Riding The Musical Surroundings Train, Cont.

Probably the most notable shortcoming of the Benz Micro MC20E2 is its inability to produce truly seismic bass with a big hefty kick. But the midbass is excellent, and its midrange is heaven. The high-end can be accused of a rising high frequency response, but that's an issue associated with almost all moving coil designs. (Moving magnet designs are not without high Hz fault, as rising inductance at high frequencies often results in a rolled off top end.)

The MC20E2 also lets through more ticks and pops than its higher priced cartridge brethren. Music does not well up from a truly all-black background.

A general characteristic of moving coil cartridges is that their low mass makes them very good at tracking the record groove, and the MC20E2 is no exception. But there are better trackers out there stalking the wild high-end woods. Still, nothing I threw at it caused the MC20E2 to go twisting off kilter.

So yes, the analog bugaboos of noise, ringing, and resonances are all here to some extent. But if you want to reduce these nettlesome issues to infinitesimal, plus get a huge bass wallop, then who am I to stop you from buying a Clearaudio Goldfinger V2 cartridge for $10,000 (no typo). Last I checked, that's 50 times more bucks than the cost of a MC20E2; so having a private key to Fort Knox is a definite asset. Will Bond's nemesis namesake be 50 times better than the MC20E2?   Uh, Ms. Pussy Galore, any comments?

As for the Clearaudio Emotion TT, it was stone silent in operation, got quickly up to proper running speed and stayed there. (Having all that Black Diamond carbon fiber under it also had a big demon dampening effect.)

The Satisfy tonearm also did good work. But is it as good as a $4,300 Phantom B-44 tonearm from Graham Engineering? No, but perfect is as perfect does. It's way more difficult to produce a really good product at a reasonable price like the Satisfy arm than it is to make a no holds barred, cost no object tonearm such as the excellent B-44. But if you are a vertical tracking angle freak, then the Satisfy's very simple screw setup that adjusts the whole tonearm shebang is probably not for you.

As for the Nova Phonomena phono stage, this is one great piece of kit, whose audio performance rival's products costing much, much more. Plus you get terrific flexibility for achieving optimal matching of an analog rig with your audio system.

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21st, The VXM Network,