I have a Benz Micro Ace med. on my Project RM5. It sounds anything but bright. Mids are very nicely defined and the bass is tight and tuneful,no bloat. Now your project 9 is a better TT then mine so the Benz should put a smile on your face.
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Keep the 20X and try a warmer sounding phono stage. Perhaps a tubed unit. One that allows the cartridge to be loaded a bit. If you're after a "warm" sounding system you may have to reconsider the whole chain and not rely on the cartridge to get what you want. The 20Xx is just telling you what's in the groove. The rest of the signal path gets to shape that information to produce the final sound. (You don't specify what you're running so I'm just throwing out suggestions.)
If you have a 20XL and are running it at 100 Ohms loading with your MF X-LPS than it may sound a tad bright. If you have a 20XH and are running it at 47K it may also sound a little bright. Running the 20XH at 100 Ohms may dampen it too much, but it's worth a try if you haven't already.
For comparison, I'm running a 20XL (on a mmf-7) at 34 Ohms loading (headamp to Rogue Stealth phono stage) with a SS integrated amp and it's sounding darn good right now after about 50 hours of break-in. Detailed yes, bright no, with plenty of low end and mid range.
Your question is rife with crazy making. I have discovered that the balancing act of using a bright component with a rolled off contrasting component introduces additional problems to the system. My suggestion is to use components that have flat perspectives. That is the only way to have the whole system working to its best advantage. What I have done in my system is to buy components of a manufacturer whose ideas of good sound matches mine. All these components from the same manufacturer were designed around each other, and therefore they work the best with each other. I have found that choosing excellent components (choose those from The Absolute Sound, Stereophile, etc. top 10 list), putting these components together can give you quite an awful sounding system....the strengths of each of these components being mitigated by the other components. ...jut a thought....
06-27-08: HeadsnappinI absolutely agree! This has a profound effect on the balance between leading edges and detail on one hand and the bloom and body of the sound on the other. Lower your arm 2-3 mm and see what you get. Your ideal sound may be literally "under your nose."
If Pro-Ject's arm height adjuster is too much hassle, put a spacer between the cartridge and headshell, or put on a thicker mat. You could even cut out a few 12" circles of cardboard and stack 'em under your mat until you start hearing the shift in tonality.
07-13-08: StringreenBoy, you got that right! A couple months ago I got a Cambridge Audio 640P phono section. This is pretty linear, but on the fast and detailed side. The specs rate the RIAA curve accuracy out to 50KHz. Anyway, I tried feeding it to a Hafler Series 915 JFET class A line stage that was reputedly "designed to sound like a tube stage" and the result was just weird.
The speed and detail of the 640P somehow got turned into a sort of tubby, rubbery presentation, and I didn't get the full potential out of the 640P until I fed it into a similarly fast, linear, wideband line stage.
Since I wrote my question my system has warmed up quite a bit. I do have it connected to the 47hz output. I'm still using the Music Fidelity XLPSv3 phono pre amp which has more warmth then the PS Audio GCPH I borrowed but not as much detail. The PS Audio GCPH has its own volume control so you can run it straight to a amp or Rogue Audio mono blocks like I do. Can anyone recommend a good phono pre amp? My Music Fidelity is nice but not the best when it comes to detail , the PS Audio is too edgy and brighter then the Music Fidelity. Remember I'm using a Dynavecter 20x high output.
Can anyone recommend a good phono pre amp?Almost anything will be an upgrade to the MF X-LPSv3. I found that it lacked any sense of warmth, three dimensional soundstage or lifelike realism when compared to an EAR 834P, Wright WPP100c, WPP200c, and Hagerman Cornet2. Other phono stages that easily outperform the X-LPS are: Jolida JD-9a, Pro-Ject Tube Box SE, Grado PH-1, Bottlehead Seduction, Juicy Music Tercel, AES/Cary PH-1
Is your Dynavector DV 20x high or low output?