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Are Koetsus worth it?

Discussion in 'audio' started by Tim Jones, Jan 30, 2017.

  1. david12

    david12 pfm Member

    The nicest cartridge I ever had, was a Koetsu Rosewood Signature. Don't forget buying second hand, though I know it's a risk. I bought mine on the US site Audiogon, for about £950. I used it for three years and sold it for £900, can't complain about that.

    My second favourite cartridge, someone has already mentioned, was a Benz LP, I am using now, also second hand. It is more neutral, but the Koetsu had a magical sound. I can't forget.
  2. daytona600

    daytona600 Registered User

    Are Koetsus worth it? yes used them for over 30years
  3. pt109

    pt109 pfm Member

    If you have a chance to do so, you should try Charisma's MC2.
    This worked really well with my then SME10/V combo.
    The Charisma's overall sound is somewhere between a Koetsu and a Lyra.
    Groove noise is very low and the cart is an excellent tracker.
  4. artist

    artist pfm Member

    Koetsu worth it yes as I use a rosewood signature on my sme 20.i have used Lyra and kiseki.if you buy a used koetsu you can always get it refurbished going back direct saving paying the importer his fee.my koetsu was a used model totally worn out when it came back it was like brand new and sounds amazing .
  5. Mike Reed

    Mike Reed pfm Member

    The Shilabe (but I like 'Shiplake' :)) was demmed in my system in November by the local dealer; on his TD124 deck, not mine, but through my Superline. It was very similar in presentation to my Urushi Vermillion.

    I had an Orbe with SME V and after Lyra Clavis and Helikon, took a punt on a used Black Goldline (cheapest K). Loved its full-bodied, musical and involving character. Went to newish Vermillion with its much lower output ( (<3 as opposed to 0.6 mV for the Black and Reds). Lovely ! Still have it but fancy trying a stone bodied K).

    Both these cart's worked well in the Five, but the Urushi took off when I changed decks and to a 12" arm. My friend has a 20/3, but with Phantom and Lyras; a big improvement over his former Five and Orbe, it seems.

    The Benz Ebony LP is a lovely cart. and was a great counter to my Urushi for some time (I have 2 tonearms); only supplanted by the Transfig. Proteus, which has a similar presentation but extends just about everything whist being a smidgen more neutral.

    The SME Five is a very neutral arm; even bordering on the cool, some would say; despite only being at the lighter side of a medium eff. mass (11g), it copes well with a lot of moving coils. The 20/3, by all accounts, is not a colourful deck (house sound, maybe?), and I guess that a colourful cart. like a K, Miyajima, upper Benz and probably others would complement it well.

    If you are anywhere near Norwich, or indeed fancy visiting this fine city, I'd be happy to host a session. However, my Dais, all valved amplification and electrostatics wouldn't bear any resemblance to your Naim; this with some surety as I've just moved from 552/Superline etc.

    If you can get a used Koetsu with their legendary longevity, you'll be unlikely to lose much on eventual resale. Yes, phono stage etc. is all part of the package, as it were, but one can only concentrate on one aspect at a time, suck it and see.
  6. pil

    pil pfm Member

    I have a black and Red here,both are excellent for jazz ,blues,female vocals etc.

    I have a lot of indie type stuff,and prefer the Hana EL for that.
  7. pmac

    pmac lovesrecordplayers

    Are Koetsus worth it? It's a difficult question to answer.

    Koetsus are well respected cartridges, although not entirely my cup of tea. IME the entry level Black is only moderate for the money, I don't think it is an improvement (or even as good) as some of the older Sugano san offerings such as the Supex SDX-1000

    The Rosewood Signature is quite nice, but I find it still suffers from colouration in the bass region. It has a lovely magical midrange, although it isn't the most resolving of cartridges. The very best stone bodied Koetsus (Coralstone etc. with diamond cantilevers and costing 5 figures) are very good and can grace even the best systems, but give me an Audio Note Io Ltd any day.

    Given the OP's question, are they worth it? Well, that depends an your tastes and your attitude towards your bank balance. I would probably prefer a Miyajima Madake to a Rosewood Signature as I feel it gives a more rounded presentation and there are also others out there that I would consider before parting with my money, but unless you hear them it is just a lottery.

    In your position, I would do everything possible to hear as many alternatives as possible (friends, dealers etc.) and buy according to your tastes and not subjective opinions given by others (which includes mine, of course)

    All IMHO/YMMV etc. :)
  8. Spectre

    Spectre pfm Member

    Couldn't have said it better myself. Very simply I recently heard a Rosewood and SME V together and didn't feel they were particularly complimentary. The SME is very matter of fact and just emphasizes the lushness and slightly rolled off treble of the Koetsu. To these ears it needed an arm with a little more sparkle such as an Audiomods Series IV or alternative. Paired with a more complimentary arm I would probably warm to a Koetsu.
  9. Paul Gravett

    Paul Gravett Good Bot Gone Bad

    About 30 or so years ago Hi-Fi Answers reviewed a Koetsu then worth over a grand and compared it to a Linn Basik cartridge costing about £25. The conclusion was the Basik outclassed it in almost every respect. Sounds ludicrous, I know, but the magazine was devoutly flat earth. I've never heard a Koetsu so can't comment on its capabilities.
  10. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    I'm pretty sure that was either Flat Response or Hi-Fi Review, not Answers!

    PS The original Basik cart, the one that came with the rather naff ADC/BSR-derived S shaped LVV arm was a rather interesting cart and one I never managed to properly identify. I'm talking about the one with a black stylus guard, not the conical-tipped AT95 derivative with the yellow stylus, which I've never been a fan of. The black one really had some bass grip and kick to it though it was a fairly cheap sounding cart elsewhere.
  11. Mike Reed

    Mike Reed pfm Member

    As I mentioned in my post, I found the Five complemented both my Black G. and Urushi. I agree about the 'matter of factness' of the Five, though, and thought it complemented, rather than emphasized, the warmer Koetsu presentation. I assume your experience was of a Sugano Son Red (from about 2003/4) as his father's cartridges (called 'Rosewoods) were quite a shade more lush.

    However, ideally, a more massy arm than the Five is better suited to Koetsus generally. Even the Five-twelve (V12) is only a gramme heavier. I use PU7 and Ace Anna twelve-inchers at around the 14 to 16 g mark
  12. neil

    neil Wish I could re member

    An interesting perspective and one that nicely illustrates the diversity of the hobby and that there is no universal right answer. Back in the days when I used to go to the Bristol Hifi show a perennial favourite (of mine) for best sound in show was the Michell room. John Michell used an Orbe with SME V arm and Koetsu Rosewood signature. It never sounded less than superb. This despite having a somewhat crooked cantilever apparently.

    For the OP you really need to hear one for yourself, which may mean having to buy blind.
  13. SCIDB

    SCIDB Triode Man


    It was The Flat Response not Hi Fi Answers. Hi Fi Answers printed reviews that praised Koetsu cartridges.

    Hi Fi Answers moved from the Flat Earth after Paul Benson left.

  14. Elephantears

    Elephantears Trunkated Aesthete

    If you're looking for full bodied Japanese carts, I'd recommend hearing a Miyajima too. I recently got a Takumi and I'm very pleased with it. It's just found the FR64x it's been looking for and they are very happy together. If you are looking at Koetsus then perhaps a Shilabe is in your price range, which is supposed to be even more fantastic. For me the Miyajima solves the dialectical problems of clarity vs body, speed vs luxury etc.

    Mind you, I heard an SPU at the weekend and it was just perfect (the owner also had a Miyajima mono on his other arm).
  15. keith1962

    keith1962 pfm Member

    Agree with this regarding the Shilabe. It resolves as much as the Kleos I had but is not as stark and doesn't present it in quite such an overtly hi-fi manner. I have mine on a 12" Audio Creative arm and it is definitely more full bodied than the Kleos but still has the detail that I like.
    I do want to hear an SPU as well though.
  16. Mike Reed

    Mike Reed pfm Member

    Interesting, Neil, and reminds me of when I bought J.M.'s ProAc Response 3s just before he moved house. He showed me his (then prototype) Orbe with Five and Rosewood Sig., saying that he was in the final throes of marketing the Orbe (in 1995, I think).

    Some time later I bought one of the first with Five and Lyra Clavis.

    ProAc (previously Celef) were close to J.M.'s works in Borehamwood; he made machined parts for Stuart Tyler and used ProAc speakers in return. This started me on a ProAc trail to the top Response Fours.
  17. G T Audio

    G T Audio Trade: Distributor and Manufacturer

    You will need a high mass tonearm for a Shilabe to work correctly. 20 grams minimum, best nearer 30grams. Don't under estimate the Wasa either. In some systems I found it performed better than the Shilabe.

    Miyajima Labs - Koetsuesque with clarity and detail...
  18. Mike Reed

    Mike Reed pfm Member

    Hmmmm! See opening para. of my post 25. Maybe the Jelco arm on the TD124 wasn't doing the Shliabe any favours, although as it was a bake-off it was the best he could do in the circumstances.

    Maybe I should re-visit the Shilabe but mounted into my 12" Ace Anna, though by your reckoning that eff. mass (around 14 to 16g?) won't do it full justice. I was pleasantly surprised that it sounded similar to my Vermillion, though. Not too happy about ally cantilever, though.

    However, that was through s/s phono and pre. It's very different now through built-in SUTs, as I've been finding out.....:)
  19. Graham H

    Graham H pfm Member

    I think it was Derek Whittington (owner Sound Advice) in the Flat Response that 'reviewed' the Koetsu and AT.

    A friend of mine has a beautiful looking hand painted Urushi in a Dynavector arm and Technics SP10. Sounds absolutely magnificent. Big, powerful, detailed and pitch perfect (the turntable combo, not my friend).
  20. montesquieu

    montesquieu pfm Member

    Having owned Koetsu Black and Rosewood Signature, as well as several Miyajimas (and SPUs) I woud take a Miyajima Shilabe or Kansui over any Koetsu I've heard - all the upside of rich, ballsy sound without the downsides of (relative) lack of control. Need a decent (and heavy) arm though as others have pointed out.

    The fancier stylus profile SPUs (again, need the right arm) do a better job as well, in my estimation.

    Koetsus don't half look cool though! (I suspect kerb appeal is a big part of their legend).

    When I had my Rosewood Sig I had a Royal N at the same time ... partly based on the 'cool' factor I sold the Royal N and immediately regretted it. I don't own a Koetsu now but I do have a Royal N in the stable. Set up properly (I have mine in a Nasotec self-aligning headshell) it just does more things better. Arm is Ikeda IT-345-CR1.

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