if you've listened to the urushi, then you know something of the "koestsu sound." as you move up the ladder, the attributes of that sound increase. the onyx platinum is even more lush, yet more detailed, quiet and grainless than the urushi. i've noticed no differences among these very fine cartridges in tracking ability. bass response is wonderful on all models, tho even tighter than the rest on the onyx. IMHO, the koestu's, from the urushi upwards, are the most musical cartridges i've yet heard. they mate particularly well with graham arms and the upper range of basis tt's.
I agree with Cornfedboy on his assessment of the sound of the Koetsu line of cartridges. The only thing I would add is that when I auditioned the Onyx Platinum and the Rosewood Signature Platinum, there were some differences. The Onyx is slightly more resolved and has a faster sound (almost more forward), and the Rosewood ( wood body ) had a slightly warm and musical balance, without any obvious sense of loss of resolution. There is no way to make a bad choice between these two. If you are unable to listen to both in your system and decide for yourself, I hope our comments will be helpful. By the way, when my audition was performed, it was with the same equipment suggested above, a Basis Mk5 and Graham 2.0 tungsten.
i have owned the koetsu rosewood signature platinum II for 2 years. i use a graham 2.0 delux arm on a basis 2500 tt. i agree with the comments above and would add that in my setup speed and resolution are excellent.
about the time i purchased it myles astor in "ultimate audio" reviewed this cartridge and reported that he enjoyed the traditional strengths of the koetsu but felt that it was too slow for his tastes. my take on his comments was that his vpi tnt, jmw memorial arm, and cj 15 phono stage were not a proper balance for the koetsu.
so mate the koetsu with fast and neutral gear and the balance should be good.
Excellent posts above, most of which I totally agree. To my ear the Rosewood Signature Platinum captures the quintessential Koetsu sound, something that will never disappoint when used in a neutral arm like the Graham. The Onyx sounds to me like Koetsu's tribute to the inevitable, all its considerable glory notwithstanding. Personally, my ear is leaning toward a more agile and neutral cartridge, say the Lyra Helikon, paired with a more romantic arm like the Wheaton Triplanar. But I think the Koetsu/Graham would be an equally appealing antithesis.
Thanks for your responses. I own a Graham 2.0, Oracle Delphi V Turntable with the Lyra Helicon. I listened to the Urushi on a Graham 2.0 Lynn turntable. Maybe I should try to convince this person to come home with his Urushi and put it in my system.
IMO the Koetsu RSP and Onyx are not slow or musically colored-just sweet, fast, and open like the real thing.
Albert's right, the Onyx is cleaner and clearer but less rich than the RSP. Both the best I've ever heard. Buy one and forget about upgrading for a long time.
This Koetsu and Jan Alberts threads are very interesting. I was able to home audition a store's demos of the Koestu U, RSP and OP in my system and in a friend's before deciding to buy the OP. We both have Graham 2.0 deluxe's so we had the cartridges on separate ceramic wands. He has a level 5 Audio Note/Avante Garde Trio system and I have the Aesthetix, Audio Note and Wislon W/P system. They are both fully tweaked reference systems in excellent listening environments. Each system does have different qualities. We each preferred (and purchased) OP because it demonstrated a faster, more delicate, less noise, and a greater sense of space around the instruments while still having all the musical qualities we were expecting in each of our systems. I was surprised that the OP's sound qualities would be so apparent in two radically different speaker systems, but it was for us. He loads it at 3 ohms by his AN M& Silver Transfer and I have it set up at 10 Ohms in the Aesthetix. Some times I go to 100 ohms, but I seem to prefer the 10 Ohms load. BTW: so now I have four arm wands and have sunk a lot of money in cartridges over twenty years. It one of the easily addictive aspects of audiophilia obsessiveness. I should have two-thirds of that money into real estate.
A general comment here (please indulge me, even though this is a serious discussion so far):
Every time I hear the phrase "Koetsu sound", I think of the work "voluptuous". As an analogy, a famous French chef used to describe wines in terms related to women. Using a similar analogy, Koetsus would be more like Jann Arden than the half-starved, anorexic Celine Dion.
Jaica, I have your exact analog front end except I use the Wheaton Triplanar on the Delphi V with turbo power supply. To my ear you have paired a wonderfully neutral and detailed yet musical cartridge with an equally neutral if slightly less musical arm. I think the Oracle works really best with a synergy between cartridge and arm which you may have inadvertantly missed. Pair a romantic cartridge with a neutral arm, say Koetsu/Graham and you're in heaven. Or, pair a neutral cartridge with a romantic arm, say Helikon/Triplanar and you've attained nirvana, my particular preference. I have used many arms on the Oracle including ET2, SME IV/V, Graham 1.5/2.0, and to my ear the Triplanar is the clear "magical" match for the Oracle. So, keep the Helikon (you really don't want to give up this gem) and trade the Graham for a Triplanar ( the visual improvement alone is worth the effort). Or trade the Helikon for a Koetsu RSP and split the difference. Or keep what you have and enjoy the neutrality of neutrality.