Is a Koetsu Rosewood Sig Overkill for my JMW 9Sig?

My system has evolved wonderfully over the recent past.
I'm running a few year old ZYX Airy Vintage on a Scoutmaster with center & ring weights via a Cardas Neutral reference into an EAR 864 full function preamp.
My Cary V12 drives Wilson Audio Sophia I's.
Will the 9 Sig (With 3 gm headshell weight) allow the Koetsu to perform its' magic? Is is a worthwile upgrade?
My musical tastes range from vocals to classic rock to chamber music to symphonic extravaganzas.
I'm not at all unhappy with the ZYX (just the opposite). Just looking for another flavor of magic. I'll probably keep it as well.
no, it's not overkill, the cartridge is the biggest part of the system, the 9's compitent, so you'll hear it.

A competent tonearm will not optimize a very good or even better cartridge.

Actually, one will realize better performance with a very good tonearm/average cartridge combination than an average tonearm/very good cartridge combination.

A Zyx Airy or Koetsu Rosewood Signature will not realize their full potential riding a JMW-9.
I agree with Audiofeil. If you are thinking of an upgrade, I'd consider putting a top class arm (Graham Phantom, Tri Planar) on your ScoutMaster and keeping the Airy. You have some very nice components and I would be looking at the tonearm, if it was my rig.

I'd say no, give it a whirl. I think the JMW9-Sig is a good arm. I went from a Dynavector Karat to an Ortofon Jubilee and found it to be a very worthwile upgrade. Would the Jubilee sound better on a Phantom? I'd sure as hell hope so for the cost difference, but as I haven't done a direct comparison of the same cart on the same table with only the arm variable changing I'm not going to comment. What I can comment on is a step up in cart revealed improvements with the JMW-9 Sig arm. Best of luck in your decision. Cheers,

Thanks for your responses.
Do any of the top arms have the same geometry as the JMW 9?
I'd hate to go after a fine arm and have the installation look like garbage.

Is there someone that has made the switch to a better arm on the scoutmaster?
What was your experience?

Audiofeil, can you suggest some arms short of the megabuck models, i.e.
latest Triplanar that would allow these fine cartridges to shine?
I'd say go for it.The JMW9 can handle it with pride. The Rosewood sig belongs to the lower bracket in the koetsu line so putting it to the 9 is just about right.

You can actually go for a Graham L version if you want the best and to be able to use the outer periphery ring. By using the Triplanar you won't be able to use the ring cos the mounting of the arm calls that the armtube is situated in a diagonal position tucked very near the platter. I think it is because of the damping trouh.

Does the Graham have the same geometry as the JMW 9?
Will it mount in the same location?
I'm sure the Graham is a significant upgrade from the 9 Sig.

I don't think it's overkill. I had one on my JMW 10.5 arm with no issues whatsoever.

Audiofeil has made many negative comments about JMW-9 on many posts, but never gave solid reasons why JMW-9 was not worthy of a world class cartridge or even a Shelter 901. Many fine arms are only 9" long, SME included. In fact, VPI loves the JMW-9 so much they favor JMW-9 over the 10 or 12 internally. That explains the new 10.5i on the Aries 3 because the plain 9 surpasses 10.5 and 9 Sig is even better.

So my vote is to go for it, what is there to lose? JMW-9 cutout is same as Rega and that's probably the only arm that will fit in that hole without getting a new plinth to cut for Graham Phantom. I am sure Phantom is a great arm, or even just the 2.2, but 9 Sig can stand on its own consider the price difference.
I owned a JMW-9 for 2 years so I speak from experience. I used it with 4 different cartridges, Dynavector 20XH, Music Maker 2, Zyx Airy 2, and Zyx Airy 3.

The 9 will track all of these cartridges but only the Dynavector will be optimized. The Music Maker, Zyx, and the Shelter 901 will not show their best in that arm. If you have a problem with that fine, but that's the truth whether you like it or not.

For the record, I think VPI builds fine tables. They compete with many of the top manufacturers. However, the JMW-9 arm, with or without the window dressing upgrades, is not a particularly good tonearm IMO.

Thanks for listening.
Audiofeil is making the assumption JMW-9 is the same as JMW-9 Signature just because they share the same name. Manufacture can change their model name to give people the impression it's new and improved instead of just an upgrade. So Graham 1.5, 1.5TC, 2.0, and 2.2 are all similar and should all sound the same?

Not trying to defend for VPI and I do agree VPI builds better table than arm, but don't make assumption on things you have little or no experience of.

Could you please explain what you mean by 'optimized'?
I ask because this might be a taste issue.

I owned a JMW 10.5 for several years with several cartridges (Benz Glider, Lyra Helikon, Benz Ruby 2H, Koetsu Rosewood Signature, ZYX UNIverse S-SB). I never had any tracking issues, and I never had any sonic complaints while I enjoyed this combination. I should also say that I had many audiophiles visit over the years, and they all were very impressed. Let's just say that I've converted my share of digitalphiles to vinylophiles.

Now, all of that being said, I've recently changed to a Basis 'table w/ a Vector 3 arm. The difference was bigger than I thought it would be, mostly in the favor of Basis.
The first thing I noticed was how much quieter the Basis gear was. I never thought of my VPI as 'noisy', but the Basis has a 'mute silence'. By this I mean, sometimes when I drop the stylus into the lead track I think I forgot to unmute the preamp, even though I hadn't forgotten, as it was so quiet I thought the preamp was muted. I walk up to the preamp to turn the mute off, and the music begins before I hit the switch. Yes, that kind of quite.

After the black background, the differences are basically that the Basic is quicker, more lively, transparent, with better attack and decay on musical notes. The VPI presented a bigger, warmer sound, with powerful bass, though the bass is better defined with the Basis.

So does the Basis Vector 3 arm allow you to hear more into the music? Yes, but that doesn't mean that you cannot appreciate a high quality cartridge on a VPI arm.

With that said, if you are looking for a more balanced sound, you may be best to match a quicker, livelier cartridge to the VPI. That's probably why so many VPI owners enjoy the Lyra's. A warmer cartridge like the Koetsu may sound best on a more transparent table like the Basis. Of course if your system is on the bright side, a warm cartridge on the VPI could sound just right.

It's all about balance. Does any of this make any sense, or am I just up too late?

John :)
Optomized, to me, is the cartridge or any component reaching its' full potential. In the case of the JMW-9 cartridges such as the Dynavector 20XH, Benz Glider, and Lyra Helikon sound very nice. IMO a better tonearm are will not extract much more from them than the 9.

However, with serious audiophile cartridges such as the UNIverse, Ruby 2H, Dynavector XV-1, etc. the 9 isn't a good match. However, the 9 is not alone in that regard. I would add the Rega 250, 300, and some of the Origin Live arms into that group among others.

Yes the Vector 3 is a superlative piece. Dead quiet as you say. It is built better than the Tri-Planar and IMO a better tonearm overall.

Private email me for more.
If Harry from VPI can recommend a dyna XV-1 on his scoutmaster, I am sure the Koetsu will do just fine and sound great.

Let me know how the Koetsu sounds, as i just may buy one for my HRX

Thanks for your explaination Bill.
FWIW, I would say that overall I agree with you.

However, I do not regret the year I spent with a ZYX UNIverse on a JMW 10.5 arm. I would say that the it was immediately obvious how good the ZYX was upon installation on the 10.5.
I will also say that I am hearing even more now with it mounted on my Vector 3 arm.
So IMHO, the VPI arms are good enough to hear the differences between top shelf cartridges, and I would not be ashamed to put any cartridge on one.
However, there are other arms out there that are capable of better showcasing what a top shelf cartridge is truely capable of.

Audiofeil -

Do you feel that VPI's 10 inch arms (10.5i) are in the same category of arms as the 9 series? ie. not optimized for top shelf cartridges with lower compliances like the Shelter, zyx, xv1s etc?

Do you feel the same way about all unipivots?
I sent you a private email but to capsulize:

I like the 10.5 better than the 9. Is it the best match for the UNIverse and/or XV-1? No, but better than the 9.

I have nothing against unipivots. Actually I sell a line of unipivots.

Look, I've posted my opinions based on my experiences. If you find them similiar to your own, fine. That's great. If you don't and disagree, that's fine, too.

I don't care.
Does anyone have experience replacing the Scoutmaster's JMW 9 tonearm with something better?
What did you choose?
The analogue audio world is composed of 2 groups.....those that love Koetsus.......and the rest!
I have just bought a ZYX UNIverse after having Lyra Titan i,
Lyra Helicon, Clearaudio Signature, Koetsu 52nd Anniversary, Koetsu Rosewood Sig.
The Koetsus lasted but a week in my system....they are bland, soft, laidback and boring to the point that you want to physically shake them to wake up.
Koetsus sound like NO other ask yourself....are they the only ones who know what music REALLY sounds like??!!
Do you feel lucky.......punk??!
Well I feel lucky....punk!

I just got a Rosewood last week and it does not sound bland, soft or boring!!

NO it does not have the high end extension of my dyna XV-1 nor the bottom end extension of my jubilee.

It does have a magic holographic midrange that brings a whole new set of musical details you have not heard from most cartridges that lead with their upper mid or treble to give a forward somewhat artificial rendition of music. It has less distortion in this range than most other cartridges.

Go see a great live concert, the music slows down so you can hear more, not speeds up to get listner fatigue.

The koetsu is closer in sound to other cartridges like my dyna XV-1 or denon 103r.

but then again the I owned and did not like the lyra helikon, it was always leaner than "real life" and brought listener fatigue on sooner than any other cartridge with the exception of the ruby2, which was plain dirty and grainy sounding.

But you like the YYX as well thou. Now people either like or hate that cartridge.

Me I think ZYX cartridges have about as much emotional connection to the listener as an IDOL contestant supporting the Rolling Stones.

Show me a person who hates the ZYX UNIverse .24 Copper....and I will show you a person who is tired of music!
I heard that in Australia water is so scarce that folks are drinking treated sewage. Methinks it needs a little more treatment ... ;-)

I listened to Raul on this one & put my Jade on the Ikeda. What an amazing combination. The "softness" & lack of bass that some state is completely reversed. I have a ZYX Universe & Jade. Honestly they are closer than anyone can believe. The ZYX has a more 3d image w. greater detail. The Koetsu has greater body w. a sweeter treble and more beautiful tonality. But the difference is more or less the same as changing between 2 pairs of excellent tubes in a phono stage. I would also suggest that the ZYX in the wrong arm & the Koetsu in the wrong arm will sound wrong. I am sure some will have thier "absolute" opinions but until you try it yourself in your own system w. own arm you can't know what it is capable of. I honestly love both cartridges equally but neither is a bass champ. Next up is a 103R, London Decca, or Lyra of some sort.
Pauly, we drink beer in Australia not water :)


Finally a man with some reasoning.

I was somewhat tongue in cheek dissing the XYZ, however that was for Hef's benefit to show how stupid his Koetsu are boring and slow crap comments were :)

The rosewood I have now has about 40 hours on it and it sounds wonderful, certainly not "A" in every musical measurement, but certainly an "A" in musical enjoyment. Lets be honest that is what this hobby is supposed to be about.
I would luv to hear the Jade, but I am happy with the rosewood at the moment.

Try the 103R, it is a luvely musical cartridge - certainly not as refined and transparent as the more expensive cartridges, but not as demanding either. for the price it is $$$$$ value

How do you like your TW TT??. based on your comments and Fremer's review it really sounds like a great TT. I am at a bit of a decision point with the HRX as I don't lie its slight lower treble peak ( in my system at least). My Linn/naim ARO has a smoother treble, so not sure quite what to do.

I love it. The Schroder ZYX combination is fabulous. The table jumped up a huge step getting good isolation. My floor is a little bouncy although it is concrete. I honestly find it hard to believe the Walker or the Caliburn are significantly better once the TW is on an isolation rack. This is of course taking the tonearm/cartridge combination out of the equation. I know quite a few people who compared the TW to some of the competition out there and prefered it. As I keep reiterating, I find it extremely neutral and dynmaic. You can't go wrong & can tune it easily. Honestly I feel you will love the ZYX as well & maybe even more in different ways. It all depends. I truly love both. Leaves me confused.

I am going to spring for a 103R based on your comments. Need something for my bad records. Maybe that is the ticket.
02-06-07: Downunder Pauly, we drink beer in Australia not water :)

Actually my comment was aimed at hfeiner. The .au made me think he was an ozzy. I happen to really like Koetsus. I'd eat my own children before giving up on that.

BTW, I have aDL103R also. Enjoy that too. I recently received a Ebony body to transplant the DL103R into. The plastic one resonates (like a zyx?) ;)

02-07-07: Pauly
I happen to really like Koetsus. I'd eat my own children before giving up on that.

Damn! That's hardcore! I don't know that I've ever heard anything that good, and I've heard Koetsu's. I guess everyone has their priorities though.

>>I'd eat my own children before giving up on that.<<

Could we see pictures of your children?