Listening #192: Koetsu, Ortofon, EMT Contacts

Sidebar: Contacts

Koetsu, Web: US distributor: MoFi Distribution. Web:

Ortofon A/S, Stavangervej 9, DK-4900 Nakskov, Denmark. Web: US: Ortofon Inc., 500 Executive Boulevard, Suite 102, Ossining, NY 10562. Tel: (914) 762-8646. Fax: (914) 762-8649. Web:

EMT Tontechnik, HiFiction AG, Stäffelistrasse 6, 8409 Winterthur, Switzerland. Tel: (41) 44-533-88-15. Web: US distributor: Tone Imports, 70192 Linda Vista Road, Mountain Center, CA 92561. Tel: (646) 425-7800. Web:


georgehifi's picture

@JA (John Alexander)

Why can't bench test results be performed on cartridges? I had Shure and Sheffield Labs test records, that gave a whole gamut of test that can be seen on test gear and graphed out?

Cheers George

Anton's picture

I'd also love to see speaker measurements done upon arrival when new and then after "break in."

Cables would be cool, as well. It would be cool to see the differences.

I love Stereophile's listen, measure, and follow up philosophy.

Ortofan's picture

... following is a link to a HFN review, which includes a set of measurements:

georgehifi's picture

Yep ditto, "if" the reviewer gets it right, then it can be seen sometimes in the measurements good and or bad.
A hypothetical to me, if there was only room for one, "subjective reviews" or "test bench measurements", I would opt for the latter.

Cheers George

georgehifi's picture

Was with a Stax CP-X electrostatic cartridge, on a Linn LP12 with Stax UA7 arm.
It took 10-15mins to tune in with it's POD-XE Oscillator/Demodulator and oscilloscope and got about 15-30mins of listening before drifting needing re-tuning.
But what a hyper detailed and dynamic sound, imagine a cantilever with no magnet or coil mass attached to it, and you get the idea of how it traced/tracked the groove, every tiny microscopic bump of recorded info was pickup and presented, without any magnet or coil mass to schlep around to slow things down.

Why doesn't someone bring back the ESL cartridge with solid state oscillator/demodulator

Cheers George

Anton's picture

Forbes: "A 163.41-carat D-color flawless diamond sold for $33.7 million at Christie's Magnificent Jewels sale in Geneva Tuesday. Known as the β€œArt of de Grisogono, Creation 1,” the rectangular shaped gem is the largest flawless D-color diamond ever to come to auction."

The buyer has said he will be having it made into a flawless cartridge body.

I look forward to the review!

I'm sure that "If you can afford this sort of thing, you won't be disappointed by its sound."

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Ortofan wants it measured ........... Just kidding Ortofan :-) ..........

Anton's picture

Color D, 163.41-carat, 33.7 million.

What more can I measure?


Bogolu Haranath's picture

Frequency response, output voltage, tracking ability, weight etc.etc, for the cartridge ........ unless, it is an 'ink cartridge' ;-) ..........

There are numerous other types of cartridges :-) ...........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

One carat weighs 0.2 grams ........... 5 carats weigh 1 gram :-) .........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

May I suggest a better use for that diamond? .......... Why not make a necklace with that diamond and, let a person like the heroine in the movie 'Titanic' (wearing nothing else) wear it, take a picture and/or a painting of that person wearing that necklace, and let us see it :-) ......... It may be a great centerfold spread for Stereophile :-) ............

Indydan's picture

I love the close up photography of the cartridges in this article. Very nicely done!

tonykaz's picture

How many Plays ?

Can we expect to get 500? more?

Some time ago, I collected Koetsu Phono Cartridges, I owned over 10, I don't recall them to have a Useful Life Span compared to many lesser Phono PUs.

But, they're addictive making their $,$$$ Price justified. ( silly thought )

Who buys these things ? for 10 grand?

I can't imagine the 12,000+ Vinyl Collector owning Pricy Koetsu stuff if they intend on playing all their Albums. ( like Todd the Vinyl Junkie or Chad Kassem might )

That Picture of the Onyx is gorgeous, that's gotta be a Pro Studio Shot, Civilians can't do that kind of image. Can they?

Tony in Michigan

ps. My Koetsu warrantee experience is that there isn't one to speak of.

ps.2 Koetsu : Still have those shitty little boxes. Phew!!!

Indydan's picture

I have photographed my cartridge with a 1:1 macro lens and could not get that close. Canon makes a 5:1 macro lens. I suspect this is what the photographer used to get that close and show the stylus that big.

A shot like this has to be taken on a sturdy tripod. The smallest vibration is amplified in the image. The lighting needs to be perfect as well. Nice work!

Bogolu Haranath's picture

If somebody could come up with a DAC with a frequency response like the Koetsu Onyx Platinum and with a heavy dose of 2nd harmonic distortion, they could make lots and lots of money ........ Of course, they are not gonna send a review sample to Stereophile because in addition to listening, Stereophile also does measurements :-) ..........

tonykaz's picture

a Koetsu DAC?

Kinda a tuby R2R device made to make RedBook sound like a vinyl 33.3.

Just a tiny bit of reverse engineering to get 21st Century back to 1975ish. Hmm

Tony in Michigan

ps. maybe the clever lads could clone the Shindo "sound" signature profiles & dam the measurements ..... ( sorry Mr.JA )

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Tuby? ........ Tubes are like politicians ........ They always tell the truth :-) ........

...... and you guessed it, they both tell 'sweet little lies' :-) ............

tonykaz's picture

I can't think of anything clever to say in response to your Politicians comment.

Tony in Michigan

ps. how do you know about Politicians?

Bogolu Haranath's picture

We see them everyday on TV news ......... I know few politicians :-) .......... Yes, I also know few tubes :-) .......

johnnythunder's picture fact I think Border Patrol, Lector, Cary, Aesthetix and Audio Note make some. Asking for enjoyable music to be played without a little euphonic coloration or enhancement is like asking for enjoyable writing to be dry and clinical, unimaginative and without a creative use of language. If you want that, read the instructions to a prescription drug. If I wanted razor flat measurements and 100% dedication to the source - which 99% of the times was recorded with euphonic colorations oh and by the way the acoustics of Carnegie Hall would be considered coloration to these numbskulls - I would work and live in a laboratory. Luckily I don't and will continue to enjoy music that is artificially enhanced and colored. Like the sound of a sustained tone on a Stradivarius and I can go on and on.

ok's picture would probably be a case of painted ugliness vs natural beauty.

tonykaz's picture

Hmm, a ROLEX Watch takes a year to make. They have tiny components, they seem to last a Life-time and come with a Factory Warrantee, are 100% Hand Made by Skilled Craftsmen and Craftswomen. Fit and Finnish is impeccable !!! Service on everything they ever made is available, including Full restorations. ( for a price, of course )

Yet they cost under $10,000

The $10k Koetsu Onyx has a Gold painted plate that doesn't properly fit the Body.

Isn't it rare for something with "ROLEX" quality to be less pricy ( cheaper ) than something so obviously inferior?

Seems like "The Vinyl" Manufacturers are "Playing-us" for suckers.

Are Audiophiles Suckers?

Tony in Michigan

Ortofan's picture

... of the Ortofon Cadenza Red, would anyone but a "sucker" spend about eight times its price for a different cartridge - especially one whose frequency response starts rolling off at about 2 or 3 kHz, instead of being flat out to about 15kHz?

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Koetsu got 89% for sound quality and Ortofon got 80% for sound quality :-) .........

Whole 9 yards :-) ..........

Wonder whether the $15,000 Koetsu phono-cartridge will get 99.999999% for sound quality? :-) ......

That would be equivalent to a 'touchdown' or a 'home-run' :-) ...........

John Atkinson's picture
tonykaz wrote:
Hmm, a ROLEX Watch takes a year to make . . . Service on everything they ever made is available, including Full restorations.

Not any more, I am afraid. When my wife and I got engaged in 1987, we bought each other second-hand Rolex "bubbleback" watches. (Mine is a 1939, hers a 1940.) We had the watches serviced by Rolex up to a few years back, when the Rolex service center in Manhattan told us that the company would no longer support "legacy" models. :-(

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Apple Watch is a better investment ........... Apple Watch has taken over as number one best selling watch in the world :-) ...........

tonykaz's picture

a TimePiece and much more.

A ROLEX is a Statement made out of Jewelry.

The person wearing the ROLEX has people to do the technical stuff, who then report back on progress.

The Apple is a better watch but not as good a watch as a Indiglo Quartz Timex Easy-reader watch ( for $29 ).

The Apple is a Computer ( 17% of Global Smart watch market )

The ROLEX is Status

The TIMEX is Time

Tony in Michigan

Bogolu Haranath's picture

"The person wearing the ROLEX has people to do the technical stuff, who then report back on progress" ........

Wonder whether JA fits that description of person wearing ROLEX? :-) ..........

tonykaz's picture

... he certainly has people reporting to him.

I wonder if JA now wears one of the new Yachtmasters or GMT?

ROLEX have a Rail Watch that our JA might wear whilst commuting on the NY Subway system. Hmm.

I suspect that our JA now wears one of the newer Apple devices ( the one with the heart monitor ) :-)

Tony in Michigan

Bogolu Haranath's picture

JA is wearing the Apple Watch which plays ...........

"So Alive" ........... Goo Goo Dolls ........ on Bluetooth headphones :-) .........

JA is also asking Siri for directions to the Taylor Swift concert on his Apple Watch :-) ........

Jack L's picture

... Rolex watches." quoted J. Atkinson.

In same 1987, I bought my wife a new Rolex Oystersteel/yellow gold watch to make up the cheap tiny diamond engagement ring that I could only afford to give her 20 years back then.

So Rolex is for status.

Koetsu cartridges are for status or for sound or for both ????

Unlike my broke old times, I can afford any cost-is-nothing audios today.
My question: do I NEED to drop a bundle for a costly MC cartridge, like Koetsu when I am so happy with mine of low-status ? Does it really make such temptingly superior sonic difference ?

Jack L.

Jack L's picture the world." quoted Bogolu Haranath.


Yes, Apple Watch outsells its watch competition in quantity.

Yet, I recently read in the newspaper about its durability: its glass face tends to break even with normal wearing.

Apple standard warranty does NOT cover smashed glass watch face for whatever reason.

So wear with caution!

Jack L.