Koetsu usually on "wrong" tonearm?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by shftw-7, Jan 24, 2023.

  1. shftw-7

    shftw-7 New Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Oregon
    Koetsu cartridges have low compliance, meaning they are stiff, which means they "should" be used with a medium-high mass tonearm, which would give the stiffness of the cantilever some mass to push against when tracking the groove (especially bass).

    But from researching Koetsu on the internet (including youtube), it looks to me like most of the time Koetsu cartridges are actually installed on low mass tonearms. This is probably because low mass tonearms seem to be the most popular (Rega, VPI, MusicHall, Techniques, Linn, SME for example tend to be low mass).

    It looks to me like people are installing Koetsu on low mass tonearms because this one issue is not strong enough to overcome the downside of switching to a high mass tonearm setup. In other words, the turntable/tonearm system as a whole is more important than this one issue of tonearm mass for many (perhaps most) Koetsu owners.
     
  2. Davey

    Davey NP: Björk ~ Vespertine (2001)

    Location:
    SF Bay Area, USA
    I wouldn't label some of the arms you list as low mass, Rega and Technics are in the medium range, as are some of the others, especially when you install a 10+ gram cartridge like a Koetsu and increase the counterweight mass, that will up the effective mass quite a bit. Add in a more substantial headshell and you are getting into the high end of the medium range. So they should still work OK, but I'd agree, to get the best out of most high end cartridges, you want to use a more substantial tonearm, not just heavier but one built to suppress vibrations, with a good set of tight clearance bearings, ability to vary the damping, etc.
     
  3. Bill Hart

    Bill Hart Forum Resident

    Location:
    Austin
    The stone bodies love the air-bearing linear tracker I use.
     
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  4. Davey

    Davey NP: Björk ~ Vespertine (2001)

    Location:
    SF Bay Area, USA
    Most air bearing linear tracking arms (that aren't pivoted) have very high lateral mass since it is effectively a large percentage of the whole tonearm mass (depends somewhat on the stiffness of the air bearing). And conversely, the vertical effective mass is often low to medium since they tend to be short arms, and I think your Kuzma is in the lower end of the medium range. Anyway, should work well with low compliance cartridges, seems the lateral mass would be at least an equal contributor, and obviously does work well by all your accounts :)

    That said, it would be interesting to see a more detailed analysis of the forces involved with different type arms when tracking stereo records, and how it relates to cartridge compliance, so much of what we read and say around here (including by me) is just conjecture. And many (most?) of the discussions here are only in regard to tonearm resonance frequency questions.
     
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  5. Dino Villani

    Dino Villani Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Destin, Fl
    My koetsu rosewood signature is mounted on my VPI JMW 9 memorial tonearm on my Scout II. It sounds beautiful and I’ve had no issues with tracking errors. I must be part of the masses doing what the starter if this thread alleges. Sorry?
     
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  6. Bill Hart

    Bill Hart Forum Resident

    Location:
    Austin
    There were some pretty deep threads on the 'Gon a while ago about the ET2, given that it has been around forever, folks seem to know more of what's going on with them. And mod them. The arm on the old Goldmund Reference, which was sorta Rabco-ish, also benefitted by modification, I'm told. I used a Rockport at someone's place and didn't have any issues- that was so long ago--like 1995?
    I've seen some conjecture that the heavier Koetsus provide their own mass. But I don't think it is just mass at the cartridge end of the arm, like installing a weight between the cartridge and head shell.
    I previously had higher compliance cartridges on the arm. Set up is generally easy once you know what you are doing, but dialing in that last increment (in the case of the Airline, it is getting the thing just tipped up a smidge on the front right edge of the platform, so the arm, while having a tendency to track inward toward the label, gets a little assist by gravity, I guess). I think Franc even makes an accessory if you don't have the ability on your turntable or stand. The "correct" behavior is beyond measurement by any level-- you just have to tweak the height in that one corner, sometimes it is barely an 1/8th inch turn on the nut (I know that's not very precise either, but at all times I'm watching how the arm behaves). In the later manuals for the arm, Franc explains the method.
    I don't know many Airline owners- I don't know how many are in circulation, there are a few. I do like the behavior of the lower compliance cartridges though. In cueing, and watching it track.
     
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  7. Pythonman

    Pythonman Forum Resident

    Location:
    Florida
    Can vouch that an original older Koetsu Black from the 1980s works just dandy in my VPI Primes 3D unipivot arm. Supposedly the materials of the arm cancel out a lot of resonances that would show up in a metallic arm. IDK but, it works.
     
  8. eflatminor

    eflatminor Forum Resident

    Location:
    Nevada
    Koetsu (basic black model) on my Linn Ekos SE arm. No issues for me.
     
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  9. DaveyF

    DaveyF Forum Resident

    Location:
    La Jolla, Calif
    The Koetsu Black is not a stone body, therefore less mass. I dont think a stone body Koetsu would be a good match for the Ekos SE. To the OP's point, I do believe that a high mass tonearm would be the best match up for stone body Koetsu's. Anybody use an Ikeda with one?
     
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  10. Bill Hart

    Bill Hart Forum Resident

    Location:
    Austin
    I think a refurbished Fidelity Research is cheaper than the Ikeda now, isn't it?
     
  11. ggergm

    ggergm Third boxcar - midnight train

    Location:
    Minnesota
    I have an Onyx on a low mass/highly damped arm. The table is a Well Tempered Labs Amadeus Jr. That combo of low mass and high damping is the best of both worlds. The Onyx could put out unholy noises when used with a VPI 3D printed 10" tonearm. On the Amadeus, it tracks like a champion. The Koetsu/Amadeus combination also tracks edge warps superbly.

    With any tonearm, you want relatively low inertia in the vertical plane, so that the cartridge can ride up and down record warps with ease, and higher inertia in the horizontal plane, which will hold the cartridge steady above the record. You can do the latter with mass, friction or damping.

    I think the problem with an Onyx on the JMW Memorial arm had more to do with it being a unipivot than its mass. That arm wants to move easily in any direction. Harry Weisfeld built side weights into the arm to increase its horizontal inertia but with my older arm, they are small and not enough.
     
  12. Erocka2000

    Erocka2000 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY, USA
    I think the problem is when you put the Koetsus on medium to medium-low mass arms, they sound good, but you truly don’t know what they are capable of until hearing them on a high mass tonearm.

    Case in point, I had my Koetsu on a Jelco TK-850S and thought it sounded fantastic. Then I upgraded my arm to a Fidelity Research FR-64S and was absolutely floored. The difference was not subtle, and it made the Koetsu sing like never before.

    So, yes, you can use a medium mass arm and get good results, but just know that moving to a higher mass arm will improve the sound even more.
     
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  13. FuzzyNightmares

    FuzzyNightmares Forum Resident

    Location:
    Oregon
    Have been wondering how a koetsu stone would sound on an arm like the Supatrac blackbird where you can slide the weight closer to the cartridge to increased “mass,” but it’s hard to find that kind of review:nyah:
     
  14. DaveyF

    DaveyF Forum Resident

    Location:
    La Jolla, Calif
    The possible exception to the rule would be, like you say, to mount a stone body Koetsu on a WTA arm. I still use this old design as i believe that WF hit it out of the park with the engineering of this masterpiece. The WTA, due to its liquid bearing/dampening works well with just about any cartridge you throw at it. I use a low mass Lyra Kleos and the match up is phenomenal. I can easily believe that your Onyx/WTA would be excellent as well.
     
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  15. Gibsonian

    Gibsonian Forum Resident

    Location:
    Iowa, USA
    Slight shift here, these Koetsu's, do they sound good playing rock , reggae?
     
  16. Bill Hart

    Bill Hart Forum Resident

    Location:
    Austin
    The old Koetsu was known for its Technicolor midrange, lush, full-bodied, but had limits at the frequency extremes. I've only used the stone bodies but am told that the Rosewood with platinum magnets is also in the same league-- that is, great, transparent midrange as expected; unexpected, bass that is textured, dynamic, full of tone and character- a double bass sounds like an instrument, not a deep tone. Highs are not spotlit; more natural to my ears, but it may be system dependent; I've used top of the line Lyra and Airtight (up to Supreme).
    We compared an Airtight Opus to a Koetsu Blue Lace, as mentioned in another thread, under identical conditions and the Airtight was more linear but the Koetsu gave you the wood on the sticks.
    The Koetsu mates with my system perfectly- it gives it more of what it needed- more gravitas in the bass.
    Some people consider it "colored" but I'm after something that sounds like real instruments. And the Koetsus, at least the stones, give me that. My system has never sounded better.
     
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  17. shftw-7

    shftw-7 New Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Oregon
    Erocka2000 writes:

    I had Koetsu on a Jelco TK-850S and it sounded fantastic, upgraded arm to Fidelity Research FR-64S and Koetsu sang like never before.

    Thanks. That's what I expected. Koetsu is sounding great on low-medium mass tone arms, which is how most people are using it, but the Koetsu cartridges have hidden potential that most Koetsu lovers never experience.

    Of course, changing one arm for another has more impact than just increasing mass. I wonder if anyone has gotten better results from Koetsu with something as crude as penny on the headshell trick, or increasing mass with Blu-Tac?
     
  18. Pythonman

    Pythonman Forum Resident

    Location:
    Florida
    I’m hearing no, zero, nada noises, squawks or screeching etc on my VPI with the Koetsu. It’s the quietest tracing, non mistracking cartridge I’ve ever owned. I’m not using any fancy tricks with extra weights nor have modified the stock arm in any fashion. Not even with VPIs add-on accessories. I am however using VPIs factory alignment protractor. Don’t know which geometric method it uses and I don’t care, it’s perfect. Tracking force set to exactly 2 grams. Azimuth dialed in using a simple mono track on a test record VTA set by eye and ear. Anti-skate done using Soundsmiths instructions.

    No, I wouldn’t waste my time mounting a $13000 stone body Koetsu on a $4000 table and arm combo either. But there’s lots of people using Rosewoods, Urushis and Black Goldlines on arms that are not 35 grams that are completely satisfied in every way.
     
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  19. Bill Hart

    Bill Hart Forum Resident

    Location:
    Austin
    They are sweet cartridges. My theory- I don't know what the cost of a rebuild is for one of the blacks or lower priced ones (which are still expensive, Stateside), but if you have one of the beaucoup ones, the factory rebuild is a fraction of the price of a new cartridge of comparable merit.
    The only exception might be if you had an old one from Sugano-san. Would you want a modern rebuild? I'm told communicating with the company is nigh on impossible. It's like misty mountain tops with Yodas making mysterious tiny, exacting things. We pay double in the States for these things.
     
  20. fjn04

    fjn04 Forum Resident

    Location:
    clifton Park, NY
    I had an early 90's RSP on a Basis/Graham 2.2 combo. That was a very enjoyable and engaging sound, but I never quite felt it was ideal. Fast forward to the late 90's/early 2000's, I bought a Jade and put it on the Basis, but this time with a Vector arm. This didn't quite capture the often found magic of the RSP/Graham. But there is the factors of wood vs stone, and of course the elder Mr. Sugano may have passed at the point I had bought the Jade. At the Jade point, I was hearing about the whole high mass thing, and about arms like SAEC and Fidelity Research being ideal Koetsu partners. But I moved on from the Jade, and never tried it with another arm. Since moving away from the Jade, I have been playing with EMT's tsd series, a Charisma wood body Denon 103, and last year I picked up a My Sonic (gold) Hyper Eminent. I have moved to Kuzma, and have Franc's Wonderful 313 12" arm with the VTA. I was very close to trying Koetsu again at the point I bought that MSL. But I really enjoy the MSL, so I have zero regret. Even though the 13 gram Kuzma may not be ideal on paper, they are said to handle Koetsu's quite well. If I ever return to Koetsu, it would likely be a Urushi or Rosewood Sig. Funny you mention Well Tempered. That's what I moved on to after the Basis. If I could only have held on to that Jade a bit longer. Oh well...maybe after I retire. That Simplex is a nice table. I love the look of the new ones with the birch ply.
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2023
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  21. CharlieBussell

    CharlieBussell Forum Resident

    Location:
    Bay Area, Ca
    I also had a JMW 9 with a Koetsu Rosewood on my SuperScoutMaster. From 2019-mid 2020 never had an issue and everything sound wonderful and fine. I had zero complaints and enjoyed it.

    Mid 2020, I ran across a JMW 9 Signature w/ Nordost wiring but no mount. I talked with my local VPI expert to source a mount. He mentioned it was not going to be and easy find thus, in the meantime he suggested I use a 4 gram weighted mounting plate, Soundsmith SS cartridge bolts and a VPI 180g counterweight. The before and after was definitely noticeable. Everything I liked about the Rosewood improved by a fair margin, nothing in the negative all positive.

    When the mount arrived for the JMW 9 Signature everything was transferred over.
    3 things were different: 1) The new mount for the JMW 9 Signature included a dampening trough 2) The JMW 9 Signature was heavier by roughly 2 grams (according to Matt of VPI) amd 3) the signature arm contained more internal dampening material within the tube.

    The result was another jump in improvement and a realization that the Rosewood needs weight to sing at its full potential. The added dampening from the trough also added another noticeable step up, but not as big as the addition of weight. All in all, my personal conclusion is that the Koetsu produces quite a bit of vibrations and needs a good combination of weight and dampening to achieve its potential.


    Agreed here as well, I feel the dampening may have a lot to do with it. A previously local friend to me is a Well Tempered Turntable owner/user for close to 30 years and believes in the same as you both stated. Previously a believer in high-compliance/light tracking he has since moved onto low-compliance/heavy tracking.
     
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  22. Keith Beddard

    Keith Beddard Forum Resident

    Location:
    Ottawa
    I have had my Urushi Vermillion on an SME V on an Oracle Delphi for many years and it works very well. I've also been using a silver tonearm cable for a number of years and have no issues with bass whatsoever.
     
  23. Pythonman

    Pythonman Forum Resident

    Location:
    Florida
    Properly cared for Koetsus last and give tremendous value for the money over the years. If I ever do upgrade to a much nicer table I hope to gain even more sonic enjoyment out of these cartridges as has been reported. A nice Kuzma with a 4 point would probably be my end game goal. A Techdas entry level and perhaps a Graham arm would be my hit the jackpot piece lol.
     
  24. Dino Villani

    Dino Villani Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Destin, Fl
    My arm has the nordost wiring as well. I use large brass cartridge mounting screws with my Koetsu, perhaps that helps with the issue. I had herd that you should use them with Koetsu. As I said though I’m very happy with its all around performance.
     

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