Benz Micro ACE-S low

Benz Micro ACE-S medium

Benz Micro ACE-S high

my turntable and arm are well tempered.

i'll appreciate very much some guidance .

Did you adjust the loading and gain to appropriate levels when you changed the cartridge? The needs of every cart are different. If they aren't adjustable, at least tell us what the phono stage built into the integrated are set for. Cheers,
i didn't change yet a new cartridge.
work now with an old audio thechnica i have .
unfortunately as far as i know there is no option to change anything in the build in phono stage in my amp.
Get a low output Benz mc and a SUT. I suggest a Bellari. About $350 and USA built. I have one! I have tried both low and high output MC's and prefer low.
And I prefer step up transformers (SUT's) over high-gain phono stages!
what is SUT, phono preamp?
what model of Bellari?
think that it’s important to have impadance control etc.
there is the VP129, 130 and those here:
saw some of them sells on ebay with lower price.
You can get a Bellari VP549 phono stage and MT502 step up transformer. This combination plugged into the aux input of your integrated amp will give you superior sound quality (SQ)!
The Monster Cable Alpha 2 is a very good sounding mc cartridge! It will work just fine with the Bellari step up transformer (SUT) straight into the phono input on your integrated amp! I still recommend adding the Bellari VP549 phono stage (to replace the internal phono stage in your integrated amp).
As for a better (newer) mc, I can recommend the Hana SL. It has a superior stylus (Shibata) that will enable it to sound better than either the Alpha or Benz Ace MC's! More detail from your LPs and less wear!
I own the Bellari MT502 step up transformer. Excellent product!
i am open to your suggestions.
i'm sure that it isn't the major to buy something.
but it's a bit of temptation to buy from benz since the offer me a big discount.
maybe i should start with the  SUT  and the  phono stage , try the alpha 2 and decide then.
those components can serve me later on for other cartridges.
especially since i am planning sometime to go for a new amplification that mower days come usually without a build in phono stage.
since i didn't have before any of those , i understand that with only sut i connect it to the phono internal stage.
and with both of them i connect to a regular line ( like aux, cd etc.
so you are saying that there is more sound advantages using both of them compare  to only a phono stage?
two questions:
1. those two models ( the sut and phono stage) that you specified are to your opinion the best from that company? since i saw there several other models.
2.if i want to go step by step i understand that you recommand to try first the SUT ?

regarding your cartridge suggestion, one of the things that are very important to me ,more then details, stage etc. is the naturalism of the sound , how much it close to the real instruments and voices.
can't stand cartridge with coloration even if it gives me many other sound advantages.

sorry for asking more.|
it’s because i don’t have experience with those components.
i read that the SUT:
"moving coil step up transformer that raises the low level of a moving coil cartridge up to a moving magnet level. Making your moving coil cartridge compatible with your phono preamp. "
so what is the reason i want to "convert" my MC to a MM?
and so what does the phono preamp?
it’s aloud you to adjust the best loading or impedance for your cartridge, but also to raise gain?
and what is the reason the the SUT MT502 cost 499 $ and the Vp 549 149$?

just to explain my self, i’m not arguing and really appreciate very much your help.
just want to understand what i’m going for and what is the purpose and the tribute of each of the two.
Apparently, your major responder, Robjerman, is under the impression that your current phono section is a type built for "high output" cartridges, most typically a moving magnet type.  However, if I read your own posts correctly, you did have enough gain for your high output MC Benz cartridge that is now broken.  Such "high output moving coil" cartridges typically put out 1-2mV, whereas a typical MM cartridge is more like 4-5mV in output.  Probably the reason your Monster cartridge sounds dull and lifeless is because the gain of your phono stage is not sufficient to bring it to life.  Do you find that your volume control is near to its wide open position, when you listen to the Monster?  If so, then you do lack the gain necessary for a low output MC.  In which case, you need either a SUT or a new phono stage with higher gain, or both if you also want an improvement in overall SQ.  A "Step-UP Transformer" or SUT is a transformer that increases the signal voltage output of a low output cartridge, to make it suitable for driving a low gain phono stage such as yours.  The SUT adds no real "gain" per se, but it converts current to voltage; most low output MC cartridges make a decent amount of current but only very low signal voltage.  Your MM phono stage is voltage-driven, so it benefits from the SUT placed in between the output of the tonearm and the input of the phono stage.  There is more to it, if you want to know more.
@lewm nice clear explanation.
@stone1 read that slowly 5 times, there is a lot of important information in that post.

The model & specs for the phono section built into your integrated would be very helpful(e.g. phono stage gain, line stage gain, loading-maybe 47k ?, capacitance). Until you figure out what would properly feed the phono stage you already own, you would be foolish to simply take @roberjerman 's suggestions and just buy what he likes. However, if you clarify the options to use:
SUT into your phono input
SUT + other phono stage into a line level input
Other phono stage (with X amount of gain) alone into a line level input
then your are in a much better position to decide which cartridge will be a good match.
Perhaps then the specific items suggested or alternatives best be considered; I'm not disagreeing with @roberjoberman's choices, just saying to figure out what you need then choose it. Don't just buy to try without understanding which paths could make sense for your long term plan and budget. 
BTW, no everyone agrees that SUTs are best idea vs. higher gain active phono stages. That's a highly debated whole 'nother conversation.
FWIW, if you do decide to pursue a separate phono stage, a used Benz Lukashek was recently listed. Might be some synergy there to go with a Benz cartridge...just a thought, I don't have a strong opinion on that item. Cheers,
thanks again everyone for trying to help, since i’m a bit lost here.
to emphasize that, i purchased recently , after reading very good reviews, a Pickering XSV 3000 /Stylus D3001E , and was very disappointed from the result.
right now i’m working with an old MM audio technica cartridge i had at home (at11e) . the gain is o.k and sounding reasonable, but i’m not planning to stay with it.
the benz micro i had was 2.0 mv.
i’ll try as much as i know to bring relevant info about my amps.
i have right now two integrated amps.
one is the creek audio 4240 that come originally with line output only, but there was an option to fit a phono MM or MC pcb to replace the aux line level, and i did it.
i think it was kind of a printed card, or something like it.
i don’t know if it was MM or MC , think MM but not sure.
the original amp inputs are " in the reagion of 350 mv’s".
that’s all i know.
the second one, and the one i’m using now since i preferred it a bit in my current circumstances, is a vintage Pioneer SX-880 receiver.
"Input sensitivity: 2.5mV (MM), 150mV (line)".
that all i know about it.
i suppose that some time in the future i’ll buy a better amp.
maybe tube or highbreed, but right now this is my system.

lewm - you are totally right about my situation with the alpha 2.
i have to raise the amp gain almost to maximum and it still not enough .

sbank - unfortunately i don't have any info about the  loading and  capacitance .

If you like your phono preamp rather than replace it I would get a Step Up Transformer (SUT) **if** you decide on a low output cartridge.

The SUT will have to be properly loaded (which is usually a resistor-capacitor combination) depending on the cartridge. Some of the very best SUTs are made by Jensen Transformers. They have loading information for a large variety of cartridges.
The Hana is a very good recommendation BTW.
thank you.
right now i don’t have an external phono preamp and i can’t say if i like the one that build in.
i am on the way to buy a new cartridge .
i had one with 2.0 mv output.
in several places i read that low output mc are generally better in sound then high output .
right now if i’ll buy a low mc it will not work well with my preamp,
so i’m trying to decide what combination will be best for me.
i read that there are some disagreements about what is better SUT or phono stage.
some say that SUT can add some coloration, hum, and you must find a very accurate calibration.
since i didn’t decide yet which cartridge i’ll buy , it can be one of the benz micro, or using my monster alpha 2 that i have at home, i’m a bit confused what to do.
and which sut or phono preamp will be the best match with my cartridge?

tried to find out prices of Jensen sut’s.
do you mean one of those?

maybe i don’t understand how it works , but i don’t see there any way to change some factor, like you usually have in a phonostage/ preamp.
let say compare to this one.

in several places i read that low output mc are generally better in sound then high output .
Low output cartridges generally have more bandwidth.
tried to find out prices of Jensen sut’s.do you mean one of those?
I do, but you will have to find a way to load the output of the transformers.

I think the OP would benefit greatly if he could  find a local "bricks and mortar" store (dealer} whom is versed at analog TT set-up. They could at least, steer him in the right direction to solve his problem and help him with choices. IMO.
can you please explain?
   "you will have to find a way to load the output of the transformers."  
mr_m1 - i believe that my choices are limited to adding a phono preamp/stage , or SUT or both.

i know that my dilemmas here are not simple for you to give me a clear cut answer, and i apologize for that.
i am also kind of frustrated from the situation and will try to simplify it.
right now i’m thinking of going on a careful side and buy a phono preamp.
try to work with my mc alpha 2 cartridge , or buy a new mc cartridge, if i’ll not like the result of the above.
my system right now can be hardly called high end ,and i’ts kind of something that i’m planning to replace in the future, so i’m trying to match the additional components for a reasonable price, according to that.
i’m trying to find not expansive phono stages, let say something between 100-200 $.
one of the options is the bellari VP130 – Tube Phono Preamp.
other is Cambridge Audio - Azur 551P - MM Phono Preamplifier.
those two are just first examples that i found.
i’ll be glad for recommendations to that direction, and sorry again if i confused you.
sorry, the   Azur 551P ia  a MM , not relevant.
lewn did a nice job of outlining what you need to do.

according to stereophile your amp was available with a MC or MM pcb plug in board.


key thing to know is not only how much gain each of the two board options offers, bit also what kind of loading is available. is the loading fixed at 100 ohm or do you have to solder resistors into the pcb to change loading?

once you have these answers you should be in better shape to determine what carts will work with your amp.

thank you.
the link you gave me refer to a special addition 4240.
my unit was sold only with line level with the option to add a phono stage internal card for one of the rca inputs , which i did.
it’s a MM p.stage.
my direction now is to buy a phono stage, probably a tube one, and start to work with my alpha 2 cartridge.
so i’m looking for recommendations that will help me to decide which tube phono preamp to buy.
one option is one of the tube boxes of project.
another option is Parks Audio Budgie tube phono preamp .
those are around the price range i'm looking for.

i’ll be glad to have some opinion about it from people that have/had experience with it, or other suggestions.

I have and love the Benz MC Silver. It has a clean, clear, rythmic and detailed sound with a great sense of presence. The MC Gold is essentially the same cartridge but with lower output and because of this a slightly lower mass. In theory this would mean faster response, but I’ve never felt the MC lacking here. 

The Benz Ace has a finer MicroRidge stylus so should be able to bring out more detail. 

If you liked your Benz MC20E, then you may be interested in LP Gear BIN 215 or 323. The LP Gear is a high output MC based upon the Excel MC100, a cartridge-platform that Benz used for the MC20E built by Excel. The MC Silver/Gold are designed and assembled by Benz in Switzerland, so it’s a different series. 

Excel also makes the excellent Hana MC cartridges like the Hana EH/EL. 

   "you will have to find a way to load the output of the transformers."  
@stone1  Sorry- didn't see this earlier.
By this I meant that the SUT needs to be loaded, and the loading changes depending on the cartridge. Jensen has a chart that includes your cartridge so finding out what is needed isn't the issue; where to put the components (a resistor and capacitor for each channel, all very small) is.
Do you have a loading connection on your preamp? If not, a box can be had with the Jensens in it, and the loading components installed in the box.

thank you  atmasphere.
i decided to go on a low output mc cartridge and to use a phono stage.
think it'l be a tube one.
just need to decide which one.
one of the candidates is the pro ject DS2.
is anybody can tell me something about it?