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06-19-2008 Post mapped to one branch of Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,495
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 1
Post ID: 7609
Reply to: 7609
The mystery of Koetsu Onyx Cartridges.

What they say:

Every audiophile music lover knows of the legendary sound of Koetsu phono cartridges from decades past. Those old enough to have experienced Sugano's Koetsus retain the memory of a musical experience unequaled. Few were privilegedd to own and enjoy a Koetsu. Many of the converted searched out second and third Koetsus, assuring a long, cherished relationship.

Now, in analog's Golden Renaissance and through the efforts of Sugano's sons, Koetsu phono cartridges are again available. Though limited in quantity due to their personal, handbuilt nature, the Sugano family offers a range of models including the Rosewoods, the Urushi, and the ultimate Koetsu, the Onyx Platinum.

To fully appreciate Koetsu, we must know Yosiaki Sugano, artist, musician, swordsman, calligrapher, business executive and creator of the world's most renowned phono cartridges. In his youth, choral singing introduced him to western music, He pursued sword making, dueling, calligraphy and painting, emulating his hero, the 17th century Japanese landmard figure, Honami Koetsu. In postwar Japan, Sugano rose to prominence in one of Japan's largest industrial companies, yet continued to pursue his passions, now including hi-fi.

In the 1970's, Sugano began to experiment with phono cartridges by substituting his own parts in commercially available models. His keen ear and deductive reasoning, combined with an artist's sensibilities, led to the creation of what would become a legend in audio. Sensing the moment, Sugano named his cartridge after his hero, Koetsu.

Sugano's quest led him to enlist universities, specialized industries and master craftspeople to create the special parts to go into his masterpieces. One of the first to use 4 nines copper (99.99% pure), curent production uses 6 nines copper (99.9999% pure). Platinum signature models feature silver cladding of the 6 nines copper, a process where a silver sheath is slowly drawn over the copper conductor.

Ultra-pure iron square plate formers were sourced for their most predictable magnetic characteristics and lowest oxidation. Pre-aged to the perfect consistency, rubber suspension parts are sourced under license with a rubber damper manufacturer. Special magnetic materials, including Alnico have been featured. Today, samarium-coblalt is used with platinum magnets reserved for the flagship models. Japanese craftsmen carve the rosewood bodies, lacquer coat the Urushi bodies, or cut stone for the onyx Platinum. Styli are specially designed and precision ground for Koetsu.

Today, Sugano's sons have revived his art and continue to create musical masterpieces under the watchful eye of the old master. For every music lover, your journey to musical nirvana is incomplete without a Koetsu phono cartridge in your system.

Well,

I do not know why Koetsu cartridges have such a glorious reputation as they have among audio people. I have to admit that I am not the Cartridges tracing type of person. Although I own a few cartridges I usually found what I like and chance needles no more. Over the last few years different people proposed me different “exclusive” or better cartridges but I always replayed that I have no interest. I usually ask questions those guys who were in my listening room and who were trying to propose to me their new cartridges. I ask them “What kind current cartridges-related problem they can point out in my currents Sound and what kind improvement of this problem a new cartridge will bring.” So far right there the sales did not go any further. It is important to note that I express this attitude not because my analog sound has no problem but because whatever problem it might have I feel is not cartridges-related. If somebody sanely sudsiest me opposite then I would gracefully try a new cartridges – unit then - I have no interest in any new needles.

So, in 2000, when I was much more gullible to what audio people say I bought what they considered the crème de la crème of the MC cartridges:  Koetsu Onyx Paninum. At that time it was around $6.5K needle, I paid around $3 to Japanese’s Koetsu dealer in Kyoto during my visit. I brought the Onyx home and for a next few years I was a trail of mystery – whatever I did I hated this cartridges. It is not that it is horrible-horrible but it is very far from the high-flying reputation that the strange audio people surround the Koetsu needles. My first reaction was that the Japanese’s dealer gave me some kind of faulty cartridge, I have seen it happened. So I send my Onyx back asking to expect it. In a few weeks I got a new cartridge directly from Koetsu with a very nice letter from Koetsu himself assuring me that my cartridge was perfect and the new cartridge that they sent to me was vigorously tested by his and it is perfect as well.

Well, had no way to found other excuses and I decided to get an “interesting” sound from the Onyx. However, I was not able. I have heard from other needles better dynamic, I have heard much richer tone, have seen better trackers, I have heard way more expended frequency extremes and I have heard mach more interning balance between transients and liquidity. I was trying Onyx in context of few arms, lodgings, mass allocations,  gains and phonostage but I never was able to get more out of it them juts a mediocre MM cartridge. There is certain train of thoughts that the some needles need to be use with specific tonearms topologies. In marginally agree but I do not completely buy that. A properly set up cartridge will be better of worse but it shell still to give the basic more or less none-evasive result of context of any good sounding arm and locked default setting. I was not able to get out of the Onyx – it always was too dull to me taste.

I consulted with the people who use Onyx and who pay the songs of glory to this needle. Then give me many advices but I look at the advices very skeptical - I have to say that I personally never heard their installations. In the end bought the FR-64 arm and the borrowed the Graham 1.5 arms, trying to make Onyx to work – not success – the sound was not different then with my MAX 282 arm or with any other arms I was trying. I never was able to play a whole side of a record with Onyx it juts sound to me incredibly none expressive.  I do not know, perhaps the people who love Koetsu Onyx Platinum found that subdued sonic expressive and some kind a new wave of lushness, I do not. I found Koetsu boring like hell. If you run Koetsu and get other result then place educate me, or better let me to hear it.

Well, conceded that I just do not like this the type of the sound Koetsu is trying to make. The Onyx was sitting in the box or in the inserts of my experimental arm for years without me being able to use it. A few years back I listed the Onyx for $3K in my “Shameless Commerce Division” - the section of my site where I am getting rid the things that I do not need. Since the dollar doing down to drain and the price for the new Onyx Platinum nowadays is around $9K I have quite a number of inquiries from different people to buy it. People ask about the hours on this needle and I replay that very little (In fact this cartridge hardly ever played music and played mostly my own test LP on which I confirm that a sound of a cartridge passes the initial acceptance test after setting up) and if to look in the microscope (it is what I always do) then it will be considered as absolutely new. What I also say to the people who ask me about it is that I do not like the sound of Onyx – I never was a good salesperson for audio falks.

I really do not need this cartridge and I would like to let it go but there is a very minor catch in this: who is right? Was I an ignorant fool who was not able to make Koetsu Onyx Platinum to sound as it might or the famous Koetsu Onyx Platinum is just the Naked King?

Rgs, Romy the Cat


"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
06-21-2008 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
drdna
San Francisco, California
Posts 488
Joined on 10-29-2005

Post #: 2
Post ID: 7621
Reply to: 7609
The Koetsu sound

I have lived with the Koetsu Onyx Platinum also and I agree.  I did not really enjoy it very much in my system no matter what I did.  However, honestly, when I first heard Koetsu many years ago (it was a Rosewood Pro IV), I was really drawn in by the sound.  I thought it was very lush and velvety.

The musical experience is like any other; as we gain more experience, we become more refined in our perception.  I compare it to wine drinking for example.

The novitiate is concerned mostly with how alcoholic the wine is: “That’s some strong wine!”

Later one may distinguish between types: “I prefer red wine to white.”

Still later, perceiving basic structures: “That’s really got a smooth finish!”

Then focusing on certain qualities: “I love a concentrated, fruity wine!”

Then more nuance: “It reminds me of the 1958 vintage, when the harvest was late and the field nearby was full of raspberries.  I see what the winemaker was trying to do here with this blend.”

And so on.

Now, in stereo reproduction, it is the same, sometimes, most audiophiles are in the earlier stages, maybe they are focusing on soundstage, or inner detail, or something.  And of course the problem is that sometimes when you do this, you try to force the stereo to accentuate these qualities at the expense of simply allowing the music to flow through.  Then you get a stereo that the one person likes, but to others it is unlistenable, because they are looking for other different qualities.

So in the Koetsu, the goal was to make a lush artificially emotion-heavy cartridge, and create passion even where there was none.  This was ok for some tastes.  But then in the Onyx, there is an attempt to steer this in a different direction toward more inner detail etc.  This is a bit like changing the floor plan after the foundation is already laid, if you understand me.

So the sound suffers.  It ends up artificially trying to boost things in a few directions but really not able to achieve either, and certainly it is no longer a true conduit of the Sound..  I remember the Onyx as lacking the seductive lush tone of the early Koetsus, reserved, accurate, not quite neutral, not quite passionate.  It was a good compromise and balance for someone seeking certain qualities of artificial emotion and accuracy in a cartridge, but it was hard to pay $3500 for that.

The person who loves this cartridge has listened to every cartridge and is in love with the idea of inner detail.  But he has loved the big emotional tube amps and is familiar with the lush sound of Koetsu in the past.  When the Onyx appears, it is like a dream.  The lush history of Koestsu but now listen to all the wonderful inner detail.  How wonderful.  This is why I think it got so many great reviews.  It was kind of tailor made to a set-up audience. 

Now of course there is no specific deception.  The Koetsu is an honest product, a great product.  The perfect cartridge for some people.  However, in my system, it was trying too hard to force the sound in a certain way; it was not elegant.  I think also for Romy, his system is a bit too refined and looking at more subtle goals for the Koetsu to be a good fit.

Regards,
Adrian

06-21-2008 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,495
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 3
Post ID: 7628
Reply to: 7621
So, the today’s Koetsu is just a myth?

I appreciate your response, Adrian. I never have see any Koetsu user who did not try to convince me that Koetsu’s Sound is “beyond believe” and what you say actually does make sense to me. I even had a guy who used similar TT (Micro 2000) with Onyx and identical with me arms (it was Dynavector 507) and we spent many hours taking when he was convicting me that it has very good sound. He is in other country and I have heard his installation. He was a good guy but I just did not experience that the same satisfactory touch as he described.

Would it be possible that the Koetsu 20-30 years back made very different sounding cartridge compare to what they have now? It is very common in audio that a company maintains the same product and even the same model but has absolutely different sound within a given time span … Anyhow. I think my story with Koetsu will be over with it. I have extended enough credibility, time and effort to the Koetsu myth.

The Cat


"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
06-21-2008 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
drdna
San Francisco, California
Posts 488
Joined on 10-29-2005

Post #: 4
Post ID: 7631
Reply to: 7628
Koetsu has changed with the times

It is not exactly a non sequitor to say today's Koetsu is a myth.  Say a restaurant's owner changed from Italian to Seafood.  Maybe you expected fettucine carbonara, but instead you got fish and chips.  However, maybe you are in the mood for fish and chips. It's just different.

Being different is the heart of the audiophile industry. Listeners' tastes change over time.  Fettucine. Fettucine. Fettucine. Every day...  If you have enough of anything day after day, you will develop an appetite for something different, I think.

So many years ago when everything was very dry solid state, Koestu cartridges were like a wonderful spash of color.  Then it was the fad of the soundstage. These days I think it is inner detail.  This is what the Koetsu Onyx is built to do.  It does this very well.  Certainly one of the top cartridges in the world to do this.  I'm just not motivated by the fads or flavors of the day.  But then again, I don't like flavored coffee drinks, I just like a nice plain cup of black coffee, freshly ground.

As for the old-time Koetsu, I dearly loved the old Rosewood Pro IV.  It clearly had different goals than the modern Koetsu.  It was very seductive and magical, like adding a little shaved truffles or caviar to your entree.  Only it did this to everything.  When you have caviar on your ice cream and in your iced tea, then it seems sort of false.  Which is why I gave it up.  However, for the right music, it was a delicious spice.

Regards,
Adrian

06-21-2008 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,495
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 5
Post ID: 7633
Reply to: 7631
The Onex's colors and inner details...
 drdna wrote:
So many years ago when everything was very dry solid state, Koestu cartridges were like a wonderful spash of color. Then it was the fad of the soundstage. These days I think it is inner detail. This is what the Koetsu Onyx is built to do. It does this very well. Certainly one of the top cartridges in the world to do this.
Hm, I do not know. Perhaps I have too contemporary Onex, or I just do not know how to play it, or juts I have too corrupted reference points but what I experience is very different. In heads Onex has no colors and no inner details. I mean those would be the very worst detentions of my Onex performance. I hope that your old Rosewoods were different…

The Cat


"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
06-21-2008 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
drdna
San Francisco, California
Posts 488
Joined on 10-29-2005

Post #: 6
Post ID: 7638
Reply to: 7633
Onyx Relativity
I think that the perception of the Onyx depends on the rest of one's stereo system and the other components one compares it to.

When I say the Koetsu is one of the top cartridges in the world, I would say this about most modern audiophile cartridges, too.  By the standards of today's available cartridges, it is not very good and is not worth the enonmous price tag unless you happen to like the particular combination of colorations it presents.  If you have nostalgia for the Koetsu sound and want a cartridge with some ability to resolve inner detail, this would be great.

You could ask also why do I drink Diet Coke?  There are many healthy low calorie drinks available, some even with vitamins; but Diet Coke is good enough, and it has a reminiscence of old-time Coca-Cola in the local soda fountain at the lunch counter at Woolworth's from my youth.  Koetsu is the same, I am afraid.  Their cartridges at one time were at the very top -- the very best (remember what else was available when the Rosewood first came out?), but these days there are so many new contenders that do as well or better, the Koetsu cannot compete at all at their price point.  Virtually every new cartridge to come out in the last ten years is just as good; they have fallen very far behind and everyone else has caught up and passed them. 

In my system, I am not overly concerned with trying to extract every last drop of inner detail.  If I were, I would choose the ZYX Universe low-output copper or the Decca London Reference.  I have heard these but I chose not to keep them because I feel that focusing on inner detail is a side track that can lead away from the Sound.

I think, Romy, in your system, there is very little for the Onyx to palliate.  Then I consider the other cartridges you are comparing to the Onyx.  I would guess you find the Koetsu very slightly warm in color and good but not striking in any way.  If you had the old Rosewood Pro IV, you would laugh maybe but have some fun -- like eating a ice cream sundae -- delicious but maybe not for every meal.

Regards,
Adrian
01-15-2009 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Stitch


Behind The Sun
Posts 226
Joined on 01-15-2009

Post #: 7
Post ID: 9430
Reply to: 7638
The secret is : Marketing
fiogf49gjkf0d
I listened to really a lot of Koetsus (Black, various Urushi, Signature, Red Sig. Platnimum, Jade, Onyx....) and it was always the same result:
No Bass , no high frequency area, no colour, no bite... and with different Arms of course (Graham 2.2, Phantom, Triplanar VII (a Disaster), Air Line, DaVinci, FR-64s ....)
Anyway, I think, lots of Audiophiles want to dream about something, they don't know from what, but they do.
It is so simple:
1. Make a product very expensive
2. More expensive
3. Crate a story (15 years with sleepless nights from the Designer because he was never satisfied with other available products ...)
4. Give them to reviewers for their special reviewers price that they can sell it later and you will get top "reviews"
and the Hype is born...
Sometimes I think it is made for some special Audiophile Systems, those super analytical ones which are hard to bear, a real pain to listen to, with such a cartridge the "warm analog sound" is back ....
Did I dream????
Don't wake me up!


Kind Regards
Stitch
06-24-2009 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Stitch


Behind The Sun
Posts 226
Joined on 01-15-2009

Post #: 8
Post ID: 10901
Reply to: 9430
Koetsu Rosewood Signature Platinum
fiogf49gjkf0d

This is one example of the very successful marketing Hypes and in Reality this cartridge is sonically not better than those for 1k (at best)

RosewoodSignaturePlatinum.jpg

I did compare it with a Lyra Helikon.
Arms: Fr-64s, Fr-66s (in a way, the best match for Koetsu from all Arms I ever listened to) What disturbed me most, is, the RSP is very colored AND not transparent. It always sounds like listening thru a thin curtain. In the very first moments it is good (not sharp, not thin...) but after a few records you discover, it is always the same, it is leveling everything. The cartridge does not go up with the records, always nice and easy...
It is like looking into a Box, left, right and back in the soundfield, and with the Helikon it is like going out of house, clear, Holographic body, Height and Size from Instruments is much better, maybe in a way, real.
The midrange is very dominant, nice to listen to, but at the end of day, the high frequency is limited and the Bass has no body. I guess this cartridge is super for those analytical High end Systems which produce pain while listening (there are lots of them out there). This cartridge is the rescue. For them.
I did listen to most of all Koetsus, none impressed me, I simply expected more for their extremely high pricing. Now I wanted to try it in my System. Some of my friends recommend this RSP, it should be the best from all Koestus (weight ratio+Platinum Magnet), but it didn't made my day.


Kind Regards
Stitch
06-24-2009 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,495
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 9
Post ID: 10905
Reply to: 10901
Koetsu, Lyras and the FR...
fiogf49gjkf0d
Koetsu are crap and it is sad that some ognorant or criminal people crated so much hype about it. Might be in past it was better, as it was proposed above by somebody in this thread, but I doubt as I know people who drooled about Koetsu 20 years back keep drooled about them today.

Interesting your use of Lyra Helikon. I never liked Lyras but a few years ago I spoke with a guy who was ether an inventor of manufacturer of Lyra. He asked me what I did not like in it and I explained. Then he explained to me why I did not like it. He explained how Lyra was specifically made to work with ONLY very specific arms, how the Lyra’s suspension is made to give up vibration to very “especially” damped/suspended tonearms. The only arms, he claime, that would work “right” with his cartridges are FR arms. I do not remember details already but he sounded almost as he insisted that anybody who does not use Lyra with FR arms shall have bad sound. I had some options for Lyra needles but since I am religiously SME 3012 – type person, I never care about them after that guy’s explanation. It was Jonathan Carr I believe…


"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
06-24-2009 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
drdna
San Francisco, California
Posts 488
Joined on 10-29-2005

Post #: 10
Post ID: 10906
Reply to: 10905
This is not an interesting thread anymore.
fiogf49gjkf0d
I will say again it is important to speak from experience, not conjecture.  The cartridges hand made by Yoshi Sugano were exquisite and the Rosewood Pro 4 accomplishes things that no other cartridge I have heard could do. It had shortcomings admittedly, but it was very special. I still remember the sound, like heroin, even twenty years later. The creator is now long dead although the company lives on. The new cartridges do not have the old magic sadly, although the are priced high, riding on the laurels of the old mystique.  
Adrian
06-25-2009 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,495
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 11
Post ID: 10907
Reply to: 10906
How fast did you run 100m in 1982?
fiogf49gjkf0d

It has nothing to do with thread but with the fact, the facts that I am experienced. I have no exposure or familiarity with Yoshi Sugano’a cartridges but I know one guy who very much likes Koetsu and use then all his live. In fact he encouraged me to by my Koetsu. He never differentiated between new and old Koetsu, which lead to ask: where any old Koetsu in fact truly good or they are the mart of the mythological conjecture? I have a local guy who is a dear for Koetsu for many years. I asked him a few years ago about Koetsu and he informed me that newest production is very fine. It needs to be noted that I do not buy anything from him; he knows it and our conversations about audio have purely abstract character. I would not even mention that each year different audio publication publishes reviews about Koetsu. I did not read them but I am sure that they are excellent reviews…

The point is to accent that it is not about Koetsu but about apparently ignorant people who are absolutely clueless about sound they get but they keep maintaining the Koetsu hype. I know at least 3-4 other people who very much like me bough in the Koetsu hype and bought the top of the line Koetsu needles. All of them hate it. The point that I try to make is that if the vintage Koetsu were so good that why is it not the common knowledge among the people who know?

I have my literally new Koetsu Onyx platinum listed at my site for sale and over the years perhabs 20-30 people asked about it. You would never believe in what extend I go to convince people do not buy it. Perhaps I need to learn to tell to people some stories about Yoshi Sugano and the samurai’s swords….

BTW, when you say that “the Rosewood Pro 4 accomplishes things that no other cartridge do” then what do you mean? The Otophone from 50s also did some “things that no other cartridges do” but the today Otophone production I feel is better. Since no one I know collaborate the memories about the old Koetsu then is it possible that it is just your memoirs are good but not the Koetsu? Did you own it of you just heard it a few times? Adrian, I do not question what you report, I just curios to get more information…

The Cat


"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
06-25-2009 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
drdna
San Francisco, California
Posts 488
Joined on 10-29-2005

Post #: 12
Post ID: 10908
Reply to: 10907
Curiosity killed the cat?
fiogf49gjkf0d
Okay, since you ask, I think I have said it before, and I consider it kind of pointless since we are talking more for the sake of nostalgia not anything to do with what we may do with our audio systems in the present. Anyway, yes I owned the Rosewood Pro IV. I also owned the Rosewood. I also had the Onyx Platinum but got rid of it right away. I heard for a few weeks some Urushis as well. 

I can only tell you what I have heard in my system. The new Koetsus have similar characteristics: they have many of the same flaws. It was possible for me to forgive these flaws for the splendor of the Sound the old Pro 4 had. I understand and can believe that many people that listen to the old Koestsu cartridges also like the new ones, but they are I believe only listening to the sounds from their stereos, not the Sound.  

Is it my faulty memory? I do not think so, because I am still looking to recapture what was lost.  Currently I am thinking maybe there is something to be done with the tweeter on the Titan speaker system that may help? The point is I remember the Sound which was lost. So what was it? I can describe it as facilitation: easier access to what the piece emotionally was expressing, easier insight into meaning. Do not misunderstand me: I do not think the Pro IV was the world's best cartridge -- it was flawed in many ways. The worst was this way: it was like coming back from a long trip and seeing your girlfriend. She is so happy to see you and hugs you and kisses you. Well, that is fine. In fact it is the best feeling in the world, isn't it?  Only she keeps doing this and after several minutes everyone at the airport is staring. You are getting kind of freaked out and begin to wonder about her inappropriate behavior. 

I cannot express how stunned and disappointed I was with the new Onyx cartridge, as there was the dull softness and molasses-like slowness of Koetsu, but somehow it was like a stone wall with all the real delicacy and emotion missing. Like eating honey that isn't sweet.

Adrian
06-25-2009 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Stitch


Behind The Sun
Posts 226
Joined on 01-15-2009

Post #: 13
Post ID: 10909
Reply to: 10905
Koetsu Boutique
fiogf49gjkf0d
 Romy the Cat wrote:
Koetsu are crap …



Ok, this is the short form but I thought, I should write a little bit more.. :-)
Most write, they do LIKE this and don't LIKE that...I think, this is nonsense. I would reduce it to right or wrong.
I like it  is the typical answer when someone has absolutely no idea from what he is talking. The typical "High End bullshit Talk" of today, because only morons survived in this business. No one cares, "buy it or leave me alone"...and honestly, our beloved reviewers are responsible for that.

I read these "tests" from the RSP, I am pretty sure, there are only 2 ways:
Having ear cancer or being the slave of the Marketing Mode ("...it is a Koetsu...I'll write nicely about it...get it cheap..can sell it..and can make a few bucks...and all love me")
We get what we deserve...
I'll give it one more try with a Graham Phantom II, but I'am afraid, there will be no change...


Kind Regards
Stitch
06-25-2009 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Gregm
Greece
Posts 91
Joined on 02-16-2005

Post #: 14
Post ID: 10910
Reply to: 10907
Maybe it's a nostalgia game
fiogf49gjkf0d
 Romy the Cat wrote:
I know at least 3-4 other people who very much like me bough in the Koetsu hype and bought the top of the line Koetsu needles. All of them hate it. The point that I try to make is that if the vintage Koetsu were so good that why is it not the common knowledge among the people who know?The Cat
Hmmmm, count me in too. I remember being impressed by the old Rosewood 25 yrs ago and by all the hype surrounding it; But I never had it, I just had the memories coming from my criteria of the time and my limited experiences then, etc. Later, with an Urushi, I no longer had "lush sound" but, rather, recessed upper frequencies -- so of course the remaining mid frequencies were prominent...
And, like everyone, I tried the tricks of the trade {arm lifting/ lowering (a Pluto & a Clearaudio) the loading game (low pF high R), etc}. It still sounded like a tube amp from the 60s running on the original tubes.
06-25-2009 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,495
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 15
Post ID: 10911
Reply to: 10910
“I cannot express how stunned and disappointed I was with the new Onyx cartridge”
fiogf49gjkf0d

The Adrian’s quote about being stunned and disappointed can’t better express my view on the subject. I admit that I am driven by disappointed and in a way anger for the horrendous sound I got from my Koetsu Onyx Platinum. However, it was not a anger targeted against Koetsu sound but rather the anger targeted against my own idiocy. I bough Onyx in 2000 or so in Japan and the very first experience with it was not just beyond any worst expectations, it was hard to describe how bad it was. Gregm described it very well: recessed upper frequencies, mid frequencies were prominent, but very gray mid frequencies, with no color and not since of tonal sophistication, completely rolled of bass, not even bass but some kind of LF noise popup instead of bass. It not even AM sound (my TU-X1 does surprisingly good AM!) but it was AM sound from $5 worth heand0hekld portable radio. I was bitching to varies advisers of my at that time but any single person I consulted told me that I do something wrong and that my Kouetsu shall be “wonderful”. Believe me or not but it took for me 5 years of many attempts to make Koetsu to sound in any more or less acceptable way. I never ever was able to hear a whole track on this cartridge but I have countless attends to put it into different arms in different configuration and conditions; trying to punch anything that remotely resembling any civilized sound. My “anger” not for the Koetsu but for me being not firmed enough in my given experience and in my convictions – it took for me years to “agree” with myself and to admit that Koetsu is just a horrendous crap.

I do not afraid to drop a very negative judgment about the company juts based upon a single cartridge I experience from them. Why not? Make better cartridges and control the quality of own production better – then you will not have the disappointments as I have. How much credit you extend to your doctor who misdiagnosed your heart attack and you died? Most of us during our life will buy $6000 cartridges as many times as we have heart attacks during our life-span. Koetsu had its chance, it monumentally blew it. I, thank God, do not write for “official institutions” and I do not look for my commentary to have more value than my own truth. Being a proponent of Kant’s transcendental idealism I need no further evidences about the Koetsu’s needles.

Now, Adrian and perhaps others might suggest that in past Koetsu were much different. I admit that it is very common with most of audio companies. The Adrian’s comment contains the key: “it kind of pointless since we are talking more for the sake of nostalgia not anything to do with what we may do with our audio systems in the present”. Let me to take it a bit further. If the Koetsu’s old needles were great in past and today’s needles are crap then we are under impression that today quality is an accident and misfortune (for whatever reasons). However, shell I not consider that the sound of Koetsu 25 year ago was an “accident and misfortune”, the misfortune that I today would consider as “positive misfortune”.

When we are talking about Telefunken high-bias reel-to-reel tape we call it as it is – crap and we do not care that back in 1943 the Telefunken made time that was orders of magnitude better then anywhere in world. When we listen today’s crappy Tanoy’s drivers we do not care that in end of the 50s Tanoy did quit good speakers. The point is that if the train is gone then it is gone, even if it was there. What do am I doing now? Channeling the anger for myself being a food and do not send Koetsu to hell 9 year back? Well, what else can I do now?

The Cat


"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
06-27-2009 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Stitch


Behind The Sun
Posts 226
Joined on 01-15-2009

Post #: 16
Post ID: 10927
Reply to: 10911
Yes, we can...
fiogf49gjkf0d
...not.
Like I wrote, I wanted to give another try with the Graham Phantom II, one of most modern Arms today.


625-4.jpg


Unfortunately there was no difference.
But what I did now, I tried it with those "audiophile" Pressings, you know, the kind of records you hear in Demos and normally you leave with bleeding ears...

For THAT it is a great cartridge, but that's nothing new..
Well, but this is not the worst, in front I have on that kind of Ranking

- Air Tight PC-1

- Goldfinger v2
both highly regarded Cartridges from TAS (Jonathan Valin)
of course....

*Edit:
(got a call from my buddy, he had this cartridge 3 weeks for listening, he wanted to buy it - B&W Speakers, Accuphase amplification... - he 
love(d) it and now he is confused about my opinion...
....I feel bad...High End means: Born to Suffer (sic!)


Kind Regards
Stitch
06-27-2009 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,495
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 17
Post ID: 10930
Reply to: 10927
The Valin’s syndrome and Koetsu
fiogf49gjkf0d

 Stitch wrote:
….both highly regarded Cartridges from TAS (Jonathan Valin) of course....

Yes, this is the problem. I do not mean the habit of playing bad record (that is problem itself) but I mean that people who in this industry are in position to shape official public opinion are just too idiotic. A few months ago I have a debate with a current US distributor. From what I know about Valin I always considered him just as a meaningful simpleton and not particularly smart fool. The guy I spoke with instead that he is a start but very diabolical-minded person and brought to my attention a number of incidents after which the people from other industry would deservingly end up in prison. Another dealer, distributor, who know Valin for year and deal with him on regular basis told me that anybody who pays attention to Valin shell visit his listening room. According to him Sound Valin getting in there is horrible and has absolutely no relation to the comments that Valin is spraying to public.

I personally have only one exposure to Valin and it was enough for me to discard this idiot since then. It was back in CES 2000, or 2001, or 2002 - I do not remember already. It happened that I was sitting in some kind of room, listen the extremely bad sound, and exchanging opinions with the room’s owner why the sound was so poor. Then Jonathan Valin come to the room and after a short listening come to the room owner, shake his hand and informed him that it was the best sound he ever heard in audio. The room owner, who was not a Moron and knew what Sound it was had difficult time to look into the Valin’s eyes but he understandably kept playing his role of grateful manufacturer…

Then I did something evil, I juts form fun ditched my badge with name “Romy the Cat” (he does not know me by face) and followed Valin for a next 30 minutes across a dozen of the rooms. Guess what, this son of bitch did the same “best sound ever heard in audio” in each room without any regards to what the rooms demonstrated. The most expensive equipment was the more “glorious” this asshole sounded to the manufacturers, presumably trying to extort from them the opportunity to review their equipment.

I know that demean the reviewing dirt is my very favorite topic at my site but let do not forget that it is very important. We talk about Koetsu and some voices say the Koetsu was fine 20 year back. Let however do not forget that the Yoshi Sugano making his cartridges in his basement 25 years back is not something that public see.  There are very many basement-manufacturers of cartridges in Japan and wide public know nothing about them. This industry removes the microphone from manufacturer’s hand and give the microphone to the media reviewers. So, no one know about good cartridges but people only know about the cartridges that are exposed to public by media. It is reviewer responsibility to conduct initial quality control to filter out faulty products. Koetsu that I have is a faulty audio product and I see Valin and the rest audio dirt direct responsibility that bad manufactures was able to screw me, the consumer. If Valin in his numerous “glorious” Koetsu review would take as position to alert public that the new Koetsu production is very bad then the bad Koetsu production would stop and they would change this ways or go away.  This is how it shall work and it is how it works in most of the civilized industries…

The Cat


"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
09-27-2009 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
marknoir
Posts 5
Joined on 09-25-2009

Post #: 18
Post ID: 11833
Reply to: 7638
Ear-specific chocolate
fiogf49gjkf0d
 drdna wrote:
I think that the perception of the Onyx depends on the rest of one's stereo system and the other components one compares it to.

When I say the Koetsu is one of the top cartridges in the world, I would say this about most modern audiophile cartridges, too.  By the standards of today's available cartridges, it is not very good and is not worth the enonmous price tag unless you happen to like the particular combination of colorations it presents.  If you have nostalgia for the Koetsu sound and want a cartridge with some ability to resolve inner detail, this would be great.

You could ask also why do I drink Diet Coke?  There are many healthy low calorie drinks available, some even with vitamins; but Diet Coke is good enough, and it has a reminiscence of old-time Coca-Cola in the local soda fountain at the lunch counter at Woolworth's from my youth.  Koetsu is the same, I am afraid.  Their cartridges at one time were at the very top -- the very best (remember what else was available when the Rosewood first came out?), but these days there are so many new contenders that do as well or better, the Koetsu cannot compete at all at their price point.  Virtually every new cartridge to come out in the last ten years is just as good; they have fallen very far behind and everyone else has caught up and passed them. 

In my system, I am not overly concerned with trying to extract every last drop of inner detail.  If I were, I would choose the ZYX Universe low-output copper or the Decca London Reference.  I have heard these but I chose not to keep them because I feel that focusing on inner detail is a side track that can lead away from the Sound.

I think, Romy, in your system, there is very little for the Onyx to palliate.  Then I consider the other cartridges you are comparing to the Onyx.  I would guess you find the Koetsu very slightly warm in color and good but not striking in any way.  If you had the old Rosewood Pro IV, you would laugh maybe but have some fun -- like eating a ice cream sundae -- delicious but maybe not for every meal.

Regards,
Adrian



First pls let me thank you for great site.  This is my first post here.

I agree with Adrian. I also agree with The Cat that Koetsus today are absolutely overpriced and over-hyped, but...

My hearing is very peculiar. I'm extremely sensitive to upper mids and treble area, I have not suffer any high frequiency loss due to aging, even though I'm an old fart by now, so most cartridges that people find "neutral" or "resolving" are positively shrill to me. Case in point, the current darling ZYX ( I had a chance to listen to Airy 3 copper in my system for a long time ) made a couple of big holes in my ears with it's treble. My preamp is MFA Luminescence, also "a chocolaty"-sounding apparatus. I had no chance to listen to the latest Onyx Platinum for a simple fact, that I'm not only old, but poor as well, but old school Onyxes were always my kind of sound, and sounded great in my system. I used to also like Golgbug Mr. Brier, which had a similar rolled-off top. Today I don't know of any cartridge that would suit my particular taste. I like Sheleter 901, but I have to load my SUT rather heavily to listen to it. About sample variations in Koetsu Onyx line - I've had a lot over the years when I was rich, famous and georgious, and nearly all of them sounded different. From the dull described by The Cat, to a nearly brash and open sapphire cantilevered Spectral version in the early 80's. My latest experience was like this: I found one for rebuild. It was from what I could determine an Onyx Gold or an early Platinum. It had silver colored coiles, measured about 3 ohms on coils, suspension has hardened to point of no trackability, and stylus was worn. In addition, it had a channel imbalance. It had typical Onyx sound - dark and brooding, but very detailed, with no noney-dripping Koetsu Rosewood sap. I couldn't afford to send it to Koetsu, so it was sent to a reputable rebuilder. Coming back, cartridge sonded like your "resolving" and "neutral" modern variety, tracked great, and was absolutely unlistenable to me. Very-very open and bright. Apparently, channel imbalance was due to one coil being bad, and rebuilder has replaced coils. My technical knowledge does not run deep enough to say that this alone has turned Onyx into Blue Point Special soundwise, but now it is what it is. I'd gladly snatch Romy's Onyx Platinum, and I have a couple of tricks up my sleeve to open and liven it up, had I had the funds. My rebuilt Onyx will most likely be up for sale, as a hybrid now. In fact, it is brighter than my other cartridge - Madrigal Carnegie I, which is no slouch in that department either.

My system is as follows: Oracle Premiere Mk IV Gold, Adanalog MG-1 parallel tracker, Madrigal Carnegie I, Hagerman step-up (S&B TX103 copper), Hagerman Trumpet or MFA Luminescence phono, MFA Liminescence line, Classe DR-9 (pair), Infinity 4.5 (modified), bi-amped.

Rgds, Mark.
09-27-2009 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,495
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 19
Post ID: 11836
Reply to: 11833
Cartridges are tough
fiogf49gjkf0d
marknoir,

I have a lot of feedback in direct emails regarding to my “hate of Koetsu”. What I conceded that there is a different between Andrian’s version of “lash but slight noney-dripped” sound and my version of “dull sound”. They have the same name and belong the same company but they are absolutely different products. The same like Tannoy 1955 drivers had no resemblance with Tannoy 2005. There are many other examples.  I had no exposure to old Koetsu, so, I have no idea what they are.  I also see not need to rebuild a new cartridge to get better sound out of it.

Cartridges are tough and to talk about them in many cases is difficult. The conditions for cartridges use are different and also the production of them is not stable. Even big companies with standardized machine production can do the same mode of the same batch with drastic difference in sound. The quality control is very low and very few even understand what to pay attention during quality control.  The small manufacturers with hand-production are even more off the wall and their   Cartridges might be anything you can imagine. So, it is hard to generalize. I am glad that I am not in business or reviewing cartridges but reviewing my own sound. I have 3 cartridges on my TT as now and one of them (the mono one) does not behave as I expect it - I have no idea why…

The Cat


"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
09-27-2009 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
marknoir
Posts 5
Joined on 09-25-2009

Post #: 20
Post ID: 11837
Reply to: 11836
Agreed
fiogf49gjkf0d
Agreed. I only wish I could hear the new Platinum for myself... :-)  Meanwhile I'll be looking for a used Shelter 901.
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