Grado platinum will give you a taste of Koetsu like mids but it ain't no Koetsu.
Like a Camero will go fast but it ain't no Ferarri.
Sorry, whats you pay is usually whats you gets.
Gee, you don't want much...Koetsu sound for $250??
I've not heard the Koetsu Black, but for $250 the Denon 103R maybe your best bet. I read here (or at VA) that someone actually prefered it to the Black.....but who knows what the circumstances were?.
Anyway, I can vouch that the 103R is a superbly musical, coherent and dynamic performer. For sheer enjoyment and involvement in the music, the 103R rates off the scale. It does ok in more objective 'audiophile' terms too - at least when not directly compared to much more expensive cartridges. Superb tracker too. I've enjoyed mine imensely for the last 5-6 months.
From all I've read, the Koetsu Black is not made "in house" anyway. If I can remember who makes it for them, I'll post it.
The Shelter 501 and the Denon 103 and 103R, depending on your price point and arm would be the logical choices.
Definitely the Denon DL103R, same type of sound, but without the big price tag.
Everyone knows my love of the 103R.
My limited experience of one sample of a Shelter 501 (for a one month period) pointed me toward it liking rock and modern jazz but not having the coherence of either it's big brother (the 901) or the Denon when playing anything acoustic - be it bluegrass, chamber, or large scale symphonic music.
It's been my experience the Shelter line doesn't come into its own until you get to tht 901.
Please take this as one person's experience of a single sample of a 501 for only a month's time, and of and extensive sampling of 3 different 103R's.
As far as matching the relatively stiff 103R with a medium or low mass tonearm, I recently added about 5 grams (via a small brass shim) to the tonearm of a Dual 1228 for a visitor.
I was mightily impressed at the amount of music coming out of this rig. The turntables's owner wasn't as impressed as I was, but I am convinced that he was freaking out over my Exemplar horns. It was obvious to me that he was very disoriented, as he lives in the land of cones 'n domes.
Thom @ Galibier
yes, i just mounted a denon 103 (regular) that i had.. finally got a preamp for it. dynavector p75 set at 470 ohm, 60db... sound is fantastic on a nottingham interspace with interspace arm... p.s., after having done research on this a bit... it turns out that the compliance is not as low as it would seem. denon rates it against 100hz.. people usually reference 10hz... so denon states 5, but its really more like 9 or 10 by more standard metrics. great midrange, like a slightly less lush koetsu seems, koetsu may have a touch better flow and romanticism, but i think the denons bass is probably better. good stuff
I think Viridian hit it right on the head.
Shelter 501, Denon DL103R, Denon DL103.
The Shelter 901 doesn't have it.
I know a number of folks who have moved from a Shelter 501 to a Shelter 901, and regretted the move.
The 901 is more detailed, and more "audiophile", but you lose the "magic" of the 501 in the bargain.
I suppose it depends on what you want.
For the money, the DL103R is the best bargain on the planet, IMHO.
Agreed with many above - the Denon 103R is a terrific cartridge. I currently own a Dynavector xx2 (6x pricing), and the Denon is quite close to this one - it is that good!.
I have not heard any Koetsu cartridge in my system, but many agree that it belongs to that group in terms of sonic signature, something all cartridges have.
Want a really good cheap cartridge? Try the $199. Benz. Give it the 40 hours of break-in that it requires, then sit back and enjoy the music. I picked mine up on the web for $173 including shipping. Gene Ruben offers them here on Audiogon for $199. Definately an over achiever. Also, I'm using the ARC PH-7 and the ARC Ref-3.
Do you guys think the cartridge is overkill? ~lol~
I own both a denon 103R and Koetsu Rosewood and the denon 103R is superb. The denon 103R plays rock n roll better than the Koetsu as it seems to have a little more weight in the upper bass/lower mids, the Rosewood has the slightly more magical midrange.
If your TT and phono stage is up to the .25mv output, go for the 103R.
I agree with Oregonpapa. have compared the 199.99 low output version of the Benz micro to some kilo buck MC carts. They sound different, but one can not conclude they blow away the $199 Benz.
Bear in mind that of course the differences show up much more on a highly resolving system.