The Cartridge and Stylus makes a big difference.


I am becoming more convinced that the cartridge and the most importantly, the stylus has a lot to do with good sound. I had Benz cartridges for years and always blamed my arm and table (VPI Scout) for mistracking and sound quality issues mainly sibilance.  As years go by I have learned that the Cartridge and Stylus have a lot to do with this problem.  Shame on Benz Micro for not making it right with me for years as I struggled with this.  Its amazing when I put a Lyra Delos on the same tonearm, my problems went away immediately.  Same thing with the Denon, the Ortofon, and so on.

My problems started with the ace, then the wood, then the ref and so on.  I always thought it was my table that was to blame.  I had a glider that was better but still had the same issues.  It was amazing when I had a new cantilever and stylus put on the glider by Andy Kim, my problems went away.  I should have known right there.  I am sure I am not the only one.  I took the Benz Micro Ref to a Linn dealer and had him install it on a 18K turntable and it did the same thing, maybe even worse.  So if you have a Benz and have experienced some of these issues, I assure you, you are not alone.  I hope they get there act together.  

Thanks to Lyra I am finally enjoying my music instead of trying to figure out what is not aligned properly and fiddling forever.
tzh21y
My Benz Micro tracks great in my Ortofon RS309D tonearm. Sorry you are having problems.
I think it could be quality control issues with Benz.  It happened to every Benz I ever used.  As soon as I tried other cartridges, no problem.  Go figure.  maybe they addressed it.  I hope they did.  I really think it had something to do with the suspensions and stylus.  Too many with exactly the same issues on multiple tables.  Everybody said you have to upgrade the table and arm. Nope, that was not it at all.
I had a Benz LPS on my VPI 3D arm and I thought it was one of the best cartridges I have ever had.   No sibilants....just silky smooth, big wide open sound.
Maybe the high end carts are different.  Like I said, all the Benz carts I had exhibited the same phenomenas, sibilant, mistracking and inner groove distortion.  The thing was when I had my glider retipped, it went away.  Again, The ace, glider, wood, and ref s all exhibited the same things on different tables.  I now have a Lyra Delos that sounds much better than all of them.  Is it that much better a cartridge?  I also had Ortofon cadenza, Denon 103, and others that did not do this.  Same alignment techniques, nothing different.  Whats up with that?  I am just glad I do not have to deal with that anymore, it was a total PITA.
"the cartridge and the most importantly, the stylus has a lot to do with good sound."

Why is that a revelation?  I take it more as a given.
My Grado Black is playing Schubert's 9th Symphony just great on my 40 yearold Sony PX 6 as I type this .
"the cartridge and the most importantly, the stylus has a lot to do with good sound."

Why is that a revelation? I take it more as a given.

I guess I just thought that Benz had such a good reputation.  I am playing Finzi- Images of Mortality.  The Benz's could not handle this record at all, always distorted out the chorus, The Lyra just sails right through it with the same arm.  So much more depth.  I find it hard to believe that the Delos is just that much better as well as some of the other carts I have used.  I mean C'mon man.  I did nothing different with my alignment technique.  If anything I owe an apology to VPI as I always thought it was the table.  So much so that I bought  a 1200G, only to find out that the Benz did the same thing on that table as well as the Linn LP12 and Ekos.  I put the Delos on the scout and I am astounded as it has never sounded better.  I am glad I did not sell the Scout.
Maybe Benz can send me an LPS and convince me it was just a fluke.  For all the trouble I have had with their cartridges, they owe me big time.  I would never buy another one. 4 is enough.
LPS is supposed to be their best effort, according to those who have heard it.  I heard it at a friend's house, was not overwhelmed, but I have never been a big fan of Benz cartridges.  He dumped it in favor of the latest version of the ZYX Universe, shortly thereafter.  But that in itself is no slur on the Benz; he is always changing gear.
I honestly just want to save someone else the aggravation that I had.  Here I thought it was the VPI, lol, not.  Not at all.  Nothing wrong with it at all.  

I should not need to go to a retipper to get a better tracking stylus and cantilever than the original manufacturer.  GEEZ...  OMG  All these years I was dealing with that BS and it had nothing to do with me or the table.
sibilant, mistracking and inner groove distortion

Sounds like setup issues.
Been there, done that. The VPI unipivot arms are not a good match with Benz cartridges. That is just my opinion, naturally. I had a Classic and then a Prime and have two Benz Gliders which I used with both decks and then had them both re-tipped by Soundsmith. The re-tipping helped but switching the same cartridge into a different arm-a 12" Reed 3P- was a revelation as to just how good the Benz Glider can sound in an appropriate arm. I think that there is a good reason that Peter Lederman has a "VPI Zephyr", or at least at one time offered one. The VPI arms are very tough to set up with many cartridges. I have no doubt it can be done on most cartridges but it really takes a patient and good technician. Your everyday vinylphile can not likely optimize most MC fine-line styli with a VPI arm. The adjustments are just too crude and difficult to monitor fine adjustments from any given starting point. Why did Peter come up with the counter-intuitive? Same reason. 
@fsonicsmith , I don't know if the Grados are a good match for the VPI arm or not, never had one, but totally disagree that they (VPI arms)  are problematic to set up by an everyday audiophile to which I am one and the simplicity of the design is why I am drawn to them, never had an issue with getting the most out of any cart I strap to them, are there better arms out there, I am sure there are but never felt the need to go there. I believe also since the OP has tried 4 different Grados that his issue with them is not real, after all he strapped them to his newer table and had the same issues. Like everyone reading this, I am scratching my head about this issue and am looking for a viable conclusion, so if there is one please someone shed some light.
Sorry, meant to say his issue is real.
Well, if I had such setup issues, how come everything else tracks fine? I tried the Benz on multiple tables and it was professionally set up on the Linn by a very good Linn technician. same thing, I guess it needs a 12 inch arm. lol. Hey if everyone else’s are tracking fine, great, maybe my ears are just more sensitive. How come the Delos tracks great? Is the Delos more forgiving LOL? How come the Cadenza tracked great, how come the Denon tracked great, however that one did not sound right on the scout. I personally think the diamonds, cantilevers, and suspensions are just better on the Lyra, the Cadenza, the Denon, the pickering, I could go on and on.
How well any cartridge performs depends on how well it matches the tone arm.  It’s possible to have a inexpensive cartridge that perfectly matches it’s tonearm outperform expensive, top rated cartridges that mismatch their tone arms.  And, to get top performance, anti-skating needs to be set for that cartridge, which on some VPIs, like my Prime Signiture, is tricky to do. 
FWIW I switched from a Delos to a Benz Wood SL and couldn’t be happier. Tracking is better, and sound is less fatiguing on my Clearaudio (with Satisfy tonearm). The Benz is a better system match. Cartridge performance can be system specific and I wouldn’t blame Benz for your repeated cart performance issues.
The thing is, every benz had the issues in almost the same tracks at the same spots.  I think it has to do with how they cut their diamonds or something.  Suspension...  lol.  I can laugh about it now.  I am glad I am done with that..  Hope they fixed their problems.
As far as system, a fully maxed out Linn with Ekos Arm and 1200G had the same issues.  Maybe some people just live with it.
1 - First off, I take it as a given that anyone who posts here understands how critical the cartridge and stylus is to good vinyl analog sound. I don’t know why that would be a revelation, as others here have pointed out.

2 - the cartridge/tonearm relationship is a fussy one, and that fact is also something that should be well known to anyone in this group. I remember, decades ago, buying a hi-end Grado from an irresponsible salesperson in a Manhattan shop. Not only was there nothing that I could do to get the Grado to track properly, it literally bounced across the disc! I took it back to the store owner who I had a good relationship with as I have bought a lot of gear from him, including the table and arm (VPI HW MK II At the time, now a MK IV with SAM, and Sumiko MMT), explained what was happening and he asks “Who sold you this?”, then calls the salesman over and says “what’s the matter with you? He’s got The Grado Bounce! You know you can’t put that cartridge in that arm!!!” In other words, the problem isn’t necessarily the cartridge, it’s what it’s being partnered with and how it is being set up.

3 - I have a Benz Micro, a Koetsu Onyx, a Koetsu Rosewood Platinum, and a Grado for my 78s (the cartridge for the 78s - I suppose because of the stylus charactistics, the different speed, the groove size and depth etc - does not have The Bounce problem). I’ve had the Benz for decades, it’s been retipped by Van denHul many times (as have my Koetsus: I’ll keep them until they die, so I’m not concerned about resale value and Van denHul does excellent work at a good price), I use it for rock and for some jazz and Afro-Cuban and it has always performed satisfactorily.

4 - you had a bad experience with four cartridges. Even though you had a bad run, the “sample pool” is still exceptionally small, and this is why it’s fair to say that you should consider your experience an anecdotal one. Did you consult with Benz? Did you consider that maybe you might have gotten some lemons from a bad production run, rather than draw a general conclusion about the inferiority of Benz that does not comport with the experiences of the majority of Benz owners, or draw conclusions about the inferiority of Benz owners themselves? Isn’t that a tad bit arrogant?
Btw, speaking of the-tipping, FYI to anyone who might be curious: I go through the risk of sending my cartridges across The Pond to The Netherlands in order to have Van denHul refurbish them, even though I live in Newburgh NY, a short 20 minute drive north of Soundsmith in Peekskill. 
The thing is, I really liked the presentation of the Benz cartridges, especially with classical music.  I kept hoping for a better outcome.  They all did the same thing at the same spots on the records.  That led me to believe that the stylus was cut in such a way to promote inconsistent tracking.  When i had a new cantilever and stylus installed on the glider, it tracked fine.  It should track the best from the factory, not Andy Kim for heaven sakes.  Andy did a great job.  it was the best the glider ever sounded.  Thats not good enough.
I think that you just don’t like the Benz. You should simply say so and let it go at that. No need to jump from there to saying that Benz must be doing something wrong.

My Benz out of the box tracked fine, no technical issues.

That said, I don’t use the Benz for classical. Too cold and shallow. Not in the same class as the Koetsu, or a Van denHul or a Grado for that matter. I use it for rock and for parties. 

Purists say that I shouldn’t use Van denHul for retipping. But there is a several thousand dollar difference between the Van denHul retipping policy and that of Koetsu, whose policy is essentially like trading in your leased car for a new model.  Koetsu replaces everything but the body, Van denHul just replaces the tip only, and the cantilever if needed.

The Van denHul tip gives the Koetsu a slightly more analytical sound, which is not a bad thing. 

To me, based on the OP's recent threads, I think it has more to do with the owner than the equipment.
Without the stability of a good table and high quality tonearm, the best cartridge in the world is underperforming. 
I do not disagree with anyone.  I am just giving my experiences.  Every other cartridge I used was fine.  If you asked me, the fussiest cartridge I have had to set up is by far the Delos to get it to sound right.  There is a lot that is possible with that cartridge if you know how to set up a table.
I have never heard a cold sounding Benz.
Wow! I have had a Benz Micro Gold and Wood SL on my VPI Scout 2 and both carts have been tiptop in regard to performance...

It's been a great tracker and I also have never heard a performance by Benz classified as "cold."

This leads me to assume it's a defect in the cartridge system in some way.

Good Luck!
Defect.... ya i would say, like about four in a row all doing the same things at the same places on the records. The only time I had a benz track decent is when Andy Kim retipped one for me lol.

I still think to get the most out of a Benz from the factory, it has to be on a 12 inch arm. That may help the tracking some but they all were sibilant, except the one retipped by Andy Kim. lol

I still think it has a lot to do with the stylus they use.
I always thought it was me until one day I was Youtube and the Linn specialist had one on a 18K table and it did the same thing.  lol.  OMG