How to choose the proper cart?
I'd like to investigate potential cartridges that will highlight my system's strengths, while downplaying its weaknesses. In other words, I'm looking for a cartridge with good system synergy that matches my musical preference.
I tend to use my analog front end almost exclusively for blues and folk, as I prefer the warmth and texture of vinyl for vocals and simple strings (think opposite of orchestral). Bass is important, but I want it to be realistic and not overbearing. I'm fairly new to analog, so I'm not familiar with what options are currently available. For simplicity, I'm looking at medium output MC cartridges. Here is the associated equipment:
- J.A. Michell TecnoDec w/ RB250 Special
- Pro-Ject Tube Box II
- Naim Nait 5i-2
- Harbeth P3ESR
Let's say a budget of $700ish. Based solely on reviews/price/availability, I've been tentatively looking at the Benz Micro Ace S (M). Unfortunately, I haven't auditioned this cartridge, so I don't know if it would be a suitable match. Are there any other alternatives that you would recommend? If so, why?
I don't intend on purchasing the cartridge at this time, but I want to know to where to look (and how to look) when that time comes. Thanks for any/all advice.
P.S. I probably won't have the opportunity to audition these cartridges, but even if I did, wouldn't the dealer's associated equipment and room prevent a proper evaluation?