Benz LP cartridge distortion - any advise?

I recently purchased a BENZ LP cartridge here on Audiogon and I am having a frustrating time dialing it in. The main issue is with an unpleasant amount distortion and sibilance heard on vocals. It can also be heard on some brass instruments. Other instrumentation (guitars, bass, drums, etc) sounds clear.

This is my first cartridge of this caliber and I have read that dialing it in takes some work, but I have reached a point where I need to ask for some help. I wonder if someone who is more experienced with this cartridge might be able to give me some direction.

Here is what I am working with:

Benz LP cartridge (original, not the current “S” class), purchased used with 100 hours, currently tracking at 1.9 grams (alignment was performed with a MINT tractor)
VPI Classic turntable with JMW 10.5i tonearm
Graham Slee Elevator, currently loading at 1000 ohms
EAR 834p phono stage
McIntosh MA6600 amplifier
B&W Nautilus 804 speakers

Adjustments in VTA don’t seem to help eliminate the sibilance or distortion.

I appreciate any advise.
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Have you adjusted azimuth at all? This cartridge shouldn't have lots of sibilance. Try an LP that you know doesn't have much sibilance and see what happens. If still problem and azimuth already adjusted, then it could be defective.
Does the distortion seem to favor one channel over the other (i.e. are you hearing it more in the left channel or more in the right)? If so, you might also spend some time making some anti-skate adjustments. Distortion in the left (inside) channel could be too much anti-skate, and in the right (outside) channel could indicate too little anti-skate [I think I've got these right - someone jump in if I've got them backwards]

I have a few records where I always seem to get a little distortion in one channel or another in certain spots, and of course I got all concerned about my cartidge and settings when I first noticed it (especially since the distortion wasn't occurring during any particularly dynamic passages). Since I found that it was occurring consistently in the same places on these particular records, I now attribute it to either a pressing failure (in the case of records I purchased new) or perhaps damage in those particular spots by previous owners of the record (in the case of records I bought used).

I'm just hoping this is the case and not that you got a bum cartridge.
I set azimuth using a voltmeter and test record. Still the same amount of harshness on vocals.
The distortion is centered with the vocal. And it is consistent from record to record. I have tested about 15-20.
Hm.. It could be the cartridge. The Benz LP is, in my opinion, a warm and full bodied cartridge. I am surprised it generates lots of sibilance. I guess loading down the cartridge won't help either. I think you can retip it at a price. Perhaps the seller could share the cost.

I know a dealer who can help you retip it at a good price. You can contact me if you like.
The Benz Lp works best into a 47K load (no loading resistance)!

If that does not work you got a "Bum" cartridge.

Used cartridges with 100 hrs (????) are usually a rip off!

I have encountered recently the similar issue - "unpleasant amount distortion and sibilance heard on vocals" -though, in different system (Rega P25 table, RB600 arm, Denon Dl-103 cartridge).

Went down googling last night, and found a discussion of smilar problem with dl-103 on rega.

While I thought my cartridge was aligned perfectly (I am using default Rega protractor), actually it was not, I had to move the cart all the way front on arm and align it there (before its was aliged somewhere in the middle). it worked - sibilance on vocals now seems gone.

the questions is if you hear sibilance on the whole LP? My problem was starting with like second or third track on one side.

So #1 check the cartridge position on the tonearms end. #2 if the problem seen on all tracks, that could be defect of of cartridge (factory re-tip is quite affordable for benz Micro LP, $800 at musical surroundings). #3 might be silly idea, but it could be tabe/arm and cart mismatch (key word hear compliance??)?

Just my two cents...

I posted a response at AA. It seems to me that
you have a) an anti-skating problem or b) a needle
going/gone bad. Your symptoms are typical
of a used needle. I have a Benz LP that I retipped
once because it had the same symptoms.
First, you must experiment with anti-skating.
Try it with zero/nothing and move up the dial
to see what happens. If you notice a dramatic
change in sibilance than you have part of the
problem. I say part because if you still have some
sibilance after making drastic adjustments than
perhaps the needle is badly worn. When I
was troubleshooting my Benz LP sibilance issues
I found that the anti-skating worked best at 1
on the SME V anti-skate dial.

The tracking force I settled with is 1.75 as
that seemed to be the clearest sounding
with no sibilance problems. I would experiment
with maximum extremes in either VTF and
antiskate and try to sum the settings. Remember
you are listening to the best settings and not

I used 1000ohm when the LP was new and
have tried 47 and 10k ohms. I have settled
with 10k on an aesthetix IO.

If all else fails then I would really be
concerned about the health of the needle.

Good luck
>>04-07-10: Don_c55
Used cartridges with 100 hrs (????) are usually a rip off<<


Can you provide any evidence to support this?

Thanks in advance

This thread is an example of one!

Why do so many used cartridge ads state "used only 100 Hrs"?
Don C55,

I do not know how many cartridges you have had, but heres how you end up with one having 100 hours. You buy new, and run 40 hours break-in, since all carts sound awfully different, in next 50 hours you realise that it is not your cup of tea (while its obvious form the start that this is not the thing you want, everyone just go through that 40 hours barrier to see how actually cart performs).

Of course that does not mean, that all seller are honest. At least he got a Benz Micro LP! There are many plain simple thieves or scammers on AA outthere selling thin air (have cought one selling Nordost Frey, he wanted to rip me off $500).

>This thread is an example of one!
>Why do so many used cartridge ads state "used only 100 Hrs"?
Is there anyone close to you that can check it under a microscope for wear? This will eliminate or point to wear.
Thanks for all the responses. I believe that the stylus may be more worn than reported. I have contacted the seller and he has agreed to take care of the problem.
The seller is willing to take care of it. That may mean that there could be a problem with the cartridge. Good for you.