I upgraded from the Benz Micro Glider 2 (the next step up from the ACE) to the Koetsu Black.
I felt it was a worth while upgrade myself, however, I will point out that there were trade offs.
First, the Koetsu takes at least twice as long to break in.
At about 100 hours, it is mostly broken in, but it actually continues to break in until about 200 hours.
Once it is fully broken in, it has about the same low frequency response as the Glider. The Glider has a bit more high frequency extension, but, to my taste, this was a negative, as I felt it was a bit too bright in my system. Not quite fatigueing, but just a bit too hot for my taste, if you know what I mean. (I find a system that is too bright to be annoying.) However, if your system sounds a little dark, the Benz might be better in your system.
The Koetsu Black was always a treat to listen though. The Koetsu mid-range magic was there. For some, they consider it to be too much lushness (Kind of like having too much of a tube sound bloom, if you know what I mean). I run an all solid state system, so for me, it was just right. I will point out that if you are a bass fanatic, the Koetsu line is probably not for you.
When it was time to upgrade, I upgraded to the Koetsu Rosewood Signature, which extended both the HF and LF range, as well as tightening up the imaging a little bit more. The bass is still a little loose, but a bit better than the black was.
Hope this helps. Good Luck!
PS Not to be self-serving, but at some point in the near future, I will be selling my Koetsu Black, (assuming my friend does not buy it), which has about 200 hours on it. If you are interested, let me know.
I personally feel that you can do better for your money by upgrading the table before spending that much on a cartridge.
I heard a Benz Micro Ace a while ago and found it quite balanced and musical and entertaining. From what I subsequently read, it's actually a better-balanced cartridge than the Glider, and more satisfying in the long run, in this sense (musicality and balance) also "magical". I agree with Twl, your money is better spent on upgrading the 'table, or on more records, the Ace is a class act.
Koetsu catridges were designed on idler-wheel turntables, which have very powerful, tight bass, due to their great torque. I suspect that mounted on such a 'table (or a large direct-drive such as the Technics SP10 MKII) instead of a belt-drive, the Koetsu would be found to have excellent bass with sufficient control, the weak bass exposing a belt-drive weakness vis-a-vis 'tables with better speed stability (more torque to overcome stylus drag).
Thanks for being brave enough to mention your table, because I agree with Twl and Johnnantais.
Putting a $1400 cartridge on a $300 table is putting the cart before the horse. I've tried it. It doesn't work. The cartridge highlights all the weaknesses of the table, whatever they may be. A good table and arm can make even an entry level cartridge sing. That's how Johnnantais is set up and I'll wager his rig would bowl you over. A poor table (or arm) will drag even the best cartridge down.
Sell the Moth/RB300 and buy (just one possibility) a Nottingham Horizon SE/RB250. That'll cost roughly the same as a Koetsu Black. Mount up the Benz and you'll be very happily surprised. You'll also have a rig good enough to support a better cartridge the next time the upgrade bug bites.
Wow, KurtTank, Tom, and Jean have all really banged the nail on the head for you, Mark. Good advice. I have tried both of the cartridges you mention. The Ace is a pleasing cartridge, as you say, and though maybe not "better" than the Black, this is subjective and the Benz, IMHO, no doubt sounds very good with that arm. Jean makes a very interesting point, BTW, with respect to the Koetsu "voicing". You will get all sorts of advice regarding table selection. If you are not ready to go that route yet, financially or otherwise, I'd have to recommend sticking with the Ace given your present setup.
Ooops, didn't mean to exclude Doug from the "good advice" category. He must have posted as I was writing.
No problem. Are we even now? ;-)
(Apologies to others for an inside joke.)
Mark: The Koetsu cartridge Trade Mark is a faulty low bass and a faulty high frecuency response ( Kurt you are right ). Only the KRSP and the KOSP have good performance all over the frecuency audio range.
Jean that Trade Mark is in all TTs, I already try it on: Micro Seiki, Acoustic Signature, Technics SP10MK2 and Denon DP80. Same " thing ".
Till to now, I never understand why Koetsu do all those heavy faulty designs that are really innacurate to the music sound reproduction.
Mark, Twl is right: change your TT and stay with your Benz Micro and stay away from Koetsu, but the KRSP.
Regards ans enjoy the music.
Thanks a ton for all of your advise.
Ready for this? I used to have a Horizon - what an awesome table! Don't ask me how I ended up with the Moth (seriously, don't), but now I'm kinda stuck with it (hence my system being in the "Budget Minded" section). I've kicked myself over and over for getting rid of it, but am going to have to live with what I've got for the time being.
The great thing is that my modest setup really does sound pretty damn good. I've listened to all sorts of systems over the years, and this one, for whatever reason - be it the room, the speaker positioning, the cryo'd tubes, the wires...or that awesome cartridge/arm combo - sounds just great for my taste/music selections (acoustic guitar, piano, traditional jazz, ancient music, etc.).
I, like all of you (not to make any assumptions) are in some sort of constant search for "better sound." Even if it's not required, we like the process and experiences along the way (and all that freaking incredible music!)
Anyhow, thanks again - I hope you all find what you may be looking for.
The K. Black clearly has some Koetsu magic; especially in the midrange and high end. It is a very pleasing cartridge. The one I heard (which was over a period of a week or so, so maybe it wasn't fully, fully broken in, but I made a best effort at it) didn't have a low end that could match it's beautiful midrange and very good high end.
The Shelter 901 meets or exceeds the K. Black in the midrange, exceeds the K. Black in the high end, and is in a different (superior) league in the low end. The low end has outstanding extension and is very tight.
These are just my opinions, ymmv, but check out the Shelter 901.