Installed for a friend quite a few years ago. First 2 samples were somewhat defective. The third sample was acceptable. That says a lot about the consistency of the build. Didn’t quite warm up to the sound and he finally sold it. The originals were better than the NS. I own a few of the originals.
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I have the Kiseki Blue NS and it's the best cartridge I own. Sound quality can't be touched by any of my other cartridges, however they are mostly in the $500 - $1000 range. Closest thing I have to compare it to is my Van Den Hul MC TWO, a HOMC cart that cost about the same as retail price for the Blue. The Blue is more detailed from top to bottom and has a somewhat lush sound that I really enjoy. No issues with build quality. I bought mine at a significant discount from a seller in Japan here on Audigon.
It might be helpful to know what you currently have so that others can give a point of reference. I imagine that compared to the carts I have the Purple might seem like nirvana, but to someone with a $10K cart it might be "meh".
Sonics are like any good cart at it's price point,subjectively it may even compete with costlier models?
Any product can have bad production runs, and if you get one, your impression is- "this thing is a piece of S#%T!! Meanwhile, another person has the same product and, perfect-no issues.
That said, I went thru 2 Kiseki Blue. 1st one stylus fell off. 2nd, the right channel developed a weird distorted signal. That one happened with the one year warranty conveniently running out. I haven't read any reports of mass QC with the Blue, but after that experience,-nice sounding cart,but..It's a piece of S#%T
Generally speaking, you should be covered in the event you get a wonky piece, just report it immediately to the dealer. The distributor is fair, so you should covered.
Can't recommend the brand, after my experience.
What are the odds? 2 out of the 3 cartridges had problems out of the box. I am referring to the Purplehart NS. The third sample worked properly but the sonics were mediocre at best. Was the third sample also somewhat defective? I can’t say. It was working fine. Tracked fine. Just sounded tipped up. As far as the problem goes, the dealer my friend got it from took care of the situation. I’m sure it’s a know problem else why would they take it back without any questions.......twice!
if you are lucky you might get a good working sample but if you buy one cartridge and have to mount it 3 times and mail 2 back for exchange I’m really sorry. It’s jist a waste of time. YMMV
Nobody knows who made the original Kiseki's. The mysterious
Mr. Fokadu is invented by Van den Dungen who wanted revenge
against the old Sugano san. Van den Dungen was then Koetsu
importer and was confronted with curious business practice
of Sugano. He wanted payment in advance but deed no feel
obliged to deliver ''the goods''. As one reviewer mentioned without
knowing the reasons: (the blue)'' Kiseki is Koetsus killer''.
This was exactly the intention of Van den Dungen. By such lack
of information ''one'' is allowed to speculate. My is that Kondo-san
made those Kiseki's. He was good friend of Van den Dungen both
sharing the same obsession for tube amps. What is more
Kondo san made 3 SUT's for Van den Dungen. The ''silver kind''
is my secret info; the same as Kondo's for an fraction of the
price. Even the imaginary Mr. Fokadu is no more so the new
Kiseki's are made by someone else but with Benz parts.
This may explain like by Van den Hul carts that so many are
offered as second hand. I owned all Kiseki kinds except Lapis
Lazuli. This include the rare ''black heart''. The ''poor man''
Lazuli. The same generator but without diamond cantilever
and expensive jewel stone. BTW the latest made Kiseki.
@nandric, the story of ’getting back at Sugano’ is well known and not disclaimed by van den Dungen, so probably holds some truth. Your speculation that the original Kiseki’s were built by Kondo is an interesting ’theory’, which almost sounds too good to be true. There is some visual resemblance with Kondo’s IO carts, so who knows? It would certainly add to the ’mystique’....
Do you know the specs of the original Black Heart? I have the Lapis with vdH tip on boron (alas not the original diamond cantilever). That means it’s now a Black Heart in a (very) fancy dress. The limited info available suggests the Lapis has an internal impedance of 6 ohms, much lower than the original Blue, Purple Heart and Agate models.
BTW: I have considered the option of having a Namiki diamond cantilever / micro ridge stylus installed, which would bring the Lapis close to its original form. Any thoughts?
Dear edgewear, Probably in order to add to the ''mystique'' of
the Lapis Lazuli there are no published technical specs. But
considering the fact(?) that ''black heart'' has the same generator
while there are specs for the ''black heart'' we may deduce to
''the same specs''. Your guess reg. 6ohms is correct. The stylus
is line contact and VTF 1,-2.2 g.
The best repair service is by Dominic at Northwest Analogue in
UK but I never got any reaction from them. So I use ''Expert stylus''
UK instead. BTW there is also an silver version of the SUT with
both low and high impedances : MCT -1 S improved. Very difficult
to find but ''one newer knows''.
Dear Nandric, thanks for your confirmation on impedance. Compared to my other cartridges I would guess the Lapis has an output around 0.4 mV.
As my sample had been previously retipped I had to figure out VTF and settled on 1.85 grams. The vdHul tip is obviously different from the original and probably not 'polished by human hair', as van den Dungen's attempt at 'marketing humour' suggested.
More than 3000$ for a cartridge with so many problems ? It's a joke !
A few year ago I was naive, I thought that when I will rich enough I will buy high end cartridges and get top quality items with top sound. Now I'm rich enough and when i buy a new cartridge I tighten the buttocks... Is the stylus straight ? How is the tracking ability ? Is it the good diamond ? Is the right and left channel are equal ? Is it really new ?
At those high prices we should have zero problem and get a FULL TESTED cartridge and we could buy them with eyes closed in total confidence.
As we say in my country, manufacturers and seller are a "basket of crabs" you don't know wich one will pinch you. Cartridge are small things, so it's not easy to see what's inside. But now I've got my own microscopes and when I look inside a high end cartridge I'm always surprised by the poor job quality of some expensive cartridges, they look like a kid DIY job. I Think that someone is making big money on those things , and I think that just out of the manufacture those cartridge are not expensive at all when we see what's inside.
You're right, personally i don't mind if it looks like a DIY inside IF IT WORKS FINE. In fact most of the cartridges are handmade by its designer. But if i will notice any problem with a NEW cartridge i want to be able to return for full refund. I will give a chance to replace defective sample with a perfect one, but if i will notice any problem again then i will never deal with this brand. Price tag is another story, but i don't mind to buy used samples from honest sellers, because they are proved to work fine (it's a perfect test) !
Funny what you say about shelling out on a cartridge - a bit like the fat man with small eyes described in the Grapes of Wrath. You get rich then get stressed out over something - same thing with cartridges - you can afford them now and then you stress...
It may well explain why so many people like Denon DL103's you don't stress out that they have a finite life - and they actually are pretty good
With a simple retip, just stylus and diamond, the cartridge will never sound the same as original. Don't forget that they will cut the original cantilever, insert an aluminum little tube, insert the new stylus and glue it. The sound now is passing throught the glue and the aluminum little tube. Imagine that manufacturers do all they can to minimize the weight of stylus and try to get the best material, and now this incredible piece of ingenering that is a stylus is cut and glued. The cartridge will never sounds the same again even with the same diamond and same cantilever material. But sometime it's the only solution. The best it to do a total refurbish or trade for a new one. I had many retipped cartridge and was always disapointed with the sound, they have lost their original magic.
andychris, ''Assumptions and conclusions''. Everyone start from
some assumption considered to be true and deduce form this
assumption his conclusions. However logic state: if the assumption
is not true, then also conclusions can't be true.
The MC kinds have the so called ''joint pipe'' in which cantilever/stylus
combo is glued. This is part is also called ''moving
part'' connected with the generator with tension wire.
You obviously confused MM kinds with MC kinds. By MM kinds one
need to ''cut'' original cantilever and glue the new one in the old
cantilever. That is not the case by MC kinds. One need to remove
the old cantilever from the joint pipe and glue the new one instead.
Those cantilever/styli combos are produced by suppliers not by
cart manufacturers. So one can see the same cantilever/stylus
combo by Benz LP-s as well by Lyra's Atlas.
''The same'' does not always mean ''identical'' but in this case
one can state ''the same cantilevers/styli combos'' are produced
by two ''big jewel companies'' in Japan who supply all cart
manufacturers. This ''may'' lead to other conclusions then yours.
Dear Nandric, I won’t skimp on a retip. The Lapis is a gorgeous sounding cartridge, even with the non-original boron cantilever and vdH stylus. It’s still a long way from needing one, but when that time comes I will definitely go for a diamond cantilever. Namiki produces these (again) combined with their best refined contact stylus. I have asked around and this retip should cost around €1000. Serious money, but probably worth it.
BTW: the Namiki assembly is not of the ’one piece’ variety (like Sony XL-88D), but neither was the original diamond cantilever/stylus of the Lapis, so this option should bring it very close to its original specs.
I owned the Purpleheart NS, and two of my friends had also purchased ones for themselves. One had their stylus fall out. Another had the suspension fail in less than a year. Mine had a frequency response curve that looked like a curved cross - the right and left channels literally "crossed" each other at about 11 KHz, which was the only point where the two channels were ever close to each other. I asked AJ Van den Hul to look it over and he said there was a problem with the suspension. As I was able to get my money back, I did. Three bum carts in my immediate circle was too much for me to risk it again. I'm envious of those who got good ones.
Nandric... my conclusions come from my experience, my cartridges didn't sing after partial retip, but poeple need to get top hifi to hear the difference. I had to retip a benz LPS a few month ago, ALL retipping services answer me the same thing " we don't have microridge diamond + boron cantilever but ours diamond cut is much better, you will not hear the difference" that makes me laught. And some of them didn't even told me that they will mount a different cut, it's not serious at all. One time I had a used ZYX univers with a VDH diamond or zyx with shibata, but who cares, it's a diamond after all !!
How do you remove the original glue from the joint pipe ? because each time I have to retip a cartridge, the joint pipe has been changed by the retipper... so different material, different glue...
my conclusions come from my experience, my cartridges didn't sing after partial retip, but poeple need to get top hifi to hear the difference. I had to retip a benz LPS a few month ago, ALL retipping services answer me the same thing " we don't have microridge diamond + boron cantilever but ours diamond cut is much better, you will not hear the difference" that makes me laught. And some of them didn't even told me that they will mount a different cut, it's not serious at all. One time I had a used ZYX univers with a VDH diamond or zyx with shibata, but who cares, it's a diamond after all !!
@andychris Great post!
I feel the same about re-tipping and refurbishing, even after cartridge designers like J.Carr explained why it's a bad idea, some people still think that re-tippers in their garage are smarter than cartridge designers. We're in minority on this forum, the majority of people are happy about re-tipping with completely different diamonds/cantilevers. They are happy to pay extra money to convert clever design to some frankenstein, because re-tipper said it will be even better. One of the reason, in my opinion, is that only a few people can actually compare original sample to refurbished sample, in this case they must have both cartridges on hands, but after 5 month they can't even remember the sound of their ex original cartridge. And re-tipper will say that it must be better after burn-in (100 hrs). To my surprise many people are happy to deal with less known and less qualified re-tippers they are often advertise on this forum after the job is done. I think some audiophiles does not have enough cartridges, they want to stick to one or two and happy to re-tip them many times (instead of finding something new/better).
Dear edgewear, despite the fact(?) that I consider myself to
be well informed I had no idea that diamond cantilevers were
available. You wrote their price in euro's (1000) so I assume
that in one of the ''euro-group'' countries those can be ordered
or retipped. Can you provide the address? I am willing to pay
1000 euro for my Black Heart because of the jubilant story of
our Aussie member about diamond cantilevers. BTW I also own
Sony XL 88 D (grin).
Andychris, While there hardly any standards by cart producers
I assume that they use the same ''joint pipe'''. This may be
caused by the jewel companies who produce ''standard''
(boron) cantilevers qua dimensions. So, actually, their job of
repair services is easy (earned) money (+/- 500 euro) for
gluing the ''combo'' in the joint pipe. The only thing they need
to be careful with is the length of the cantilever and stylus
orientation . This, of course, is my assumption.
Dear Nandric, that is a shocking figure. My information came from Daniele Montebovi of cartridgelab in Rome, Italy. He did some excellent work for me on an old Dynavector Ultimo DV-30C and we developped an interesting email correspondence about exotic cartridges and diamond cantilevers, including the 'one piece' variety used in the XL-88D. That is now unobtainium, but he said he could restore it (as well as the regular XL-88 and other suitable cartridges) with the Namiki diamond cantilever for €1250. So my memory was a bit optimistic, but that's still a long way from $2500. If your quote is now the going price I will also need to reconsider.
There's an important difference between 'not skimping' and 'getting ripped off'. You have to draw the line somewhere...
I feel the same about re-tipping and refurbishing, even after cartridge designers like J.Carr explained why it's a bad idea, some people still think that re-tippers in their garage are smarter than cartridge designers. We're in minority on this forum, the majority of people are happy about re-tipping with completely different diamonds/cantilevers. They are happy to pay extra money to convert clever design to some frankenstein, because re-tipper said it will be even better. One of the reason, in my opinion, is that only a few people can actually compare original sample to refurbished sample, in this case they must have both cartridges on hands, but after 5 month they can't even remember the sound of their ex original cartridge. And re-tipper will say that it must be better after burn-in (100 hrs). To my surprise many people are happy to deal with less known and less qualified re-tippers they are often advertise on this forum after the job is done. I think some audiophiles does not have enough cartridges, they want to stick to one or two and happy to re-tip them many times (instead of finding something new/better).Chakster
Have to agree with you here, as aural memory is very fickle and you certainly cannot remember exactly how that cart you sent for a retip sounded at its best, an idea sure but not exact.
All one has to do is look at the number of carts you see listed that say" just retipped, very few hours".
Says it all really.
Now I did use the services of VAS to REPAIR my Koetsu simply because it had gone open on one channel, this does not alter its character but was well worth $400 to have it back to 2 channel performance instead of left channel only.... lol.
This is a totally different type of repair work.
Well one can attribute all kinds of characters to the persons involved
or to the parts of the the cartridge involved. Regarding the last
mentioned kinds one need to realize that cantilevers/styli combos
are made by supplier to both; the cart producers as well repair
services. They all need to glue this part in the (aluminum) joint
pipe on which also the coils are fastened. So if there are differences
in the ''art'' of the gluing the cantilevers in the joint pipe then one
should explain the '' árt differences'' and not declare other members
for stupid. This is to easy way out.
One of the reason @edgewear is that some important parts produced 30 years ago are not the same (or don't even exists today). And since you're not a re-tipper yourself you never know. I never owned Kiseki, so i can't comment on this particular brand. But retipped cartridges are often on ebay almost unused as the OP pointed before while the originals are not always there. And don't forget about some exclusively made parts for big cartridge manufacturers.
Some vintage cartridges use materials no longer available, while retippers are obviously restricted to the use of currently available cantilever materials. In these cases they will have to use all their skill and imagination to decide what to use as an alternative in order to get as close to the original specs. Or perhaps improve on them. There's little doubt that the retipped cartridge will sound different to the original. The customer will have to decide if he likes the result, but the alternative is a worn out cartridge gathering dust in a closet.
My argument is with the 'assumption' that only the original manufacturer is capable of restoring a cartridge with identical sound for cartridges currently in production. We have to assume that the materials they used in the original are still readily available. In such cases I don't see why a retip by an experienced third party couldn't produce the same results.
The manufacturer of the current Kiseki NS cartridges is likely confronted with the same problem of having to choose other materials than Kiseki used in the 80’s. This probably explains why folks who compared the originals to the NS have noticed a very different sound. If one is looking for the ’old school’ Kiseki sound, retipping an ’original’ is perhaps the better option. Especially considering the apparent QC issues with the current models. Just sayin’. 😱
Takeda san tested each single Miyabi before delivery. This
may be called ''fine tuning''. An technician by Benz visited me
in Holland to collect my (then) Lurnes J-1 TT. He told me that
Lukaschek the designer &owner of Benz company tested
each of his LP-S before delivery. As far as I know Van den Hul
make just one cart per week in order to keep his ''finger skills''
in good condition. He owns 4 different companies and spend
6 months per year in Ukraine by their aircraft industry which uses
his cables. The question who produces ''his'' other carts may
give the answer to their quality variations. I see many Van den
Huls on offer second hand. To me this means that many can judge
the quality of their carts. In addition the fact that many refuse to
part from their ''beloved samples'' explains why some carts are
so difficult to find.
I had problem with my Kiseki Agaat. Very beautiful to see but,
alas, only one channel was working. I wrote to ''Durob'' hifi shop
to ask for advice but got, to my big surprise answer from Van
den Dungen ''himself''. To my even bigger surprise he offered to
me to post my Agaat together with his own Kieski's to some
Hungarian ''technician'' whom he trusted for repair of his own
Kiseki's. To shout ''Heureka'' would be exaggeration of my
intellect for my conclusion about the quality of those ''new
Benz are really top quality cartridges, I broke my LPs and send it to retip to an unofficial retipper, the work was perfect with same original parts , fine tracking ability but the magic has gone. The problem with benz is that it seems that they don't retip anymore their cartridges, and it seems that you can't change the mobil parts of the LPS.
van den hul is a joke, I send him my colibri for the 300hours service, it came me back bent.... thanx VDH, nice job