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How did the Benz LP-S handle surface noise? This LP was one I was given by an old girlfriend (she was a hip chick) and had seen considerable play. The music was intact though. I could definitely hear the surface noise but it  was not prominent. It stayed in the background and never interfered with my enjoyment. I would rate the LP-S highly in this regard. Another strong suit was its ability to reproduce the acoustics of the recording venue. From the grand concert halls of orchestral performances to closely miked vocals I felt like sitting in at the performance. 

A shining example was the amazing 1958 two-volume recording of Benny Goodman Benny in Brussels, [Columbia CS 8075, 8076].  Listening to this with the Benz LP-S was like traveling back in time to the 1958 Brussels Worlds Fair. To quote from the liner notes, "Benny Goodman, his clarinet and a group of superb musicians shook the United States world’s fair cultural effort out of the doldrums tonight with a rousing jazz concert at the American pavilion here. Playing to a full house, Mr. Goodman brought even a well-behaved first-night audience to life whistling and shouting and this was an audience not normally given to riotous behavior..."

The miking of this performance is incredible. There is an uncanny balance of the immediacy of the band members spread across the stage, crystal clear miking of Benny and other soloists and a wide-eyed and exuberant audience in the background. On Volume 2 side 1, Benny does a number called Gershwin Medley. Towards the end the whole band starts to jam with the drum set just belting it out while Benny wails away. The energy can only be described as spine-tingling. At the end the audience goes completely wild. Listening to this through the Benz LP-S ranks as one of the most memorable experiences of my entire listening career.

I played this record for an audiophile friend of over 20 years. He is a highly accomplished man who has designed many speakers and worked in the audio industry over stretches of his career.  In particular there are two songs on Volume 1 at the end of side 1, "Obsession" and "Brussels Blues". Jimmy Rushing is featured guest vocalist on the latter. Though Benny lays down a great solo in "Obsession", when Mr. Five-By-Five Jimmy Rushing takes to stage in "Brussels Blues" he just tears the roof off the joint. The crowd who politely clapped at the end of "Obsession" is flat-out losing their minds at the end of "BB". You can feel their exhilaration over Jimmy Rushing's rollicking style that may have been the first exposure for these European concert goers to what was the dawn of American Rock 'n' Roll.

I looked over at my friend while these two selections were playing. He had his eyes closed and was evidently transported right outa here. At the end of the last number he opened his eyes, looked over at me and uttered one word - spectactular. This pretty much summed up my feelings about this cartridge.

For the Benz LP-S to capture this level of excitement speaks volumes about its ability to communicate the essence of music. Needless to say, the stellar dynamic performance is a crucial element. What's equally impressive is that the wonderful tonal balance of this cartridge remains intact even during the loudest musical climaxes. Even when a blaring trumpet section entered on big-band records or a soprano soloist belted at fortissimo there was no need to recoil or jump up to turn down the volume. The Benz played through difficult passages like these with utter confidence and control.  This was unprecedented in my experience.