New Cartridge choice

I know its an old question and one thats impossible to answer, as cartridge choice is so personal, but a bit of guidance would be appreciated. I use an Origin Live illustrious/ Resolution table, currently with a Koetsu Rosewood Signature. I am about to take delivery of a K&K audio phonostage, so I will let that bed in first.
Its hard to usefully audition cartridges and almost impossible to do A/B comparisons. I will almost certainly be buying 2nd user which makes it harder still. I know 2nd hand is risky with cartridges, but I have always done that and had no problems to date.
I listen to classical, opera, Solo Singers, Blues. I find the Koetsu is a great sound, but lacks detail and can sound muddled in complex passages.
My thoughts to date: Koetsu Rosewood Signature Platinum
Shelter 90X
ZYX Airey 2 or 3
I am sure you may have better ideas. One problem is that none of these cartridges appear commonly on E-Bay or Audiogon.
Your thoughts would be appreciated
I think a superb cart considering your preferences (for more detail that whole lit from within with dynamics) is the Dynavector Te Kaitora Rua. There is one for sale now though I know nothing about the seller. It is one from the best DV makes and sounds very similar to it's big brother.

The Shelter 90x is nothing like the rest of the Shelter line but more in line with the Transfiguration and Lyra side of things. I also think it would be a nice choice.

Well, I will give you what experience I have with both the Koetsu Rosewood Signature and the Shelter 90X.
(I have owned both and used both for significant amounts of time.) Plus my friend now has the Rosewood Signature Platinum.

I agree, that the Koetsu mid-range is incredible. If you like the Koetsu warmth, I would go with the Rosewood Signature Platimum. It has slightly better treble response and it will add the bass response that the Rosewood Signature lacks, although it will still be a little bit less than the Shelter 90X. (My buddy went from the Urushi to the RSP and he is very happy with the results.) The only problems with the RSP is that it is very expensive, even used, and its output is only 0.2mv, which requires a phono stage that has at least 70db of gain.

I myself upgraded from the Rosewood Signature to the Shelter 90X. The 90X has much better bass response, and slightly better treble than the Rosewood Signature. (In fact it is one of the best bass reponses I have heard.) It has a warm sound, but not nearly as much as the Koetsu. The mid-range is very good, but not Koetsu good, IMHO. The treble is well extended and pretty smooth. It is also fairly easy to drive (for a MC cartridge anyway), given the 0.6 mv output.

If I were grading the cartridges, I would give the Rosewood Signature a grade of B+.
The Urushi and the Shelter 90X would each get a A-.
(The Urushi's midrange is offset by the 90X's bass response.)
The Rosewood Signature Platinum would get an A.

The other thing I love about the Koetsu's is their lack of background noise. It has a very deep, dark background. The Shelter is pretty good, but not quite as good in this respect.

My next cartridge? The RSP.

My two cents worth. Good Luck in your search.
Which K&K phono are you getting? Does it have the MC inputs and adjustable impedance? That could influence your decision.

Assuming you'll have adequate gain, the ZYX Airy 3 will also do exactly what you want, particularly the low output version. It needs a stable, non-resonant tonearm so my guess is that it would work well on yours. I've compared the top three ZYX's to a Koetsu Urushi and RSP. Check out the reviews next to my signature. (Both Koetsu's were easily bettered by the ZYX's for everything but midrange soupiness.)

Used ZYX's are somewhat difficult to find, but Mehran of SoraSound sometimes gets them back when people trade up. It's worth contacting him to ask.

One caution: like any cartridge with a line contact or micro-ridge stylus, a ZYX will only give it's very best if VTA/SRA are optimized. Your arm doesn't do that inherently, so if you don't have an aftermarket adjustor that might be in your future as you move up the performance ladder.
Dear David: I own the RSP and the 90X, both are different cartridges.

The Koetsu is really fine only if it is matched with the right tonearm: SAEC, Ikeda, Lustre, etc.., if not the Koetsu is a serious faulty ( at the frequency extremes ) cartridge. This cartridge really shine on those tonearms. Now, in the common today tonearms it is a " midrange frequency " cartridge but like you and every one that likes music know: the music is not only " midrange ", it is the whole frequency event.

The 90X is a top performer in every single area and I agree about with Vik and Kurt. This cartridge is much much better that what represent its " low price ".

About the ZYX any one that I heard ( till today ) is faulty too at the xtremes in different way than the Koetsu: not recomended if you appreciate the live music.

+++++ " It is also fairly easy to drive (for a MC cartridge anyway), given the 0.6 mv output. " +++++
This characteristic of the 90X is very welcomed along with a very user friendly in the set-up.. This Shelter is not only Stereophile class A but is too the reference cartridge for R. Harley editor in chief of TAS.

Yes, you are right: +++++ " I know its an old question and one thats impossible to answer, as cartridge choice is so personal.... " +++++

Now, there are other alternatives out there like: Allaerts, Transfiguration, Lyra, Ortofon, Van denHul, Sumiko, Denon, Benz Micro, Dynavector, Clearaudio, etc, etc.

Regards and enjoy the music.
I love the VDH Colibri, but had reliability problems and other issues. I previously owned Koetsu Rosewood signature (too warm and not open or resolving enough for my tastes), Benz Ruby, Clearaudio Accurate, Lyra Titan, etc. Really liked the Titan, but my new reference is the Dynavector XV1S which is overall the best cartridge I have owned. I am currently running the Dynavector with the SME 20/2 and Triplanar VII. I have heard many good things about the lower Dynavectors as well.
Very helpful thankyou, to answer Doug Deacon's question, I am getting the fully adjustable K and K stage, 44db on mm and set for 20db gain with the installed Step Up, that is 64db gain in total. You can adjust the step up to a maximum of 70db of gain. Kevin Carter says in his opinion the stage is quiet enough to cope with .24mv cartridges with the set up 64 db of gain.
I would just comment that Platinum Koetsu's are significantly different animals than the non-platinum (and less expensive) ones. The main difference is that (properly set up on the correct arm) the platinums perform much better at the frequency extremes than their non-platinum siblings. One pays dearly for this improvement in both cost of the cartridge (the more you pay, the better they get) and in the quality of the phonoamp required to cope with the lower cartridge output.

I have been able to compare on my own SME 20/2a the Koetsu Black, Rosewood Signature, RSP and now own a Platinum Onyx. There is a significant improvement at every step and at each step there is no going back. My Onyx is wonderful but lists at $7.5k!

There is a good recent discussion of Koetsu alternatives here:

My first hand knowledge is mainly with Koetsu's but I, too, am curious about the alternatives.
I purchased a VdH MC One Special for my father's rig, and it sounds truly wonderful. With crisp resolution and a ridiculous sound stage (both depth and width), I think it's a great option.

(And it won't break the bank)

Cheers, and good luck.
thanks, gentlemen, as usual, a thoughtful and useful set of responses.