Koetsu

XV-1

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May 24, 2010
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Hi @mulveling ,

I am comfortable with sharing the stats of the industry as a whole, but not comfortable with sharing detailed data on individual brands. There are a few reasons for this, but mostly because I know they all have tolerance challenges to greater or lesser degrees and picking on one would be a suggestion that others "are better". Koetsu has the same problems all the others do, particularly because of the type of stylus profile they have chosen for their cartridge. Yes, Gyger replicant styli are generally much better aligned (they are also FAR easier to image and measure!) than Ogura or Namiki profiles, but they have a downside: they degrade relatively quickly. Koetsu does not use Gyger for the top end cartridges - or any of their cartridges, as far as I know.

The other reason is that not all of my stats on individual brands have datasets large enough to be statistically significant. It would be irresponsible for that reason alone to share data that wasn't robust enough to be a reliable sample of the general construction quality. I have analyzed 33 or 34 brands by now but some of them have been seen only a small handful of times.

The only thing I am comfortable saying in public about the Koetsus is that they are doing a great disservice by "hiding" the cantilever. I measure the angular relationship between the body and the cantilever on all my analyses and I know that we cannot be aligning our cartridges by their bodies. Besides the bodies being TWICE removed from the part that matters (the stylus' contact edges), the bodies are rarely orthogonal to the cantilevers - not to mention whether the stylus contact edges are orthogonal to the cantilever.

At the request of a couple cartridge manufacturers, I have shared brand-specific data with them in an effort to help them make better cartridges, but I'd otherwise rather keep the data to myself for now. Sorry to disappoint.

What would you like Koetsu to do?
Not have their signature long rectangle body?

One would think the body shape and positioning of the motor/cantilever and stylus as part of their design and not designed to be a disservice to customers
 
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jadis

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What would you like Koetsu to do?
Not have their signature long rectangle body?

One would think the body shape and positioning of the motor/cantilever and stylus as part of their design and not designed to be a disservice to customers
Good point.

Having installed several Koetsu models in clients' systems, it was always a breeze in terms of alignment and listening. Bottom line is the performance and every one did not asked me about SRA and other tech stuffs. All very very happy with the sound, almost immediately.
 
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XV-1

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Good point.

Having installed several Koetsu models in clients' systems, it was always a breeze in terms of alignment and listening. Bottom line is the performance and every one did not asked me about SRA and other tech stuffs. All very very happy with the sound, almost immediately.

I do find it somewhat bemusing with retippers and other after sales cartridge businesses how they can criticise cartridge manufacturers with really only one underlying reason - to gain business for themselves.

I have always found cartridge manufacturers know exactly what they are doing.
 
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Ron Resnick

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Jan 25, 2015
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I do find it somewhat bemusing with retippers and other after sales cartridge businesses how they can criticise cartridge manufacturers with really only one underlying reason - to gain business for themselves.
What does this mean? Do you think people should re-tip cartridges for free? Do you work for free?

If you are including J.R. in this broad statement you are both wrong and unfair.
 
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Ron Resnick

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I have always found cartridge manufacturers know exactly what they are doing.

What is the basis for this statement?

On how many cartridges covering how many brands have you analyzed the geometric parameters J.R. has measured?

What variance of SRA and of zenith have you observed in this data set?

Do you believe cartridge manufacturers deliberately seek significant, measurable sample-to-sample variation? Why would they “know exactly” to want significant and random sample-to-sample variation?
 
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Ron Resnick

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All very very happy with the sound, almost immediately.

“Happy with the sound” is a subjectively wonderful outcome. But it is a very different barometer than objective measurements of cantilever and stylus manufacturing accuracy.
 
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jadis

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Apr 28, 2010
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“Happy with the sound” is a subjectively wonderful outcome. But it is a very different barometer than objective measurements of cantilever and stylus manufacturing accuracy.
True. But I am not sure that , had I possessed the tools to measure SRA and other things, my customers would have been 'happier'. I am more in agreement with XV1's statement that Koetsu did its body shape and cantilever placement as part not only of its design concept but to the way it 'sounds'. Many critics of the vintage Koetsus claim there is rolled off highs and flabby bass, but that was the design of Sugano san , and he had gathered many fans for this kind of 'sound'. I am not sure had there been a widespread measurement of SRA, would still have made Koetsu followers 'like' the house sound of the Koetsu as they know it to be.
 

jadis

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Apr 28, 2010
10,549
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Manila, Philippines
Koetsu is a different 'animal' as far as cartridges are concerned. Its base has a slope up at the end which makes a neophyte wonder which to use to be parallel to the vinyl for proper VTA setting. And if you look straight at its front 'face' there are wood imperfections that make the bottom slope down from left to right, slightly. So I was told by my regional handler that one has to adjust azimuth by viewing the perpendicularity of the cantilever drop. These are complex enough, and if you add the 'hidden' cantilever to find your proper SRA, it can be maddening. It's not for everyone but for those who love it for its sound, that is all that matters. It has been known as a mystic, not much info about it anywhere, and despite the net, some questions remain but loyal users are out there.
 
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XV-1

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What does this mean? Do you think people should re-tip cartridges for free? Do you work for free?

If you are including J.R. in this broad statement you are both wrong and unfair.

Ron

Where did I say people should retip for free?
What I said was companies associated with retipping and after sales companies should not be criticising cartridge manufacturers.
Do you feel that is good business and fair? Have you as the owner of WBF given Koetsu or any other manufacturer the right of reply?

Please tell me what has Koetsu done that is a disservice to it's customers?
JR said this, nobody else so my comments absolutely refer to him.
 
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XV-1

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May 24, 2010
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What is the basis for this statement?

On how many cartridges covering how many brands have you analyzed the geometric parameters J.R. has measured?

What variance of SRA and of zenith have you observed in this data set?

Do you believe cartridge manufacturers deliberately seek significant, measurable sample-to-sample variation? Why would they “know exactly” to want significant and random sample-to-sample variation?

Buying , installing and listening to cartridges in my own system for over 30 years.

What have you done? Can you install your own cartridge or do you require someone to do it for you?

Only once did a cartridge not meet its specifications, most probably due to transport damage and the manufacturer replaced the cartridge.

Have you listened and compared cartridge to cartridge so called sample to sample differences?

As I said, I take with a grain of salt retippers and alike criticising cartridge manufacturers as they have a vested interest and you know that better than most..
 

J.R. Boisclair

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Jul 1, 2020
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What would you like Koetsu to do?
Not have their signature long rectangle body?

One would think the body shape and positioning of the motor/cantilever and stylus as part of their design and not designed to be a disservice to customers
I would like them to make the cantilever more visible by cutting a small notch into the front of the body - as Micro Benz does.
 
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J.R. Boisclair

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Jul 1, 2020
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Good point.

Having installed several Koetsu models in clients' systems, it was always a breeze in terms of alignment and listening. Bottom line is the performance and every one did not asked me about SRA and other tech stuffs. All very very happy with the sound, almost immediately.
I don't doubt this at all! But I am not asking the question of whether or not the owner is happy with the sound. The question I always ask is whether or not the cartridge has been mechanically optimized in order for the stylus' contact edges to trace the groove in the same geometric alignment with which the cutting stylus made the groove in the first place. Of course, the subjective performance difference between non-optimized and optimized always favors the optimized except in those very rare occasions where the misalignment was hiding a problem elsewhere in the system that suddenly becomes noticeable. This has happened to me a couple times but the systemic problem to be fixed can be found with good electro-mechanical system and analysis.

The sound between a mis-aligned cartridge and perfectly aligned one is NOT the difference between "bad" sounding and "good" sounding. For example, stylus misalignment is NEVER a cause of mistracking - it only makes it more likely to happen when the tonearm is out of control or the stylus is dirty or VTF is too low.
 
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J.R. Boisclair

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Jul 1, 2020
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I do find it somewhat bemusing with retippers and other after sales cartridge businesses how they can criticise cartridge manufacturers with really only one underlying reason - to gain business for themselves.

I have always found cartridge manufacturers know exactly what they are doing.
I understand and actually agree with your tendency to be skeptical of claims such as those I make. Our industry is filled with manufacturers finding "problems" to which only they have the "solutions".

I could not live with myself if I were one of them.

This is exactly why we are taking the VERY time consuming and resource heavy path of submitting our findings in scientific papers meant for peer review. We are nearing the end of our first one to be submitted to JAES soon. Please be patient with that one. At LEAST two more will follow that.

I have even eroded my own business prospects by sharing data and advice with cartridge manufacturers when they have asked for it. If they were to follow my advice on some things, it would make the value of what I do in my cartridge analysis service LESS valuable as they would be hitting their assembly targets with much greater frequency. I realize it is probably not a good business decision to be so free to share what I've learned, but I also see it as important to building trust in the industry generally. I am willing to take that risk and see where it takes me.

As for cartridge manufacturers knowing what they are doing, some really do know what they are doing but many of them have very little appreciation for the physical properties of the instruments they make and the torturous work they must do in order to transcribe the groove for our pleasure. Let's agree to disagree on this one, @XV-1
 
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J.R. Boisclair

Well-Known Member
Jul 1, 2020
122
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Koetsu is a different 'animal' as far as cartridges are concerned. Its base has a slope up at the end which makes a neophyte wonder which to use to be parallel to the vinyl for proper VTA setting. And if you look straight at its front 'face' there are wood imperfections that make the bottom slope down from left to right, slightly. So I was told by my regional handler that one has to adjust azimuth by viewing the perpendicularity of the cantilever drop. These are complex enough, and if you add the 'hidden' cantilever to find your proper SRA, it can be maddening. It's not for everyone but for those who love it for its sound, that is all that matters. It has been known as a mystic, not much info about it anywhere, and despite the net, some questions remain but loyal users are out there.
Hi @jadis

There are two big problems with aligning the cantilever for proper azimuth. The first is electrical and the second is geometric. The first reason is enough to not even read or write about the second one but here it goes:

For the first issue, see this video I posted a couple days ago:

The second issue is so simple that it surprises it isn't considered more often. When you look at a cartridge from the front with your eye close to record level in order to align the cantilever at the null points of your protractor, your eye sees a two-dimensional view of the cantilever. It appears as a straight line running up/down (e.g., it should be oriented at 12 o'clock/6 o'clock, not 1 o'clock/7 o'clock). Now, with the cartridge at this orientation, imagine you change the azimuth angle. What happens? The formerly perfectly aligned cantilever now LOOKS LIKE it is no longer properly aligned at the null point, BUT IT IS!* What you are now seeing - because of the two-dimensional nature of your perspective - is a visual error. Most vinylphiles would see this error and go back and "fix" the cantilever alignment at the null point - but in doing so they would have messed up the horizontal alignment of the cantilever. This is why it is important to ensure a left/right (azimuth axis) level headshell BEFORE aligning the cantilever at the null point.

This same principle works in reverse. If the horizontal alignment of your cantilever is off and you change your azimuth axis to "look" level (which, in practice, is often done anywhere BUT at the null point), how do you know you have not just eliminated the visual error of your azimuth in favor of screwing up your horizontal cantilever alignment?

* Technically speaking, since the axis of rotation of the azimuth adjustment mechanism is not always perpendicular to the cantilever, there can be some SMALL error, but it is not significant
 
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J.R. Boisclair

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Jul 1, 2020
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Buying , installing and listening to cartridges in my own system for over 30 years.

What have you done? Can you install your own cartridge or do you require someone to do it for you?

Only once did a cartridge not meet its specifications, most probably due to transport damage and the manufacturer replaced the cartridge.

Have you listened and compared cartridge to cartridge so called sample to sample differences?

As I said, I take with a grain of salt retippers and alike criticising cartridge manufacturers as they have a vested interest and you know that better than most..
About 13% of cartridges I see (almost 1 in 7!) do not meet specifications and are returned to the manufacturer.

I am NOT referring to any SRA/VTA errors. Those errors do not result in the cartridge going back to manufacturers unless they are truly egregious. What does this mean? More than 7 degrees or so on the SRA, but I don't argue about VTA targets because the industry ignorance is rather high - including my own ignorance since I don't know how much allowance to give for lacquer springback...YET!...but I do know what the targets are roughly speaking and many manufacturers are not coming close to hitting it for a couple interesting reasons.
 

mulveling

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Jul 7, 2017
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@J.R. Boisclair
Thanks, really interesting information overall. Totally understandable about keeping your cartridge data aggregated.
I have a fairly large MC collection (~15) and by ear & sight almost all seem "reasonable" so far, but I'd love to spot check a few and your tools and services definitely bear consideration for me in the future!
 

Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
11,354
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Beverly Hills, CA
Ron

Where did I say people should retip for free?
What I said was companies associated with retipping and after sales companies should not be criticising cartridge manufacturers.
Do you feel that is good business and fair? Have you as the owner of WBF given Koetsu or any other manufacturer the right of reply?

Please tell me what has Koetsu done that is a disservice to it's customers?
JR said this, nobody else so my comments absolutely refer to him.

Please forgive me if I misunderstood. I thought you were criticizing J.R. for being in business.
 
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Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
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What have you done? Can you install your own cartridge or do you require someone to do it for you?

With regard to cartridges, nothing. But I don’t understand your point, because I have not claimed on this topic and in this thread that I know anything.

I was questioning how you have “always found cartridge manufacturers to know what they are doing,” when, in J.R.’s significant experience, one out of seven cartridges do not meet the specifications of their manufacturers.
 

Kingrex

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Feb 4, 2019
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JR video was very informative about croastalk. I now understand what it is.
 

XV-1

Well-Known Member
May 24, 2010
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Sydney
About 13% of cartridges I see (almost 1 in 7!) do not meet specifications and are returned to the manufacturer.

I am NOT referring to any SRA/VTA errors. Those errors do not result in the cartridge going back to manufacturers unless they are truly egregious. What does this mean? More than 7 degrees or so on the SRA, but I don't argue about VTA targets because the industry ignorance is rather high - including my own ignorance since I don't know how much allowance to give for lacquer springback...YET!...but I do know what the targets are roughly speaking and many manufacturers are not coming close to hitting it for a couple interesting reasons.

13% of all cartridges or 13% of cartridges sent to you that the user may think there is an issue?

Over the past 25 years I have used from new Dynavector , Ortofon and Lyra and all carts to me have worked very well.
I have had multiple dyna XV-1/s and Lyra Atlas after I wore out the originals and to my ears the consistency of build quality and sound is there.
 
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