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REVIEW: Benz Micro MC20E2 Phono Cartridge

Model: MC20E2
Category: Phono Cartridge
Suggested Retail Price: $175
Description: High output MC cartridge
Manufacturer URL: Benz Micro
Manufacturer URL: Benz Micro

Review by mr.bear (A) on February 17, 2003 at 14:26:03
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for the MC20E2

Not a bad "entry level" high-output MC cartridge for a low cost but it's no "Baby Ruby". It sounds bright and dry right out of the box- it's likely that break-in will ameliorate that somewhat. There is a reasonable level of detail. To my ear excesive brightness sometimes masqurades as detail, so the jury's still out. The bass is solid and keeps up the pace although there appears to be a bit too much of it- clearly there is some unevenness in the LF response too. Sensitivity to surface noise among the lowest I've ever experienced. The stereo soundstage is a little compressed, however it sounded superb with my venerable mono "Introducing the Beatles;" best in almost 40 years! Like many lower-cost cartridges it's nice & punchy with rock & roll but on well-recorded, acoustical jazz its rough edges are audible.

The cartridge is very low in mass (4gm) and required some fiddling to get it to balance in my Grace 840 arm. With a compliance value of 10 CU, the low weight does seem inappropriate. VTF is currently set at 1.8 gm and it's tracking everything well (Benz's recommended VTF is 2-2.5gm). It has plenty of output (2.2mV) to drive my preamp set to nominal MM gain with a loading of 47k / 100pF. VTA is set so the cartridge body's bottom plane is level. I have not adjusted VTA since initial setup, preferring to allow a little break-in before experimenting with VTA.

Comparing at the list price, I'd suggest a new Denon DL103 from one of the European suppliers as a worthwhile, only slightly more expensive alternative that is a much more sophisticated, smooth, and natural. If you can obtain the MC20 for under $100, it could be a good alternate to Grado and A-T MM's though. In this range there will be audible design tradeoffs, so listen carefully to judge if these suit your taste.

Product Weakness: Excessive brightness,
Uneven LF response
Product Strengths: Low cost,
Low surface noise,
Plenty of output.

Associated Equipment for this Review:
Amplifier: (2) Fosgate-Audionics 4100
Preamplifier (or None if Integrated): Threshold / Forte Model 2
Sources (CDP/Turntable): Denon DP-2550, Grace G840, Denon DL103D, Denon DL301, Dynavector 20X-L
Speakers: Thiel CS3 (Biamped)
Cables/Interconnects: Mogami Neglex / Royce
Music Used (Genre/Selections): See text
Room Size (LxWxH): 24 x 14 x 'Cathedral'
Time Period/Length of Audition: 1 week
Type of Audition/Review: Product Owner

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Topic - REVIEW: Benz Micro MC20E2 Phono Cartridge - mr.bear 14:26:03 02/17/03 (3)

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