seeking advice as to where the sweet spot is in this line price/performance.

Curious about this myself. However, the thing to remember is that the Platinum magnet models all have significantly less output than the non-platinum models...which may discount the Platinum magnet models if your phono stage cannot support ultra low-output MC's.
I really do believe that the output of the cartridge is something that many a'philes ignore- and then wonder why their particular model sounds less "alive" than the cartridges that are more suited to their particular phono stage ( output wise!!).
I recommend a moving coil step up transformer (SUT) for use with any low-output (less than 1 millivolt) mc cartridge. This will give you the needed gain and sound much better than a typical high-gain phono stage. And a much lower noise floor so you will hear more subtle details present in the recording! 
A used Koetsu Black would be a good budget choice. Or a used Supex 500 (same designer as the Koetsu). Either one used with a good SUT will provide plenty of sonic realism from your favorite LP's!

My experience with Koetsus is limited but I own many MC carts

while without comparisons no judgement is possible. My first

was the Rosewood Signature which was refurbished by Koetsu

for 2000 euro. I was not impressed. Then I got one of those Uruchi's;

the Blue Sky. This one was in a different league. Nobody, except

the very rich, needs a better cart. This curious description ''Uruchi's

are painted Rosewoods'' make no sense to me. My advice would be

buy whatever Uruchi you can find for a reasonable price , post the

cart to Expert stylus in UK and enjoy the cart for the rest of your life.

By Expert stylus your cart will be checked, cleaned and provided

with their ''Paratrace'' stylus for about 200 GBP. So no worry about

your records.

Great advice friends, i really appreciate it all.
Am using Pass' xp-15, so no worries of gain/noise i think, although i made a gift to a friend of one of Bob's Devices suts and it really transformed his system. We were both stunned as we listened to it break in over a weekend of non-stop listening.

I have a few Platinums, and they all match amazingly well with both the Bob’s Devices 1131 and Sky 40 SUTs. The 1131 sounds much better at 40x than 20x, btw. The SUT provides plenty of gain when paired with a good MM of your choice (keep it below 46dB gain); this opens up tons of options. Also, keep that SUT-to-MM interconnect very short (0.5m).

I’ve run a Koetsu cartridge as my main source for several years, and though I get curious about other carts, the Koetsu haven’t lost a bit of their magic and charm. Still waiting to hear something else be "it", like the Koetsu was to me within its first few notes.

I like stone bodies better than the RSP -- better bass. Worth the extra coin for an Onyx. I haven’t heard the other parts of the line, but the Urushi models look very intriguing. Though they have higher output, my experience with a Shelter Harmony (0.5mV) indicates that these too would probably be excellent with a SUT.
I have a Koetsu Urushi Gold and I don't know how I ever lived without it. It is an amazing cartridge, but takes at least 50 hours to sound its best. I went from a Grado Statement 1 that I've had retipped twice by Soundsmith. I thought I would never change from this cartridge because I always thought it did everything right for me and my system. I've always wondered about Koetsu's, so I took the plunge. Now I know why people never give them up, they're magical! They sound so right they put a spell on you. I know I'm never going to give it up now! Ha ha!

''Ha ha'' tdybare1, In our church everybody is free to express his

belief while traditional religions prescribe their believers what to

believe. I believe that you are right regarding Urushi's.

I have the koetsu black. Must have over 2000 hours on it and it is just starting to degrade a bit. How long do these last? Bought it new about 13 years ago.
I'd hazard to guess you had more than 2,000 hours in 13 years, but I'm thinking of myself.
I have limited cart experience; started with a benz gold (didn't enjoy it much), but with the great trade-in program they used(?) To have i soon went to a medium output woodbody benz. Loved it. Then when Lyra replaced the Helikon with the Kleos i jumped ship, and haven't missed much.
It seems to me that there's an entry "price for admission" as I've changed brands, and if that holds true in moving to Koetsu then itseems (to me) probable that without going to at least a Urushi it would only be a step sideways.
Bear in mind that the Kleos, when it first came out, was 2.5K. Now look at the price.
I'd like to state again how i appreciate the input. All of it. Ours can sometimes seem such a tiny, closed-off world.

I would definitely go for the Koetsu Black. It`s hugely dynamic, and a real bargain compared to the other Koetsus. I have owned one, and I still regret selling it. 
Moving further up the Koetsu line brings still more dynamics and better holography, but at a cost. 
I have owned Koetsus off and on for the last 30 years, and my current one is a Coralstone. An amazing cartridge, but the Black was more fun, IMO.

09-11-2017 9:36pm
I recommend a moving coil step up transformer (SUT) for use with any low-output (less than 1 millivolt) mc cartridge.
SUTs are a disaster for amplification of LOMC’s. Transformers have non linearities, particularly with regard to phase accuracy and are prone to ringing, it is not possible for a SUT based phono system to accurately reproduce what is on the record correctly.
Ringing muddies the sound and phase anomalies result is harmonics destroyed and sound stage distortions - the musical timing is lost.
Even the much vaunted Jensen transformers have to resort to zobel networks to try and tidy these issues up.
If you only listen to noise then by all means use a SUT, but it cannot produce music unless you consider music to be a series of distorted notes with no timing.

Post removed 
SUTs are a disaster for amplification of LOMC’s. Transformers have non linearities, particularly with regard to phase accuracy and are prone to ringing, it is not possible for a SUT based phono system to accurately reproduce what is on the record correctly.
Ringing muddies the sound and phase anomalies result is harmonics destroyed and sound stage distortions - the musical timing is lost.
Even the much vaunted Jensen transformers have to resort to zobel networks to try and tidy these issues up.
If you only listen to noise then by all means use a SUT, but it cannot produce music unless you consider music to be a series of distorted notes with no timing.

Damn, so how we should listen to 0,05mV Ortofon MC2000 cartridge then?

Without SUTs the volume on my amp turned at 12’oclock for late evening listening sessions, but it’s with 0.17mV Fidelity-Research PMC-3.

I don’t even tried to use my Ortofon MC2000 yet, i have this additional ZYX CPP-1 pre-preamp (headamp), but it was designed for 0,22mV cartridge. For the Ortofon MC2000 i was thinking about dedicated SUT :(

That is the million dollar question. I have an Ikeda Kiwame (0.15mv) & Dynavector Karat Nova 13D (0.12mv) and have tried many options over the years.
Tubes - noisy but preserve timing
Fets - grainy/opaque
Transformers - low noise but act as tone controls, timing & coherency skewed

Most successful for me have been a custom head amp using bipolar devices and another unit custom designed specifically for a Highphonic cartridge ( 0.12mv ) using Burr Brown chips which are not available even to manufacturers ( they were research development chips for internal BB use only ). Both these units left my old Klyne System 7, Gryphon phono and many others for dust - grain free, transparent, ultra low noise floor. For LOMC cartridges 0.3mv and up its pure tube for me ( at 47k ) unless I need the extra gain. To be fair I have not heard current state of the art from Pass, Trinity etc so can’t comment whats currently available at that level.
In general, in my view, many reviews of LOMC’s more reflect the phono stage than the actual cartridge as really exceptional phono stages are few and far between.

Dover's opinions depend from the amount of the New Zealand's

''Holy water'' he used before writing his post. For those who think

that this country produces only sheep my advice is to try their

wine. The income from wine is such that they call their wine

''Holy water''.  

Not so, no holy water consumed prior, but yes we do produce some world class wines. You are no doubt aware that your fellow countrymen contributed greatly to our wine industry following the migrations for the gold rush in the 1800's and later mass migration from europe after the ravages of WW2.
If you line up multiple phono stages in the same system of each type you will quickly recognise what I have described.     

Dear Dover, I can't compete with a former HIFI dealer reg.

the aboundance of equipment owned and experienced but

I own two ''decent phono-pres'' and an abundance of MC

cartridges. Those two are Basis Exclusive (''gold'' version) and

Klyne 7 PX3.5 both with 4 amplifing stages. Both user manuals

recommend the lowest amplification possible for the used cart.

The reason is that ''the higher amplification the higher distortions''.

So I am with chakster regarding the LO MC with, say, lower

than 0.3 mV output. I am not willing to sell my home in order to

buy all nedeed SUT's for my 40+ MC 's collection so my compromise

is Denon AU-S1 which covers 2-40 Ohms impedances. I am very

much impressed with Ikeda's old and new carts (FR-7 fz , Ikeda 9

(cantileverless version) and the new Ikeda 9 TT. All of them with

less than 0,2 mV. To me they sound better with the SUT.

If you post to me some ''Holy water'' from ''our beloved'' New Zealand

my hearing may improve in such a way that I can agree with

you and earn at least 1000 euro for my SUT to eventual pay

for a decent amount of your ''Holy water''.

I don't know who is Arthur Salvatore, but this man tested many SUTs and posted on his website about it. He was a Koetsu dealer for 10 years. There are only a few SUTs in his "class A" category and his favorite is Bent Silver TX-103, my ZYX CPP-1 active headamp is the first in his "Class B" category and described as very close. He said: " For those audiophiles who don't like any MC transformer, for whatever reason(s), the ZYX is a no-brainer choice, if it's affordable."   


chakster, Salvatore is self appointed hifi authority a kind of ''super

Raul''. Not exactly like Napolen but similar. As is well known

Napoleon appointed himself to the king of France. The problem

with Salvatore is , uh, logical. ''The best x'' imply ''all x are Fx&Gx''.

This is the so called ''Tarski theory of truth by ( conditions)


If there is just one ''x'' which does not satisfy conditions Fx and Gx

then the whole sentence is false. We get some other ''perspective''

or ''picture''  if instead of ''all x'' the expression ''from all x that I know

I like the most a, b, c ... n. ''.  Everybody is free to make his own

sequence of his beloved babe. There are however cases where

no sequnce is needed.

If I remeber well you mentioned your ZYX CPP-1 at least 5 times



If I remeber well you mentioned your ZYX CPP-1 at least 5 times


Few times, yes, but seems like i’m still the only one owner here on audiogon. That’s why i always remember A.Salvatore.

When i did my search for "Denon AU-S1" on audiogon, i saw at leat 25 posts of yourself, so i hope you’re very happy about this SUT, lol
Another person who mentioned this was Raul, but only few times. BTW, correction: the impedance range of AU-S1 is not 2 - 40 Ohm, but 3 - 40 Ohm. And why i remember Salvator again is because his favorite Bent Silver SUT has similar construction (with direct connection to the transformer for each channel), but without the cabinet.    

Anyway the ZYX CPP-1 is not a SUT, but an active headamp, and considering Dover’s post (to avoid all the SUTs) i decided to remind about this device, hoping somebody else experienced with this, except Arthur Salvatore (ex Koetsu dealer) who rated it so high.

Dear chakster, You remind me of this opera aria from Rigolleto

''La donna e mobile''. I try to please you by supporting your

opinion about the need for a SUT by low output MC carts. My

''division'' or the value of 0,3 mV may be arbitrary but this does

not change the ''idea''. However in your latest post you seem to

agree with the user of the ''Holy water'' from New Zealand who is

against SUT's at any (output) value. But you can't have it both

ways despite the fact that your ZYX CPP-1 is an active device.

I think that you would use any ''authority'' whatever provided they

praise your ZYX which is, alas, totally unknown to other members

of this forum except Dover. The problem with him is , as I mentioned

in my former post, that when he uses too much of this ''Holy water''

he then thinks to know everyting better. I thought that one Raul is

sufficient for the whole forum (grin).

Well, i have transformers inside my WLM Phonata Reference MM/MC phono stage, but unfortunately this stage is also unknown to the members here. The construction of the stage is also unusual as it has "automatic load imedance for any cartridges" (not fixed load imedance like on most of the mc stages). Those transformers are very small, must be lundahl transformers, i screwed up my device when i changed 47k resistors for MM input (to vishay naked foil 100k).

I wish i could try more SUTs, because the gain on my MC stage is not enough for 0,05mV Ortofon MC 2000, but OK for 0,17mV FR PMC-3 as i said earlier.

And as the oppisite to the SUTs i have those headamp and additional JLTi phono stage with "high gain" to handle 0,20mV carts (not not high enough for 0,05mV carts like MC2000).

So it’s not the point to praise zyx headamp, but just a curiosity what is better and why.
For some reason (for the first time) i have hum when i use zyx with FR PMC-3, but when i use same cartridge with my WLM MC phono stage (with build in transformers) i have no hum.

I’m gonna continue my experiments with everything (SUTs, headamps, and high gain prono stages with plug in load resistors). At the moment i can’t say what is better. Sadly no one use the same gear here.

What i don't like about those external devices is that i need more cables and those cables must be top quality to avoid hum. Some cables what works fine for MM carts does not good for low output MC carts. 
I’ve come across @rauliruegas post from 2013 and his list of tested SUTs looks impressive (see below):

Dear Dover/friends: Maybe any one could ask: why me that always is against SUTs wants to test it again?.

Well, the at random finding at my place of those SUTs give me the opportunity to test it and to make something that I never try it: the SUT up to date.

I owned and heard a lot of SUTs in my system and in other systems.

I can remember some of them. From Audio Technica: At630, AT7000, AT1000, etc. from Ortofon: T30, T2000,T3000,T5000,etc. Luxman 8020/8030. Denon 320,HA1000, Pionner headamp. Two different Audio Note Kondo’s. Expressive Technologies. Highphonic. Dynavector DV6 ( or something. Classe NIL3 headamp. I owned 2-3 vintage SUT’s by USA designers that I can´t remember. Bent Audio and many many more.

In no one but the NIL3 I made any single up date.


This Classe NIL3 is also in Arthur Salvator’s list, it’s funny @nandric but Raul’s farovite Classe N.I.L. headam was creamed by ZYX headamp in Salvator’s tests :)

A.Salvator said: "The Classe was the finest solid-state "head amplifier" ever made (until the ZYX CPP-1)." http://www.high-endaudio.com/RC-Step-ups.html
So i think Raul should try CPP-1, lol

Maybe i already have one of the best headamps, who knows.

The Audio-Technica AT1000T and AT300T, Denon AU-1s and Ortofon T2000 were in my wantlist for some of my LOMC, never tried them yet.

Dear chakster, I have no idea how old you are but I do know

that you are from the former Sovjet Union. Anyway you should

know about collective admiration of the authority there. I was

always wondering in my native Serbia how is this possible in a

country in which one can hardly find 4 persons who can agree

about anything. I got the answer from a totally unexpected source.

Alfred Hitchcock. Ingrid Bergman complained by him about her

next role stating ''I don't believee that  I can play this role''.

Hitchcock: ''But dear Ingrid you only need to pretend''.

All those people in Sovjet Union, China, Serbia, etc., etc., obviously

knew this without Hitchcock explanation. We all have seen many

moves and learned by watching who were good and who bad

performers. So we all can see that the worst performers are the

people in Nord Korea.  Collective weeping is the least convincing

performance one can imagine.

In my opinion your are pretending to search for approval for

your equipment choice by the ''authorities'' like Raul and

Salvatore but you overlooked that you made you choices without

them. You yourself stated that nobody else in our forum owns

your stuff. So, one would think, you deed not need us for your

choices. You are actully making your own discovery jurney and

don't care about what other think. You can't of course state such

things and pretend to care in order not to insult anyone. You are

a kind of one friendly individualist (grin).

How does Koetsu Black (wood body) compare with Koetsu Black Goldline (Aluminium body)? Same price in the UK, different spec, but it would interest me to know their characters if anyone can help?

I don't have much experience with Koetsu, but I can report my RSP is breaking in VERY nicely.  I took a leap of faith and I'm very happy.  Out of the box, it sounded very similar to my previous cartridge (Clearaudio Maestro MM).  I'm about 20 hours into running in the RSP, and the richness has appeared, so has the bloom and frequency extremes.  I hear and feel the Koetsu charm and spell.
Hi James.  I too have been enjoying an RSP since last May.  I can tell you that it continues to get better!  I use a PASS XP-15 as a phono preamp at the medium gain setting and 100 Ohm loading.  To the original posters point, I don’t know if this is the sweet spot in the line, but it is hard to imagine something more correct and enjoyable than this cartridge.
How does Koetsu Black (wood body) compare with Koetsu Black Goldline (Aluminium body)? Same price in the UK, different spec, but it would interest me to know their characters if anyone can help?


I have owned the Black, and Black Gold Line, and as far as I remember, they both had aluminium bodies. 
That was a long time ago, almost 30 years. 
I recently heard the Black Gold Line again, and I consider it a very good cartridge. Fast, dynamic, and on the warm side.
I'm using the tonearm that came with my Technics SL1210MG5 with a KAB fluid damper attached.  I've loaded the tonearm with mass so that I've achieved a resonant frequency of 11Hz which helped quite a bit with tracking and better bass.  Tracking force is set to 1.92 grams.

Do you know what resonant frequency you have achieved with your RSP?  I'm curious if I should go lower to the optimal 10Hz?
Hard to answer that if it is sounding so good!  I use a Fidelity Research FR-64S which has an effective mass of 35 grams.  I am currently using a Jelco-Rosewood headshell at 16.7 grams.  I would assume that the resonance Hz is below ideal, but this combo won't even fit on the vinyl engine calculator. Might have to try a lighter headshell for fun.

I'm using the HiFi News Analogue Test LP to measure resonant frequency: side 2, track 2.  If you are curious to see how your setup measures.  It's an audible/visual test.

I have an Audio-technica AT-LH 18, 18 gram head shell coming in soon, I will use that, and recalibrate to see if I can make the optimal 9Hz - 10Hz frequency.
I own a Koetsu Urushi.  Which I like. Unlike other cartridges in the Koetsu line below the level of the "stone body" Koetsu's, the Urushi has some low bass and extreme treble.  Otherwise, the Koetsu sound is a midrange sound, once again excepting the stone-body ones.  The Urushi is not a super low output cartridge; output is either 0.4 mV or 0.6mV, depending upon the stylus velocity at which you measure the output.  Syntax, an occasional acerbic commentator on this forum, used to hate Koetsu cartridges and never missed an opportunity to insult the brand.  But then I think he got hold of a stone-body Koetsu and fell in love.  Either that or I am falling for his sense of irony.  Use a high mass tonearm.

The argument about SUTs or not to use a SUT or what is the best SUT is eternal in audio.  The subject is actually rather boring. Try one and see if you like it, is my advice.  My phono stage (Atma-sphere MP1) has been modified by me in a way that greatly increases its gain. Thus I can handle the output of even an MC2000 with much headroom to spare and dead silence.  But I would like to try the T2000 SUT made by Ortofon for the MC2000, just to see if it is a match made in heaven or whether Dover is right. One or the other.

Someone characterized low output cartridges as those having an output of less than 1.0mV.  That sort of value is more typical of a HOMC; many preamps can handle that much output with ease.

James1969, I wouldn't tie myself in knots to go from 11Hz to 10Hz, unless you hear symptoms of a problem.  If that is the case, I would shoot for 8Hz.  But I ascribe to the notion that if it sounds good, it IS good.  Did you measure 11Hz or are you estimating it by calculation?  The latter method is fraught with possibilities for error.
@lewm, James, & Karl,
And everyone else for that matter-
This has all been enormously helpful.
I do not have the opportunity to audition hardly any of my purchases. And yet I've been very fortunate to have assembled good sounding systems by way of thorough research and "sound" judgment.
Thanks again
lewm,  I'm not too worried about 1Hz really, I'm using the HiFi News Analogue Test LP to measure resonant frequency.  I'm not hearing any issues what so ever, what I hear is making me very happy with my choice.

dancekerl, good luck with your decision, please let us know where you land.  The Koetsu experience is real.