Benz Ruby ZH or Wood SM?

Any thoughts or ideas? According to the website , these are both now updated to S-Class status but the differences mainly being the Ruby ZH has the Zebra wood body vs the Bruyere wood of the Wood SM. The other difference is the Ruby ZH .7mV has an internal impedence of 80 ohms (pretty high) vs the .8mV Wood SM of only 24 ohms(much better). And of course, a huge difference in price between the two.

All thoughts, ideas, comments are encouraged and welcome.
Comparing the Ruby 3H to the Wood L2, which are the respective previous versions of these 2 carts, the Ruby is far better in every it's price would indicate. If you can swing the Ruby, I see no reason to get the Wood.
Hello Countingbackwards,

Thank you for your reply. Your comment in regards to the Ruby 3H to the Wood L2 was good to hear. I agree with you and I think I will be ordering the Ruby ZH this coming week.

For what it's worth, I've been told by a few people that the new Zebra wood Ruby is quite a big step up from the Ruby 3. This might make for a nice trade for you when your 3H needs to be replaced.

Thanks again for sharing your thoughts with me.
NG: You might want to look at the Gullwing, too. It's essentially an LP-S in a metal body for $2K less. And if you can go low enough output, the Ebony L-S is wonderful and has a much lower DCR than the Ruby.
I meant NR, not NG, for No_Regrets. Excuse the typo.
Do you know when you will receive the Ruby Z? I just ordered mine yesterday? This will be my second high end Benz MC in my system. I already own the LPS, but needed a good contender for my second tonearm.

Have you heard the new Ruby Z yet?
Hi Audioquest4life,

I just placed my order last night. My dealer said he doesn't have it in stock so he will have to order it from Musical Surroundings on Monday. From that point it should take about 4-5 days for me to receive.

I ordered the Ruby ZH....which is the zebrawood ruby that has the .7mV output. I needed the higher output due to the fact that my all tubed phonostage only puts out about 52dB of gain and I do not use any step up transformers.

I'm really looking forward to receiving it. I have not yet heard the Ruby Z myself, but everything that I have heard from several different users is that it far surpases the Ruby 3. I like the Benz Wood bodied house sound and have faith that I will love this new Ruby ZH.

Let me know how your breakin process goes and how you like it.
Hi No_regrets,

Thank you for the reply. The Ruby Z is less than a thousand dollars than the LPS, but looking at the specifications, everything else is the same, so, I am wondering if the wood on the LPS is really worth that much more of a difference in price. The Zebra wood sure looks better to me. Mind you, I own an LPS, and I will be able to to a direct comparison to the Zebra wood once it arrives. The looks, specs, and price of the Ruby Z make it appear that the Ruby Zebra is probably in the same league as the LPS and compares to the super exotically priced MC cartridges costing at least twice its price.

Hello Audioquest4life,

I look forward to hearing how you feel the Ruby Z compares to your LPS. It is said that the various wood bodies do have an affect on the what extent I am not sure. You'll have to tell us what you think. I agree with you though, as I prefer the look of the Zebra wood body over that of the Ebony as well.

I could not opt for the LPS due to the additional weight of that cartridge....I'd have to get heavier counter weights,etc. Also, I need at least .7mV of output or else I would have to go with another phonostage....and I am quite happy with my current phonostage.

Take care,
No Regrets

I too will be interested to hear your reactions to the Ruby Z. I have a 3-year old LP. I have been thinking about trading it in on the LP-S, but maybe the Ruby Z is an alternative.
Hi Guys,

We are all waiting anxiously for this new Ruby Z. Personally, I am hoping that there will not be much of a different in sound between the two cartrdiges, because that means the Ruby Z, at a lower price is just as good as the LPS.

I have not found anything on the Internet, to include forums, any feedback about the new Zebra. Perhaps it is to new.

I will give my comparative impressions of the two as soon as I get the Zebra.

I just picked up my Ruby Z today. I will attempt to mount it today or tomorrow. I will post initial impressions immediately. It will be nice to compare the Benz LPS against the Ruby Z. Both arms will be SME V's and the phono stage will be the Aesthetix IO Signature with Silver Breeze phono cables.

I'm anxious to know, I need a higher output cart.
I would call Musical Surroundings and get their opinion. They know how their cartridges act with arms of all stripes. If you can get to Garth Leer, he's been very helpful to me.
Okay, I finally have had some time to listen after mounting the new Ruby Z. Having two identical tone arms helped to facilitate comparing the LPS and Ruby Z. Mounting the Ruby Z was pretty straightforward. All I had to do was check the alignment with several protractors, make the appropriate adjustments, then adjust the VTF and Anti-skating. I settled for 1.85 grams VTF and zero anti-skate. That seemed to be what the tone-arm, an SME V, and Ruby Z combination desired to play together. It is very easy to mount a cartridge to the SME V. I left the impedance on the phono-stage at 47K, as it is also for the Benz LPS. The phono cable used into the Aesthetix IO Signature is the Silver Breeze with silver WBT’s. Because the phono-stage only has one input, I had to swap the connections to each tone-arm after sampling pieces of music to establish my listening impressions. It was an A/B comparison, but it took about 1-2 minutes to mute the equipment, and then swap the cable to the other tonearm.

Right off the bat, the Ruby Z is lively within the initial minutes of play. It exudes a very pleasant musical soundstage. Comparing the Ruby Z to the LPS is/was a great pleasure. Both of these cartridges convey an emotional realism to music that immerses you in the recorded venue, no matter where it was recorded. It is the degree of that immersion that the Ruby Z and LPS differ. For example, the ultra deep bass, the LPS wins hands down. Both cartridges have a comparable amount of cymbal sheen and shimmer. However, the LPS cymbals ride out to the edge with a more burnished edge and sparkle conveying more information when a note trails off, and also adding more to the acoustical space of the source. The LPS has the edge towards bass articulation and the integration of cymbal crashes with the drums, however, that was not an issue when listening nor was it a point of contention listening to the Ruby Z by itself as it also conveys the same realistic attributes as the LPS, at a slightly smaller scale. The difference between the Benz LPS and the Benz LP, the cartridge I had had before I upgraded to the LPS, is far greater than the difference between the LPS and the Ruby Z, which makes the Ruby Z an excellent choice for anyone wanting the feel and emotional impact the LPS produces, at a lower cost and a slightly lower scale of dynamics.

Granted, the Ruby Z only has about three hours on it right now, but I must say these have been an awesome three hours of musical experience. There is nothing to fault with the Ruby Z and I expect the performance gap to narrow more when it finally breaks in, making it an even value, in this price range, than what I am stating here now.

These are my pen to paper thoughts and notes:
Ruby Z= Sprtizig, excellent highs and mids right out of the box. Organic sounding, great holography and imaging, not as in depth as the LPS, but still sounds great. I could accept the Ruby Z as my default top of the line MC in my system. Cymbals have an etched sheen. Bass is not thunderous as the LPS and does not have the sound of the tom tom being hit as the LPS.

LPS: Bungle through the jungle, the drums appear as real as life. Lower bass on drum hits harder than on the Ruby Z.

Allen Taylor, Color to the Moon,
Is an amazing European musician and his LP I purchased from Stockfish records is amazing. Again, the Ruby Z sounded great, but could not muster the entire majestic acoustic space nor the bass of the LPS.

Finally, the Gypsy Kings, Allegra, sounded just unbelievable with the Benz LPS, the musicians are live in your face and in the room. The guitars were strummed with vigor and were very robusto. The clackers, (Spanish Castanets) are so realistic with the LPS that I find myself reminiscing when my mother used to play these Spanish instruments when I was a kid. The voices reach out to your soul as the singers wail into the microphones and you feel the emotion of the singers as they draw you into their story. The song La Dona, dediee a Brigitte Bardot is an awesome piece of music. Every song on the first side is a hit in my opinion. Penna Penita, Allegria, Solituda, Sueno, Djobi, Djoba. Sueno guitars fill the entire room with an uncanny holographic feel that makes you think you are in the venue, live, and sitting back and relaxing to the music as it soothes your soul. The Ruby Z did not disappoint either, it portrayed all of the attributes, but at a smaller scale. Wait for break in.

Thanks for the inital report AQ4life. Very interesting. Please post a followup after you have more hours on the Ruby Z.
Hello Audioquest4life,

I am glad you are enjoying your new RubyZ. I received my RubyZH on Oct 12th, but sadly only have about 20 hours on it so far. Life is very busy right now with other commitments.

This cartridge is replacing my Benz MO.9, a wood bodied MC with an output of .9mV and one that I had greatly enjoyed.

I loved everything that the MO.9 had excellent body, purity of tone, wonderful balance throughout the frequency range, and great dynamics. The Ruby ZH carries on this "house sound" but with more of everything. The sound of instruments are even more pure, the micro dynamics are very impressive(dialing in the right VTA/SRA really helps with this) and there is more refinement throughout.

As much as I love the ZH right now, I am hoping that it improves even more throughout the break in period. Currently I am running my VTF at 1.903gm/ Antiskating at 1.5 and have it loaded at 1500 ohms (still experimenting with the loading and from past experience will probably vary throughout the break in period).

I'm pleased to hear that you felt the Ruby Z was closer to the LPS than what the original LP was. I think the Ruby Z or ZH will make for a great cartridge for those who cannot handle the extra weight of the LPS.

I will try to update as well after I get some more hours on the cartridge.

Best regards,
Hey Audioquest4Life and No Regrets....updates?
I just put an order in for the Ruby Z...should have it in a week or so! Will update with sound on VPI 10.5i tone arm against Shelter 901.