Benz Micro cartridges have been in production since the 1980s, earning recognition throughout the world as one the top brands in the field. Ernst Benz, founder and designer of the original Benz-Micro cartridges, retired in 1994 and sold the cartridge production to Albert, his close associate and designer of the Benz-Micro PP-1 phono stage. Albert relocated and modernized the factory, employed a highly skilled workforce, introduced many new models, and expanded his OEM cartridge manufacturing.
In the past year, Albert has stream-lined his factory, focusing on the most popular high-end Benz models: the LP-S MR, Ruby Z, Gullwing SLR. With the proliferation of many new high-performance, high-gain phono stages, such as the Musical Surroundings Nova II, these models will be offered only in low output versions.
2015 sees the re-introduction of a Benz Micro classic, the S Class models of the Wood Body SL (low), SM (medium) and SH (high), ($1,800 MSRP) that all incorporate the Benz Micro Ridge stylus coupled to 4th generation cross-coil-generator based cartridges. Originally introduced in the early 1990s as the LO.4, MO.9 and H2O, these generator designs were used on the very popular Benz Micro Glider and ACE models. With both Glider and ACE currently out of production, these re-introduced Wood models represent the ideal upgrade path where Glider and ACE owners can receive 20% trade-in value toward a new Wood S Class cartridge.
Hand-building a phono cartridge is a highly developed skill, requiring specially trained technicians working with microscopes and ultra small-scale manufacturing. A competitive global business environment and technically demanding jobs have made finding skilled workers a major concern. On-going changes in the Swiss workforce, including the growth of both the high-end watch industry and high tech, have reduced the pool of these skilled technicians and the potential for new trainees. Benz Micro’s current production team represents the best of the best for producing state-of-the-art phono cartridges. These changes in the labor force, combined with further advances in design and materials, have resulted in new Benz-Micro models that surpass all previous versions in music reproduction. These factors have also led to the decision to focus on replacing older models with new cartridges, and to suspend re-building services.