Kiseki "PurpleHeart N. S. (New Style)" moving coil cartridge, beautiful looking and sounding.

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Steve Hoffman, Jun 15, 2015.

  1. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your Host Your Host Thread Starter

    purpleheartNS-angle-sm.jpg


    So back in 2014, Kevin Deal of Upscale Audio pulled me into his room at the Newport Audio Show and handed me a little round wooden box, it was marked "PH 16 of 30" and he told me to try it and if I like it, review it. It's taken over a year but I've tried it and I like it. Heck, I love it. When my Audio Note buddy Warren Jarrett found out I had it he said (and I quote): "I've wanted a Kiseki PurpleHeart for 30 years."

    Apparently he is not alone, because others have said the same thing. Well, here it is again after many years. This is a fun time to be into vinyl. Herman van den Dungen in Holland (oops, the Netherlands), and our tube maven Kevin Deal of Upscale Audio in Upland, California have made this Kiseki adventure happen again. The Kiseki "New Style" version of several of their classic carts have been reborn.

    http://www.kiseki-eu.com/index.php?...ckheart-in-the-works&catid=49:front-page-news

    Beautiful and rare Purpleheart wood, a boron cantilever and a teeny tiny diamond. This cartridge is made carefully, slowly, not many a month and it sounds, well, it sounds like heaven. I think the price is $3,199.00 (or it was last year when I got my sample).

    The King of cartridge/arm set up is David C. Shreve, the man who first started writing about the importance of VTA way back when in magazines like TAS. He came over to the house to personally install and set up the PurpleHeart in my VPI Classic 2 turntable. We are using a British MUSIC FIRST AUDIO step up transformer into an Audio Note UK M6 RIAA moving magnet phono stage. This is fed into my Audio Note UK M9 preamp and then into AN UK Ginrei 211 monoblocks. The German Voxativ 9.87 speaker system makes it all come alive. David spent all afternoon fussing (his usual way of setting up) and he settled on 500 ohms loading. Then we listened and loved. After some break-in (not that much needed, IMO) I gave a serious listen.

    I use the same 4 test records all the time when I explore new turntables and carts, helps keep it simple for me and I've discovered over the years that using records that are NOT sonic wonders in the first place makes it easier to listen to the sound of the cart than using a mind-blowing recording which sounds good on everything. Make sense? So the records I always use:

    "Rosebud: Marches & Rags of SCOTT JOPLIN", Lee Erwin, pipe organ, on Angel. Noisy surface, fun music, DEEP soundstage, a "scratch your head" recording that seems to have the mics placed as close to the noise of the organ as possible and as far away from the actual pipes as possible. This makes for a spooky deep soundstage and a good system can give you front-back chills if you are in to stuff like that. Important for me for judging cart tone (the more "in your face" the cart is, the less realistic the sound is for me). I've had this record since school.

    "The Cotton Club" soundtrack on Geffen. Diana Reid Haig turned me on to this one in 1986. A digital recording, really shockingly good on vinyl with the right cart, totally headache inducing with the wrong cart. A nice, accurate (believe it or not) reproduction of horns and saxes.

    "Presenting THE BACHELORS singing Diane, Whispering, Charmaine" on (British cut and pressed by Decca UK) London/ffrr. This one was given to me by Bill Drake (radio guru). I use this because the stereo version of "Charmaine" impresses the hell out of everyone who hears it. If only Decca had recorded the Stones like this. Produced by Shel Talmy.

    And of course, my trusty test lacquer cut by Kevin Gray of Merle Haggard & The Texas Playboys doing "Cherokee Maiden", from the 1976 30 ips Capitol Records master tape. A perfect example of a "dead" recording from the middle 1970's that I use to judge tracking ability and any kind of front-back that a good system can pull from this dead recording. I have it on a locked groove 33 1/3 RPM lacquer with the "flat" version on the outer grooves and each additional version with more and more EQ (of my choosing) until the last, hard to track, version, with full volume and full EQ, a needle torture track. Very useful for me for many years in testing turntable gear. Many other records are tested, of course....

    Listening impressions: My usual test albums reveal that the PurpleHeart lets so much of the music shine through, it's a pleasure to hear old favorites like it is the first time. The bass is quite lovely, just right for me, not too lean or full, just right. The midband is wonderful, just like I like it. The top end is beautiful. The 3D image is palpable and believable. In other words, the thing sounds bitchin' (as well as it should for that amount of money, although I've heard carts that cost much more and do much less).

    On my "torture track" albums there is no mistracking whatsoever, none. When one swaps out cable, the difference can clearly be heard, there is no typical moving coil rising and out of control top end, just a sweet but balanced reproduction. The Kiseki reproduces what is on the record exactly like it is on the record. If you have a nice sounding album, you'll get that back. If you have a crappy sounding album, you'll get that back as well, but even a badly recorded record still has good points revealed when played. In other words, there is no "house sound" for this cart. It is too accurate for that (a very good thing). Kiseki means "miracle" after all..

    The choice of phono stage is crucial to the sound of the Kiseki. I tried a Soundsmith MCP2 which was nicely dynamic but very clinical sounding, my CAT SL-1 Ultimate which was very nice, 3D sounding and an LA Audio (Denmark) phono stage which was nice but the dynamics were lost. The Audio Note UK M6 RIAA seemed to bring out the best, dynamics, tonality and overall goody-ness.

    In this price range, the PurpleHeart is a really great deal, sold by a really great Deal (Kevin). Even as I'm typing this I'm looking forward to playing some more vinyl today using the Kiseki. In fact, I'm going downstairs right now to fire up the system.

    MC Kiseki PurpleHeart N.S. – SPECIFICATIONS
    • Body: PurpleHeart Wood, 30 mm long
    • Cantilever: Solid Boron Rod: 0.3 mm diameter
    • Stylus: 0.12 x 0.12 Nude line-contact diamond, mirror polished
    • Stylus tip radius: 4 x 120 μm
    • Vertical Tracking Angle (VTA): 20 degrees
    • Coil body: pure iron
    • Weight: 7 grams
    • Output voltage: 0.48mV at 5cm/s
    • Internal impedance: 42 ohms
    • Frequency response: 20 – 30,000Hz ± 1dB
    • Channel balance: 0.2dB
    • Channel Separation: 35dB at 1kHz
    • Tracking ability at 315Hz at a tracking force of 2.6 grams: 80 μm
    • Dynamic Compliance: 16 μm/mN
    • Recommended loading: 400 ohms
    • Recommend tracking force: 2.0 – 2.6 grams
    • Optimum tracking force: 2.46 grams
    • Recommended tone arm mass: Medium
    • Optimum working temperature: 20 °C
    • Break-in period: 50 – 100 hours
    Kiseki U.S.A.1042 N. Mountain Ave #B PMB 406 Upland CA 91786 Tel 909-931-0219 info@kiseki-usa.com
     
  2. Pushpaw

    Pushpaw Active Member

    If I could just have the chance to hear it in my lifetime...to own it, that's way unthinkable. But just to hear it...
     
  3. curbach

    curbach Some guy on the internet

    Location:
    The ATX
    I wish people handed me $3000 carts ;)
     
  4. raferx

    raferx Forum Resident

    Location:
    Vancouver, Canada
    Awesome. Thanks for your impressions Steve!
     
  5. timztunz

    timztunz "A Dreamer, but I'm not the only one."

    Location:
    Texas and Brasil
    They will, right after you hand them 3,000 clams. :righton:
     
    jtw, Tony-A, rbp and 4 others like this.
  6. redmetalmoose

    redmetalmoose Forum Resident

    Location:
    New England
    I know it's all about the sound but the PurpleHeart is almost as cool looking as that Voxativ speaker system.That system looks like a work of art.
    Just curious Steve,what are the 'go to' test albums?
     
    Stone Turntable likes this.
  7. Stone Turntable

    Stone Turntable Forum Resident

    Location:
    New Mexico USA
    + 1.

    I like the vicarious buzz of reading about which records are being played when auditioning dreamy gear like this.
     
    OcdMan and DaleH like this.
  8. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your Host Your Host Thread Starter

  9. hal jones

    hal jones Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Waterloo, ON.
  10. googlymoogly

    googlymoogly Forum Resident

    That's quite a channel separation figure. Must be a bear to get azimuth set up properly to maintain that.
     
  11. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your Host Your Host Thread Starter

    It's pretty easy on the VPI Classic 2 arm.. I mean easy for someone else, not me; I gave up ****ing with carts back in the 1980's. I've snapped my last wire.
     
    VinylRob and googlymoogly like this.
  12. GuildX700

    GuildX700 Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    Sounds like a wonderful cartridge!

    I always wonder what I've missed never going the MC route. I would like to get a table that likes one but I'm probably too far along for that kind of expenditure anymore.

    I'll have to settle for my small selection of V15 variants I've used forever now.
     
  13. laughalot

    laughalot Forum Resident

    In the Same price range is the Grado Statement 1 Cartridge. Have you listened to it and if so how would you compare the two.

    I currently use the Grado Statement Reference but will have to replace it with in a year or so. Never really been a MC fan, but this one might well be worth while.
     
  14. Stone Turntable

    Stone Turntable Forum Resident

    Location:
    New Mexico USA
    Thanks for that! I’m taking the liberty of pasting in the beautifully idiosyncratic “reference" recording line-up from Steve’s cited post here:

    Steve Hoffman: "I use the same 4 test records all the time when I explore new turntables and carts, helps keep it simple for me and I've discovered over the years that using records that are NOT sonic wonders in the first place makes it easier to listen to the sound of the cart than using a mind-blowing recording which sounds good on everything. Make sense? So the records I always use:

    "Rosebud: Marches & Rags of SCOTT JOPLIN", Lee Erwin, pipe organ, on Angel. Noisy surface, fun music, DEEP soundstage, a "scratch your head" recording that seems to have the mics placed as close to the noise of the organ as possible and as far away from the actual pipes as possible. This makes for a spooky deep soundstage and a good system can give you front-back chills if you are in to stuff like that. Important for me for judging cart tone (the more "in your face" the cart is, the less realistic the sound is for me). I've had this record since school.

    "The Cotton Club" soundtrack on Geffen. Diana Reid Haig turned me on to this one in 1986. A digital recording, really shockingly good on vinyl with the right cart, totally headache inducing with the wrong cart. A nice, accurate (believe it or not) reproduction of horns and saxes.

    "Presenting THE BACHELORS singing Diane, Whispering, Charmaine" on (British cut and pressed by Decca UK) London/ffrr. This one was given to me by Bill Drake (radio guru). I use this because the stereo version of "Charmaine" impresses the hell out of everyone who hears it. If only Decca had recorded the Stones like this. Produced by Shel Talmy.

    And of course, my trusty test lacquer cut by Kevin Gray of Merle Haggard & The Texas Playboys doing "Cherokee Maiden", from the 1976 30 ips Capitol Records master tape. A perfect example of a "dead" recording from the middle 1970's that I use to judge tracking ability and any kind of front-back that a good system can pull from this dead recording. I have it on a locked groove 33 1/3 RPM lacquer with the "flat" version on the outer grooves and each additional version with more and more EQ (of my choosing) until the last, hard to track, version, with full volume and full EQ, a needle torture track. Very useful for me for many years in testing turntable gear."​
     
  15. jupiterboy

    jupiterboy Forum Resident

    Location:
    Buffalo, NY
    Two MCs into the fold.
     
  16. shaizada

    shaizada Well-Known Member

    This truly is a fantastic cartridge. It is full bodied, extended top and bottom. It is on the warmer side of the spectrum. I listen to one almost once or twice a week in a friends system. It is setup on an EAR Discmaster turntable with the Helius tonearm. He was given one as well by Kevin Deal and is his current reference cartridge along with the London Decca Reference on an identical second arm on the same turntable.

    It is not an easy cartridge to setup. The cantilever is super short and almost hidden under the rectangular body. Difficult to align the cantilever but not impossible....once setup, it is absolutely glorious sounding! I've been meaning to purchase one, once I have some extra funds lying around...I'd LOVE to be given one ;)
     
  17. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your Host Your Host Thread Starter

    I had Dave Shreve set mine up, took the afternoon but when he dialed it in, wow.
     
  18. Had a Kiseki Blue (with Garrott Brothers modifications - boron cantilever, micro-ridge stylus) that sounded simply magnificent. It seems they aren't cheap now.
    My memory was that that cartridge did vocals the best that I'd ever heard and tracked extremely well, actually having a fair go at the Telarc 1812, which simply ejector seated the Dynavector 17D2.
     
  19. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your Host Your Host Thread Starter

    Nothing is cheap now.. But, if one plays records a lot, a good sounding and good tracking cart is one of life's great pleasures.
     
  20. shaizada

    shaizada Well-Known Member

    I know Dave very well and he has been to my place as well a few times......though a while back. He is a true gentleman and a true setup master. He taught me a few tricks which I still use till date when setting up cartridges. Especially with that Norman Blake record on Flying Fish.
     
  21. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your Host Your Host Thread Starter

    That Norman Blake record is what he used with me (both on my Audio Note table and the VPI with the PurpleHeart).

    It's amazing when he dials in the correct VTA how the bass snaps (pun intended) into place. That Norman Blake LP was cut with a lot of 1176 limiter/compressor in the circuit so the bass is pretty even from top to bottom notes, dynamics wise. Makes it easy to hear "overhang" on a note and when it's gone and all are even, thazzz it!
     
  22. McLover

    McLover Forum Resident

    Location:
    East TN
    Yes, and makes hard days better. A cartridge which gets in the way of your music and tracks poorly makes us grumpy.
     
  23. DaveyF

    DaveyF Well-Known Member

    Location:
    La Jolla, Calif
    What I like to see with the new Kiseki is the high(ish) output. That means we are not taking the typical tube phono stage into distress. I have been looking and trying ( very hard to do) to listen to several new carts. Steve, have you heard the newer Lyra's...the Kleos or the Etna. I would be very interested to see what you think of the comparison between the Kiseki and the Lyra's if you have heard them both. Glad to hear that the Kiseki works well with your CAT phono stage...a VERY good sign. BTW, any thoughts on how the Kiseki would hold up to its traditional competitor....the Koetsu ( probably a Rosewood Sig or a Wajima..at that price point).
     
    McLover likes this.
  24. McLover

    McLover Forum Resident

    Location:
    East TN
    DaveyF, I had a Lyra Kleos on loan. Fell madly in love with it. You'd like it. It was installed on a J.A. Michell Orbe I had in for some minor fettling. I loved how it sounded.
     
    VinylRob likes this.
  25. DaveyF

    DaveyF Well-Known Member

    Location:
    La Jolla, Calif
    Thanks, McLover. I am pretty sure I would like the Kleos. BTW, I am very interested to hear the replacement for the Skala...if J Carr ever releases it. That would be a must audition. Seems like the line has a family big gap between the Kleos and the Etna. The current Skala is IMO a "lesser" cart than the Kleos.
     
    VinylRob likes this.

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