Is this why my analog rig isn't so hot?

Hi All,

My system is quite decent, but...

Could it be the voltage output of my Benz Glider is too high?

My photo stage - a 47 Lab PhonoCube - could handle low outputs down to 0.12 mV. Since my Glider has a medium output (0.83 mV) - is this why I'm not that happy with my system? I seem to want to hear more, specially the top.

If I got the same Glider but with a lower output, would it make a difference? Or should I get a better cartridge? And which one?

My system:

Basis 2000 table
RS-A1 Lab arm
Benz Glider (0.83 mV)
47 Lab PhonoCube phono stage
47 Lab Chooser passive preamp
47 Lab Gaincard amp
Konus Audio Essence speakers

From what I understand the Benz Gliders don't track that well.
The gain on both of their "Phono Cube's" is very high. It is possible that highly modulated passages may cause clipping of the circuit, which would tend to sound very fuzzy or distorted, not necessarily "dull".

My first suggestion is that you should verify proper installation and loading of the cartridge. If ANY of these parameters are off, high frequency extension and resolution will be reduced.

While i don't know the specifics of the Benz cartridge that you have, from what i can recall talking to a few others that were very familiar with them, i don't think that they are an "overly open" or "extended" sounding cartridge. I could be wrong about this though, so others that are more familiar with them may be of more help. My comments are based on conversations that i've had with some folks that had Benz cartridges that ended up switching over to Dynavector's and were much happier. Personal preference, arm / cartridge matching, gain / loading, etc.. could have all come into play here, so take that for what it's worth. Sean
Hello George

The problem is not that you need a better cart but one with a lower internal impedance. All the Benz carts have an impedance around 30 Ohms and The 47 Labs wants to see carts with lower impedance, around 10 Ohms on down for their "standard" Phonocube.
I have a Phonocube and it didn't sound so great with a Benz Ruby 2 that I used to own, not because of the gain issues either. It doesn't have the dynamics and all the musical fun stuff your system should be capable of. Do not let anyone convince you to change that Phonocube either, that is one of the greatest on the market.
I personally prefer the carts made in Japan, wheather it be Miyabi, Dynavector, Sheltor, Lyra, Keotsu, ZYX, and Denon.

I am using a Denon 103R now with my Phonocube a great match and in my opinion better deal than a Glider that I owned at one time aswell.

I suggest going to your dealer or buy something hear on Audiogon. There are many good dealers selling carts that would match your Phonocube.

I agree with the above, as for a better cartridge i would look at the dynavector line. I have an XX-2 and it works wonderfully. Also most of their range is about .23 output so i believe it would be a much closer match to the gain on the phonocube. Also i have heard the top of the line dynavector with the phonocube and i was absolutely floored by the sound. possibly the best analog playback i have ever heard.
Hi NGeorge,

(Yes, I hang out here too!)

I agree with all the above, although certain cartridges mentioned by Pcosta are probably unsuitable for your arm. I also like the sound of the Denon 103's, Shelters(!) and Koetsus. But I'd never put one on an RS-A1. (Remember the "moving mass" issue we discussed?)

Lyra (also recommended by someone on VA) and Dynavector are both likely to be more suitable compliance matches for an undamped, unstabilized unipivot. Even the damped and stabilized Graham 2.2 cannot get the most out of low compliance cartridges like a Shelter or Denon.
Paul, Sean, Asonicyouth, Doug,

Thanks for your input. I'll be on the lookout for those cartridges.

I have the Benz Glider v2 Medium output. I do notice that the cart likes to be demagnetized before sounding its best.

Table: Clearaudio Champion II
Phone: Clearaudio Basic
I have your cartridge - loading it correctly is everything. If your phono pre allows for adjusting of the load I suggest that, if you haven't already done so, that you expiriment with different loads. You might do a bit of research on this issue on this site and on Audio Asylum's. I recall participating in such a thread a couple of years back. The preferred loading range varied between 2000 and 22000. I run mine at 10K and it sounds just fine, I'd probably fine tune it further if I could just switch out resistors in my amp 'til I got it perfect. At 100 ohms its just plain dull and at 47K its a bit bright and thin. Can't imagine it at less than 100 ohms.
Dear George: If you have the standard version of the Phono cube then it will be better the low output version of your Glider cartridge, this one has an internal impedance of 13 ohms. Other alternative is to change the Phono cube version for the high gain model.
The problem in the high frecuency reproduction is not a cartridge problem: it is a 47 labs system problem, you can read severals reviews about it.
I agree with what Sean told you about a proper installation: tonearm/ loading impedance/VTA-SRA.
You don't need to change your tonearm it is ok ( I own one of this tonearm ) and works best than SME with the Benz cartridges.
Btw, Doug, Paul and Sean: I own the Ruby 2 and the LP Benz cartridges and I never experienced that lost in the top end, I think that the people that has that problem is because a mismatching analog system and not because the Benz Micro cartridges. I think that the people that has that problem are using tube electronics.
George don't go with the " Denon 103 myth ", this cartridge
was an " ok cartridge " more than 20 years ago, but by any music reproduction standards it is a bad music reproduction transducer, it never was and state of the art cartridge by any standards and it never will.
Doug: the Graham tonearm has many problems, specially with low compliance cartridges, not because is a unipivot tonearm but because is a bad design.
Regards and always enjoy the music.
Raul: Your observations about the people having top-end problems with Benz cartridges were using tube based gear from what i can recall. Good observation on that one, but i can't agree with your comments about the Denon 103. My personal experience with this cartridge is that, like most MC cartridges, it is very sensitive to changes in loading. In the proper arm and with the right loading, i find it to be a very solid performer and a phenomenal bargain. Problem is, most people don't mate it with an appropriate arm and / or don't take the time to properly dial it in electrically either. In most cases, these are folks that are hardcore converts to digital primarily because they don't like to "fidget" with their gear in terms of setting up the cartridge / arm, let alone get inside their gear and change resistors and capacitors. While i can understand that mind-set and don't have a problem with it, like anything else though, sub-optimal installation results in sub-optimal operation. Sean
Interesting thread. I have one of these .8 mV Gliders on my Vector tonearm. I am loading it at 250 Ohms using my Rhea tube phono stage and I don't notice any loss on top. Matter of fact it sounds pretty damn good. I really don't get the comment about it not tracking well. I have a few significantly warped LP's and it plays them beautifully. I'm sure there are cartridges that may sound/track better but I would not be quick to blame the cartridge or tubes over this issue. Echoing Newbee, I suggest NGeorge calculate resistor values that will incrementally give 100 to 500 Ohms or more resistance when placed in parallel with the Cube and try them before spending alot of money on another cartridge.
Dear george: I don't want to miss the point: try to help you.
I think that you don't have to change your tonearm or electronics, the best you can do is to buy the Myabi cartridge that mates perfectly with what you have and is and exellent performer too.
In this way you will be near the top of analog music reproduction.
Regards and enjoy the music.

Note: Sean I respect your point about the DL 103. Like many issues on music reproduction many things are a subjective ones ( like this ) and maybe your music standards are that of the DL 103 and the difference in our point of view is that my music standards are differents from yours.
Hi Raul,
Thanks for helping George with your experience. Good to know his Benz and RS-A1 are (or should be) capable performers.

I totally agree he should check/test all setup parameters (especially VTF and VTA) and certainly try higher loading before buying a new component.

I'm also not sure why you say tube electronics have a top end problem. Mine certainly don't. Obviously one needs to use the right tubes and load/match things properly. But judging by my system and others I've heard, tubes per se are unlikely to be the problem.
Doug, thanks for reaffirming that tubes are OK - I was about to sell my SP10. :-) Strange stuff shows up here from time to time.
I was wrong, but it's your lucky day. I've got a Phase Linear 4000 in the basement. Wanna swap? ;-)
You just don't know how much I appreciate the help you're all providing me. I'm truly humbled.

I used to think setting up was just screwing in the cartridge onto the arm, get a free-float, set the tracking force and I'm done. Little did I know I have to take the internal impedance into consideration (Gliders are more than 10 ohms), match gain against voltage output - Wow! I've learned quite a bit these past two days!

Raul, getting the Miyabi would certainly solve the problem, wouldn't it? Only thing is, the cost would amount to the price of my whole analog section! If only...

Regards to all!

Doug, Thanks for the offer, but I'm already a serious retrograde with the junk that I have. I'm using a 20 year old pre-amp, how dated can one be! :-)
A year or so ago I was just where you are, and I still learn something new and fascinating here every day. I've made some good friends and also have some great music to show for it.

Of course my bank account is a wreck. If anyone had told me a year ago that we'd be spending what we've spent on an analog rig I'd have said they were insane. They weren't of course, but I may be!

Let us know when you get that Miyabi. <:~)
"Let us know when you get that Miyabi." <:~) - Dougdeacon


Raul, what do you mean by "low compliance"?
"the Graham tonearm has many problems, specially with low compliance cartridges, not because is a unipivot tonearm but because is a bad design."
Dear S23chang: Between 6cu and 10cu.
Regards and enjoy the music.
Got it Raul.
My cartridge is 35cu so I never experience any issue with the graham 1.5T.
Thank you for bring it to my attention regarding to tonearm and cartridge matching.
Something new I learn today.
Dear S23chang: It is the first time that I read a 35cu compliance ( extremly high ), but maybe this number was not the dynamic compliance of your cartridge but the estatic compliance. The important issue is the dynamic compliance.
Regards and enjoy the music.
Hi George,

At the risk of sounding negative (and getting flamed), you'll be throwing away good money after bad if you follow some of the advice here. I know people are trying to help but as the saying goes; the road to hell is paved with good intentions! A new cartridge wont fix your problem, neither will spending hours setting up your analog rig. I'm not familiar with your arm but I know your Basis very well, and its never going to sound right or hot as you put it. I suggest you take a step back and start over again with a new analog setup instead of wasting more time and money on this one.
Hi Yourmama: " I'm not familiar with your arm but I know your Basis very well, and its never going to sound right or hot.......": What Do You Mean With Sound Right?. Can You Explain This?.
TKS, regards and enjoy the music.
No flame, but like Raul I'd be interested in some further explanation. I don't own and haven't heard a Basis TT, but I've never heard much of anything bad about the 2000 and higher models. ???
Hi Yourmama (my mom is fine and is okay with CD and LP),

Thanks for your post. If there's any flame coming your way, it won't be from me; but possibly could come from one who also owns a Basis. So, what makes this table that bad?

I'll admit that when I first bought it, I let it sit because I went into SACD and later on did more digital. Then when I came back to LP's, I sought to improve upon it. At first my rig didn't really thrill me that much, especially with the stock RB300 arm that came with it. But after I replaced it with the RS-A1, the table came to life. Became faster and livier. So here I am, trying to find ways to make it better.

Then your post came...

Would you like to tell me more about what you think of this table, the Basis 2000? What makes it not the correct one for which to build an analog system? And what recommendation do you have to really set up a truly good one?

Thanks - no hard feelings but ouch just the same!

I know that they're getting great reviews in the magazines but who isn't these days? The 2000 series is highly colored, has a dark over all character with rolled off highs, very limited bass, if any at all, and anemic mids.... you can add upper bass hump to the suspended models. Most of the tables I heard came with the Graham arm and a Benz cartridge.

Sorry George,
I wrote my previous post prior to your last reply, I don't want to attack what you own, just want to give you a different point of view and something to look out for.

Unfortunately these days in the absence of many traditional well established turntable manufacturers good analog has become even more of a moving target. What kind of quality sound do you expect to get from two thin pieces of plastic or wood thrown together? Please just touch the platter and see how much play there is in the bearing and you make your own conclusions.....

Now, now. You're going to have to do better than that, Yo'mama.

You sound like one of the reviewers from the magazines. Lots of generalizations and no real specifics. C'mon, give us some comparisons between Basis tables and others, or even Basis tables with different carts and arms. Put some meat on the bones!

>>You sound like one of the reviewers from the magazines. Lots of generalizations and no real specifics<<

What genralization? Please read my post again its very specific!

>>C'mon, give us some comparisons between Basis tables and others, or even Basis tables with different carts and arms<<

If you read the post again without getting emotional or defensive you'll see that I mentioned that more than a few of the Basis tables I heard came with a Graham arm and some Benz cartridge, a few had the Rega arm with some sort of modification, Denon or a Shelter cartridge.

>>Put some meat on the bones!<<

What do you want an essay of 1500 words longer? There's so little to say about something so wrong.

Hi Yourmama,

Okay, so my table isn't up to par with the good ones. According to you, the top is missing - which is one of the issues I have with the table. So there, at least, there is some agreement.

I thought it was the cartridge that was causing this missing top. Now it appears it's really the table that's at fault. That's fine, I'm listening.

What then is a good table to build upon? You mentioned traditional tables. Would the Linn LP12 be a good point to start? Or the Teres?

Please give a few suggestions so I may digest the info and work on it - when I'm ready and able.

Hi George,

Why do you insist on keeping that sonambulent acrylic turd, swapping this and that,fidgeting here & there, yet never satisfied with the outcome? Sell it NOW. It'll only make you crazy.

"There's so little to say about something so wrong." Careful, don't commit to a real position on anything too specific.

I suggest that others go and read the rest of Yourmama's posts here on Audiogon. He/she seems very good at knocking down whatever product is handy for his/her attacks but never seems to offer a definite, hard example of what he/she prefers or recommends. Whenever he/she does mention a product name it is always something that he/she isn't using at the time. But I can understand that. It is very hard to hit a moving target.
Hi Ken,

Good to hear from you!

I'm not holding on to the Basis because I refuse to believe it's not a good table. I'm just trying to make do with what I've got. And changing the arm really fooled me. It got better, alright, but maybe, not that much better than it should?

Where would you begin if you were in my place?

Hi Dan,

I know nothing about ' Yomama's' posting history but I completely concur with his observations regarding the Basis tt and George's present situation. I know George's Gaincard/Essence system context quite well and thru his postings at the 47 Labs mailing list, have come to gain some small degree of insight into his musical values.IMO, he's simply steering towards a dead end in regards to his vinyl rig. He could manipulate the spectral balance with a different cartridge or ditch the wonderful but warmish Phonocube to add sparkle to the dark spectral balance but the sucked out harmonic structure and truncated note shapes inherent in the Basis' design can't easily be repaired.

Dear yourmama: Right now Ngeorge knows what you hear in some Basis/Graham/Benz combos: you don't say which Benz models, with which electronics, with which loudspeakers, which cables, in what kind of enviorement ( room, dimensions,...), with what records you hear it.
So there are many issues that Ngeorge and us unknowed and there are others like: which is your analog audio experience, what kind of music do you prefer, which is your music bias, how many hours do you listen to live music every week, which is your ears frecuency response and how do you appreciate the music, which is your analog rig. I ask you to share with us all these information.
As you can see it is very difficult, with out those info, to Ngeorge and us to understand clearly yours means.
BTW, the issue in this forum is to try to help to other people, in this case to George, and try to learn from any one: so, I ask to you ┬┐which will be your whole specific recomendation for George ?
Regards and enjoy the music.
Hi George,

The Linn is most certainly a possibility as is an original pre- hyperspace plattered Nott Spacedeck. If you'd prefer a new table,maybe check out a Michell Gyro SE if you can. Surprisingly, the little VPI Scout ain't bad either if you can foot the SDS psu.Both the Michell and VPI can be purchased in a modest configuration and incrementally brought up to spec, the Michell attaining a slightly higher level than the Scoutmaster.
If you've more cash to squander, look into the Avid Volvere(not the Acutus), Michell Gyro SE with Orbe platter(rather than full Orbe, DPS(Willy Bauer's Der Platenspeiler) or a Roksan Xerxes X.Arm choices would vary with the deck and/or cartridge.
As a general rule(such as "rules" go),if you want something nimble, stay away from overtly massive platters and acrylic based decks. The problem with the Basis comes from the latter. All that plastic resin has a very specific damping property that sucks the life and air out of the music.Don't even think about a Clearaudio or Teres.

Hi Ken,

Your post is... Wow!


>>Careful, don't commit to a real position on anything too specific.<<

2nd time that you're accusing me and not reading my comments properly, its here again if you can read. What can be more specific than this?

>>The 2000 series is highly colored, has a dark over all character with rolled off highs, very limited bass, if any at all, and anemic mids.... you can add upper bass hump to the suspended model<<

You might not like what I have to say but don't accuse of me of not taking a position and being vague. I don't see why you're trying so hard to make things personal instead of posting a relevant response to the problem.

Hi George,
Wow? Hardly. ; )
As always, take any recomendation with a grain of salt. fyi- my range of recs reflect a somewhat less PRaT-oriented bias than I would personally choose for myself but more than those of the vast majority posting on this board.My thinking is that your requirements fall somewhere comfortably (and sanely) between round and flat-earths, favoring a direct,lucid,lively presence, with tonal purity, ease and authority- middle earth if you will.The decks mentioned still vary considerably in their presentations of music however.caveat emptor right attcha,dude. hehe

Also toss in the upper end Well Tempered decks to the mix.Often available used at reasonable prices.

Dear George. As I already told you ( my first answer ) I think that the problem is in your electronics and that you are using a cartridge with the wrong internal impedance for your phonocube.
There are not such " general rule " in turntables about " nimble" sound. I have more than 35 years in testing analog rig and, beyond what Ken told us, the 70% to 80% of the quality of the sound reproduction comes from the tonearm/cartridge combo, here it is where we have to look which cartridge mates best with what tonearm. The Basis is a good turntable by any standards and it can't be the responsible for the high frecuency response problem. No I don't own a Basis turntable ( but I hear it many times ), I own severals turntables ( at least three of them of the high mass version ) and I can tell you that the TT is a very important link in the analog chain but not at the level that Ken told us.
Now, there are many issues on your high frecuency problem because any single link in your audio system chain is important: room, electronics, loudspeakers, cables, position of your loudspeakers, etc... You have to check before you move to other turntable. Right now you know that your electronics are truncated at the top end and that you are using a wrong internal impedance cartridge, so you have to evaluate any single part on your whole audio system for to know which will be your first move.
Regards and enjoy the music.
Dear Raul,

I appreciate your comments and I am trying to help George. I wanted to alert him to another possible problem area before dishing out for a new cartridge or spending many futile hours with setup, after all you can't get blood from stone.

The systems that I heard these tables in is irrelevant, let's just say that I know them intimately. The Basis isn't a chameleon, it sounds that way all the time. I've heard the Graham and associated Benz cartridges in enough different setups to know how much of the sound is attributed to the arm and cartridge and how much to the table. I always check the setups carefully before listening and coming to any conclusions. But in this case there really isn't much to think about, the construction of the table tells all!

>>I ask to you ┬┐which will be your whole specific recomendation for George<<

Back to my initial posting to George; "take a step back and start over again with a new analog setup instead of wasting more time and money on this one."


Thanks for giving us some examples of the tables you're comparing the Basis to. I am not familiar with the sound of many of these but at least I now I think I have a base to make some analysis for myself. I may be misinterpreting your preferences and please let me know if I am wrong here, but it seems to me that you would tend toward metal tables. Although you do mention that a Linn would be a good choice. But you also say that Teres should be avoided. Interesting given the well known testament of a long time Linn dealer about how much he loves his Teres, not to mention many other happy Teres owners. But to each his own. And that is what I, and I believe NGeorge, are trying to do. Learn and find out for ourselves.

As I said in a previous post, I have pretty much the same setup as NGeorge except that I have a Vector tonearm. I simply don't understand the characterizations that the table is dark and rolled off. Now my MMF 7, that's a different issue. :) But even with that table I can get very strong top end with good loading and VTA/VTF. Admittedly there are more tables and combinations that I have not heard than those that I have. That's why I bought my Basis combo recently. At slightly less than the retail of the arm alone it was too good to pass up. Most likely will not be the last table I own, but now I have one more tool in my toolbox to learn with.
Normally, I'd have let your counterpoint stand without a retort but as you used my name several times in your reply, I feel obligated to comment.
The issue here is not that George couldn't eventually band-aid his rig into submission but that he's wasting his energies and monies in doing so.

>>>"...there are many issues on your high frecuency problem because any single link in your audio system chain is important: room, electronics, loudspeakers, cables, position of your loudspeakers, etc..."<<<

Georges system is a very thorough and complete "textbook" 47 Labs assemblage. He is happy,nay elated, with it's performance on the whole yet he doesn't find that the vinyl portion is meeting his expectations gathered from that which he receives from his digital source.Why muck with the overall system when it's producing the goods for him? The finger points to the vinyl rig.
He's much better off in stepping back and setting up a new game plan that will suit his tastes over the long haul.
Sure the internal impedance of his MO Benz Glider isn't optimal for his standard gain Phonocube but as an owner of such and having used both the standard and high gain models in a variety of situations, I am confident that this isn't the primary source of his dissatisfaction.His futzing over the quality of his vinyl reproduction has been a long standing concern for George over a number of years.It's time for him to move on and solve the problem at the source.

"70% to 80% of the quality of the sound reproduction comes from the tonearm/cartridge combo"
That tells me more about your musical value system than I cared to know.

Dear George: As you say in your thread: " My system is quite decent,..." , I agree with you, and that's why I give you other advise:

take 3-4 peoples ( each one at a time ) that are in serious touch with live music ( not with audio systems ) and ask them that take a " hear " to your audio system sound reproduction and " see " what happen, which is the single opinion of them. This exercise can help you a lot ( we really can't help you more at " long distance ". We don't know what are you hearing ).
Many times ( always ) we are asking more to our audio systems but always there is a limit and we have to know it.
Regards and enjoy the music.
Dear George,

I try to refrain from recommending any specific brands to people, its never that simple. What good is anyone's recommendation without a reference point when you have none?

The brands that you mention is a starting point to educate yourself, especially since they're from very different schools. Check and see if either one is closer to your ideal sound. If working on your own this is a difficult journey but one worth taking, otherwise if you want hand holding, find a good dealer (they exist!) or an experienced fellow audiophile with the kind of sound that you want, to show you the ropes. You need to hear these things for yourself!

Whatever problems there might or might not be with your arm/cartridge and the rest of your system is secondary. You need to start with a reference point and build up from there, the turntable is the foundation of your source. You'll never be able to figure out the arm/cartridge/phono without this reference.

Dear George: Tks to Ken for to open the window.
Now, I can think that you have to try with other phono stage and this can help to solve the problem. If everything is like Ken told us then the others links in your audio system are ok because you are very satisfied your digital rig, correct?.
BTW, the Benz Glider is not the best top performer but you have to hear it with another phono stage.
I'm sorry Ken but you say that George has to solve the problem at the source. What does that means, the analog source: turntable/tonearm/phono cartridge/phono stage, any of these are very important at the sound reproduction but the phono stage has a extremly critical responsability, it needs to be accurate and dead flat on the RIAA equalization any minor deviation from this RIAA eq. and you have problems and with the Phonocube, additional, there is the impedance issue, so here is where I would move in, not at the table.

Ken when I say " 70% to 80% ..." I refer between the three parts: turntable/tonearm/cartridge, not the whole audio system reproduction.
Regards and enjoy the music.
Dear George

As Raul has stated ans so have I your problem is the internal impedance or the Glider. Regardless of Basis being an overly warm sounding table the Glider is not short on high frequency extension. An open bodied cart like that has less mid-range warmth than a Ruby 2. I have owned both. My suggeston is try another cart with a lower impedance because no matter what table you end up with your Glider will still never mate well with the Phonocube because of the impedance issues.

FYI the review that Steve Rochlin wrote that is available at Sakuara Systems website explains the whole impedance thing very well.

The 47 Labs Phonocube may have a bit of warmth compared to other phonostages, but I really do not feal I am being short changed at all by it sonically.