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Koetsu Black Goldline Phono Cartridge
Product Review:
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Stereophile Recommended Component Class B

The Koetsu Black offers the signature tonal balance and natural harmonics that the line is known for worldwide, but at a price that makes it much more accessible for a larger group of analog aficionados. The tonal signature of all Koetsus is pure smoothness. Sure there may be some cartridges that better the Koetsu in a specific area, but there are none that offer the complete package. If you really care about the sound of music, if your goal is to be immersed in tones that make up chords, and you don't want to put up with any more hi-fi artifacts, the choice is simple.....only a Koetsu cartridge will do.

In the 1970s, Sugano began to experiment with phono cartridges by substituting his own parts in commercially available models. His keen ear and deductive reasoning, combined with an artist's sensibilities, led to the creation of what would become a legend in audio. Sensing the moment, Sugano named his cartridge after his hero, Koetsu.

Technology
Sugano's quest led him to enlist universities, specialized industries and master craftspeople to create the special parts to go into his masterpieces. One of the first to use 4 nines copper (99.99% pure), curent production uses 6 nines copper (99.9999% pure). Platinum signature models feature silver cladding of the 6 nines copper, a process where a silver sheath is slowly drawn over the copper conductor.

Ultra-pure iron square plate formers were sourced for their most predictable magnetic characteristics and lowest oxidation. Pre-aged to the perfect consistency, rubber suspension parts are sourced under license with a rubber damper manufacturer. Special magnetic materials, including Alnico have been featured. Today, samarium-coblalt is used with platinum magnets reserved for the flagship models. Japanese craftsmen carve the rosewood bodies, lacquer coat the Urushi bodies, or cut stone for the onyx Platinum. Styli are specially designed and precision ground for Koetsu.

Today, Sugano's sons have revived his art and continue to create musical masterpieces under the watchful eye of the old master. For every music lover, your journey to musical nirvana is incomplete without a Koetsu phono cartridge in your system.

The tonal signature of all Koetsu's is pure smoothness. Sure there are cartridges that better the Koetsu in every area but there are none that are the complete package. If you really care about the sound of music, if your goal is to be immersed in tones that make up chords, and you don't want to put up with any more hifi artifacts, the choice is simple.....Koetsu

Stereophile Koetsu Black Moving Coil Cartridge Review
Are there better cartridges than the Koetsu Black? Sure. Are there better Koetsus? I guess. Is there a better way for an analog enthusiast to spend $1600? Maybe not.

In order to really appreciate the Koetsu Black, I had to remember some of the things that drew me to this hobby in the first place: the love of records, the love of well-made playback gear, the love of being startled by anything that sounds real. I also had to forget a few things—the myths, the misunderstandings, the cultish reviews both pro and con—that have swum around this line in the past.

Most of what I learned about the Koetsu Black came as a surprise, and all of those surprises were good. It didn't thrill me quite as much as my Miyabi, but it delighted me as much as any other moving-coil cartridge I've tried. I was also impressed by its build quality—something I can't help but associate with a very long service life—and, rightly or wrongly, by the sheer history of its provenance.

The Koetsu Black phono cartridge is a lovely, musical product, and a better-than-average value: There was at least $1600 worth of beauty in that little black box, and I'll hate to see it all go.

10 Audio Koetsu Moving Coil Cartridge Review
The Black is a wonderful cartridge and close to the Red in overall performance. Compare it to almost anything – another cartridge, CD, etc. – and you want a treble control to bring up the high frequency range. It is not rolled off, losing more information the higher you go, just seemingly depressed. However, as with some other lower cost gear, information is omitted in the highs. “High resolution”, “unlimited air”, “highs out to infinity” – these are all terms I would not apply to the Black.

The Black’s midrange has the typical Koetsu magic, which treats all voices as coming from living, breathing creatures and not synthesized on some demonic digital creation. There is body, depth, and a wonderful believability to human voices as offered by the Black. Moving down the frequency range, the bass is classic Koetsu bass. Somewhat wooly, indistinct, or loose, but with good low bass extension and adequate power. If your system is able to reproduce deep, tight bass, you won’t be disappointed. “Tight” means being able to clearly hear the vibration of strings from acoustic bass instruments from other sources. In other words, bass reproduction should be a strength of your system for the Black’s bass to be acceptable.

So far we've tallied depressed treble and cotton bass. Am I saying to skip this cartridge and look at another alternative? Well, not only “no”, but emphatically “NO”. The Black makes great music. It works very well with well-recorded live acoustic music, like classical, highly processed modern studio tracks, and in-between. In fact, it is an excellent rock/pop/top-40 cartridge because it treats the studio post-recording processing with a kind touch. Think of early transistor gear vs. tube. Now imagine that your commercial disc has been made with that solid-state gear, and you play it back through the sweet sound of early tubes. A filter? Sure, but one that brings out the soul in almost any recording that has it already. Dynamics are very good, so modern music is a lot of fun. Cymbals display good initial attack but not extensive decay. There is enough there to let you easily hear what is happening, though.

There have been many allusions lately to the break-in requirement of various components being partially attributable to the listener acclimating to the new component. In other words, while the new component is breaking-in, the listener is, too. We adapt our hearing to our environment, just as our eyes adjust the “white balance” to automatically compensate for late-afternoon sun (red) or for fluorescent lights (green). I am a strong believer in the need for components to break-in for best performance. Listening to the Black as my main cartridge for two months, I have also come to believe that there is a break-in period that we as listeners experience when we install a component that is different from our recent fare. Even though a direct comparison may highlight the Black's weaknesses, longer involvement will certainly improve your opinion.

Steve Hoffman Music Forum Koetsu Black Moving Coil Cartridge Thread
After years of using Benz cartridges (and a brief flirtation with a Lyra Helikon), I bought a Koetsu Black last week. I've always read that Koetsus are far from neutral but are very musical with a gorgeous midrange and, well, being a longtime member of this forum, that sounded good to me. So I took the plunge.

And the Koetsu Black does sound good. In fact, it sounds great—far more natural than the Benz cartridges I'm familiar with (most recently, a REF 2 Silver). It's cosiderably less mechanical and hi-fi sounding. With the Benz on my Linn LP-12/Ekos combination, music sounds good but I'm always aware that I'm listening to reproduced music. With the Koetsu, I genuinely get lost in the music and forget that I'm listening to an LP.

AudioGon Koetsu Moving Coil Cartridge Thread
I just replaced my 20 year old Koetsu Black with a new Koetsu Black. My turntable dealer (who tends to prefer Lynn and Lyra cartridges) remarked, after installing the cartridge on my Linn, "You've now got that Koetsu technicolor sound."

I don't know--are Koetsus "technicolor?" If so, I'll take two, please. I just love it. I think the review in Stereophile by Art Dudley from last July describes the sound very well, and would refer you to that. I would also say this: In the old days, my impression was that Koetsus weren't the greatest trackers in the world. I've heard since that this is not at all true, and my experience with the new Koetsu on tracking has been terrific.

Koetsu Black Goldline Technical Data
  • Body: anondized aluminum
  • Type: moving coil
  • Coil wiring: copper
  • Magnet: Samarium cobalt
  • Cantilever: boron
  • Output: .4mV
  • Frequency range: 20Hz-100kHz
  • Channel separation: 25dB/1kHz
  • Inner impedance: 5 ohms
  • Channel balance: .5dB/1kHz
  • Recommended impedance: 30 ohms
  • Weight: 10.8g
  • Compliance: 5x10-6cm/dyne at 100Hz
  • Tracking Force: 1.8-2.0g






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