Koetsu Cartridge Question

Greetings All!
I have been considering the purchase of a Koetsu cartridge, either new or used. From the research I have been able to conduct, it seems that these carts like to be loaded at 100 Ohms. Warnings abound about phono stages and availiable gain due to the low mV output of these cartridges. (Platinum editions output 0.25mV) I am currently envolved with a Benz Micro Glider at 0.8 mV output. My Conrad Johnson EF-1 phono stage is only capable of the following load impedances: 200, 500, 1.9K, 9.6K, and 47K. Availiable 'gain' in the C-J unit are 40, 46 and 52 dB respective. My table is a Michell Gyro SE, equiped with an SME V arm. The EF-1 runs into a C-J Premier 17LS pre, then bi-amped into a C-J Primier 11 and C-J MF 2250 amps. Can I make a Koetsu cartridge work with this set up? I do not want to replace the EF-1 phono. Thanks for any/all advice!
I use a Koetsu Black, and the non-platinum versions have an output of 0.6 mv. I use (rather used to use) an ARC LS-2 preamp and an ARC PH-3 phono preamp, with a gain of 54 db. (I forget what the stock load impedence was though.) It sounded very good to me.

I now use a Ayre K1-x preamp, (having just bought it a week or so ago), with the optional phono board, which has a variable gain of 40, 50 or 60 db. It is currently set at 50 db gain. It works fine, and sounds great, but the volume control is pretty much maxed out. (I will probably be changing the gain to 60 though pretty soon.)

Therefore, I would advise you to stick to the non-platinum versions of the Koetsu line of cartridges, as I doubt you have the gain necessary to get 0.25 mv output to work. If you can afford it, I recommend that you get the Urushi, which is the top of the non-platinum line. From my research, it is among the best cartridges available. Also, you might want to check around on both Audiogon as well as Ebay, as there are some people who sell Koetsu's for about 1/2 the price that the normal dealers do. (I suspect that they buy them directly in Japan for about 40% the usual price, and resell them here for a decent, but not obscene profit. I really wonder why Koetsu cartridges have such a large markup here? I think if they were to cut the price in half, they would really be in a position to compete very favorable with the Shelter line. My opinion of course.)

PS Did you get tired of the slight brightness of the Glider? (It got to be a little fatiguing to me, which was why I upgraded to the Koetsu. I hope to upgrade to an Urushi myself at some point.)

PPS By the way, check out the Koetsu reviews on this site:

I'll second Kurt_tank's advice on not getting the Platinum Edition. 52 db of gain is not enough to drive a .25mV cartridge, IMO. I have a BAT VK-P5 with 56 db of gain and the Koetsu Rosewood Signature (.6mV ouput). I also have a Lyra Helikon which has a .5 mV output. While I can play the system as loud as I want, I don't believe I can go for a much lower output cartridge. My BAT VK-31SE preamp has a volume control that goes up from 0-140(random numbers, not db's). I generally play cd's at around 75-85, and LP's between 100-110. So I do have a little more gain in the preamp, but not enough to drive a .25mV cartridge. My BAT phono pre has resistance loadings from 100 to 47K, I'm using 100.

I would either look at one of the Koetsu's with a .6mV output, or get another phono stage if you want the .25mV Platinum.


PS: Phenomenal cartridge!
The Koetsu Platinum is worth the extra effort, but I agree the other posters that CJ EF-1 does not have enough gain at 52 DB.

I own the Koetsu Rosewood Platinum Signature, combined with Aesthetix Io (80 DB gain at factory setting). I actually have to reduce preamp volume when switching from CD to phono because the LP has so much more gain.

By the way, should you decide on the Platinum. I arrived at 1K Ohm loading after a lot of testing. Loading recommendations are effected by interconnect cables, phono and preamp designs as well as personal preferences.
Yes, I have noticed that 'used' Koetsu cartridges are for sale on Audiogon. I have and will buy again off Audiogon. I do not think I would ever purchase such a specialized device off of E-Bay. As far as the Benz is concerned....No I do not feel it is to 'bright'. I have just had the "Benz" for 18 months, and would like to try another type of cartridge. And yes, I have checked out all the reviews here prior to posting my question. No one has posted a negative responce about any Koetsu product. I always try the Audiogon search engine route first to save the 'repeat from last week' answer syndrome. Do you think a 0.6 mV Koetsu at 200 Ohms loading and 52dB Gain setting will work? If not, I wish to avoid an expensive mistake!
The Koetsu works best in my system at 100 Ohms. Your question about gain; 52 db should be enought. How efficent are your speakers?
Speakers efficiency is 92 dB. Kef Reference Series, Model 3-2. Audioquest interconnects and speaker cables. Bi-Amping with tubes on high end, solid state on low end.
You will have no problem, unless you listen to your music VERY loud.
You should be fine with a regular 0.60 mv output Koetsu. (Basically you have the same phono gain as I have with my Ayre.) You will not be making a mistake, trust me!

Regarding the Benz, I think the reason I thought it was bright, was that it was in my system. I use the Revel Studios, and they have a very efficient HF response. (In fact, they have front and rear tweeters, with controls for both, in case it is too bright.) I think that the Benz can be a little bright, sometimes, and my speakers can be a little bright, sometimes, and combined, they are a little too bright. Just not quite the synergy needed. Live and learn!

The Koetsu in my system, on the other hand, has SYNERGY in capital letters! As I said, I can not wait until I can upgrade to a better Koetsu, although the Black is not bad, just lacking a bit on the HF and LF extensions. The mid-range is pure magic, and I would love that to be extended just a little more.

Good Luck!

PS Which Koetsu are you looking at?
Quincy, FWIW, I bought my Koetsu off Ebay from 2juki, and couldn't be happier. I've seen used ones selling for more. I also do not have a lot of faith in buying a used cartridge. Many folks are honest, however, there are also many that vastly underestimate the hours on a cartridge. The general rule of thumb is to at least double the claimed amount of hours, IMO. You also don't know how the cartridge was setup previously. Was it tracked properly? Was it run within it's proper tracking force guidelines? Buy a new one and you don't have to worry about how long or hard it was used. When you can get a new one at a used price from a reputable (although foreign) source, I chose this route and I'm very happy I did.

A 0.6 mV ouput should be adequate with 52 db of gain and speakers with a 92db sensitivity rating. I'm using a 0.6 mV cartridge with 56 db of gain in the phono through 90 db efficiency rated speakers, and I do not find myself wanting for more volume. I did try a cartridge with a .28mV output once (a special low output version of a Cardas Heart) and felt I didn't have enough gain. I could listen at moderate levels with the volume knob all the way up, but there was no extra umph if I wanted it.

Well, now that I know that I need to stay in the 0.6mV range family of Koetsu cartridges I can start shopping! I am not in any emergency replacement mode, so, I may even try E-Bay based on John's recommendation (see above). Based on your experience and recommendation, I will avoid the "Black" Koetsu version (entry level) and look for other 'Koetsu versions' perhaps even the Urushi! I will post a thread when the eventfull day occurs! Thanks everyone!
This thread is quite old, so nowone will read this, but I have just installed my Rosewood signature bought from Audiogon classifieds of course. sounds pretty good straight from the box, but its improving all the time. I replaced my Kontrapunkt B with the Koetsu, it has a lower output of .47v as against .6 for the K. Volume levels seem the same, I am putting it through an Audio Synthesis Passion Phono, into a Conrad Johnson Prem 17 and both cartridges seem to need volume up to 40-50/100, as against 35-40 for CD. The output of the Passion is quite high at 68. In short the Platinum Koetsus are in my opinion, going to need 68db's plus of gain, excluding most of the tube phono stages because of noise
try the quicksilver transfoemer.
I run a Koetsu Urushi at 100 Ohms and 60 dB gain into Krell KPE reference phono pre. Going from a Benz Glider 2 to this cart was pure heaven. The sound just keeps getting better and better, even after two years of moderate use.