VPI Aries 2 , SME IV and Benz Micro Ruby 2 .

I'm getting a VPI Aries 2 turntable as well as an SME IV tonearm. Would the Benz Micro Ruby 2 be a good match for this tonearm/table? How would it compare to the Shelter 901 and the Sumiko Celebration? I listen to Jazz, Classical, Opera, Bluegrass, some Country, Classic Rock, Blues and a little Hip Hop.
Any of those carts should do just fine with the SME arm..You should also concider the ZYX Airy3 or if you can go for it...the UNIverse... and have a real world class rig!
Of the choices you listed, I would opt for the Shelter, but I agree with Kehut. The Airy 3x SB would be better and the UNIverse is better than the Airy but it costs twice as much.
Thanks Kehut and Nrchy. Does anyone have a comparison of any of these cartridges? I guess what I'm looking for is what cartridge has the best top to bottom coherency. Do any of these cartridges sound dark, muted top end, bloated bass, compared to the others? Any reviews in the audio press that you can recommend?
Dougdeacon has written extensively about the ZYX as compared to other options, but I'm not sure of the thread...
These are two radically different beasts, I prefer the Koetstu, but then I also prefer toobs, and maggies so, who can say. The Kontra bases upon you comments of coherent top end is stellar. The bass in my opinion while being deadly accurate is perhaps a little thin, and more important, what are you plugging the cartridge into.

A pre/pre-amp is a key portion of the equation. The Kontra likes the BAT pre, and the Koetsu likes the Chamelot Lancelot, and an acquaintance "Dick Fosgate" prefers the midrange Benz over all of the above.

Neither of us is familiar with the Airy series, lots of pro's and con's written on both sides of that cartridge. Which in turn tells me only one thing: It does have a sound, or so severely lacks any sound that it confuses those who hear it. The Kontra B is a non addition type cartridge, while the Koetsu is clearly biased. Still if I have to keep just one cartridge even the lowly Koetsu black would be my choice. But I do give a nod to the Ruby 3 and Ruby open air.


I agree that the Koetsus I've heard were biased toward the warm or smoothed side of neutral. As you say, one either likes listening to that or not. Your deduction that a ZYX either, "...does have a sound, or so severely lacks any sound that it confuses those who hear it." was perceptive. In my experience the latter is the case, although "severely" might imply coldness to some; that is not the case.

You'll find the ZYX reviews and comparisons mentioned by Nrchy next to my signature. They include direct comparisons with Shelter 901, Koetsu Urushi and RSP.

If you're looking for top to bottom coherency, balance and natural, seamless integration a ZYX can provide it. They demand very careful setup, but if you are willing to do that you'll be listening to instruments and voices more and to your stereo less.

I haven't heard one on an SME so I don't know about any synergy issues. The mass/compliance specs are fine, FWIW.

Dear Gfloyd: With that tonearm the Celebration is very hard to beat.
The Ruby 2 is a very good sounding cartridge but in the SME IV the Celebration in my opinion is a better choice. The 901 has nothing to do against the Celebration.
Why don't you read two professional reviews on the Celebration by Stereophile and The Absolute Sound: these magazines review the SME 30 TT with the Celebration matched to a SME V.

If you want something different, you have to go for the Dynavector XV-1, Allaerts MC2, Lyra Titan, Transfiguration V/W, Van denHul Colibri, Ortofon 7500. All these top cartridges mate well with the SME IV.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Thanks Loontoon, Dougdeacon and Rauliruegas,
Everyone else--I don't consider this thread finished. Feel free to join in. Rauliruegas, I have those issues and am currently reading the reviews. One of the magazines even has a review of the Benz Ruby 2 right after the Celebration review. Thanks again.
What about with a Mark Levinson 320s with phono?

I don't see any phono stage specs for the 320s on the ML site. The key questions are:

How much phono stage (not line stage) gain does it have?
It may have selectable phono gain settings.
If so, find out what all the choices are.

What input impedance does it have at the phono inputs?
It may have selectable impedance settings.
If so, find out what all the choices are.

I wouldn't expect any serious cartridge compatibility issues with a reasonable quality SS phono stage, but I've been surprised before. Play it safe. Ask ML for the gain and impedance specs before choosing a cartridge.

Thank you Dougdeacon,
The gain is selectable. Either 40db or 60db by sliding jumpers. The load impedance is 200ohm or 47kohm, again by sliding jumpers. You can also do custom loading with resisters added to screw terminals. There is also a jumper to add a capacitive load for low output MC cartridges that could use it. It doesn't look like there would be a problem with just about any cartridge. But does the sonic character of this phono unit change the best, most synergistic match to a Benz Ruby or ZYX Airy or some cartridge other than the Sumiko Celebration? Also, I almost never see the Celbration for sale used.
How about a Sumiko Talisman Alchemist III? If you're guessing that I don't know much about Sumiko, or this cartridge in particular, you are 100% correct. I've found no Sumiko Celebrations for sale. I missed a Ruby 2 and I declined a seller's counter offer on a Benz H 2.0. Right now there are plenty of demands on my money so I'll probably upgrade later on. Maybe to the Celebration or a Dynavector XV 1s.
For now, I'm buying a Benz-Micro L2.
After some initial improvement, I was still not satisfied with my setup using the MC 100 ohm setting on my preamp. I had read about the Benz Micro Lukaschek and how it was engineered to complement MC cartridges, and especially, Benz's own wood body series (L2 and Ruby 3). I also read on Ortofon's site how loading an MC higher can open it up. So I bought a Benz Lukaschek PP-1 T-9 and I find that I have gained some openness (not a lot yet). But it differs wildly with different cables and on different records. Some cables work better with some records while different cables that sound horrible on the same records, are the best cables for some other records. Admittedly, all the cables I'm using are cheap ones I've had laying around for years. Radio Shack Gold 'Audiophile' cable, Monster 100 Interlink, Monster M1000 Interlink and the 'garden variety' 50 cent cable that comes with every lo-fi component. The tonearm cable has not been changed. It is still the SME IV's cable.