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Manufacturer: Benz Micro
Available in Low, medium and high output versions
The Benz Wood-bodied cartridges have incredible warmth combined with excellent detail and resolution. The new S-Series incorporates improved generators using new coil windings and refined pole pieces/damper designs along with an improved stylus/cantilever. The Wood-S is pure musicality. Highly recommended!
The S Class models of the Wood Body all incorporate the Benz Dynascan with Gyger S stylus coupled to improved generators using new coil windings and refined pole pieces/damper designs. Albert Lukaschek began researching increased performance and uniformity of his crosscoil designs while developing the Benz Ebony models.
Experimenting with the length of the solid Boron cantilever revealed how the elasticity of this very stiff material contributed to compliance and trackability. Development of a grooved rear pole piece for countersinking the o-ring damper (first introduced on the Benz Ruby square plate cartridges) was then adapted to the cross coil designs, given their lower contact area and damping characteristics. The lower mass coils and matched cantilevers of the new S Class retain their real world output levels and with their improved styli, offer higher performance. Music lovers are getting the best performance/value ratio in phono cartridges, regardless of output level.
Before I write about the Benz, I should tell you about my configuration. I have built my system to be as neutral and open as reasonably possible. I run a Technics SP-10 MKII with Stax UA-7 arm, which is amplified by an Audio research PH-3, a Reference 1 pre and finally a D-90 to power the mid and high side of a pair of Infinity IRS Delta's (With Servo).This setup is indeed open and neutral as can be, but at the price of hearing everything that goes on at the front-end. For example: My CDP-XA50es sounds rather flat and uninspiring through the Ininity's. And the difference between phono cables can clearly be heard; even by people who don't 'do' high-end. This is as much a curse as a blessing.When first installed, the Benz was hard, flat and sharp. Oh my. Is this going to be okay? I was worried.But after a few hours of listening, things started to get better. The sharpness was gone after three or four records. At the moment of writing, the cartridge is still not run in. It only has about 10 hours on it. I can't wait to hear the further improvement over the next tens of listening hours.But om my... The tonal quality is superb. Instruments just sound...real. The dynamics are slowly getting better (not yet as good as my TD-125/Pritchard/ADC XLM-II combo) but certainly getting close. I placed Chet Baker's Cool Cat (Timeless records) under the very thin boron cantilever and was hit by bass that went meters deep while staying completely tight. His trumpet was right there in the room, in front of the Delta's. And I never heard a high-hat as real as this one. Chet's voice had a deep intimate feeling to it and came through completely uncolored."Where do you think you're going", from a slightly worn Dire Straights LP revealed a few recording flaws that I never heard before. But Mark Knopfler's guitar was signing like a bird in the early morning at the same time. Unequaled.Some people say that the Benz Wood sounds rather warm but to my ears, this is not true. Set up correctly, the cartridge sounds precise and very right. If the record has a warm tone, you will hear it. If, like Randy Crawford's Street life, the record sounds tight, it will sound tight with the Benz. What the Benz doesn't do is having a raised treble band. And that might be one of its biggest virtues.Another quality that has to be named, is the enormous amount of detail that the Benz can detract from the grooves without ever sounding analytical or chaotic. On ' High Life' of Jazz at the Pawnshop, for instance, the tambourine can be clearly heard, and the nails in the high-hat. Never heard that before like this. Not even close. And the drums... Fast, rhythmic and with great attack. But never mind the details, there is big, real, living instruments in front of me. I can keep going. This little thing makes great music and is a bargain at its rated price.Does it have downsides? Certainly:It is quite heavy with its 9 grams. Therefore it will physically not match with most lightweight arms. I have briefly tried it on my Michell Reference Electronic with SME II improved (fixed shell) and I didn't manage to get the counter weight in the balanced position. But why would you want to try it in such a light arm anyway?Something else is the absence of a stylus guard. I was scared to damage the fragile looking 0.28mm diameter cantilever during installation. Now imagine folks who bought a Glider...The biggest issue, however, is the additive nature of the sound it produces. Make sure your marriage is solid before you buy one of these. Although... At this price one could still afford the Alimony.
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2 of 3 people found this review helpful.
I bought this cartridge on the recommendation of Michell Engineering as an upgrade to my elderly Ortofon Rondo Red on my Gyro SE with Technoarm. In short it is most certainly worth the money, doing everything significantly better than the cheaper cart. (specialising in detail without being the least bit fatiguing). Many thanks to Gary and Analogue Seduction for their excellent service to a customer on the other side of the world!
1 of 4 people found this review helpful.
I was a bit worried about the bass output from the reviews I've read on the internet. But even right out of the box, this cart has fantastic bass response. Tight, deep and wonderful clarity. Bass notes are easily distinguishable. I needed a cart to help tame the treble of my Krell/Legacy combo, and I feel I picked one of the best fits to do such. I wouldn't say this cart is 'warm' sounding as much as it just tames the harshness of other cartridges sound. Cymbals have great attack, sustain and decay. Very realistic sounding with their pitch. Easy to hear the different sizes as they're struck. The sound of snare drums reminds me of when I used to play. That sharp attack, ring of the heads and the pitch of the shell used. Fabulous if you listen to drum tracks on recordings. But where it really shines are in the vocals. Not only very clear, but the ambiance is unparalleled. Very easy to distinguish the artists' intentions of 'room size'. Some vocals just travel far, far off to the sides. Others decay early on, but still have the sound of 'air'. Violins and Cellos' timbre is quite abundant. You can really hear the string instruments resonate. I've never heard Vivaldi's Four Seasons sound this good. And best of all, you can really crank up this cartridge and experience no ear fatigue. Truly the way analogue is supposed to sound. I can't imagine doing any better for this price point. Highly recommended!
14 of 14 people found this review helpful.
Haven't install yet but your help,shipping speed and professional expertise was outstanding
2 of 9 people found this review helpful.
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