Riding The Musical Surroundings Train, Cont.

If you are OCD, the next critical step in the setup process, aligning the tone arm/cartridge with the alignment gauge, will provide you much anxious delight. The recommended downforce for the MC20E2's elliptical diamond stylus is 2.0-2.5 grams.


With all this fiddling well and done, I placed a Ringmat 330 isolation mat ($95), an excellent product BTW, on the acrylic platter.

Next up for settings adjustment was the Nova Phonomena phono stage, a cool piece of engineering kit packaged up in a very small box. The real kicker is you can completely disconnect it from your AC gremlin crazed wall socket and run it for up to three pure power hours on its internal battery.   It takes about an hour to fully charge again.

On the front panel is a touch sensitive electronic eye that controls and displays off-line battery/on-line charging status. While charging, which can be done at any time, the eye pulses a glowering red, like a Cylon sizing you up for a kill. When running on battery power, the electric eye turns a puppy friendly green.


The real panel is more conventional, but no less packed in features. It has two sets of dipswitches that let you adjust gain from 40dB to 60dB for the left and right channels. Lower gains (40 and 44 dB) are meant for moving magnets or very high output moving coil cartridges (>2.0 mV), with medium settings (46 and 50 dB) for medium output moving coils (.9-1.5mV).

The Benz Micro MC20E2 is a low output moving coil cartridge (.5mV), so you get to choose from any of eight possible switch settings (51.5 dB to 60 dB) to achieve the desired gain.

The second bank of dipswitches sets input loading parameters, with 17 values possible, ranging from 30 ohms up to 100,000 ohms. Switch #1 controls capacitive loading, which typically has little consequence for moving coil cartridges like the MC20E2. But feel free to dip into it. The Benz Micro MC20E2 is spec'd at 400-47k ohms.


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