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 WBTs. 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, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ujzofwiglpA
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.