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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.
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 thingsthe myths, the misunderstandings, the cultish reviews both pro and conthat 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 qualitysomething I can’t help but associate with a very long service lifeand, 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.