Time & an inactive Benz may force my hand ...

TBone

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Nov 15, 2012
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to go with another cartridge soon. My Benz Ruby IIH is a "good" one (I've had 3). It has about 4-500 hours on it, well under the proposed limit of 1K hours. Although, it's near 8 yrs old, it sounds as good today, if not considerably better, than it did moons ago. However, I realize that time is not on it's side, and sooner or later ...

So, I've been considering alternatives. The easiest alternative is to remain with the line and update/trade the Ruby. However, a few issues may prevent that from happening, foremost, Benz has become an inactive company with a questionable future(?). The other is that I'm not as big a fan of the micro-ridge stylus as I am the Fritz Gyger. It's not so much an issue of stylus sound quality, it's more an issue with potential setup within my system; I can view the cut/profile of the FG much easier, therefore I can better attain the 92 degree SRA required.

I've "had" certain preferences ..

- high quality LC type stylus
- boron type cantilevers.
- open assembly (so I can view the relationship between the coils & poles/magnets as it relates to setup)
- 3 to 6 mv output
- rigid construction

However, I've been "eying" the Ortofon Black, Transfiguration Phoenix ... and ... (gulp) London Reference pickups.

The London is a totally foreign cartridge to me, a total about-turn so to speak. In fact, I'd never have considered it until UHF magazine adopted it within their reference system. And considering they still use the Alphason HR100s, the same arm I use, it seems to be a "safe" bet.

What experience do others here have with these weird but supposedly wonderful carts?

tb1
 

flez007

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I have had none, but had a Ruby as well which was a fine cartridge with the typical Benz sound (laid back, robust, a tad slow) - I found better synergy with my system at that time with a Dynavector XX2.
 

TBone

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Flez, not as big a Dyna fan as many here ... although I consider the 17D a true bargain. The very top Dyna's I've demo'd just seemed a bit too "grainy" and a bit dimensionally flat compared to others at the same cost. The same can be said for Shelters, which I've got plenty of experience with. I realize these opinions are going to spark debate (always a good thing if constructive), but neither Dyna or Shelter, both of which have a stable following that's deservedly justified over time, are the type of carts for "me".

tb1

PS ... that said, never been much of an Ortofon fan either, yet I'm eying a Cadenza Black.
 

paskinn

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Jan 29, 2013
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Are Benz 'inactive'? First I have heard that, they seem available here in the UK. Or have I missed something?
If you keep a cartridge for so many years, why not treat yourself to a real classic like a Koetsu Red .Always a matter of personal preference, but they do seem special.Hope Benz turn out to be still in business.
 

Peter Breuninger

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Jul 20, 2010
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Are Benz 'inactive'? First I have heard that, they seem available here in the UK. Or have I missed something?
If you keep a cartridge for so many years, why not treat yourself to a real classic like a Koetsu Red .Always a matter of personal preference, but they do seem special.Hope Benz turn out to be still in business.

I had many Koetsu's over the years and my last were a Red Vermillion and Standard. In the beginning it was a hot love affair (25 years ago) and it started with a Rosewood Signature. The midrange was magic and darn the frequency extremes. But over time the rose fell off the bush and the soft bass and rolled off top became an annoyance. Every few years I would do a purge and sell the current crop only to be enticed by an advert or internet post. When I bought a Mr. Brier secondhand that was the official end of the relationship. This cartridge had the same Koetsu midrange but had real honest bass and a well developed top end. I believe the reincarnation of the old man's work was passed to the Ikeda 9TT. This cart has far better extension and perhaps an even better midrange than my RedK.
 

JackD201

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The stone bodied platinum Koetsus are more extended and tighter. Caveat is that IME they do best with non-unipivot arms and like a bit of effective mass :). When I moved my Jade from one of my Phantoms to my triplanar, WOW.

I've been eying the Ikeda carts but I don't think my phonostages are very comfortable with carts with such low output voltage.
 

DaveyF

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Aug 1, 2010
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Tbone, I'm currently using a Benz Ruby 2 as well. It has slightly fewer hours than yours and I think it is a very good cartridge. Like you, I'm beginning to look around at options...although I do like the LPS MR a lot. Only problem is the future of Benz:confused:
Have you considered any of the Lyra's? I think from the Scala up they are pretty good.
 

TBone

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Tbone, I'm currently using a Benz Ruby 2 as well. It has slightly fewer hours than yours and I think it is a very good cartridge. Like you, I'm beginning to look around at options...although I do like the LPS MR a lot. Only problem is the future of Benz:confused:
Have you considered any of the Lyra's? I think from the Scala up they are pretty good.

I'm in a funny position, mostly based on the Benz trade in value. That's a moot point if Benz don't re-appear. That said, I've recently been offered a similar type trade-in on the Clearaudio line. That's an option I'd probably prefer over the Skala, since it should potentially represent better value.

For a long time, I considered Transfiguration as a potential choice, but if I have to pay full price for a cart, I might as well consider Decca, although they represent a different type approach to cartridge design that not been my experience. From the looks of it. I don't think too many have had the that experience also.

tb1
 

DaveyF

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Aug 1, 2010
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Tbone, I'm kind of in the same place as you. The Benz trade in program is very attractive. However, if Benz isn't going to be around for much longer, that attraction begins to pale. Right now, I'm of two minds....trade up in the Benz line and get great pricing, but risk the company going under and therefore a) little or no re-sale value and b) no after sale service; or change to another brand and pricing becomes more of a factor...:confused: Other problem is it is NOT easy to listen to various cartridges in your system, OTOH, a nice Koetsu couldn't be too bad:D
 

paskinn

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Jan 29, 2013
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Benz cartridges are readily available in Europe; Could there be some issue over distribution in the States? I am told that Benz recently made changes to their stylus shapes, could that have caused delay ? I've asked around, here in the UK, and no-one seems concerned over the future of Benz. Why not contact a good dealer in Europe and chat to them about this. I like Benz, but I like Koetsu more, and I agree that 'a nice Koetsu couldn't be too bad.' Good hunting.
 

Mendel

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Feb 14, 2012
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Tbone, I'm kind of in the same place as you. The Benz trade in program is very attractive. However, if Benz isn't going to be around for much longer, that attraction begins to pale. Right now, I'm of two minds....trade up in the Benz line and get great pricing, but risk the company going under and therefore a) little or no re-sale value and b) no after sale service; or change to another brand and pricing becomes more of a factor...:confused: Other problem is it is NOT easy to listen to various cartridges in your system, OTOH, a nice Koetsu couldn't be too bad:D

Same place, me too. Davey, how can you trade your Benz in when nobody in North America has one? I have tried local dealers, Needle Doctor and Musical Surrounds and no one has a Gullwing to sell or trade me. Or a high output Ruby or Ebony. The trade in option does not exist, at least here in North America.
I share Tbone's interest in the London Deccas, along with the Soundsmiths as replacements.
Don't you think Benz or its North American distributor owes it to its customers to make a statement regarding its current production status? This has been going on for a year already.
 

DaveyF

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Aug 1, 2010
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Same place, me too. Davey, how can you trade your Benz in when nobody in North America has one? I have tried local dealers, Needle Doctor and Musical Surrounds and no one has a Gullwing to sell or trade me. Or a high output Ruby or Ebony. The trade in option does not exist, at least here in North America.
I share Tbone's interest in the London Deccas, along with the Soundsmiths as replacements.
Don't you think Benz or its North American distributor owes it to its customers to make a statement regarding its current production status? This has been going on for a year already.

Mendel, I agree with you, the importer..I think it's Garth Leerer, should make some kind of statement as to the position of his supply, or lack of. However, I have been told that Albert Lukaschek isn't the, shall we say: 'most forthcoming'of individuals:(. To digress here a minute, I am also a little dismayed to see that there seems to be considerable growth in the lack of customer care in the industry in general. My current 'pet peeve' is the constant supposed release of new titles in the analog world...I'm thinking of MFSL ( Music Direct) here, wherein the company begins to take "pre-orders" with no information as to when, or frankly even IF the piece will be available....it's TBA:eek:. There is something about this practice that rubs me the wrong way...perhaps it is just me!:confused:
 

TBone

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Benz cartridges are readily available in Europe; Could there be some issue over distribution in the States? I am told that Benz recently made changes to their stylus shapes, could that have caused delay ? I've asked around, here in the UK, and no-one seems concerned over the future of Benz. Why not contact a good dealer in Europe and chat to them about this. I like Benz, but I like Koetsu more, and I agree that 'a nice Koetsu couldn't be too bad.' Good hunting.

I recently read ...

The sad news about the future unavailability of Benz cartridges, apparently due to an illness, comes from Tri-Cell Enterprises, who has been the Canadian distributor of the line for more than two decades.

My Benz dealer is local, therefore so is the support. That's an important consideration with me, one that has been to my advantage in the past.

tb1
 

TBone

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I share Tbone's interest in the London Deccas, along with the Soundsmiths as replacements.

As much as these carts intrigue me, they scare me also. Their reputation for having a very unique dynamic "alive" sound is offset by potential tracking issues. And durability seems to be an unknown entity. From what I have gathered, they also require some form of tonearm damping, which my Alpha doesn't provide (past internal). If UHF didn't have the success they've had with theirs, I'd never have considered em, especially since they use the same tonearm.

tb1
 

Mendel

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Feb 14, 2012
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As much as these carts intrigue me, they scare me also. Their reputation for having a very unique dynamic "alive" sound is offset by potential tracking issues. And durability seems to be an unknown entity. From what I have gathered, they also require some form of tonearm damping, which my Alpha doesn't provide (past internal). If UHF didn't have the success they've had with theirs, I'd never have considered em, especially since they use the same tonearm.

tb1

Yeah, the lack of a cantilever is scary. If you play a warped album you got trouble. Thinking of maybe picking up a high output Dynavector 20x as a stop gap until Benz is back in production, if ever. If they do come back, I will trade in my woodbody for a Gullwing , if not I will send to Soundsmith for retip.
Anyone have experience re the Dyna 20x vs the woodbody Benz? The Soundsmiths or Deccas vs the Benz?
 

TBone

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Anyone have experience re the Dyna 20x vs the woodbody Benz?

Yes, although not in my system. The 20 has it's many fans, but I find 'em a touch grainy / dimensionally constrained compared to better wood-body Benz, although it certainly lacks that inherit Benz caramel texture. My favorite bang for the buck Dyna is the 17, lean & fast, it can sound a bit bass light in some systems. Although not having been much of a fan of Ortofon's in the past, I certainly recommend the Cadenza line; I recently heard the Black in a very expensive turntable setup and it impressed.

tb1
 

SeagoatLeo

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Feb 24, 2015
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I have a very worn out Benz Ruby 3 in terms of dynamics from 2006 which I replaced with a Dynavector 20X2 L. While I enjoyed my Benz very much, the low output Dyna is more enjoyable. The Benz required exactly 220 ohm impedance not 210 or 230 with my Zesto Alesso SUT. The Dyna I have dialed in at 100 ohms but sounds good with different loadings as well. It has wall to wall sound depending on recording, great dynamics, very tonally rich, neutral frequency response (like the Benz) and tracks beautifully. The XX2 (I had an XX1) in my friend's system is great on some records but the 20X2L is better on most records, especially 50's mono LPs and less than great recordings/pressings. I love it (it mates perfectly with my modified SME IV arm and VPI TNT VI table).
 

mulveling

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Jul 7, 2017
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The Benz Ruby-based models are not a great match with SUT. At least that was my experience with LPS. The models Ebony and below mate wonderfully with a SUT. Benz is back now btw, Sierra Sound is their distributor in USA and they released a new Zebrawood model (L, M, and H outputs) in 2010 to replace the Wood model. I have an L and the Zebrawood sounds better than the old Bruyere wood.
 

Marcus

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Oct 5, 2012
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Benz is back now btw, Sierra Sound is their distributor in USA and they released a new Zebrawood model (L, M, and H outputs)…
This is very good news if it’s true..Our distributor is trying to get someone from Benz on the phone for several months with no success…
 

SeagoatLeo

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Feb 24, 2015
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The Benz Ruby-based models are not a great match with SUT. At least that was my experience with LPS. The models Ebony and below mate wonderfully with a SUT. Benz is back now btw, Sierra Sound is their distributor in USA and they released a new Zebrawood model (L, M, and H outputs) in 2010 to replace the Wood model. I have an L and the Zebrawood sounds better than the old Bruyere wood.
I agree, the Benz Ruby and LPS sound best with an active pre-amp stage rather than an SUT. However, prior to my using the Zesto, I also used an Audio Interface with a resistor setting it to 220 Ohms. The Zesto was only purchased after 2000 hours on the Ruby 3 so I don't know how much better it would have been new, using only the transformer winding for gain with no resistor adjustment. I just don't want to buy another high end Benz now knowing that it won't sound as dynamic as my Dynavector using the Zesto SUT.
 

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