Wow. I have the Kuzma Ref 2 with the 4 point 9.
I am very jealous. You are about to get one of the best analog rigs ever.
I have heard your TT with the 4/11 arm and a Lyra Etna, it was one of the best sounding TT
I have ever heard.
I am using. Phasemation Mc cartridge which is similar compliance and weight to the Koetsu.
I am sure ir will sound wonderful.
Keep us posted.
I have had two Kuzma tables- the Reference and the XL. I still run the XL with an Airline arm. Both have been almost entirely trouble free, and I have gotten support easily and quickly from Scot Markwell here in the States, as well as Franc, when I have had (minor) issues. Most of those issues have centered around the air compressor for the arm, and associated components, having nothing to do with the table or the arm itself. Very well built, well engineered and well supported in my estimation.
As to matching with a Koetsu, I did ask Scot last week about using one of the stone bodied Koetsu cartridges on the Airline- the mass figures on paper didn't seem to line up, but Scot has heard the results and thought it would be a great combination. (I've been using Airtight cartridges and like the body they bring to the sound; I have had Lyras in the past, though it has been a while). Good luck, I don't think you'll regret the Kuzma gear. I've owned and run mine now for around 12 years-- all of it a pleasure.
Nothing against or for Kuzma but I think that at this level you might want to compare a few turntables, preferably in the same system. Especially if you are going to keep your analog front end for a long time. It is usually difficult to arrange this, I know.
Turntables/tonearms do not sound the same, in other words they do coloration differently. Cartridge is least important, Koetsu or Airtight, almost non-issue if you want to go in this direction.
The 2-platter Kronos is an intriguing alternative to the Kuzma. So is the Doehmann tt with built in Minus K isolation. ( I’ve heard that one.) Both of these offer some new age thinking as far as features and design. You probably don’t want this comment, but IMO the Naim electronics, while they’re fine per se, are maybe not up to the level of your potential new phono gear.
Maybe @Inna is right and you should do some comparisons, though it is almost impossible to get these things in the same room, same system and control variables. So you’ll likely have to evaluate in a dealer setting, but at least you should be able to play with the turntable and get a ’feel’ for it. Or find a couple of owners who will let you do the same.
How much the table/arm contributes (or better, doesn’t contribute) to the overall sound is sometimes tough to figure out in a completely unknown setting in my estimation.
The big Kronos is quite nice, I haven’t played with the smaller one, can you use a different arm if you choose to?
As to Doehmann, the Minus K technology works- I use the big Minus K isolation platform under my XL with an HRS ’plinth’ between the turntable and the Minus K. You do have to isolate the XL or at least put it on a very stable surface that can handle the weight.
One other factor, which is difficult to predict (except with hindsight) is whether a product will be enduring and be a ’classic’--there are some exceptional vintage tables that are now sought after, decades after they were manufactured, and others that were at the top of the heap for a while and are now not as desirable even if still manufactured. I’m not suggesting that is the case for either the Kronos or Doehmann, but it’s worth recognizing -- even though there may be no way of predicting that. I’m talking less about value as an ’investment" (few of these things are such) but design, engineering, manufacturing quality and whether the company is enduring. Some folks love turntables like the Rockport or others, even older, like the EMT, that are no longer made. That would be a fascinating topic for discussion elsewhere- what makes a classic hi-fi product as opposed to an old curiosity? I wish I could tell you.
Good luck-- this ought to be fun, and turntables and arms at this level ought to introduce fewer artifacts into the sound, so you will have the pleasure of hearing more by hearing less (if that makes any sense).
Thanks for your response. I do not know anything about the Doehmann, but will look into it. My Naim gear has been upgraded with recapping and DR improvements to the power supplies. I also have the Naim 555 CD player with 2 555 power supplies (also DRed). What makes you think they may not be up to snuff? I've always thought the Naim gear offers a very natural sound.
@whart Thank you for your thoughtful comments. You are clearly far more versed in all things audio than I. I love the idea of having various turntables brought into my home to sample, but as has already been stated, that is, unfortunately, a virtual impossibility. I agree that the Kronos Pro LE is quite intriguing (and beautiful), but it also costs more than the Kuzma. Is it worth the difference? Also, I can get a good deal on the Kuzma, which will result in an even greater cost differentiation between the two. That is why I have been leaning in that direction. One last question.......As I mentioned earlier, the cartridge I am leaning toward is the Koetsu Rosewood Signature Platinum. Are the stone bodied versions a significant improvement, or are they just cooler looking?
@orenstein- on the sound of the different Koetsu, I’ll defer to those who have owned them and compared them meaningfully. I haven’t had one in my system and I gather than the stone bodied ones are more neutral, but none of the newer Koestus are like the romantic ones of old.
There are several members here that have made the comparisons of cartridges, among them @albertporter. One factor in these is the cost of a factory retip given the price of entry, which is fairly high (one of the reasons some here have explored vintage cartridges or less expensive alternatives).
Where, generally are you located? City/State/Country?
PS: @syntax is also a good resource on these cartridges.
I own a Kuzma Ref 2, and Ref 313 arm. It is the best table/arm that I have owned. I have owned Basis/Vector, Basis/Graham, and Well Tempered tables. I still own the latter, which I use in little second system. It befuddles me that the Kuzma tables have not caught on in the US, in the way the Kuzma tonearms have. Not sure if I could venture as to why, but that’s all for another conversation. I’m very happy with the Ref 2, and have been using an EMT Tsd-75 on there with very good results. I plan to upgrade my cartridge at one point, and I have no doubt this table/arm combination will be fully capable of realizing the potential of higher performing cartridges. As it stands now, I couldn’t imagine better performance from a $2K cartridge. It’s been a while since I’ve owned Koetsu, and that was Rosewood, RSP, and Jade P.... Of those cartridges, the RSP was the one that I happened to get the best performance from. However, due system changes that took place between the RSP and the Jade, that statement should be taken with a grain of salt. My RSP was a Sugano Sr era, and the Jade was not. I’d sure like to hear a Kuzma XL.
@whart and @fjn04
Thanks for the additional input and suggestions.
I am located on Long Island, NY. If you know anybody who might be willing share their sound system in order to sample certain products, I would be quite happy to go over and listen. On the other hand, I am more than happy to invite anyone who wanted to come this way for some fine noise and equally fine scotch.
@orenstein- well, it's not like you are in a back-water. Metro NY is still a pretty big center for hi-fi (I lived there for 36 years before migrating to Texas). Bill Parish, at GTT, is the US distributor for Kronos and I had many good dealings with him over the years. I'm not even sure who handles Kuzma tables in NY metro these days. It is probably worth talking to Scot Markwell, who handles US distribution for Kuzma, at some point. He's a very good guy. I will say whatever route you go, unless the dealer is crazy good at set up (they should be, but who knows?), you should have a good set up done at the outset. The guy I used was Mike Trei, a known quantity and based in NYC.
Jeff at Highwater Sound has my respect though I never did business with him-my recollection was that he sold TW Acustic tables and arms, but a good dealer is a thing of beauty. Have fun!
@fjn04 I have to agree. I’ve had an AMG/ Rega/ SME/ Linn and the Ref2 beats everyone hands down. I have the 4 point 9 arm with Cardas Clear cable. Sounds fantastic.
Not sure why Kuzma doesn’t get much press. Maybe because their owners just enjoy listening to them rather than posting about them.
I heard a WTL and really enjoyed the sound of it. Hoping to get one someday.
I owned several Koetsu cartridges. Onyx Platinum, Coralstone Platinum and now the Coralstone Diamond Cantilever Platinum. I've not tried the Koetsu on the Kuzma 4pt tonearm although I have a Kuzma 4pt (11") but not setup yet. I've got 6 tonearms including the Kuzma and that's waiting on another turntable to be setup etc...
Anyway, 2 points:
1) I would recommend that you try the Koetsu stone body carts. Much better than than the wood bodies. Especially given your choice of TT and arm. In fact, I would urge you to try the Diamond cantilever stone bodies.
2) One of my turntable dealer friends have tried the Koetsu Coralstone on the Kuzma and says it's a good match. I don't doubt him as he truly knows turntables and owns both Walker and Kuzma.
I use a Kuzma Stabi Ref with the 2's power supply, which according to Franc, makes mine a Stabi Ref 2. I use a Stogi arm and a J Allaerts MC1 cartridge. When set up correctly, the sound is heavenly.
I also use a MS BL-91L with MS-505L arm, MS1500 with a Max-237 arm, a Nakamichi Dragon CT and my first turntable, a JVC QL-Y5F.
Of all of these which would I keep if I had to sell all but one? Hmmm.... tough ask, but I think the Kuzma wins over the MS BL-91 by a hair, over the MS-1500 by another hair and then the Nak by another hair.
The lesson is when the turntable is set up properly, most of them can sound great.
I think you are going to be one happy camper with the Kuzma.
My Koetsu Black is around 25 years old. Re-tipped long ago by Van Den Hull. It was paired with the Zeta tonearm. Fabulous combination, but old.
I had the Kuzma 4Point (12"), now have the Kuzma 4Point 14". Greatest tonearm I've ever owned.
The Black still has that Koetsu magic. The Kuzma was a great partner.
However, now I have the ZYX Universe lll. I'll never listen to another cartridge. The Kuzma/ZYX combination is thunderous in its dynamics.
I own Kuzma Stabi Reference for some time but deed not thought
much about suitable tonearms back then. Because I also owned
Triplanar VII I thought that this Kuzma can ''bear'' 10'' tonearms.
To my big surprise this was not the case. Only 9'' tonearms can
be used on this Kuzma. The Triplanar's pivot is next to the
VTA adjuster such that this construction allows 10'' kind.
When I wanted to install my FR-64 S instead this was not possible.
I also own Basis Exclusive phono-pre with two separate pres
so I wanted an second arm with an armpod and ordered both
by Vidmantas , the owner/designer by the Reed. At present I
use Reed 3P (12'') on the left back side and Sumiko 800 (aka
''the arm'') on its ''legitimate'' place. I own many MC carts and
owned also Rosewood Signature but was not impressed by
this cart. Well with Urushi Sky Blue which (Urushi) are called
''painted Rosewood''. I don't believe that those have the same
generator. My (provisional) best cart is Allearts MC 2 which
I would advise if the means are available. Unbelievable
Comparing turntables in different systems..
Table is a 'pace maker', the beginning, it sets things in motion, gives the drive and propulsion. Any decent cartridge would do, you should still be able to hear and feel what the table does even if the rest of the chain is not much to write home about. Just ask dealers to keep it quiet with their great ideas and incredible knowledge. This is a very serious buy, and I don't mean the cost. If the table is not satisfactory the entire system is not satisfactory. Kuzma is popular among those in the know but it must sound great to you.
Albert Porter is one of very few people whom I listen to when it comes to audio, turntables or not. He uses highly customized Technics direct drive, before that he used top Walker, and before that I think SME.
Orenstein, sorry if I muddied the water by mentioning the Doehmann and the Kronos. I am completely out of touch with the prices for the Kuzma models that you are considering, but I suspect that both of those alternative turntables are way more expensive than the Kuzma Reference, or at least a few thousand dollars more expensive. I do know that retail price of the Doehmann is $25,000. And that is without a tonearm. They do also make a less expensive model, but I am not sure that includes the minus K isolation platform built in. That platform is what makes the Doehmann stand out in my mind.
I also somewhat regret my remark about the Naim electronics that you are using. Really I have no solid basis for criticizing that gear;, I am just biased against it from having heard the stuff years ago. And I admit that I am biased in favor of tubes or hybrid circuits when possible.
@yeti42 - I deleted my post addressing your question because I didn’t realize that Kuzma had introduced a shorter version of the ’standard’ 4 point arm without a VTA adjustment as part of the arm itself.
For what it’s worth, on the Airline I have, which I’m told by Scot, the US importer, is the same as the 4 Point 14, the adjustment mechanism is very robust and locks firmly. I’ve never resorted to the adjustment on the tower. In looking at Franc’s site just now, I see he has announced a bearing change effective as of the beginning of the year for these arms, so I guess it pays to stay up to date, something I may have failed to do. (I guess that’s a good sign in some ways, given that I’m not looking for the latest and greatest, but apologize for my now deleted post, which was wrong).
PS: Alan Sircom, someone I am loathe to disagree with, thinks the simplicity of the 9" arm does contribute to its good sound, see http://www.kuzma.si/media/uploads/files/HIFI%2B155_Kuzma_LR.pdf
Hello all........Sorry I disappeared over the past several days, especially since I started this thread. The holiday and illness (not related) took their toll. I want to thank all those who opined. Clearly your level of experience and knowledge in these areas far outweighs mine. I was speaking with a dealer yesterday about all this and he threw a monkey wrench into the entire Koetsu concept, claiming that in his "vast experience" the Koetsu's, although they sound incredible, regularly break down with the slightest provocation. I've not heard that before. He also strongly recommended Clearaudio, and no, he was not trying to sell me anything since he is located across the continent from me. (I'm in NY.) Any thoughts? Also, I'd love to hear more about the comparisons between various Koetsu cartridges, especially the stone bodied. There are so many options!
You can check the archives of this forum and on Vinyl Engine and Vinyl Asylum. If you search on "Koetsu", I do not think you will find evidence to support the contention of the person with whom you spoke. Yes, some people love Koetsu and some don't, but I have not seen comments that collectively indicate an endemic problem with fragility.
Personally, I have always disliked Clearaudio cartridges. They tend to have a sterile or "clinical" sound that I find fatiguing. My opinion is based on listening to some of their most expensive models on very high end turntables, but it's entirely possible that their less expensive cartridges actually sound better.
I've owned a Clearaudio Master Solution from the clear acrylic episode, equipped with magnetic bearing, Synchro PSU and Unify tonearm. It was a nice looking and reliable table, but its performance was held back considerably by that tonearm. This became very 'clear' to me when it was replaced by a Kuzma Reference 313 VTA using the same cartridge (VdHul Frog at the time). That Kuzma arm was great and I'm sure the 4P will be even better.
Agree with @dsholl1 about Phasemation PP-1000. I have the P-1G (its predecessor) as well as the P-3G (now PP-300), which comes very close at about half the price. Highly recommended!
If you’re running a standard gain superline/supercap phono stage don’t go too high with the cartridge output level, the platinum magnet Keotsus are about right, the sumarium cobalt ones are getting nearer the limit but maybe not quite where you’d be looking at using the E variant but anything 0.5mV and above and you’ll be sending your phono stage in to be converted.
I know a lot of people who use Koetsu cartridges and I am friends with a dealer and no one has reported problems, in terms of premature failure or poor quality control. Also, if he was recommending ClearAudio cartridges as an alternative to Koetsu, that is a particularly odd recommendation, given how different the two lines of cartridges sound. Within the Koetsu family, the wood bodied cartridges are the warmest sounding and the stone bodied cartridges sound the leanest (but, still quite warm compared to most cartridges).
I have heard some nice setups using the Kuzma 4-point tonearms. I also helped with the installation of a 4-point arm and it was a somewhat more complicated arm than most, so I would recommend not trying to do it yourself if you are not experienced. I know I read somewhere (it might be Michael Fremer from Streophile) that, in a comparison of the 14" to the 9" arm, the 9" sounded better. As in almost anything audio, there are trade-offs involved in any particular choice--14" reduces deviation of the cantilever of the cartridge from being tangent to the groove, but, the additional length means greater mass that has to be moved (or another tradeoff of less rigidity of the arm).
I favor tube amplification, but, among the solid state gear I've heard, the 500 series Naim gear sounds decent. For digital source components, I do like Naim. I own a 555 CD player and a NDS server. I am about to trade in both for the new 555 music server. The Naim representative from the parent company Focal, recently told me that the 555 CD player should not be used with the discrete regulator 555 power supply unless the 555 CD player has been modified. I did not know that, but, in any case, I had an older power supply for the CD player and used the DR supply with the NDS server, which is what Naim recommends.
One of the former US representatives for Naim was a big fan of Basis tables. He said he has heard hundreds of different set ups and found the Basis table and Vector tonearms to be consistently good. Because there is no realistic way to compare tables, I went with his recommendation.
While your Archiv cartridge may be a bit long in the tooth, my recommendation is to start by mounting that cartridge on your new arm/’table. It will help you assess the direction your new arm/’table is taking you.
Your desire for a Koetsu may be based on the attributes of your current arm and turntable. It may have no relevance to your new rig.
I say this as someone who sells and respects Koetsu (along with Ortofon, Lyra and Dynavector), but my advice to all of my customers is for them to try to get a handle on their new rig before "tailoring" it with a cartridge selection.
At the end of the day, a Koetsu may still make the most sense for you, but taking it slowly and systematically is never a bad thing.
You’ll find a Kuzma/Kuzma rig to be considerably less "excitable" than an LP12/Ekos setup and what you think might require some "sweetening" with a Koetsu may not be required with your new front end.
Thom @ Galibier Design
It befuddles me that the Kuzma tables have not caught on in the US, in the way the Kuzma tonearms have. Not sure if I could venture as to why, but that’s all for another conversation.I share your befuddlement. I suspect it’s a cosmetic thing. A lot of audiophiles buy with their eyes.
Kuzma makes very fine turntables and if I didn’t manufacture ’tables, it’s what I’d own.
I’ve been trying to develop a turntable in the $9K range, but US manufacturing prices put me at a serious disadvantage (compared with those of Eastern Europe).
I’ve fairly well concluded that while I can compete with anyone at a higher price point, I don’t see the point in trying to develop a $9K turntable.
I’m giving serious thought to integrating one of the Stabi R’s (or Stabi Reference) into the Galibier lineup.
This may seem odd for a turntable manufacturer, but with a direct sales model, my primary goal is to best fulfill my customers’ requirements and I think I’m hitting my head against the wall in trying to design a $9k turntable to compete with the Stabi R.
Thom @ Galibier Design
[email protected] design
Thanks for your suggestions. Unfortunately, my Archiv has recently passed the point of no return. It has gone from worn to a dead channel, so there is no option to try it on any new rig. The Koetsu Rosewood Signature Platinum cartridge comes highly recommended by Danny Labrecque, co-owner and designer of Luna cables, who has been in the high end audio business most of his adult life. He feels that the Stabi XL DC with the 4 Point 14" arm and the Aforementioned cartridge would be a perfect match to the 500 Series Naim gear and the Grandinote Mach 36' speakers, which comprise the rest of my rig. (He has worked with Naim and Linn for years and knows them intimately.) I would love to be able to sample various cartridges in my home, but I do not see how that is reasonably possible.
I was not familiar with your company until now, but after looking it up on line, it seems to be very impressive. Is there anyplace in the NY Metro area where they are featured?
By the way, if you have not sampled Luna Cables, I highly suggest you do. The owner and chief engineer of Grandinote, Massimiliano Magri, or Max, as he is known, will only use Luna cables with his gear at all the international shows. I found them to be stunning!
@thom_mackris , where is your shop? You sound like a most ethical dealer!
@orenstein, " I found them to be stunning!" Ever since I read a post that called fuses stunning I have not trusted that word when applied to audio gear unless it's "when I saw the price I was stunned!" That I believe. ;^)
@2channel8, LOL........my adjectival choice for the Luna cables could have even been worse: AWESOME!
But seriously, as each of my current Hi Line and Power Line Naim cables were interchanged with the Luna, the difference was really "stunning". There were several people in the room, all in the high end industry, and all were amazed at the improved performance. The substitutions included: a 5 DIN interconnect between my NAIM 555 CD player and the Naim 552 Pre-amp, 2 XLR cables between the Naim 500 amp and the pre-amp, speaker cables, and 4 power lines from the various power supplies. As a result of this demonstration, I put my money where my mouth was, and purchased the entire lot of them. You might want to check them out. I have Danny's (owner) contact info if you need it.
where is your shop? You sound like a most ethical dealer!
Thanks for the kind words. We’re in Colorado, a bit North of Denver.
The Koetsu Rosewood Signature Platinum cartridge comes highly recommended by Danny Labrecque, co-owner and designer of Luna cables, who has been in the high end audio business most of his adult life. He feels that the Stabi XL DC with the 4 Point 14" arm and the Aforementioned cartridge would be a perfect matchI felt a bit uncomfortable in commenting the way I did. I was hoping that you could use your current cartridge as a baseline - to guide you toward your next cartridge purchase, but obviously this isn’t possible.
I think you know that I wasn’t trying to steer you away from the Koetsu, as it is a lovely cartridge and the Kuzma really takes control of it. That’s the reason I mentioned that I carry it, so you didn’t think I was trying to steer you away from it (toward something I carry).
It sounds as if Danny has worked with you at length and he’s trying to compliment the attributes of your Naimm electronics. Good on him!
At the end of the day, the best place in to tune your analog chain is at the cartridge, and it sounds as if Danny is steering you in the right direction.
Is there anyplace in the NY Metro area where they are featuredWe’re pretty small fish and we sell direct to our customers, but we’ve been known to fly folks out to Colorado for auditions.
Thom @ Galibier Design
@thom_mackris - have you ever talked with Franc? He's pretty accessible (as you are) and might be able to work with you in a joint development to address what you wrote:
"I’m giving serious thought to integrating one of the Stabi R’s (or Stabi Reference) into the Galibier lineup.
This may seem odd for a turntable manufacturer, but with a direct sales model, my primary goal is to best fulfill my customers’ requirements and I think I’m hitting my head against the wall in trying to design a $9k turntable to compete with the Stabi R."
Perhaps there's something the two of you could do together as a joint project that could add value, and bring it in at a price point in the States.
Have a XL DC upgraded from my previous XL 4. I use a 4pt and ref313 arm.
Have tried a Coral stone in the 4pt - they did not gel at all, produced a rather dull and un-dynamic sound.
My friend who brought the coral stone over has heard similar results in several different arm combinations - he reckons Koetsus respond best to FR arms.
Lyra, airtight and shelter carts have all sounded excellent. The cartridge phonostage interface is crutial in my experience. I had older naim gear (82 pre, 135s etc) that were not up to scratch.
The XL is an excellent TT in my opinion but I have only owned Garrard, Linn and sme TTs. I have found it responds well to careful consideration of the support structure and placement.
You might also consider the Kuzma stabli M - I have read reports of it rivaling the XL - certainly worth a listen especially as a dealer who has the XL would presumably have the M as well.
... have you ever talked with Franc? He’s pretty accessible (as you are) and might be able to work with you in a joint developmentThanks for the suggestion. It hadn’t occurred to me to talk with him, although back in October, I started to discuss the concept with another highly regarded Eastern European manufacturer.
The challenges of walking through (reviewing) designs when the two of you are in the same room is significant, and when you’re located on opposite shores of an ocean, it’s exponentially more so.
Knowing two manufacturers whose idea of quality matches your own is never a bad thing (don’t get me started about a former partner), as one of the key challenges to maintaining quality can only be mitigated by having someone on location whom you can trust.
Galibier is a labor of love for me, and if I had to (for example) spend a couple months a year in Europe, it would fit into my lifestyle nicely ;-)
I’ve arrived at the opinion that there are a limited number of ways to work into more affordable price tiers. One of them is to be large and vertically integrated (where you own your own machine shop) and the other is to take advantage the currency game and and work in Eastern Europe or Asia. For me, the skiing is better in Europe and as luck would have it, I know more people over there :-)
Thom @ Galibier Design