"HELP" tired Koetsu

Great Forum Gang! MY DILEMA: I have used a Koetsu Rosewood for over 20 years. I have had it retipped once[about 5 years ago and it is tired again. Should I retip it again? or invest in the Shelter 501? I have "never" heard the shelter however; by reading "between the lines" here and elswhere it sounds like it has a similar voicing [tonally] to my beloved Koetsu[lush].I use the Melco table and 2 tone arms 1) sumiko -The ARM and 2)the ET-2[heavily tweaked].The koetsu performs well in both arms. I also have a Stax [12inch model]in the closet somewhere.As I am sure most of us vinyl "dinasaurs" realize arm/cartridge synergy is of paramount importance.Do you think the shelter will work as well as the Koetsu with any or all of these tonearms? The koetsu was magnificent in the ET-2 and was hoping the shelter would be as well.Of course- I am open to other suggestions and recommendations. Cheers David.
I'd think a well-seasoned Koetsu Roswood would be well worth rebuilding.

However there are some caveats. If the last re-tipping you did was not by Koetsu, they may not accept the cartridge for rebuild. The only place that rebuilds Koetsu to sound like a Koetsu is Koetsu. If it was done somewhere else, you have some kind of hybrid, that is not really a true Koetsu any longer.

If this is the case, I would recommend getting a different cartridge like the Shelter. The arm/cart matchup will be almost exactly what it was with the Koetsu. The Shelter cartridges have a compliance rating of 9cu, and so does the Koetsu. Weight is also similar.

The Shelter 501 or 901 are awesome cartridges, and would not disappoint you. They are made by some of the old guys that used to build the Fidelity Research cartridges in the old days, that were considered to be competition for the older Koetsu. The Shelters have the classic Japanese MC cartridge sound and are continuing that tradition. There are not many others who are. Also, the Shelter cartridges are very affordable compared to the others, and the sound is competitive with the best.
Thanks Twl.Ya learn something new everyday! Still have a FR-7....anybody remember them? Unfortunely I [regretfully] sold the fr-64 tonearm years ago- as someone made me an offer I couldn't refuse! The FR cartridges [in their day] were the only moving coils that I would even consider close to the Koetsu.My Koetsu is original and was rebuilt by Koetsu in 97.I would bet the Shelters are great [now that I know their pedigree].Would like to set it up in the et-2.Anyone using the 501 in the et?
Ecclectique, you may want to check into the Magic Diamond Blue. I hear rumors that is is THE thing to own. No one here seems to have anything to say about it though. It is spendy! I have never seen one let alone listened to it though.
Hi Maxgain. Do you know any specs on it,output,price,source etc? cheers
All I know is that it is "medium" output, wich I take to mean somewhere around 1mV. The price is $5500 and up(if you have to ask you can't afford it, like buying a helecopter) for Signature models. I understand that the stylus shape is something new, and is why it works so well. The IAR did review it.
I just read the IAR review of the MDB cartridge. It gave it very high praise. It is available for $5500 for the basic model from Damoka Distribution in NY.

If you read the description, you find it has a special diamond shape made in Switzerland. This leads me to believe it is a European made cartridge. They also say it sounds exactly like the master tape, and has none of the "lush" sound that "romanticizes" the music. What that really means, if you read between the lines, is that it is like the other European cartridges that have all the right "audiophile" characteristics, but are lifeless and sterile. Just what I would expect from another Euro cart. If you like the Koetsu, FR, and Shelter, expect a big letdown from this MDB cartridge. I haven't heard it, but the warning signs are there.
Moncrief is not just any "toe tapping cretin".(I just couldn't help myself, stealing a line from his Well Tempered Lab review back in about 86)He is one of the only reviewers with any credibility left. I never took him for one to admire the qualities you mention.
Firstly. for $5500 donero's it better sound like the master tape[whatever that sounds like].For that kind of money there are some great blues bands in my area that I could hire every Saturday for the better part of the year that would sound "better" than the master tape! All kidding aside...I do appreciate the input; however thats a little over the top for my budget... as my better half already thinks I'm a certified wacko as it is.
Maxgain, I have had a number of disagreements with Moncrieff's opinions in the past. I have no way of knowing what this MDB cartridge sounds like personally, and he may be right on the mark.

But after reading enough reviews, you can sort of judge what the guy is saying by certain statements. And add to that the typical sonic flavor of the rest of the stable of highly regarded Euro carts, and the conclusion that I'm obviously jumping to, is pretty clear. I've heard similar comments about alot of Euro cartridges, and the fact is that they're real good at tracking and getting all the steps right, but they can't dance.
Twl, I have also liked the cartridges from Japan myself. I was a big fan of the FR you mentioned and the old Dennon 103D, I owned a Shinnon Red Boron Improved(not perfect but fun), loved the Talasman Virtuoso Boron. Never could affort the Koetsu thing( a friend had a "nude" Rosewood Signature) The best cartridge I ever owned though was a chain smoking Euro trash unit. An old EMT. Man I wish I had that thing back!
I bet the Shelter is very good. I just wish the thing put out some more juice. Do they have a web site? I can't seem to find anything about them or anyone that sells them.
Ecclectique, have you seen the price of a new Koetsu Rosewood Signature?
Yes, the EMT's were nice. That was in the old days. If they only kept on that track instead of the one they are on now, I wouldn't be saying this stuff. Some of the Ortofons are still good, but no reviewers pay any attention to them. It's like there is some kind of conspiracy to eliminate musical cartridges from reviews or something.

The Shelter is kind of hard to find out about, but there are a couple of reviews on it on the web. They come up on a Google search.

These cartridges are for the people who liked the old style Japanese MC sound, and not everybody does. But for music, you can't beat them. They keep the music "whole" and don't break it into a hundred little audiophile pieces. There is a presentation in these cartridges that gives a lifelike feel, and the emotion is conveyed in a unique way. They don't attempt to achieve numeric perfection, but seek to convey the emotion and soul of the musical performance, and that is what I want out of my system.
Twl, that is the very thing I liked about the EMT is that it had a very coherent sound from top to bottom and didn't sound like Hi Fi. You know anything about the XYZ's? I am wondering about the new Sumiko Blackbird too? I still may ditch the whole TT mess after 30 years. This is good stuff though! I need to learn more about the current transformers.

Sorry to stear this thread in a different direction.
I know that the high-end ZYX R-100 Fuji is one killer cartridge. It's as good as a Shelter 901, but a little different in the way it does things. It is slightly better than the 901 on small scale music, and the 901 is a little better on large scale stuff. Nothing that I know of can beat the 901 for accurate bass response, and natural tonality. Not too sure how the lower end ZYX stuff is. I heard that their $1k model was the OEM for the Monster Alpha cartridge. Not sure about that.

I have not heard the Sumiko Blackbird, but I'm not holding my breath about it. It is supposed to be an upgrading of the Blue Point Special, and is even on a similar platform. The BPS was a barking dog, and needed replacing in a major way. If Sumiko was smart, they'd resurrect the old Supex MC line, and that would sell like hotcakes, just like it used to, back in the day.
Hi Gang. The denon 103d is a decent sounding cartridge and is what I used when my koetsu went back for rebuild.I also still have a FR-1 mk2 with very few hours on it and I use it for a spare.However;neither are in the same league as the rosewood.I think "what" Twl was alluding to; regarding the Japaneese sound and the Euro sound makes more than a little sense to me and is really a rather astute observation worthy of further dialogue.Now I personally have not heard a great many of the Euro coils in my set up- however I have heard more than a few and always preferred the japaneese coils.A few years ago I sent my 103d to Van den hul for a retip and was rather disappointed with its sound... which I think was rather sterile in comparison to its original voice,I will admit it was very clear and probably tracked better than the original but it just wouldn't let me forget I was listening to it.Even though the original 103d had a rather overblown bottom octave, it always sounded musical in my rig.
I will tell you that a really musical cartridge in the very reasonable price range, is the Denon DL103R. I used one of those for several months before getting my Shelter 501, and it is a jewel of a cartridge, for the money. Very similar in character to the Shelter, and very detailed and dynamic, with the "wholeness" in the presentation. I would highly recommend this cartridge to anyone wanting really nice musical sound for very low money. It could stomp on a number of $1k cartridges, with no trouble at all. And it only costs $230.
Twl... The supex line?? If you mean the 900 series you are really old man.[just kidding]
Yes, I'm old and in the way.
Where I can buy the Denon 103R?

Perhaps I have drawn some conclusions about stylus shape and step up devices over my 30 years of fooling with tables and the related parifinalia. I need to find out more.

What is your take on the wood Grado's Twl, just to get a reference point that I know. I assumed that all the damn noise i heard from it was from the stylus shape. This was not there with my old micro ridge/boron coil. I see that the Shelter has an elliptical diamond. That sort of makes me wonder. I loved the EMT and it was of all things conical like the Dennpn 103.

The othe problem I have is(other than being broke)that my record collection needs something( I am boored with most of it too, which is why I got a CD in the first place, and new records are spendy as well). What do you do to keep things quiet? I use a Nitty Gritty but it isn't magic. Perhaps I am just more sensitive to the noise after 3 years of CD listening. I still may bail!
Twl. Is that the current equivalent of the 103c? which was a rather poor tracker even in the FR-64 tonearm.
Maxgain. Your wood grado should not be noisey.As a matter of fact I think they are very quiet.Does the noise sound like surace noise, phono gain noise or white noise?
Twl, isn't that what Sumiko was trying to do with the Celebration? That thing LOOKS like an old Supex to me anyway.

And as far as the "old" thing I had buddies that were into Decca's if that dates me!

I have an old Ortofon SPU/GT, including the original box( the cantiliver is tweeked a bit) hanging around that I dug out of the back of an ancient Hi Fi store I worked at back in the 70's, if antiques are interesting to anyone.
Well I may get some flack for this, but you couldn't give me a Grado. Never liked them.

The stylus shape of some cartridges can make a noise difference, but my experience has always been that the phono section is more problematic in that area than the stylus shape. All records will put out some kind of ticks and pops, and the key is to have a phono section with a high overload margin, so it doesn't overload when all that wideband hash from the pops hits it. If the phono section doesn't overload, all you hear is a small click. If it overloads, you hear an amplified "explosion" as it amplifies the overload down the chain. This is one reason why alot of people like tube phono sections, because they don't have near the overload problems of alot of SS units. Naim has a very good phono section with a high overload margin, and they give very quiet operation with clicks and pops. That's the trick that most people don't know about. I had a conical stylus with my last DL103R, and 103, and have eliptical now with the Shelter, and noise was about the same. I am using a modded MFA tube preamp with a good phono section and NOS tubes.

For cleaning, I made my own record cleaner out of a lazy susan, with some cork coasters on it to protect the record. I then got a paint pad with those little nylon bristles for cutting in on wall painting. That works great for getting into the grooves. I use a 25/75 mix of alchohol/distilled water for the solution. For vacuuming, I got a used Bissel rug and upholstery cleaning machine at a yard sale for $2, and modded the nozzle to be correct for vacuuming the record. I protected the nozzle with industrial Velcro strips, like a Nitty Gritty does. I rotate the record on the lazy susan while applying the fluid with the paint pad, and work it all the way around. Then I turn on the Bissel, and vacuum it all off. Works great. Then I flip the record over and do the other side. The whole rig cost me about $12. It does as well as the Nitty Gritty or VPI, but doesn't look as cool. But it cost a whole lot less, and it works.
The Grado seemed to me to exagerate surface noise. It drove me nuts and I sold it. I did like the tonal balance and the rest of the sound qualities. Now I seem to have lost my groove, so to speak.
The current equivalent of the 103c is the 103. They dropped the c designation, but it is the same cartridge that they have made since 1961. I had one of those prior to my 103R. The 103R is way better. It has smaller coils of 99.9999% OFC copper, and slightly lower output, and sounds great.

As far as poor tracking goes, that is the fault of the arms that it is used in, not the cartridge itself. The compliance of the 103 is very low, and puts alot of energy back into the arm, and very few arms can really handle this cartridge well. The arm is really causing the mistracking that is heard with this cartridge. It needs a fairly high mass arm, with great bearings.
Edle, I got my 103R from a member called Martin, who advertises a running ad on the Audiogon classified analog section. I haven't checked recently, but the last time I looked, he was selling them for $230. He is in Singapore, and is a reliable vendor. They are not imported into the US, so they can't be gotten here. You must order from overseas. If the ad is not there, use the member lookup, and email him. He will get back to you.
Max, the Celebration does look like the old Supex 900, and it may even be that. I haven't heard one, but when I saw a photo of one, I was encouraged. But $1500 is a bit much for a Supex 900, don't you think?
Twl. I have to agree with your assessment on tracking,however;when the 103c was introduced,the fr-64 arm was[and still is] one of the best suited tonearms on the market for that particular cartridge.When you think back to the late 70s,there really wasn't a great deal of tonearms that were up to the task and the few that were[bruer,Fr-64,sumiko'the arm'etc] were rather pricy and generally were mated a better tracker.
It may as well cost $150,000! I think that cartridges have gone insane in price for the most part.(other than some that we have talked about) The Supex never grabbed me like the Fidelity Research or the Dennon 103D did.Those wre my favorites back in the mid 70's.

I suspect that phono overload isn't my problem with noise. The modded ARC SP 9 that I use has a decent phono stage. O.K. Twl you don't get a kick out of the Grado's, can you elaborate? I now have a new(spooky to say)Sure V15 VmxR, is that my problem with my analog playback? I am wondering about trying to track so damn light, it just doesn't seem right to me after having 2 gram tracking MC's for so many years.
Yes, the FR-64 was a great one. Still highly regarded today.
Max, what TT/arm are you using it in?
I have to say that I loved my SME III back in those days. I had the EMT nude mounted into the detachable arm wand. (it came in a big clunky head shell, and was the only way to use it with the III)
I have one of the very first Well Tempered Labs tables with their arm on it that I have had since my last gig in the audio business.
Well, Max, the Shure should do ok in that arm. I think that maybe you have gone the wrong way in cartridge selection. When you like the sound of Japanese low compliance, low output MC, and then go to American high compliance, high output MM, you have to expect alot of difference.

If the price is a major factor, then the Denons, or the Ortofon X5-MC would be real nice. The X5-MC is a reasonably high output MC that is around 2mv, so it might work in your ARC MM phono section, without a transformer, if you have enough gain to support a 2mv cart.

The same guy, Martin, is also selling the X5-MC for around $115, which is way below the $325 retail.

I found that once I got hooked on low compliance, low output Japanese cartridges, I couldn't listen to anything else. You might consider this, because that might be what's driving you out of analog.
2mv, is no problem at all for the 9 . That's what the Shinon was and it worked great. It sounded pretty good for a very long time and then all of a sudden, wow it gave it up! It was never my ultimate first choice, but it was given to me by a friend for the price of a re-tip. It may have been a bit hot on top in some ways but the rest of my system at the time(things have changed a little) was very mellow and it never seemed to be a problem.

Who make a decent transformer and where can I get some info on them for future reference. I actually was into medium to high output MC's(I think the EMT was 1mv, which is where my user name comes from, crank the old ARC to max and get those Maggies singing), since I never had good experiences with any sort of step up device in the past.
You gotta get a good one, and they're not cheap. The best I know of that you can get new, would be the EAR MC3, and the Shelter 411. The good used ones are the Cotter Mk2, like I have, but it has a very funky loading system, and requires soldering jumpers, and the correct diagram to tell you which ones to solder. Also some of the more expensive Ortofons are good, and of course the $6k silver wound Audio Note Kondo model is real good. If you can DIY, Bent Audio offers some raw transformers with schematics, so you can make your own for about $400. Or you could find some Lundahl or Jensen raw transformers, and do the same thing.
The $100 stuff isn't going to get you where you want to go. The good stuff is $800 and up. Sad, but true.
Geez Gang.Never even new this forum existed until today! I just discovered the equipment thread that you guys/girls have logged in. Twl... What is this Studer dc power converter thing?
I think what may be driving me out of analog is the price of new records( the damn things are $25 each if you can find what you want other than the 86th special re pressing of "Kinda Blue",as I mentioned I bought the CD player because I was tired of most of my collection),cartridges, and all the associated gadgets.

This may seem odd in this TT guy thread but I would much sooner buy a $5000 CD player than a $5000 cartridge. For one thing I can be more confident that I can get a used $5000 CD player with some life in it for around half of that. Used cartridges are a crap shoot.

Why do you think I have so much time to dink around here on Agon and with my Hi Fi, I haven't much worked since 9/11 happened, so that is something that would require selling something else, like the TT, current CD player, pre and Nitty Gritty. The records would have to finance new CD's.
Welcome to my nightmare Ecclectique! You seem like one of the gang already!
oops make that "Kind of Blue" DOH!
The Studer thing is a pure sine wave power inverter, that allows me to use a 12vdc battery bank to power my preamp, which is the only part of my system which is AC powered. All my other stuff is purely 12vdc battery fed.

The inverter takes the 12vdc battery voltage and steps it up to 120 volts, and creates a 60 cycle sine wave out of it, so it can be a fully regulated 120vac power source, that uses the batteries to get the power from. This totally eliminates using any street-mains power for my system, and is much cleaner than any power conditioner could ever be. The Studer Inverter is less than .05% total distortion of the line current at full power, and has no noise or hash on the line. It was designed to power portable audio/video recording equipment in the field. It has a perfectly timed 60 cycle frequency, and fully regulated power feed. The sine wave production is perfect, with no sawtoothing. It is perfectly quiet and distortion free, and none of the phase drift or power grunge of normal street mains power.

I wanted to go all DC, but I have not had the custom preamp made for me yet, to achieve this. The preamp is the only AC powered device left in my chain. You would not believe what a difference battery power makes to the sound of this system.
I buy all used records off Ebay and A'gon. You can get NM condition ones for under $10 most of the time. I also think that the original prints sound better than the new re-releases anyway.

Don't bail on the analog thing! Nice thread guys.

Hi Pat!
Hey, I gotta get some work done. Signing off.
Hi Tom. Maxgain, I just have to ask since you seem to be an older guy too. How much vinyl do you have? As Tom mentioned, getting quality vinyl isn't that hard to do but requires a little work. It doesn't need to be expensive either. I'm with Tom on generally preferring the earlier pressings, especially if they are imports. Gotta beat the bushes and buy collections and discard the dogs.

I believe it was Max that was complaining about surface noise. I think you should really borrow another preamp just to see if your phono stage is out of shape. My gear doesn't come close to what you guys are using and the lack of noise is spooky. I have guests that accuse me of pretending to play records it's so quiet.
Lugnut,(just turned 45 about a week ago)I am down to about 250-300 records. It is hard to find the most new stuff I am interseted in listening to. It culled my record colletion a few years back and it's about 1/4 of what it was. I never got a lot of the classic jazz & classical I should have bought years ago since I always thought I would get around to it. I got to hear that sfuff so much at work and at friends houses it didn't seem important to buy it at the time. I am by no means a record collector, who just buys stuff to have it. So my collection is sort of an odd blend of stuff that isn't real exciting to me right at the moment.Don't get me wrong I do have a lot of gems in there. What do you do if you want to listen to, say, a new band you just found out about like, Calexico. Where the hell you gonna find a copy of "The Black Light" on vinyl? Not gonna happen!

I think the pre is fine. Not everthing sounds noisy, but some of my favorites that were dead silent with the MC seem annoying now. It could be that I just have gotten too used to the sound of CD's.

You don't list your rig, what are you spinning your fuzzy warbles on(ever seen "A Clockwork Orange", "come hear all proper")? You know, flat, black, and circular. Licorice pizza.
Gentleman if you want to read some very good reviews on the shelter cartridges and the Koetsu Black, Rosewood, Rosewood Signature, and Urushi Moving Coil Cartridges go to jerrys audio pages http://www.21stcenturyservices.com/audio/
This guy is good. The shelter 501 is actually the Crown Jewel which Michael Fremer reviewed in Stereophile (v.20 no. 4) where it was given a “Class A” rating, had a $2650 price tag. Mike also said in mike speak that it was as good as any in class A. He also along with other reviews I have read on this cartridge said that the 501 or Crown Jewel conveyed the emotion of the music better than any heard. I guess this is the trait of the Japanese sound, so to speak. years back when I started using mc's I could take the same lp from my house, and play it on my freinds Linn's with mm cartridges. I believe a v15 mark whatever and the noise was terrible. When played on my old systemdeck, silence. The noise you are hearing on the records, is I beleive, the mm cartridge you are using. I have a van den hull frog, that I like very much, unlike the benz I had before. I asked a reviewer of the 501 to give me his opinion, if he thought the 501 was as good or better than the frog. He said his "friend", tried both and perferred the frog. What about the old audio technica Signet oc9 II, with the Boron? I really liked the old verision years ago when I used them. The new one with the boron should be better, also the cantiliver on the 501 is aluminum just like the old signet oc9. Mr. Van den hull says boron is the best for cantilivers. But hey, I don't know. Hope you can use some of this information.

I have an all Linn Aktiv system, LP12/Ittok/Valhalla, Wakonda, Genki, (2)Lk100's, Keilidh. I've had the LP12 since '84 and owned a previous version bought in the late '70's prior to that. I previously had a modest Naim kit consisting of 42.5/110 and Linn Sara's. Early on I had AR/Klipsch/Thorens. I guess I am a collector of lp's since I have rarely parted with anything I bought. Maybe I'm fortunate to not live in an area with worthy radio stations so I don't get exposed to a lot of new music. Our local library is my source for auditioning new tunes. I go there a couple of times a week and check out 5 cd's. I have two used record stores locally and one of them has fair prices with most lp's being less than $10 and the quality is great. The new music that I like I buy in whatever format they are made. My vinyl library is too large to give you an exact count but is over 3,000. Oh yeah, I use a Blue Point Special and would like to get either a new DL 103R or have my FR1 MKII rebuilt. Both of these choices would require a step up device and that's what is putting a cartridge change on hold.