Koetsu cartridges

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Larpy, Nov 8, 2005.

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  1. Larpy

    Larpy Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    USA
    After years of using Benz cartridges (and a brief flirtation with a Lyra Helikon), I bought a Koetsu Black last week. I've always read that Koetsus are far from neutral but are very musical with a gorgeous midrange and, well, being a longtime member of this forum, that sounded good to me. So I took the plunge.

    And the Koetsu Black does sound good. In fact, it sounds great—far more natural than the Benz cartridges I'm familiar with (most recently, a REF 2 Silver). It's cosiderably less mechanical and hi-fi sounding. With the Benz on my Linn LP-12/Ekos combination, music sounds good but I'm always aware that I'm listening to reproduced music. With the Koetsu, I genuinely get lost in the music and forget that I'm listening to an LP.

    How can this be if the Koetsu is as colored as it's said to be? Does it have less grain than other cartridges?

    Has anyone measured a Koetsu's frequency response or have some technical sense of exactly how Koetsus arrive at their characteristic sound? How exactly do they stray from neutrality? Sure, I hear how the bass isn't as tight as some other carts, and yes, the highs are maybe a bit polite, but it still sounds more neutral to me than a Benz does, at least in my system. I like the way Benz carts sound, but female vocalists sound a bit tonally skewed, highlighting the mouth at the expense of the chest. The Koetsu sounds more like a real singer.

    In any case, consider me a convert. If Koetsus significantly stray from neutrality, they sure do it in a natural-sounding way.

    Any insight into this paradox would be appreciated.
     
  2. Vinyl-Addict

    Vinyl-Addict Groovetracer Manufacturer

    Location:
    USA
    I'm glad to hear you like your new cart. I have owned a Koetsu Black for almost 3 years now. It's on an RB-700 tonearm at the moment and does sound quite nice. I believe the Black is not as "coloured" as the more expensive Koetsu's, FWIW.:)
     
  3. visprashyana

    visprashyana New Member

    Location:
    Chicago
    It was interesting seeing all the graphs on the different cartridges. Even though the Koetsus do have a very warm flavor, they have an artificial rise that begins at 12K to 15K and rise just like the rest. I think you might not have liked the Silver version of the Benz, but the frequency response and channel separation are flat unlike almost every other cartridge in the world. It's funny to see on a graph how we hear!
     
  4. dgsinner

    dgsinner New Member

    Location:
    Far East
    I'm interested in what Koestu experts have to say on this as well. This is exactly what I want from a cartridge.

    Dale
     
  5. Larpy

    Larpy Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    USA
    Where have you seen such graphs? That's exactly the kind of thing I'd love to see.

    Benz carts (at least the M2 and Ref 2 I had) have a pretty pronounced rise starting at 15K (both came with graphs that document this clearly). I'm surprised to hear that the Koetsu Black has a 12-15K boost, 'cuz those are frequencies I can still hear. I can barely hear 15K but no higher. So the fact that the Benz was 3-4 dBs up at 17K didn't bother me much!

    The Koetsu sure doesn't sound like it's got a treble boost. Maybe what makes it sound so musical lies somewhere other than frequency response, but it sure seems like tonal accuracy ought to be the cause of a realistic-sounding cartridge.
     
  6. Larpy

    Larpy Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    USA
    Here's a scan of the graph that came with my Benz REF 2 Silver. Reasonably flat (or at least smooth) until it gets to 15K:
     

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  7. dgsinner

    dgsinner New Member

    Location:
    Far East
    Koetsu carts--Vintage vs Recent: Any difference?

    Koetsu carts' founder and original fabricator the elder Mr. Sugano died apparently sometime around 1990 and his son took over the company.

    Have there been any reports of changes in sound or quality?

    Can anyone point me to possible sources of this info?

    Thanks,
    Dale
     
  8. vinyl anachronist

    vinyl anachronist Forum Resident

    Location:
    Fairport NY
    At the same time, I've heard that the Black's performance at the frequency extremes is LESS neutral than the more expensive models, especially in the bass.
     
  9. vinyl anachronist

    vinyl anachronist Forum Resident

    Location:
    Fairport NY
    I think it was much later than 1990. I was told it was just a few years ago. His two sons took over everything. Sugano-san had trained them both personally, and was said to have been very confident in their ability to carry on without him.
     
  10. MikeyH

    MikeyH Stamper King

    Location:
    Berkeley, CA
  11. MikeyH

    MikeyH Stamper King

    Location:
    Berkeley, CA
    I've heard a few Koetsus, and they are extremely musical and just a little 'rich' sounding to me. I don't think anything has changed, except that the very high-end ones are not now 'tuned' by Sugano himself, obviously.

    The main point of this line of cartridges is this hand-tuning. I believe it includes the tightening of the suspension wire pivot, the damping, and dressing of the coil wires. If you've ever seen inside any MC, you'll appreciate this is pretty much micro-surgery.

    Mr Sugano died in January, 2002.
     
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