Just replaced my Benz H2 with a Cadenza Bronze: good move on my part, I love the Benz but the Ortofon Cadenza Bronze is in another league altogether. More dynamic, better bass and exceptionally large expansive sound staging. Plenty of detail, highly musical, just a great great performer.
Well the Benz H2 was your problem. you will get a much better result with the L2 by a long shot. I do not have any experience with the cadenza bronze but judging by its price range, i would say you would be buying a very nice piece.
I've had the Benz Wood M2 and a Ref 3 (low output, copper coils) in my system a few years ago. I've also had an Ortofon Jubilee (predecessor of Cadenza Black), MC Windfeld, and Kontrapunkt c (predecessor of Cadenza Bronze) in my system around that time. And I also had a Cadenza Bronze for a day, a couple years back.
Out of them all, the Kontrapunkt c and Bronze had the best mix of neutrality with a touch of organic, natural warmth. The Jubilee and Windfeld were more analytical and left me kinda cold. The Benzes had a fun sound, but weren't as clean/smooth as the Ortofons (especially on top), not as extended, and had higher noise floor. It also seemed like parts of their response were a bit hyped up to give them this kind of "fun" sound. However, the newer "S" class Benzes are said to be a substantial improvement, and I've not heard those.
I enjoyed all these carts, but the Kontrapunkt c and Bronze were my overall favorites, despite the Windfeld being technically better (also, the Windfeld's bass response is insane; easily the best I've heard). Now I've happily run a Koetsu Jade/Onyx Platinum for a few years. But I really like that Bronze (wish I hadn't sold the Kontra c). Sometimes I wonder if I should just buy a Cadenza Bronze and not worry (as much) about $ cost per hour.
For what it's worth, the Bronze just simply continues to amaze me. I don't pretend to be a cartridge expert by any stretch, but the Bronze caused me to immediately go out and buy about 30 various jazz vintage albums, order 50 new anti-static album liners, and sort through much of my record collection. I've pretty much resigned myself to the fact that spending any more money on CD playback is a fool's game. I've always preferred vinyl to digital playback, but now, even the convenience of CD vs. vinyl isn't enough to cause me to consider digital as anything more than a source for background music. The Ortofon is really really good.
Markmendenhall congrats on the ortofon bronze. I have heard it on 2 very expensive systems at audio shows and it did not disappoint. I have been using a Jubilee for several years and love it. If I stay in the ortofon line, which I most likely will, I will consider the bronze or black.
I am leaning towards the black because it sounds like a closer relative to the Jubilee. The slight warmth of the bronze makes me slightly hesitant. Although, it sounded awesome on the systems I heard it on...
Funny, the lack of warmth I had with the Jubilee makes me hesitant about the Black ;) Though I have a friend running a Jubilee; he loves it and he swears it took a lot of hours for it to fill in.
Some of it may be the difference in tables, but the Cadenza Bronze sounded cleaner and closer to neutral than the Kontrpunkt "c" I had. It's really just a touch of warmth, which I consider to sound very natural. Honestly it was very close to my Koestsu Jade Platinum (I've also got an older Koetsu Onyx, and the modern Platinum models are WAY more neutral than the reputation Koetsu has from its older models).
I wouldn't be surprised if the Bronze/Black were tonally much closer than their predecessors. From the little feedback I've heard (Ortofon doesn't get much attention like other brands), the Black is amazing.
Anyways, back to the OP - rest assured that is you liked the L2, you have at least a few choices that are going to be a BIG step up from that!
Mulveling you make a good point "a touch of warmth, which I consider to sound very natural."
I like that as well, the only hesitation I have with cartridges is the inability to hear in your system, on your table with your tonearm, in your room. So once you commit you are locked in. I have heard the bronze on 2 incredible systems as I mentioned and they were both IMO best in show. Obviously the whole is the sum of the parts.
Maybe I put the bronze back on the list for when the Jubilee poops out, though it still seems to have plenty of life fortunately.
Simply too many variables and subjective tastes to give a recommendation. Cartridge suspensions get stiff and the stylist wear down over time. Reading comparisons as a result of replacement of older cartridges is questionable at best.
I have been using the Benz upgrade path for years and am now using the S-Class Ruby Z. If the Benz S-Class is any indication, cartridge technology as a whole, has advanced a great deal in a few short years.
My family uses the turntable regularly and the likelihood of day to day handling has the left channel output from the cartridge somewhat compromised.
It's rumored that due to the small production staff at Benz, re-tipping and repair are very slow if they are being done at all. That leaves one with only the replacement option. While it's better than nothing it's an economic reality I'm currently forced to consider.
Transfiguration Phoenix more musical ,better stage width and depth,better bass definition.
You should also consider Lyra carts at this price range. They are phenomenal!!!
I have played the Cadenza Bronze for approximately 100 hours now and am extremely pleased with it. I recently went through an experimental phase with a Manley Chinook, Herron VTPH-2, Lyra Delos and Cadenza Bronze. The Chinook/Delos was my current system at the time and is an excellent combination. However, I found the Herron/Delos combination to be too detailed/fatiguing for my ears and the Chinook/Cadenza Bronze a little too warm for my tastes. At the end of the day, I found the Herron/Cadenza to give me everything I was looking for and that combination remains in my system.