VPI, Graham, Koetsu advice please

Hopefully there are some experienced agoners out there that can help me figure this out. I use a Well Tempered Amadeus/ Lyra Kleos / Bob's devices step up / Lamm Lp2 - that finally, after many years, betters my modest digital side (Bob's Devices step up did the trick).

Through an unfortunate event, I now also have a VPI TNT 3.5 with Graham 2.2 arm and Koetsu Rosewood Signature and SDS. I set this all up last night and the VPI is dead silent compared with the well tempered's v low yet audible rumble between tracks. But, compared to the Amadeus/Lyra on actual music tracks, the VPI is comes across veiled, a bit congested, plodding, with no bass and no sparkle. And, please know overall I lean towards that tube sound (SET 211, etc).

Both are running thru Bob's SUT and then into a Lamm LP2. The only other difference is the Kimber TAK-H IC between the Amadeus and Bob's vs the hard wired Hovland IC from the Graham to Bob's.

What's going on here? I expected the TNT beast and lush Koetsu to destroy the Amadeus/Lyra. What would be your expectations? Before I move the Lyra onto the VPI, I thought I'd ask you all for suggestions. Thank you
I had a VPI TNT with a Graham and sold it for the same reasons. That said, I've never owned a Koetsu, so I can only say that what I've read would indicate you're probably getting far less than the Koetsu can offer with that set-up. Assuming your set up, including geometry and loading, are consistent with what the Koetsu wants and there is nothing wrong with the Koetsu, it may just not be a combination that works for you.

You've got a lot of good stuff, but the best sound I was able to get included a Dynavector at the front, which is definitely NOT a Koetsu type of sound.
Depending on how much the Koetsu was used, it may not be fully broken in. I would also remove the SUT from the system and see if that helps.
It could be a mismatch between the SUT and the Koetsu.
I would bet that Bpoletti is correct and that there is a loading issue or mismatch with your SUT. Suggest that you contact Bob's Devices for their guidance to hopefully resolve the issue.
Thanks for the input. I know the Koetsu has plenty of hours on it, so break-in is not the issue. The prior owner had a plethora of set up devices from the typical guides, to a fozgometer, wally tools, digital microscope for setting SRA, etc etc - so I've assumed it's more than spot on, but then again... I'll take out the SUT and see what happens, and I'll also contact Bob. If anything comes to light, I'll post it. Cheers.
Poonbean, if you're just having no end of problems with the Koetsu, I'd take it off your hands.

All kidding aside, I could test it in a similar but different rig. Original Aries (Extended) with JMW-12, but into a Herron VTPH-2. No SUT. I am VERY familiar with the characteristics of a Koetsu and could check to see if there are performance problems.
The cure for your problem is an upgraded platter. Call VPI and get the new one (you'll probably need a bearing as well)
Have you tried it without the SUT?
I don't think the problem is with the platter, though shifting to an aluminum platter will change the sound. IIRC the Well Tempered has an acrylic platter and the VPI Mk iii has a combination platter with acrylic on top. So acrylic should not be the problem. I, for one, believe that the movement back to an all metal platter was a step in the wrong direction.

Make sure that the VPI bearing has had a good lubrication in the not too distant past. The VPI can also be improved if the bearing is replaced with a Mk V bearing and removal of the tripod. The factory may have some old bearings lying around. A 300 rpm motor and flywheel combo would also help.

But I agree that most likely there is a mismatch between the Koetsu and what comes after it.
Setup aside, your Koetsu never was the last word in resolution and I can understand why you find it veiled compared to your Lyra. Its also more colored compared to what you're used to. You can also try plugging it in directly to your LP2, you might like it better. That's the cartridge end I would also see why the arm was hardwired and try to reverse it.

Another issue is the mismatch between the Graham & Koetsu. The Koetsu is extremely low compliance and needs a high mass arm which the Graham is not. I think the combo is like putting tractor tires on a Lambo - yes it will drive but it will never be optimal.
There's acrylic and there's acrylic. The way you describe the unsatisfactory sound was the exact way mine was sounding. When I changed to the Classic platter, it was like heaven opened up. ...the new platter is not bright...just open and free.
The differences th OP is describing between the well Tempered/Lyra combo and the VPI/Koetsu are way beyond the platter material. To say this is causing the differences between these tables is pure hogwash! Could it be the Well Tempered combination is just plain better than the VPI combo? For what it's worth, I have compared Well tempered and VPI and have found Well Tempered superior. So have several dealers. VPI to me is mostly eye candy, so my choice for sonics should be obvious but I guess to a lot of you it is just an opinion.
M - My opinion is 180 degrees opposite yours. That's why both our comments are opinions.

I still think the difference is a mismatch of the cart-to-SUT. That is a critical link and varies greatly with cartridges and SUTs. If that matching is not spot-on (loading of both cart and SUT, and sonic footprints of both), then the sound will suffer as described by the op. Not the small amount that a VPI betters a Well Tempered ( ;) )
I would expect the Koetsu, itself, to be more lush and veiled than the Lyra. They are completely different sounding cartridges. For certain systems and tastes, one or the other will sound better. You really cannot have it all in a cartridge--a cartridge cannot be extremely lush and warm AND be "fast" and detailed and clear sounding. A more apples-to-apples comparison would be the Lyra versus one of the "stone" Koetsu cartridges.
I've been using a Well Tempered table and arm since they first came out in the early 80's. How quick everyone is to just assume the VPI is better than the WT. If you can find it, locate Moncrieff's excellent analysis and review of the original WT table. When properly set up, and I admit that it can be a bear, the WT is one of the best sounding tables out there without taking out a second mortgage or selling one of the kids.

Here's the last paragraph of Robert Greene's review in TAS:

"As high-end turntables go, the Amadeus is inexpensive. And it offers so much of the optimum performance possible at any price that one can only think of it as a wild bargain. In fact, there are important aspects of performance that I think would be hard to equal elsewhere and perhaps impossible to exceed. Certainly no tonearm has a quieter bearing than pure damping, for example. And the quiet of the platter bearing is also essentially total. One could spend a lot more money, but I would listen carefully to the Amadeus first. It is something exceeding fine, far beyond its modest price."
Larryi - that's a good point. The two carts are pretty much on the opposite ends of the listening preference scale. A Koetsu will never sound like a Lyra unless both are parked on the arm rest.
Thanks again to all those weighing in.

Turns out my dear friend, despite all the tools from wally, graham, feikert, fozgometer, dinolight, etc etc, just did not have the koetsu installed correctly. surprise surprise - The overhang was a good 3/16" short and the tracking force was a bit off, too. After resetting the koetsu, the cartridge definitely opened up with much more clarity, musicality, depth, and imaging.

But yet, the Koetsu still fell short of the Lyra's detail and liveliness. I also tried the Koetsu straight into the LP2, bypassing Bobs SUT, but that was definitely inferior - just not enough gain from the LP2, same issue with the Lyra - Bobs SUT definitely helps both cartridges perform much better than the LP2 alone. In fact, Bob's very quick response to my email regarding a possible mismatch between Koestu and his SUT was squashed when he said he actually uses the same Koestsu Rosewood Signature on his rig. He did recommend the 1:10 gain first, but also said my 1:15 gain is fine, too - both are recommended.

So, that leaves us with table/arm and the cartridges - the only other variable I can't change is the difference in ICs from the cartridge to the SUT. Again, the VPI is hardwired with the hovland while the Kimber TAK-H connects the Amadeus to the SUT.

I just moved the Lyra onto the VPI - way easier to install than the koetsu. Anyhoo, there's some more magic going on now. Comparing the VPI/Koetsu, VPI/Lyra, and Amadeus/Lyra - here's what I hear (yes, I should probably setup the Amadeus/Koetsu and listen to that, too, but at the moment I'm too lazy):

- The VPI is much quieter than the Amadeus. On the Amadeus between tracks and at the end of the record I'd get an audible, tho low in volume, rumble that you'd just know f'ks with the musical floor during playback. The VPI is dead quiet.

- The VPI provides a solid foundational strength and support to the sound - not quite sure how else to say it. Sure, the Amadeus comes across a bit more lively, happy even. With the Amadues/Lyra, the lively translated (sometimes) into some annoying brightness, and some upper mid honk that would even hurt sometimes -I typically associated that with the Lyra's reputation as being a bit clinical (translated by me into bright), and likely excerbated by the metal tweets and ceramic drivers on my speakers and my current ss amp. But, and it's a big but, that honk ain't there with the Lyra on the VPI. The VPI seems to tame the Lyra, and with the already, let's say, subdued Koetsu on the VPI, it was too much.

- Detail and bass. Overall, I find the bass and musical depth with the VPI/Lyra better and more enjoyable than the Amadeus/Lyra setup, though I'll admit that that the latter provides more of that visceral bass line growl - I do like that growl, bass string vibratto might explain it - check out the last track on the Nirvana unplugged MTV album for a big helping. In contrast, the Amadeus/Lyra provides a bit more shimmer and detail, faster, lighter on it's feet.

Image and Stage. In short, the VPI/Lyra is better front to back, whereas the VPI/Koetsu is better side to side - whatever. That Koestu is enveloping in its sound stage, wrapping you up. Vertically, I found the Amadeus/Lyra and the VPI/Koestus were both superb. And, unfortunately, the vertical image of the VPI/Lyra setup seems a bit diminished by comparison.

So, at some point I'll put the Koetsu on the Amadeus and hear what happens. Decisions, decisions- given the relative silence of the VPI table, I'm more inclined to stick with it - simply believing that a silent table has to be better in the long run. And given the clarity and detail of the Lyra, I'm inclined to go with it as well - I'll admit that as a tube guy, prior to all this I fully anticipated preferring the Koetsu (at the moment, I'm not running anything that's all tube, the amp and phono are hybrid, and the SUT and amp are ss). I expect I'll tune it to my liking with better/different interconnects. If you made it this far - Cheers

As another question for you - my friend also had this collection of variously weighted headshell screws -they are also knurled and larger diameter making it easy to finger tighten - no need for tools at the headshell. I do recall him talking about the reported benefits of adding mass above the cartridge (not increasing tracking force) to improve things. These knurled nuts (careful) come in four flavors - uber light (nylon), light (aluminum), medium (silver colored), and heavy (brass-gold colored). Any thoughts on adding mass to the headshell for the Lyra and/or Koetsu? He had the heavy ones installed for the Koetsu, and I used the same with the Lyra in the observations mentioned above. Cheers again!
I bought I KRSP two years ago, and have been refining the sound ever since. The first improvement I made was increasing the mass on the tonearm wand, using several distributed brass weights. Tonearm is the Trans-Fi air bearing. So yes, mass can really make a difference. It's empirical, so experiment.

Last month I achieved a breakthrough by changing the azimuth angle by 6 (six!!!) minutes of arc. Yes, a Koetsu is that sensitive to setup, but when it's right ... it's right. I suspect that's the reason why some people are disappointed with their K's, while for others, K's are the reference.