I"m also exactly here in contemplating cartridge upgrade, the two you mentioned in running, also Audio Technica Art9xa. At this point, tie between AT and Delos for number one.
Perhaps you are taking a cue from a remark that was made on another thread recently, where the OP was considering a Hana, and someone gave a favorable mention to the Delos as an option the OP was not considering. Personally, I would not let such a casual remark knock me off my line of reasoning, especially if it means spending more than you may want to spend. (I am not taking sides as between the Hana and the Delos.)
Agree that Benz leans towards the lush side, but only slightly. I’ve owned three Benz (currently still on the LPS and love it) and they are rather flat in their response(e.g. not tipped up in the treble) so this could be perceived as lush. Detail is not at all lacking with Benz. If the OP wants to go the Benz route without breaking the bank the Benz Wood SL is the sweet spot in their lineup. I also had a Delos for about a year and while a superb cartridge, there is nothing about it that could be considered even remotely "lush". On another note, recently I even went the vintage MM route (Gracy Ruby F8 and Stanton 981 HSZ) to compare and went right back to my LPS. I wish there were a way to trial carts cause they are the most personal, subjective, emotional centerpiece of one’s analog setup.
I have heard several cartridges on Rega P9/P10's including Lyra, Dynavector, Shelter & Benz.
Wood bodied Benz Micro is an excellent match, except the low compliance high mass LPS series. The mid price Benz are a good match for the Rega and sound great.
I have owned the Delos, Hana SL, and Benz Wood SL. All went into a tubed phono preamp and tubed line stage. Had both SS and Tube poweramps at various times with this set up, but mostly tubes.
The Delos was not warm or lush. It was detailed and too bright for me despite the tube gear it ran into. Perhaps it did not work well with the fixed loading on my phonostage. I could never relax into the music. Sold it quickly and it was a big disappointment after all the great reviews.
The Hana was very decent, fairly neutral, and a rather good value.
The Benz had all the detail of the Hana but warm and relaxed sounding.Also much more dynamic than the Hana. A lovely cartridge but the suspension collapsed prematurely. I had the dealer replace it for a new one which I subsequently sold as I was concerned about their quality control.
All these were on a VPI Aries I turntable with a VPI 10 unipivot arm. I saw a response above suggesting a Grado but it was susceptible to hum on the VPI and I've heard that it's not a good match to Rega tables for the same reason.
Hopefully , this helps you decide.
As you are considering the Delos as well as the Hana ML, I assume your phono preamp is capable or running low output moving coil cartridges. If that is the case and you go the Hana route, consider a low output model as they apparently do sound better.
My only advice on this choice is that you (or someone that can do it for you) need to set that Lyra PERFECT to get the best sound out of it. Even the smallest adjustment is audible (my experience).
I suggest a USB microscope and a MINTLP protractor. MINT will make you a custom protractor based on the tonearm specs and mounting distance.
It’s frosted glass and mirror with lines that are a fraction of a human hair so to get the tip of that diamond on the arc, the microscope is a huge help. Plugs right into your phone or tablet.
Good luck with your decision
When you get it dead on (including VTA) you will know it.
This is likely not the answer you wanted to hear. After some upgrades to the digital end of my system, I ultimately sold all my analog gear, All at top dollar, including all my LPs. All sold within a day or 2 of my listing them.
Thought I'd never say it but, I don't miss it one bit. And I have been a vinyl spinning audiophile for over 50 years.
Now that a range of options have been suggested it might be a good time to ask whether you really want to select a cartridge based on other folks perceptions of the color each model will add to your system. I’ve learned over the years to give less credence to these comments because there are just too many variables (people hear different, downstream components, room effects, cartridge setup, the list goes on). My advice is to pay attention to cartridge compatibility with your arm and phonostage first and foremost and then aim for a cartridge that is reliable, not too finicky about setup, and is widely considered to be a good value for money AND is known to be a balance, even-handed performer. While not considered to be “lush” in presentation, among LOMC’s the AT OC-9 and ART9 series meet these criteria and are worth a look if they mate well with your arm. You may also want to explore the Charisma lineup which are very balanced and well made carts. Good luck!
This is not an easy question to answer, and the topic comes up quite frequently.
For every person who sets their rig up well, there are 20 who don’t. I frequently tell my customers that I know of only a handful (if that) of individuals whom I would trust an assessment of a cartridge based on their setup.
Fine errors in azimuth adjustment will turn a detailed but balanced cartridge (any Lyra) into an intolerable, shrill beast. And no, a vacuum tube phono stage will not cure this. If it's poorly designed (slew rate) it might actually exacerbate the problem.
Sorry, but that’s the reality and I suspect the primary reason for the existence lush cartridges.
Having said that, it may be asking too much of individuals to set their cartridges up with USB ’scopes and software like the Feickert or AnalogMagik, so there’s clearly a place in the world for Koetsus and such (and I’m happy to sell you one if I think it’s a good match for you, your setup cabpabilities, and your system).
Several years ago, I covered this topic over here: Are Lyras Bright Cartridges
... Thom @ Galibier
Dear @russellrcncom : " (isn't that what analog is all about? ", certainly is in bad room/system poor quality performance levels.
Do it your self a favor and try to attend to a live MUSIC event and try to be seated at near position and you will learn about.
The Delos puts you nearer to the recording and to the MUSIC.
Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,
@thom_at_galibier_design Great article! I have been saying for years precisely what you pointed out about incorrect or sloppy set up with Lyra cartridges, mostly to deaf ears! Get it right and you are rewarded with excellent top end extension, and at least to my ears, superb tonal balance. Get it wrong and all what the naysayers state becomes correct.
The new angle design of the latest Lyra's requires even more precision than ever before in set up, and also in the loading spec's that one uses, but I do think it also benefits the overall SQ greatly.
@daveyf agree ! Lambda is an improvement and when i asked Jonathan about bringing that technology to the Delos, he said not economic to do so. I am likely to get an Etna when i wear out the Delos ;-) my best to you !
For what it’s worth , I have been using my Lyra Delos for about five years now and I must say “to me” it does sound so great, the details and clarity is superb, it sounds so smooth compare to other cartridge out there that cost two to three times as much. I also read somewhere that Michael Fremer wrote a nice positive review about the Delos and he seems to like it a lot. His personal turntable has a Lyra on it.
If you can find a Benz Micro Zebra on sale, that one is super nice. Smooth, never forward sound but without missing any of the detail or the musicality. Mine was stupid expensive compared to what I should have spent, but every time I listen to it I just giggle and smile at how good it sounds. Also it's channel separation is freaking unbelievable so if you really like to zone in on soundstage details, that one is top notch.
I hope I didn’t in any way imply that Lyras are the only game in town. I love them, but can easily find satisfaction with Kuzma, Dynavector, Van den Hul, Ortofon, EMT, Benz, and such. You can see that these brands cover quite a broad range of sonic terrain, and at the end of the day, they’re all editorializing to a greater or lesser degree (nothing is perfect).
It’s pretty much like my 4 electric guitars. Each one is different, and each one is my favorite (but my Martin acoustic is forever).
... Thom @ Galibier
My head is starting to hurt. So many choices and so many things to consider. I do agree that cartridge set-up and tone arm compatibility is paramount. The RB2000 is a little bit of an oddball, admittedly. I’m not aware of anyone in the Boston area that sells Lyra so that would seem to rule that out. One thing I like about the Hana is that there are 3 or 4 dealers within 50 miles that sell it. I,m sure that one of them would be willing to install it on my table. The rega apheta 3 is also an option, but this was a very limited production run and availability might be an issue (also, double the price of the Hana). It’s too bad Hana doesn’t make a cartridge between the ML and the Umami.
@russellrcncom If installation is a necessary feature for you, check with local shops and see if they install cartridges they do not sell or if they only offer that service on their own sales. Most would be willing to do it for a small fee. Honestly it isn't a difficult task so long as you're being careful and willing to tinker with it to make it perfect. Shouldn't take but maybe an hour tops for the main swap and setup.
@paulgardner that price seems to be the going rate for those cartridges. There's one on usaudiomart right now for that price as well. I bought mine through Osage Audio last year when I contacted him looking for a Benz Micro Ace L and was upsold into the Zebra. After the first needle drop I called him and thanked him for talking me into moving up the line. Also Benz has one of the best trade-in offers out there if you aren't going to get just a re-tip. I think it's something like $1200 or so for a new Zebra L when you trade in an old used up one. My guess with that is they don't like the idea of people rebuilding their cartridges and want to encourage factory replacements. It's similar to the auto industry making it quite difficult to work on your own car for any damage or repair.
One thing about Benz cartridges that should be pointed out...their support network seems to change frequently...as in it occasionally seems to disappear. ( at least it did here in the US). The main reason I opted for my Lyra at the time was that my local Benz dealer could no longer supply me with their cartridges...and neither could anyone else in the US! This may have now been corrected, but it could also be a temporary scenario. This situation was very unfortunate for me, as I was going to pull the trigger on the Benz LPS MR and had to pivot when unavailable. I loved my Benz Ruby 2 and it matched well with my system. Lyra are distributed by Audioquest and have had no supply issues like Benz.
I do feel that Musical Surroundings ( the prior Benz distributor) treated their dealers and customers in an inappropriate manner when they dumped everyone! Not customer friendly in the slightest and a severe blow to Benz. ( which they may or may not have deserved!)
Anyhow, as mentioned above, Benz cartridges are quite fine, albeit a little veiled and warm compared to Lyra's. As Thom mentioned, they are simply a different flavor, nothing wrong with that. I would consider ( strongly) a second Benz now that they are 'supposedly' being represented here again in the US.