Koetsu

JackD201

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Apr 21, 2010
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Tango

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Mar 12, 2017
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When my Tiger Eye boron wears out, it will be a diamond rebuild.

Honest question. What are signs of wearing down?

Kind regards,
Tang
 

jadis

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Apr 28, 2010
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Honest question. What are signs of wearing down?

Kind regards,
Tang
Without any symptoms caused by human disaster, there are few and I personally have not felt it or had it but my guess would be presence of hard and leaner sound from stylus wear and I'm thinking almost total wear where you virtually cannot see the stylus point anymore.
 

DaveyF

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Aug 1, 2010
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La Jolla, Calif USA
Honest question. What are signs of wearing down?

Kind regards,
Tang

Excellent question.
Some people seem to believe that a cartridge actually does not wear down. IME, they are totally wrong!
Some of the tell tale signs are...1) high frequency stridency, 2) More surface noise at the record, 3) Obvious
loss of the diamond shape 4) Less resolution...this is a tricky one, as over time, the ability to determine the loss here is very difficult, unless an AB can be done with a new cartridge,
5) Wear and damage to your records...unfortunately, by the time you realize that this is happening, it is too late...the damage to the LP is done. Other variables--like a collapsed or failing suspension can also lead to mistracking etc.,
All of the above are reasons why i personally would NOT consider a used cartridge.
 
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mulveling

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Jul 7, 2017
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My old Onyx Signature, when it had the original worn stylus (I knew it was worn before acquisition), imparted a very slightly grungy quality to the inner groove tracks. But for the outer & middle tracks, it was still glorious: great dynamics, refined & detailed, classic Koetsu midrange with palpable vocals, large soundstage, and actually very LOW noise. Obviously, I only played it a sparsely before it went back into the box. Despite being 25+ years old, the cantilever was still good and suspension was serviceable, though it was probably well past its peak trackability. And there was about a 1.5 dB L/R channel imbalance; not sure if it was like that when new, or acquired through the years. A Koetsu rebuild fixes all ills, obviously. I would never DREAM of sending a beloved Koetsu to a 3rd party retipper.

If you're going to hear any signs of stylus wear it will be most obvious on the inner grooves. I've also bought a couple of used Koetsu Platinums and they were great, as advertised. They've given lots of hours of quality performance; no imperfections (including absolutely perfect L/R channel balance). I've also had 2 Koetsu rebuilds now, and 1 brand new Coralstone, so I can verify that I wasn't cheated on the used buys. A new or rebuilt Koetsu does improve significantly with about 30 hours of burn-in.

Great thread btw! Already many beautiful Koetsu examples, and lots of great info. Thanks Phil! I am a Koetsu junkie. Definitely need to get a diamond cantilever at some point. Here's my Coralstone (boron), still rockin at under 100 hours due to my rotation (I also now use a Shelter Harmony to save Koetsu hours):
 
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jadis

Well-Known Member
Apr 28, 2010
9,732
3,086
760
Manila, Philippines
My old Onyx Signature, when it had the original worn stylus (I knew it was worn before acquisition), imparted a very slightly grungy quality to the inner groove tracks. But for the outer & middle tracks, it was still glorious: great dynamics, refined & detailed, classic Koetsu midrange with palpable vocals, large soundstage, and actually very LOW noise. Obviously, I only played it a sparsely before it went back into the box. Despite being 25+ years old, the cantilever was still good and suspension was serviceable, though it was probably well past its peak trackability. And there was about a 1.5 dB L/R channel imbalance; not sure if it was like that when new, or acquired through the years. A Koetsu rebuild fixes all ills, obviously. I would never DREAM of sending a beloved Koetsu to a 3rd party retipper.

If you're going to hear any signs of stylus wear it will be most obvious on the inner grooves. I've also bought a couple of used Koetsu Platinums and they were great, as advertised. They've given lots of hours of quality performance; no imperfections (including absolutely perfect L/R channel balance). I've also had 2 Koetsu rebuilds now, and 1 brand new Coralstone, so I can verify that I wasn't cheated on the used buys. A new or rebuilt Koetsu does improve significantly with about 30 hours of burn-in.

Great thread btw! Already many beautiful Koetsu examples, and lots of great info. Thanks Phil! I am a Koetsu junkie. Definitely need to get a diamond cantilever at some point. Here's my Coralstone (boron), still rockin at under 100 hours due to my rotation (I also now use a Shelter Harmony to save Koetsu hours):

Thanks for the input, Mulveling. Love to hear those Koetsu 'tales'. I've heard a lot and I still enjoy hearing them. :)
 

jadis

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Apr 28, 2010
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Manila, Philippines
津軽 – Tsugaru
光似 かなあ – By Kouni
*
First 津軽 is the name of the product, Normally used for art work such as Ceramic, painting, craft work.

Second line is the name of the artist

BruceD

Thanks for the info, Bruce. Much appreciated. Tsugaru is the Black color of the Urushi model, sprinkled with gold speckles.
 

DaveyF

Well-Known Member
Aug 1, 2010
6,133
154
458
La Jolla, Calif USA
All of these stones are quite beautiful. However, I have been told that the motor unit for all of the stone cartridges is exactly the same. Does anyone know whether this is in fact the case, or not?
Same thing apparently true for the Urushi and Rosewood models...bodies vary, but the motor is the same. Therefore, apparently the only difference between the stone based cartridges is a) the material of the body ( stone type) and b) the cantilever. ( diamond vs. boron). As to the non stone models..its- a) platinum magnet or alnico magnet and b) material construction of the body. ( although some have said that even that is minimal....wood body ( rosewood) and wood body covered in the Urushi paint?? Motors are identical. Oh, I guess one other big difference..price!
Can anyone dispute this??
 

jadis

Well-Known Member
Apr 28, 2010
9,732
3,086
760
Manila, Philippines
All of these stones are quite beautiful. However, I have been told that the motor unit for all of the stone cartridges is exactly the same. Does anyone know whether this is in fact the case, or not?
Same thing apparently true for the Urushi and Rosewood models...bodies vary, but the motor is the same. Therefore, apparently the only difference between the stone based cartridges is a) the material of the body ( stone type) and b) the cantilever. ( diamond vs. boron). As to the non stone models..its- a) platinum magnet or alnico magnet and b) material construction of the body. ( although some have said that even that is minimal....wood body ( rosewood) and wood body covered in the Urushi paint?? Motors are identical. Oh, I guess one other big difference..price!
Can anyone dispute this??

Hi Davey,

In my own experience, getting information about Koetsu cartridges in the past was one of the most challenging things I have encountered and sometimes it left me in the dark. Before the internet era, I could only read an ad or 2 about the Koetsu - at that time only 2 models - the Black and the Red (as the Rosewood was known in N.America). I couldn't find a direct address or contact number to call or write to, usually the ads were put up by dealers. On a trip to Hong Kong, I found the distributor called Friden Trading and searched them out. I found the 'store' - very unconventional in that the counter either displayed tea leaves or Chinese herbal medicine. I asked if they sell Koetsu and the man said yes. Surprised, I asked to see a Black model. He went inside a small door, and popped up a small opened box with the Black resting inside. He gave me the price with such a mouth watering tone and expected me to just pay him without even testing it. From the counter, there were no audio products to be seen, let alone a turntable. So, not sure of how to proceed, or not wanting to proceed, I told him I would think about it and come back. That set the tone of how mysterious the brand would be to me.

Fast forward to internet time, I searched for the company address of Koetsu in Japan and still couldn't find it. After some more years, I clicked again and 'Koetsu South East Asia' showed up. I contacted the owner and he told me he has met Yoshiaki Sugano and his son personally in Japan, and he is the regional distributor for Singapore, Malaysia, and other neighboring countries, and that I could be the Philippine distributor. Through the years, I have asked some key questions about Koetsu cartridges, like the magnets, bodies, etc. So, to answer the question on the motor/magnet, I was told Koetsu used Alnico (for the earlier Black and Rosewood models), Samarium Cobalt for the latter non-platinum models, Platinum (for the stone models and a RW model) and Neodymium (only for the Urushi model). The Black is the only model that uses an aluminum body. The Urushi is a Rosewood with the special lacquer paint. As for the cantilever, yes, it's either boron or diamond. Also, Sugano san was one of the first designers to use 4 Nines copper wires (99.99% purity) and current production uses 6 Nines copper purity. The platinum models feature 'silver cladding' of the 6 Nines copper - a process wherein silver sheath is slowly drawn over the copper conductor.

Finally, to add to the 'mystical' nature of Koetsu, and to quote Ken Kessler who wrote a review of the original Urushi in 1990 - "Koetsu handles the owner's manual in the simplest way of all - none is provided." :D No high tech metal casing, no manual, no info specs, no paper, no tools, no mini screws and nuts. Only a wooden box and not cellophane sealed. That, is the Koetsu 'mystique'. :)

P.S.: For the wood body models, upon opening the box, there is a beautiful smell of 'wood', maybe some forest scent, if you will, and it is very fragrant and aromatic. I used to tell my buyer friends upon delivery and upon opening the wooden box to show the wood cartridge - 'Take a smell of the inside of the box, it smells very nice, and that is where HALF of your money went into." :D
 
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JackD201

WBF Founding Member
Apr 21, 2010
11,856
885
600
Manila, Philippines
All of these stones are quite beautiful. However, I have been told that the motor unit for all of the stone cartridges is exactly the same. Does anyone know whether this is in fact the case, or not?
Same thing apparently true for the Urushi and Rosewood models...bodies vary, but the motor is the same. Therefore, apparently the only difference between the stone based cartridges is a) the material of the body ( stone type) and b) the cantilever. ( diamond vs. boron). As to the non stone models..its- a) platinum magnet or alnico magnet and b) material construction of the body. ( although some have said that even that is minimal....wood body ( rosewood) and wood body covered in the Urushi paint?? Motors are identical. Oh, I guess one other big difference..price!
Can anyone dispute this??

That is the general understanding as well as my own. To my knowledge I've yet to see that confirmed or denied. The theory is that the different models sound different because of the differing densities of the bodies given the same innards.
Hmmm. Jade is the most dense of the stone bodies, I wonder what would happen if ......... :D
 

jadis

Well-Known Member
Apr 28, 2010
9,732
3,086
760
Manila, Philippines
That is the general understanding as well as my own. To my knowledge I've yet to see that confirmed or denied. The theory is that the different models sound different because of the differing densities of the bodies given the same innards.
Hmmm. Jade is the most dense of the stone bodies, I wonder what would happen if ......... :D

....if it becomes NUDE? :)

I'm contacting a friend who bought my nude Koetsu, I told him I just needed to take a pic of it. It's sexy... :D
 

jadis

Well-Known Member
Apr 28, 2010
9,732
3,086
760
Manila, Philippines
And this, at first glance seems to be an epitome of Onyx stone beauty, upon closer look is a visual and emotional downer for a cartridge lover - broken/missing cantilever and stylus. The rubber support of the suspension appears deformed as well, probably due to heat. This was brought over for a rebuild quote many years ago.

broLeo.jpg
 

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