Instead of retipping my LP, Benz and my dealer offered to upgrade it to an S-Class. They basically sent me a brand new cartridge. It has somewhat more mass than the LP but still mates seamlessly with the TriPlanar.
It's still breaking in but so far seems more linear, not leaner but imparting body and texture more uniformly across the frequency spectrum, resulting in more dynamics.
It's a little more detailed but even more musical.
A retipped LP might easily do the same but I'm not sending this one back.
I love my Benz LP and but if I had to retip I would surely do the S-Class upgrade.... My dealer has the S-Class on the stores Basis setup and it sounds great but I can't compare it to my LP because of how different the rigs are.
Yes - The mass comes from additional bracing - I think they use a brass skeletin to strengthen the Ebony wood. Have you noticed a change needed in VTA, or damping? Does it look the same as the older LP= or can you see any differences. Khrys.. perhaps you could post some further thoughts after it breaks in. Thanks
For reasons that escape me, the Ebony line of cartridges does not get the respect it deserves, and they get overlooked by audiophiles in serach of a world-class cartidge.
I mention this for the benefit of those who might be in a similar situation to Stringreen and are pondering a switch. If you do, you may be changing the presentation but not necessarily making an improvement.
Perhaps the LP has been around too long to catch the eye of audiophiles? Perhaps the slightly (and I emphasize slightly) slow, bloated sound of the lesser wood-bodied cartridges in the line causes people to overlook this fine cartridge?
With the LP, they got it right ... really right - not throwing out the wonderful things that all Benzes do in the nuance and delicacy department in the process.
I've not heard the "S" class version, but would feel confident in taking the advice of those who have done the upgrade. Their sensibilities are finely tuned to the virtues of the original LP, and I would trust them that Benz didn't screw up a good thing.
Thom @ Galibier
Stringreen, the S looks just like the LP to my eye. I made a minor VTA adjustment quickly by ear but will wait until after breakin for final calibration. I do not use damping with these cartridges. I had to pull one of the counterweights way back to balance the S so I will also reconfigure the TriPlanar with heavier ones to keep them closer to the bearing after breakin.
Thom, I naturally could not agree with you more. The LP has been seriously underestimated as a world class contender: good sounds good, bad sounds bad, yet it's all utterly engaging, involving, captivating.
Not sure how they do that, but the S already seems to do it a bit more.
It's the musical instrument of pickups IMNSHO.
I had my Benz LP retipped about 5 months ago, but now I think I should have asked for the new S version tip.
I agree about the Benz LP being understated. When I was on the hunt for a new cartridge, I was actively listening to the Koetsu's, the Onyx captivated me and sounded very good, the Benz LP in comparison comes close to the sound of the Onyx with all of the glorified imaging, soundstaging and frequency response anyone could wish for.
Enjoy your Benz LP, I am know I am.
Well, based on the positive comments on this thread as well as my own cartridge thread, I have taken advantage of a good price on an unused in the box Benz Micro LP. Just another step in my ongoing quest to become Stringreen(just kidding...really). Seriously though, I know it will take some some set up and break in time but I'm looking forward to giving it a try. I was wondering if the retipping/upgrade option will be available to me in the future or is that just for original owners? Not that it matters that much. I think I got a good deal on a great cartridge that I will really enjoy as is.
Thanks for the advice everyone and have a safe and happy 4th.
Thom_mackris agreed with me one some point...he can't be a bad guy thinks me, so I went to his website. After reading lots of really interesting and great tips, I came across how important and critical is an exact VTF for the cartridge. Also there is news about the ubiquitous Shure Bros. scale and that it is flawed. The scale shows slightly light weight for your cartridge, however, by dropping the 2 outside feet of the scale base over the edge of the turntable platter, a more accurate weight is registered. The most important tip on his site however is the fact that the VTF has to be dialed in correctly. Manufacturers give a range, however, there is one and only one perfect downward force for your cartridge. While experimenting with the Shure scale, and changing the downward force of my cartridge, I noticed HUGE differences in quality of sound. These changes absolutely swamped the differences of VTA, or
azimuth. Although those should be spot on, if you can find the ne plus ultra weight for your cartridge...not around 1.5 -2 grams, but absolutely spot on for your cartridge, you will never know the glories awaiting you. I think (thanks to Thom) I have it now...and boy is my cartridge singing. It is so much better than before it sounds like a different cartridge...and it was no slouch before. It is very valuable information like this that makes Audiogon and people like Thom so outstanding.
I hope you take no offense at my joke about wanting to be you. I simply know that you're using some similar equipment to mine in some areas and that what you like I probably will too. As you may have seen above I will be getting an LP soon largely based on your valued recommendation. Would you mind telling me what VTF you found to be optimal? It does make sense to me that VTF can have as much or more effect than azimuth or VTA on sound. It can change the rake angle much more than a VTA adjustment does.
Cheers and Happy 4th.
Sonofjim... This is an honor and certainly no offense is taken. I have my LP set for a tad under 2 grams, but who knows... I only have a Shure scale which gives me only the ballpark approximation... the system is flawed and the sliding weight...especially in the "times two" slot doesn't help. Your LP may very well sound its best a bit over or under... as a matter of fact, maybe mine can be better if I just...... This is a crazy making hobby.
Try the Audio Additives digital gauge. It's $99 and I like it a lot. I've seen the same thing under a different name for about twice as much. Obviously made by the same people. I used a Shure for a while before I got it and was very close to what I get with the digital but the digital is much easier to use without all the bouncing of the Shure.
Do you know if I have the option of re-tipping or upgrading this LP or is that only for original owners?
All Benz would want from you, to give you a new S-class is an LP from anywhere, broken or not, and 2000 dollars. Enjoy!!
I was getting some signals that the new S line of Benz headed things in the direction of "brightness", "presence" "resolution" and all those words that mean "away" from musicality and harmonics and tone. Any firsthand knowledge? It's difficult to be totally objective after committing to a large purchase. I just worry sometimes that buyers "make" the new sound what they think they want it to be after spending all that money.
These cartridges are sensitive to .02-.03 grams tracking force changes. Yes, that's not a typo. You should be able to find a few digital gauges in that $100 price range that will give you .01 g accuracy.
You'll find quite a few comments by Doug Deacon and myself on this topic - that you want to be on the threshold of mistracking. Once you get more than say, .05 to .10 grams above this threshold, the dynamics tend to become compressed. I wonder how many wonderful cartridges have been misjudged because of lack of attention to this?
Also, my experiments with arc-style protractors (see my forum - in the Setup and Tweaks section) along with the several active threads on the topic on this forum for a lively discussion. Using an arc-style protractor has been a revelation to me.
One of the side benefits of this more accurate alignment (arc protractor) is that VTA becomes less twitchy. Amen to that!
Mintlp is (according to reliable reports) producing reasonably priced (for one-off work) arc-style protractors and delivering them in2-3 weeks. You can read about all of the details in the above referenced threads.
Thom @ Galibier
Thanks for the information Thom..I feel a digital scale for me does not make sense. I suspect that cartridges have their individual "perfect" vtf. Once found, there is no need to recalibrate. The Shure scale brings you in the ballpark, but one must use his/her ears and adjust carefully, adding and removing weight until that magic vtf is found. It isn't necessary that I know my cartridge's magic force, because the next cartridge off of the assembly line will have a different one. Although I would like to definitively say that my LP needs 1.865 grams for Nirvana, another's will need heavier or lighter vtf
I have spoken to Garth at Musical Surroundings about the Ebony LP vs. the Ebony LP-S. And I have carefully compared the specs and physical appearance. The ONLY difference is the use of brass for the structural frame, vs. aluminum. And the only significance to that is the cartridge's mass. There is some hype that brass's greater mass may provide more damping. But the really IMPORTANT thing for any potential buyer to think about is his arm's recommended cartridge mass to keep resonance within the right frequency range. The arm's effective mass, the cartridge's compliance, and the added mass of each cartridge will determine his cartridge/arm system's resonance frequency.
With the vast majority of tonearms designed for a moving coil cartridge, the new LP-S is too heavy. So, with an LP-S the resonance frequency will go up into the audible frequency range, above 20 Hz. And this will definitely have an audible effect upon sound.
Sorry, my last sentence was backwards. So let me correct that last paragraph:
With the vast majority of tonearms designed for a moving coil cartridge, the mass of the older Ebony LP is just right for proper resonance. The new LP-S is too heavy. So it will make the resonance frequency go down into the dangerous zone of record warps, thus potential slow and methodical damage to the cantilever, to the records themselves, and to the speakers' woofers. Plus amplifiers can clip because so much power is used to reproduce the VERY low frequncies of record warps.
If someone happens to have a very light tonearm, originally designed for MM cartridges, then most MC cartridges cause the resonance frequency to be above 20 Hz. For these low effective-mass tonearms, The heavier LP-S might just add enough mass to bring the resonance down out of the audible frequency range.