Carts that sound like a Koetsu

Hi folks, it's a bit silly question, but are there (less expensive) carts that resembles Koetsu's soundwise? I'm asking this because I haven't heard a Koetsu (or that might be once, very long ago), so I actually don't know how a Koetsu sounds. The Koetsu's are very expensive, but have a very specific sound, loved by many audiophiles. Do for example Ortofon SPU's sound in a similar way? Or maybe the Sumiko Celebration? Thank you.

Uhm a Koetsu??!!!

The better Grado's give you the mid magic, and more bass.

Will be interesting to see what shows up here.

das loon
I see them on A'gon every once in a while but the Monster Sigma 2000 was refered to as the poor man's Koetsu when releaed years back. I believe they are made by ZYX now. Try their "The Big Airy" or wait and pick up a new Monster Sigma 2000 sealed in the box for around 650 when there listed on A'gon. This is what I paid for mine back in the day from Audio Advisor when they had a half price sale. I have an Ortofon Jubille that I have not mounted yet but it does have more bass then the 2000 but until the 2000 croaks I'll wait to install it and that sucker has been Rockn and rolling since 97.
My Grado Reference Reference the one at the 1.2K Level sounds very similar to the older Koetsu Rosewood IMO.The mid band sounds very similar to each other,and the bass if vta is right sounds a tad better on the Grado.The real strength on the older Koetsus were this huge wide holographic sound stage,which the Grado I have does it in spades as long as its carefully set up.
I have heard that the humble Ortofon VMS 20 MM has a 'Koetsu ' like quality.
Has anyone compared Shelter 901 to Koetsu? Thanks
Here's a brief Shelter 901 review that draws a few comparisons to Koetsu. Personally, I don't think the 901's midrange is quite as "magical" as a Koetsu, but YMMV.
I agree about the shelter not having that magical quality, but I like it better at every price point.
Nothing sounds like a Koetsu. Nothing sounds like ZYX. Nothing sounds like a Shelter. They all sound different. But they all sound good. Gist is choose what you like.

I don't any cart manufacturer would stake claim that they're carts sound Koetsus or Lyras or Clearaudios.
I'm surprised no one mentioned the Denon 103R, the poor man's Koetsu.
I think, that is very different, because Koetsu's can sound different in different Systems. 2 friends of mine , one owns a Koestsu Onyx, he loves it, but was totally shocked about the improvement in his System when he got a Shelter 901 (the Onyx will go on sale), the other one had a Koetsu Jade, sold it, still has a Rosewood Sign. Platin, never uses it, because he prefers a Zyx and some others he owns more.
I think, when you want the Koesu "Sound", buy one.
You're right Dazzdax, it was a silly question. Trying for a sound you've never heard and know nothing about is risky and non-educational. Why hand off responsibility for your sonics (and your money) to the unexplored priorities of strangers?

All you know so far is that some people with unknown systems and unknown sonic priorities like something called the "Koetsu sound". That tells you nothing useful. I dislike the Koetsu sound, but that tells you nothing useful either. Unless you understand what the Koetsu sound is, you have no idea whether you'd like it or hate it.

Better to listen to more things (if you can) and develop an understanding of your own sonic priorities. Describe these and people who share them (or at least understand them) could provide meaningful guidance.

Not rainin' on your parade. Just trying to save you some aimless and possibly unnecessary purchases.


P.S. Stone body Koetsus and wood body Koetsus sound very different. One possible response to your, "What else sounds like a Koetsu?", would be, "Which Koetsu?". You begin to see the difficulty of this approach...

I've compared the 901 and RSP, in two systems and on several arms (Graham 2.2, Basis Vector, Schroeder Ref, modded OL Silver, TriPlanar VII).

In general I liked the review Fretless posted, and I also agree with him that the 901 lacks the midrange "magic" of the RSP. For me that is a good thing, since I find the the RSP's midrange "magic" intolerable. OTOH, if that's the kind of thing you like, you'd like it very much!

The 901 has stronger bass, crisper highs and greater macrodynamics. On some arms it gets to the point of being edgy, which the RSP never does. OTOH, the 901 on a Schroeder Ref sings like a Koetsu, but without that rounding and gentling of transients that Koetsu lovers love. Until I got a ZYX that was perhaps the nicest cartridge/arm combo I'd heard.

How these two cartridges sound is very arm-dependent, especially the 901. Which one you'd prefer is very you-dependent.

"OTOH, the 901 on a Schroeder Ref sings like a Koetsu, but without that rounding and gentling of transients that Koetsu lovers love."

That's quite a mouthful in a short statement. I don't like the rounding of transients. I've talked a lot about the leading edge of a curve. This just does not represent what I get with my Rosewood Signature. That is the calling card of the Rosewood.

" I find the the RSP's midrange "magic" intolerable. OTOH, if that's the kind of thing you like, you'd like it very much!"
Ouch! I suppose everyone has thier own preferences. I just have to disagree.
I'd be the first to admit the Koetsu is a better match for lean components. "Intolerable" that's a bit much.
Doug, have you ever considered that it could be that the Koetsu sound does not match your system and therefore you do not like it? IMO the B&W speakers tend to have a boxy coloration which enhances the mid-bass, the exact freqs which the Koetsu also has some emphasis. The ZYX would therefore provide a better balance in your system. OTOH, Greg ML panel speakers do not have the box and are fast, thus the Koetsu would give his system better balance. IMO its really a case of system matching and tastes.

What can I say other than the old YMMV? We have heard rounded transients from multiple models in multiple systems. You haven't heard that. Music is mysterious. ;-)

It was wrong of me to ascribe that, or an enjoyment of it, to anyone else however. My apologies.

FWIW, "intolerable" was an accurate description of our reactions. I understand you may react differently.


As already stated, we've heard this artifact from several models, on several arms, in several systems using several speakers. There is no reason to suspect it has anything to do with our system or our speakers. It may indeed have everything to do with our ears.

Dear Doug: If I can remember you don't try the KRSP ( I'm not sure, too, that was the KRSP but the KRS ) in your own system.

There are some sujects about the right set-up for a Koetsu RSP:

it is a low output cartridge: 0.2mv, this means that there are not a single tube Phonolinepreamp that can handle with out step-up transformer in a decent way ( no noise/distortions ), here we need SS or hybrid technology.
If I can remember you hear it through step-up transformers and with " equalizers ". This point is very critical because if the amplifiers are changing the frequency response level then you are not hearing the KRSP: you are hearing an " intolerable " sound that comes from the audio systems other than the KRSP.

now, the Koetsus are not very friendly to match well with tonearm, as a fact I put on sale ( only for two days and retire the ad. ) my KRSP because it don't meet my music sound reproduction priorities: MUSIC, I try in almost all my tonearms till I mounted in the GST-801 and I stop the sale. I found that with this tonearm I have the best match and obvious the best KRSP quality performance.
From here I " play " with load impedance because 47K is ( at least from my expierences ) a wrong one and I found that between 1-5K things were right on target.

Other subject is VTA/SRA: this cartridge is really sensitive to minute VTA/SRA changes and it likes a positive angle.

The KRSP is a great cartridge ( I preffer over the OSP ) it is a matter of patience and know how.

Today I use it through an active high gain Phonolinepreamp: Essential 3150.

Cmk: Till I hear the B&W 802D I had the same opinion about the bass performance in the B&W speakers, you have to hear it: great ones.

Regards and enjoy the music.

I've heard the Urushi, the RSP and the Onyx Platinum, but not the RS.

When I had the RSP in my system I did use stepups, but Cello's two phono stages and my new one all use SS for the primary gain stage. The sonic character we've heard cannot be attributed to an SUT, nor to any particular phono stage.

the Koetsus are not very friendly to match well with tonearm
I believe you. Many months ago you said you'd finally found one tonearm that works with your RSP, but I think this is the first time you've named it. Is the GST-801 a very high mass arm? I would expect that to work best.

BTW, a correspondent of Arthur Salvatore really likes his GST-801 + XV-1S. You should try your XV-1S on that arm if you haven't already done so.

Raul or Cmk,
Do you remember what amp you heard driving B&W's that had boxy or impaired bass? I ask because we had that problem until we got our present amp, power cords and speaker cables. There are few amps in the world which compare with this one for driving these speakers, including the Classe amps B&W uses to voice them. In a direct A/B this amp sent a pair of Classe monoblocks home. It takes more than great speakers to make great speakers. ;-)


P.S. I'd love a set of 803D's with the simpler Xover, diamond tweeter and the new, lighter/stiffer woofer cones. Some day...
I heard the B&W802 nautilus driven by Pass Labs monoblocks. IMO no doubt they are clean sounding, but it cannot completely remove the box sound, typically a slight hump in the 80-120hz range. I must emphasize it was marginal, and shows up as a blurring of the sonic image.

I am already used to hearing my music from a point source and with speed/dynamics through the Cabasse Baltics. Panel speakers will also give this sort of box free sound.

Anyway, coming back to the main topic, I'm currently fiddling with the Conductor arm and the AT33PTG cart(which leans to the detailed/analytical side). What I get is very clean sound, huge soundstage and every bit of detail on the LP, including bad mixes and errors of the pressing. I maybe insane, on some recordings, the images just sound like cardboard cut outs, but on some good recordings, its produces amazing full bodied sound. In times like this, I sometimes would prefer a more forgiving cart like the Denon 103R or a Koetsu.

I'll play a bit more with the AT cart and give it a bit more time before switching over to the Denon and see how things work out.
Dear Doug: From a few months to now my XV-1 is in one of my GST-801. I don't know but every cartridge that I run through the GST-801 simple shines.

Doug, it is in borderline of high mass but nothing like " very high mass ". Well the KRSP has no Koetsu sound at all, I'm very happy with it.

Well I heard a few B&W models from the old 801 to the 25 Silver ( this one I like it ) and with several electronics ( tube and SS ): Pass, Audio Note, Conrad Jhonson, Audio research, Classe, M. Levinson, Krell.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Thanks, guys. Excellent info.

Apologies to Dazzdax for the digressions.
Doug I have no current reference for your current electronics. I beleive you were a former cj owner. So was I. My curret change of electronics is to try to get that leading edge right.
In some ways I agree with you. I don't hate the sound of rounded transients. I just find it lacking, No doubt so did you.

Very true. Our c-j preamp (tube) had alot of that rounded quality, on both leading edges and trailing ones. Typical c-j warmth. Pleasant, musical and never offensive, but not fully lifelike. It also lacked adequate power supplies, so our dynamic range wasn't up to snuff.

Our c-j amp was SS, so transient speed was less of an issue. It did have a little waveform edginess, that SS glare, but its single biggest problem was also inadequate power supplies.
With my Great Northen Modified ARC SP-14(Sans Xformer, Raul) and Moscode 401HR transient attack is excellent. The next time you get a chance to listen to a Koetsu try it with Reference Recordings "First Takes" Jazz Series RR-6 w/Andrei Kitaev, Bill Douglas Acoustic Bass. I think you'll see it is not the Koetsu that is rounding off the transients.