Comparison of some Cartridges in the 4k segment, MKII : Etsuro, Hana, Benz, Allnic, Kiseki, Phasemation

shakti

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May 9, 2015
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Cologne, Germany
Nearly two years ago I started the following thread:


and received many direct mails about the different cartridges mentioned.

As some time has passed, my personal favorites have changed... according to my updated main gear.

My current "best" cartridge is the Etsuro Gold, which perfectly matches my set up.

I am using the Gold for the rare hours of full music enjoyment. But as I am spending many hours in my listening room the need for day to day cartridges for my turntable collection is always valid.

A good match to the different direct drive Turntables, like Micro Seiki DDX 1500, Technics SP-1000 MkIII, Kenwood L-07D, Denon DP75 and others can be found in the 4k segment.

As said in previous thread, the 4k plus/minus Cartridge segment shows already a complete picture of the music, without having to much of the compromises you still will find in the 1-2K segment.


During the last days I started the challenge to compare my current carts in use on one single tonearm, but with different headshells (some of the carts do prefer a different headshell than the other)


The following cartridges will be compared :

- Etsuro Urushi Cobalt blue

- Benz LP-S (MY2020)

- Hana Umami Red

- Allnic Amber

- Allnic Rose

- Kiseki Blackheart

- Phasemation PP-2000

- Phasemation PP-1000

In Germany this carts are between 3000,- and 4500,- eur recommended retail (incl Tax)
as cartridge prices do differ market by market, I am not comparing against the individual price point.

All carts were fitted to the Sorane SA-1.2 tonearm, using a Micro Seiki DDX 1500 turntable.

During the next days, I will write down my findings!


IMG_5937.jpgIMG_5935.jpgIMG_5938.jpgIMG_5936.jpgIMG_5940.jpgIMG_5934.jpgIMG_5939.jpg
 
Without even having heard it, i predict you will sing the praise of Phasemation, in alignment with your recent infatuation with the brand ! ;)
 
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Without even having heard it, i predict you will sing the praise of Phasemation, in alignment with your recent infatuation with the brand ! ;)
shure, I am biased ;-)

love the family sound of Etsuro , love Phasemation as a brand, love the Allnic carts for their innovation, love Hana for being brave doing a cart in this segment, love Benz for his lifetime achievements on carts, love Kiseki for relaunching their legends :)
 
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Will you use the same phono preamp for all?
 
Will you use the same phono preamp for all?
I have used the LAB12 Melto 2 phono stage on DDX 1500 and Allnic H-7000v on AF3P
 
I have used the LAB12 Melto 2 phono stage on DDX 1500 and Allnic H-7000v on AF3P

Hi did you switch the Allnic recti? And did you manage to hear the DHT phasemation 1000 phono?
 
Hi did you switch the Allnic recti? And did you manage to hear the DHT phasemation 1000 phono?
The Allnic runs with the Kron "Lampi Edition" 5U4G Recti, no chance to get access to Phasemation 1000 Phono.
Do use the Phasemation T-2000 step up with Allnic.
 
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will you be using the same headshell on all of the carts?
No, every cart likes a different headshell, so I decided this time, that all carts will do this exercise fitted in their favorite headshell.
 
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No, every cart likes a different headshell, so I decided this time, that all carts will do this exercise fitted in their favorite headshell.
What's that headshell on the Allnic cartridges? Yamamoto boxwood? I also found that a lighter headshell was a good match with Allnic Rose.
Pity you couldn't add one of the MSL cartridges in the list, I'm having super results with the MSL Hyper Eminent which would fit in this price bracket I think.
 
What's that headshell on the Allnic cartridges? Yamamoto boxwood? I also found that a lighter headshell was a good match with Allnic Rose.
Pity you couldn't add one of the MSL cartridges in the list, I'm having super results with the MSL Hyper Eminent which would fit in this price bracket I think.
Yes, I am using the Yamamoto boxwood. Was much better than Yamamoto Carbon or Titanium.
I like the carts coming out of the MSL factory a lot, so I did this thread:


Hyper Eminent is a nice cart, but was not available during the time of the current comparison, may be next time.

I even would have loved to have some of the carts from my first 4k Cart comparison thread available this time,
but only the Etsuro stayed to be the reference point between the 2 threads.
 
Yes I remember that thread and posted in it. It was a factor in my own purchase of the Hyper Eminent, which was made for a variety of reasons ... by all accounts it's warmest of the MSLs (all reports on the Platinum/Gold suggest to me they would be a bit on the dry side, like some of the Ikeda cartridges I've owned), it sits roughly in the middle of the range and in terms of output and impedance seemed to suit my Allnic HA5000 head amp best. I did my own write-up but I was just curious of the comparison in this group.


I settled on a 10g vintage SAEC titanium headshell for the Allnic which gave me the rigidity I wanted without the weight (I had previously tried it on 14g MSL and 16g Ikeda headshells). It just seemed so much happier.
 
I settled on a 10g vintage SAEC titanium headshell for the Allnic which gave me the rigidity I wanted without the weight (I had previously tried it on 14g MSL and 16g Ikeda headshells). It just seemed so much happier.
I will give it a try as well, have a spare SAEC somewhere
 
The Etsuro Cobalt blue is now since some month my main day to day cartridge, so it became the starting point of this comparison.


Etsuro Urushi Cobalt Blue

Techn Data:

Type
Moving coil

Frequency response
15-50,000Hz

Output voltage
0.25mV/1kHz

Output balance
?0.5dB/1kHz

Channel separation
33dB/1kHz

Tracking weight
2gr

Impedance
3?/1kHz

Trackability
?70?m/2gr

Stylus shape
80?m microline diamond

Cantilever
0.4? sapphire pipe

Cartridge base
Extra super duralumin(A7075)

Cartridge housing
Extra super duralumin(A7075)

Housing processing
Urushi handmade

Terminal pin
Rhodium plated

Cartridge weight
8.1 grams


Compared to the other Carts of this comparison the main character of the Cobalt Blue is the 3 dimensionality of the stage. The Blue let you believe, that you look into a wider and deeper room with clearer walls. All instruments are on the "correct" position and have a reliable size.

In this field the tonality was in the middle , not bright, not dark. Still on the warm side of neutral.

My listening is very much focussed on voices. The Blue likes voices, so the voices are always a little bit more prominent, than with other carts. But this character is not on the same level, than with Etsuro Bordeaux. I feel the Blue is better balanced in this regard.

As my complete set up is in harmony with the Etsuro Gold, it is not a surprise for me, that the Cobalt Blue is a well fit. Best headshells so far are the Arche L or UL . Lighter is the better if used in a heavy tonearm.
 
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Compared to the Etsuro Cobalt blue both of the Phasemation Cartridges do sound darker, due to a stronger more massive bass if combined with the LAB12 Melto II Phono, which has internal Lundahl step ups.

If the Etsuro can be described as a more laid back and elegant sounding cart, the Phasemation DNA delivers more upfront energy.

In combination with the Phasemation T-1000 step up (@Melto II MM) , the sound becomes more neutral and well balanced.

Both carts are heavy (14g) with a stiff needle compliance. They improve on heavy headshells and heavy tonearms.

The PP-1000 is a nice allrounder with darker DNA ,
the PP- 2000 plays immediately better in all regards.
More details, more emotion, better room definition.

If the budget can make it happen , the PP-2000 is the way to go :)

The Etsuro Blue and the PP-2000 do paint a different picture of the music.
The Blue with more distance and a deep view into the listening room, the PP-2000 more close to the stage with more energy to feel.

PP- 1000 and PP- 2000 do benefit from the Phasemation step ups. Having had the Etsuro Step up as well, I would say , that the Etsuro Blue is more flexible in regard of the best Step Up choice.


Link to the technical data for the Phasemation carts :


 
Thanks for the compare Shakti.

I recently added a Phasemation PP2000, very pleased with it. (Thanks in particular to Vienna for the heads up that it's a cart worthy of attention)

I came from a Hana ML. That's a cart that paints with a broad brush, images are fleshed out and it delivers an energetic though still balanced presentation. I'd rather expected the Phasemation to sound much as you describe the Cobalt. In fact it presents in my system more in the manner of the ML but with greater insight, nuance and a better sense of the ambient environment of the recording. It has highlighted to me just how good value the ML is.

Look forward to hearing further thoughts on these various carts
 
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My current best is also Etsuro Gold. It is noticeably better than my other cartridges which are Keotsu Tigereye Diamond and Ortofon MC Century.

In the end, the casing of the cartridge has a lot to do with the character of the sound. MC Century case is made of titanium, so it is very dynamic and lively. Keotsu Tigereye is made of germ stone which has a present and sweet midrange. Etsuro Gold's shell is made of aluminum which should be rather harsh and dry, but the gold leaf adds some warmth back. The final combination is very nice.IMG_6068.JPG
 
The next two Carts to be compared with the Etsuro Cobalt blue are the two from Allnic.

I am listening to both carts in different set ups (and rooms) on a regular base, exchanging them frequently to compare.

The Allnic carts do have a unique drive engine, which is copying the design of a cutter head. This design brings a lot of mechanical energy into the cartridge body, which makes it a little more complex to pair the Allnic carts with a matching headshell / tonearm.

I tried Magnesium , carbon, graphite headshells and finally ended up with the very light boxwood headshell from Yamamoto and copper headshell leads. Depending on the tonearm I even used a damping rubberring between headshell and tonearm.

To my ears both Allnic carts do have a similar quality with a different character, which makes the Rose a bargain and the Amber a little expensive. Listening to the Etsuro Blue and then changing to the Allnic Rose will extract more details the instruments out of the grooves, but with less image of the recording room. The Allnic Rose plays in a dynamic way to the front and is overall a little more analytical,
than the Etsuro blue.

The Etsuro is more relaxing , the Rose is more engaging, depending on the music, the preference might change. The Allnic Amber with sharper diamond and Bor cantilever (instead of Alloy cantilever @Rose) brings in the next superior level of details. The Amber is as critical in tonearm adjustment as the various well known vdh Colibri cartridges. No forgiving..., otherwise the Amber will sound too analytical and a little bright. But adjusted to the spot specially my friends loving classical records do love the Amber, as they can follow all the little details of the instruments. Overall the Amber seem to play a little brighter than the Rose, which is a little brighter than the Etsuro , which is a little brighter than the Phasemation carts. All little steps, but in direct comparison audible.

Just to remember, all findings are subjective and related to my personal set up. In other set ups it can (will ) be potentially different.
 
The next two Carts to be compared with the Etsuro Cobalt blue are the two from Allnic.

I am listening to both carts in different set ups (and rooms) on a regular base, exchanging them frequently to compare.

The Allnic carts do have a unique drive engine, which is copying the design of a cutter head. This design brings a lot of mechanical energy into the cartridge body, which makes it a little more complex to pair the Allnic carts with a matching headshell / tonearm.

I tried Magnesium , carbon, graphite headshells and finally ended up with the very light boxwood headshell from Yamamoto and copper headshell leads. Depending on the tonearm I even used a damping rubberring between headshell and tonearm.

To my ears both Allnic carts do have a similar quality with a different character, which makes the Rose a bargain and the Amber a little expensive. Listening to the Etsuro Blue and then changing to the Allnic Rose will extract more details the instruments out of the grooves, but with less image of the recording room. The Allnic Rose plays in a dynamic way to the front and is overall a little more analytical,
than the Etsuro blue.

The Etsuro is more relaxing , the Rose is more engaging, depending on the music, the preference might change. The Allnic Amber with sharper diamond and Bor cantilever (instead of Alloy cantilever @Rose) brings in the next superior level of details. The Amber is as critical in tonearm adjustment as the various well known vdh Colibri cartridges. No forgiving..., otherwise the Amber will sound too analytical and a little bright. But adjusted to the spot specially my friends loving classical records do love the Amber, as they can follow all the little details of the instruments. Overall the Amber seem to play a little brighter than the Rose, which is a little brighter than the Etsuro , which is a little brighter than the Phasemation carts. All little steps, but in direct comparison audible.

Just to remember, all findings are subjective and related to my personal set up. In other set ups it can (will ) be potentially different.
Hi Shakti,
Great thread.
I was interested in your comments about the Etsuro cobolt Vs the Bordeaux, and the fact that you find the cobolt the more balanced in the creation of voices - could you expand on this?

similarly, if be interested in your thoughts of the Bordeaux Vs the Gold?

By the way what load are you using on the Cobolt and Gold.... I’m using 100 ohms on my Bordeaux same as my Koetsu.

looking forward to your next comparisons..
Simon
 

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